UCL Anthropocene


UCL Anthropocene Events

UCL Anthropocene programmes events which reflect the diversity of the subject, with regular seminars, lectures, debates and conferences through the year. All seminars will take place online this term.


1 December 2020, 3:30-5:00pm

VIRTUAL EVENT: Walking the Sound: Beside the Ocean of Time

- Dr Carina Fearnley (UCL, Science and Technology Studies)

carina fearnley

How do individuals and communities understand Deep Time? A relatively short-term perspective is dominant in contemporary societies as they face the complicated ongoing consequences of landscape change on every aspect of the human life, from agriculture and provision of food and energy to the protection of natural or cultural landscapes. A more holistic and deeper knowledge is required.

The project ‘Orkney: Beside the Ocean of Time’ aims to generate new understandings of the interrelationship between human community, Deep Time and landscape change by using an interdisciplinary approach that draws on Social Anthropology, Literature, Archaeology, Palaeoecology and Geology. The project team worked with Orcadian artist, Anne Bevan and our project partner, The Pier Arts Centre, to find innovative ways to investigate and represent time-depth in landscape, using Orkney in Scotland as a model. This research culminated in a Deep Time Festival with six public events, including a walk along the west shore, where attendees could experience, hear, and see new deep time perspectives to their familiar landscape, crossing nearly a billion years worth of time. This presentation provides an overview of the project and takes you for a walk along the west shore, to show how our interdisciplinary perspectives provided novel and engaging ways of thinking about deep time and humans relationships with the environment over varying timescales.

This event is free.

All welcome. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance on the day.

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8 December 2020, 3:30-5:00pm

VIRTUAL EVENT. Staple Security: Procuring, Assessing, and Storing Wheat in Egypt

- Dr Jessica Barnes (University of South Carolina)

In Egypt, bread is fundamental to daily life. Most Egyptians eat bread every day, multiple times a day, many relying on the cheap bread subsidized by the government. The wheat from which this bread is made is widely grown within Egypt, but the government is reliant on imported wheat to meet the needs of its large subsidized bread program. To Egyptians, the possibility that their nation could run out of wheat, or that they might not have enough bread to eat is an existential threat. Jessica Barnes’ current book project, The Taste of Security: Wheat and Bread in Egypt, is about how various actors, from within the government to within a home, understand, experience, and respond to that threat. The book introduces the concept of staple security to refer to a set of practices that are oriented towards securing the continuous supply of a quality staple on a national, household, or individual level. Such practices range from scientists breeding new varieties of wheat that are productive and disease resistant to the government building silos for strategic grain storage, farmers growing wheat for homemade bread, and women freezing and heating loaves for their families. In bringing together these disparate domains of action, the book presents a novel theorization of the nexus between food and security, drawing attention to staples and the lengths to which people go to secure their consistent availability and quality.

This event will focus on one chapter of the book, which looks at how the Egyptian government procures foreign wheat, assesses grain quality, and stores wheat. A draft of the chapter will be circulated to attendees in advance and the event will be structured as an open discussion around the text, following a brief overview by Dr. Barnes and comments from a discussant.

This event is free.

All welcome. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance on the day.

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15 December 2020, 3:30–5:00pm

VIRTUAL EVENT: Toxic peanuts in the Anthropocene -  Noémi Tousignant (UCL, Science and Technology Studies)

This event is free.

Booking process TBC.

All welcome. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance on the day.

17 December 2020, 4:30-6:00pm

Book launch and panel discussion: Sujit Sivasundaram’s Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire (William Collins, 2020)

Hosted by UCL Anthropocene in partnership with the UCL Centre for the Study of South Asia and the Indian Ocean World.


With: Sunil Amrith (Yale), Debjani Bhattacharyya (Drexel), Margot Finn (UCL), Jagjeet Lally (UCL), and Sujit Sivasundaram (Cambridge)

Sujit Sivasundaram’s Waves Across the South is a wide-ranging and far-reaching new history of the origins of the British empire c.1790–1850. Inverting the usual northern focus on the ‘age of revolution’ it shows how empire, war, and counter-revolt were shaped by southern geographies and environments while being contested by indigenous communities. It does so by stressing the physical setting of the oceans as highways for mobile indigenous peoples who were independently exploring ideas of liberty and progress even while the British violently appropriated both peoples and ideas for themselves. Waves Across the South offers an integration of environmental, global, imperial, material, and southern histories. As Sivasundaram suggests, in our age of rising sea levels reflecting on how this global imperialism failed to flatten ocean-facing communities can help us ‘while the clock ticks for what can be done to turn around the environmental impact of globalisation and imperialism’.

Sujit will be discussing Waves Across the South with the leading historians of empire, environment, material culture, and Asia: Sunil Amrith, Debjani Bhattacharyya, Margot Finn, and Jagjeet Lally.

This event is free and will take place online.

All welcome. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance on the day

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19 January 2021, 3:30–5:00pm

VIRTUAL EVENT: Thinking Like a Climate - Hannah Knox (UCL, Anthropology)

Thinking like a climate - Hannah Knox

We are delighted to celebrate the launch of 'Thinking Like a Climate' (Duke University Press, 2020) by Hannah Knox (UCL, Anthropology) 

This event is free.

Booking process TBC

All welcome. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance on the day