UCL Anthropocene


Event Recordings

Discover the work of UCL Anthropocene with these event recordings from past seminars

Forthcoming UCL Anthropocene events can be found on our Events page.

Anthropocene Histories

‘Anthropocene and the Challenges of Deep Historical Imagination’

Pratik Chakrabarti (Manchester) with Anna Echterhölter and John Sabapathy (UCL) as discussants.

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'Original sin & the Anthropocene'

Sylvain Piron (École Des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris), with Juliane Schiel (Universität Wien) and Alexis Litvine (Cambridge) responding.

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‘Thinking with extinction’

A panel discussion with Elizabeth Boakes (UCL), Lee Raye (Open University), Sadiah Qureshi (Birmingham), & Sandra Swart (Stellenbosch), chaired by Sophie Page (UCL).

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‘What should historians do in the next decade of the climate crisis?’

A panel discussion with Andreas Malm (Lund), Julia Adeney Thomas (Notre Dame), and Ling Zhang (Boston College), chaired by John Sabapathy (UCL).

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‘Epistemicides and the resources of justification’

David Ludwig (Wageningen University), Elizabeth A. Povinelli (Columbia) and Sujit Sivasundaram (Cambridge)

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‘Animal History in the Anthropocene’

Erica Fudge (Strathclyde), Peter Adamson (King’s, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich), Dolly Jorgensen (University of Stavanger, Norway) and Nayanika Mathur (Oxford), chaired by Sophie Page (UCL).

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‘Teaching environmental history & the Anthropocene: challenges and possibilities’

A panel discussion with Karen Jones (Kent) and Mark Levene (Southampton), chaired by John Sabapathy (UCL), who also presented on behalf of Amanda Power (Oxford).

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'Climate in Motion: Science, Empire and the Problem of Scale'

A retrospective discussion of Deborah Coen's important book 'Climate in Motion: Science, Empire and the Problem of Scale' (Chicago University Press, 2018). Followed by commentary by Eva Horn (University of Vienna) and Richard Staley (University of Cambridge).

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Whose Energy?

A panel discussion with Nigel Clark (University of Lancaster) and Yuliya Yurchenko (University of Greenwich)

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Locating the Anthropocene: Markers, meaning, implications

Panel discussion with Simon Turner (AWG/UCL), Neil Rose (AWG/UCL), Andy Cundy (AWG/NOC Southampton), Jenny Bulstrode (UCL), Julia Adeney Thomas (Notre Dame), Adam Wickberg (MPIWG/KTH) and chair John Sabapathy (UCL).

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John Sabapathy's Inaugural lecture: 'Goodbye Cockaigne! Working, eating, & laughing in the Anthropocene, 1250-2023'

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You can read a full report on the lecture written by History PhD student Hugo Raine here

On Fragments and Hotspots: Containment and Care in the Extraction of Mount Nimba

 Emmanuelle Roth and Gregg Mitman (Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU)
This was a joint event hosted by SHS Health, Mind and Society and UCL Anthropocene

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The hotspot. In an age of anxiety about climate change, species extinction, and disease outbreaks, the hotspot is an iconic image in tales of the Anthropocene. Its genealogies are many and span biogeography, conservation science, disease ecology, and their economies of knowledge production. In a snippet of Zaire Ebola virus taken from a Nimba long-fingered bat that lived in an abandoned mining adit in a fragment of the Guinean Forests of West Africa, the scales and histories of the hotspot converge. 

Situated on the Liberia-Guinea-Côte d'Ivoire border, the Mount Nimba region, with its precious iron ore formations, species-rich rainforests, and novel viruses, gives us a glimpse into what human, nonhuman, and inanimate beings can be to each other. The fractured formations and tectonic plates of friction that comprise Nimba’s geological and life histories invite us to rethink categories of the social beyond those described by multispecies ethnography. Hotspots–of extractive investment, of biodiversity, of emerging infectious diseases–each thrive on particular bedrock and attract certain gatherings of science, politics, and capital.  Changing strategies of containment and care have shaped relations between and among the living and nonliving actors in this extractive zone where the interests of mining, conservation, pandemic preparedness, local livelihoods, and ecotourism converge, collaborate, and collide.  

In this talk, we follow the recent geo turn in the humanities and ask what new social worlds and power relations appear when we extend constituent players beyond the living to include, for example, the earth’s rock strata or the discarded remains of human activities.  In this fragment of the Upper Guinean Forests of West Africa, unexpected alliances among rocks, plants, animals, viruses and people appear as past relations are severed, new bonds are forged, and uneasy compromises are found in the disarray and order that cycles of capitalist extraction unleash and seek to impose.

Emmanuelle Roth is an anthropologist and a postdoctoral research fellow in the project “Fragments of the Forest: Hot Zones, Disease Ecologies, and the Changing Landscape of Environment and Health in West Africa,” funded by the European Research Council (2021–2026) and located at the Rachel Carson Center. She works at the crossroads between medical anthropology, science and technology studies, and environmental history, and investigates discourses about epidemic origins, interactions between humans and nonhumans, and historical configurations of insecurity in West Africa.

Gregg Mitman is the Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History, Medical History, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is also a Guest Research Professor at LMU’s Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, where he leads a European Research Council Advanced Grant, Fragments of the Forest: Hot Zones, Disease Ecologies, and the Changing Landscape of Environment and Health in West Africa.   A historian of science, medicine, and the environment, Mitman has spent the last decade on a multimedia project—films, a book, and public history website—exploring the history and legacy of the Firestone Plantations Company in Liberia. His most recent book, Empire of Rubber: Firestone’s Scramble for Land and Power in Liberia, was published by The New Press in 2021.

The Challenge of the Anthropocene

Professor Andrew Barry (UCL Geography), Professor Dorian Fuller (UCL Archaeology), Dr Caroline Garaway (UCL Anthropology), Dr Sahra Gibbon (UCL Anthropology), Professor Mark Maslin (UCL Geography) and Dr John Sabapathy (UCL History). Chaired by Professor Sasha Roseneil (Dean, Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences).


A panel of six experts drawn from the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences to discuss how research and teaching at UCL helps us advance thinking about the Anthropocene, as the world responds to the Covid-19 pandemic and prepares for the United Nations Climate Change conference, COP26, in November.

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Vanesa Castán Broto - The Uses of Messiness: For a Reparatory Reading of the Anthropocene


Humanity is operating in crisis mode. The climate emergency has developed into panic responses. Declarations of emergency have swept institutions, following a youth-led social movement that has built momentum for a radical transformation. Promises of radical transformation proliferate in academic discourse, both from the natural and social sciences. Transformation thinking seeps into policy and practice—prescriptions for a Green New Deal, which in Europe have crystalized into a continent-wide plan for action, contain the promise of a government-led global transformation.

One characteristic feature of those responses is a concern with reordering the world. Many of these epochal narratives have a tone of nostalgia, looking back to a well-ordered past when climate change was not yet a concern or perhaps when we lived ordered, unpolluted lives. Practices of ordering are visible in international climate change governance, climate urbanism, and everyday climate change action. However, this impulse towards ordering has already encountered the messy realities of the world. The spectre of authoritarianism haunts the deployment of a politics of ordering in climate change.

In this lecture, I propose to engage with an alternative, reparatory reading of the landscape of climate change action. Such reparatory reading requires embracing the world as messy and harnessing that messiness as a means for delivering situated actions for a heterogeneous edifice of hope.

Vanesa Castán Broto is Professor of Climate Urbanism, University of Sheffield, UK, where she heads a research group on that topic. She is the Principal Investigator of the ERC-funded project LOACT (Low Carbon Action in Ordinary Cities) and of the GCRF-funded project (for now) CESET (Community Energy and Sustainable Transitions in Ethiopia, Malawi and Mozambique). She is also a Lead Author of the 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group II.

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Suzanna Sawyer - Radical Inspections: Of Sensorium as Toxic Proposition


This project explores the processes that compelled an Ecuadorian court in 2011 to find Chevron liable for $9 billion, and compelled the US District Court in 2014 and Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2018 to delegitimize the Ecuador ruling for being procured through fraud.

Working against Chevron’s corruption worlding, this talk offers a glimpse into the litigation in Ecuador that found Chevron culpable. It suggests that the Ecuador litigation (despite its flaws) serves as an instructive judicial assembly for reckoning near-intractable contamination disputes. By subsuming complex scientific evidence within experiential truths, unique evidentiary procedures in Ecuador triggered a process for distributing responsibility under the law. Given multiplying socio-ecological harms, this project hazards a method for thinking challenging environmental controversies and making sense of formidable corporate challenges.

Suzana Sawyer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis. She earned her undergraduate degree from University of California, Berkeley and PhD from Stanford University. Her work has focused on conflicts surrounding resource extraction (Crude Chronicles [2004], Politics of Resource Extraction [2012]).

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Book launch - 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’.

Link to event recording

Contemporary Art in the Anthropocene

Contributing artists: Kat Austen, Rhona Eve Clews, Simon Faithfull, Christina della Giusina, Nick Laessing, Onya McCausland and Hermione Spriggs


Expanding the focus on scientific data which is common to discourse on the subject, UCL Anthropocene emphasises the causal links between the conditions of human experience and escalating ecological collapse. In this vein, this se¬minar will explore the potential of contemporary art practice in addressing the problems that the Anthropocene poses for our collective future.

Given the scope of the subject at hand, the format will be expansive and discursive. Each of the six contributing UCL artists will give a short presentation (10-15 minutes) to introduce the significance of the notion of the Anthropocene within their practice and point towards ways in which contemporary art might effectively address the environmental crisis. Afterwards, these perspectives will be brought into dialogue through a 30-minute round table discussion, which will also be an opportunity to welcome questions from the audience.

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UCL Anthropocene Inaugural Seminar Series

As part of our lead-up to the launch of UCL Anthropocene, a first series of seminar discussions for UCL staff and students was held.

This series was framed by two questions: What implications does the Anthropocene have for our disciplines? And what can our disciplines do to how we understand the Anthropocene?

In each seminar, contributors addressed the question of what the Anthropocene 'does' to their disciplines, and discussed the value of interdisciplinary thinking on the environment which UCL Anthropocene facilitates.

Seminar 1: Geography+

Véra Ehrenstein (STS) – Science and Technology Studies (STS) and the Anthropocene

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Mark Maslin (Geography) – The Conjunction of all Disciplines

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Andrew Barry (Geography) – Early and Late Anthropocenes

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Seminar 2: History & Politics+

Tom Pegram (Political Science) – What does the Anthropocene do to Politics?

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Nils W Metternich (Political Science) – Climate change and conflict

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John Sabapathy (History) – What does the Anthropocene do to History?

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Seminar 3: Anthropology+

Jerome Lewis (Anthropology) – Anthropology in the Anthropocene

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Katherine Homewood (Anthropology) – What do Human Ecology studies offer the Anthropocene?

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Sahra Gibbon (Anthropology) – Medical Anthropology and the Anthropocene

Seminar 4: Archaeology+

Manuel Arroyo Kalin (Archaeology) – Rewilding the Anthropocene in Amazonia

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Dean Sully (Archaeology) – Objects of the Misanthropocene

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Dorian Fuller (Archaeology) – Early Anthropocene carbon emissions

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Colin Sterling (Archaeology) – Heritage in the Anthropocene

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Elizabeth Graham (Archaeology) – The Future is Rubbish

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Pola Oloixarac in conversation with Dr Emily Baker

Writer Pola Oloixarac in conversation with Dr Emily Baker (Comparative Literature and Latin American Cultural Studies, UCL SELCS)

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The Nutmeg’s Curse and The Dawn of Everything: a discussion with Amitav Ghosh and David Wengrow

View the recording here

'Genres of Emergency' with Daisy Hildyard

Daisy Hildyard, author of two novels – Emergency (2022) and Hunters in the Snow (2014) – and one work of nonfiction, The Second Body (2017), talks to Hans Demeyer about reinventing the pastoral novel for the era of the Anthropocene.

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Does the Past have an Expiry Date? A conversation with Georgi Gospodinov and Angela Rodel

The International Booker Prize winning author Georgi Gospodinov and his translator Angela Rodel joined UCL SSEES’s Uilleam Blacker, who was a member of the judging panel for the Prize, for a conversation about Georgi’s latest, multi-award-winning novel, Time Shelter, a brilliant, satirical look at memory, nostalgia and populist politics. 

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A collaboration between UFRGS Brazil, CIESAS Mexico and UCL Anthropocene.

All recordings of the Embodied Inequalities of the Anthropocene series can be found here.

Situated Bioart: The Argentine Contemporary Scene and the Anthropocene

Discussing contemporary bioart in the light of theories of the Anthropocene. Professor Lucía Stubrin in conversation with Dr Emily Baker

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In 1998 the first manifesto was published that established an artistic category for visual poetics that addressed the manipulation of the living: Transgenic Art (Eduardo Kac, Leonardo MIT Magazine). The main characteristic of these works was the collaborative production of living works between artists and scientists in biotechnology laboratories. Several decades later we can recognize the consolidation of a genre with particular sets of appropriations. For example, in countries like Argentina the impact of this type of work generated the creation of specialized institutions for artistic training, scholarships, awards and an art system permeable to experimentation with the living. Since 2008, when the first Latin American bio-art laboratory was created in the city of Buenos Aires, new aesthetics have begun to unfold, some of them in conflict with mainstream logics. A situated gaze appears in circulation from the global south that is in dialogue with what is happening in other parts of the planet and which engages with the critical background established by the concept of Anthropocene.


Michelle Murphy: Chemical Exposures and Place-Thought

Professor Murphy gave this talk as part of the Chemical Exposures workshop, a joint partnership between UCL Anthropocene and SHS Health, Mind and Society

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What are Chemical Exposures? What epistemic habits and units of analysis reinscribe the violence relations that ongoingly permit chemical exposures. Is a chemical pollutant a molecule, or something else? Professor Murphy's talk considers the ways chemical pollution extends out into land disruption, ongoing colonialism, and financialization, distributing mortality to beings and their relationships while also reproducing entitlements. Through Indigenous feminist approaches starting with what Haudenosaunee/Anishinaabe scholar Vanessa Watt’s calls place-thought, this talk considers ways to rethinking chemical exposures in the specificity of Chemical Valley on the lower Great Lakes, reaching for ways to activate responsibilities to Indigenous jurisdiction, intergenerational being, and desire-based land-body relations.



Engineering Vaccine Equity & The Future of Global Health Innovation

Panel: Gustavo Matta (Fiocruz), Priti Patnaik (Geneva Health Files), Penny Carmichael (UCL), Hyo Yoon Kang (University of Kent), hosted by workshop co-convenors Andrew Barry (UCL) and Paige Patchin (UCL)


Following a series of workshops, this final roundtable will see the panel sum up conclusions and answer the questions addressed over the course of the two previous days. Is it possible to both accelerate vaccine research and production and ensure global vaccine equity at the same time, or what might potential tensions between these two goals be? How far do biomedical innovations, such as new technology platforms, themselves points towards possibilities for significant transformations of traditional R&D models? To what extent to the demands for equitable vaccine access foster the creation of new biochemical infrastructures? What changes need to happen both to reduce the threat of pandemics on a similar scale, and to address the problem of vaccine equity?

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Book Launch - Hannah Knox's Thinking Like a Climate: Governing a City in Times of Environmental Change

Hannah Knox discusses Thinking Like a Climate, with responses from Dr Pushpa Arabindoo (UCL Geography and co-director of UCL Urban Laboratory) and Professor Andrew Barry (UCL Geography and co-convenor of UCL Anthropocene).


In her new book, Thinking Like a Climate, Hannah Knox confronts the challenges that climate change poses to knowledge production and modern politics. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among policy makers, politicians, activists, scholars, and the public in Manchester, England—birthplace of the Industrial Revolution—Knox explores the city's strategies for understanding and responding to deteriorating environmental conditions.

Climate science, Knox argues, frames climate change as a very particular kind of social problem that confronts the limits of administrative and bureaucratic techniques of knowing people, places, and things. Exceeding these limits requires forging new modes of relating to climate in ways that reimagine the social in climatological terms. Knox contends that the day-to-day work of crafting and implementing climate policy and translating climate knowledge into the work of governance demonstrates that local responses to climate change can be scaled up to effect change on a global scale.

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Kat Austen: Artistic Approaches to the Echoes of Fossil Fuels


Fossil fuel use is essential to the anthropocene. In this presentation artist Kat Austen will discuss two artworks that address the topic of fossil fuel legacies. In the context of the climate crisis, Stranger to the Trees looks at microplastic, themselves a product of fossil fuel-intensive industrial processes, and their coexistence with trees in forests as carbon sinks. This Land is not Mine looks at the postextractive landscape of Lusatia as the region transitions from brown coal mining towards sustainability. Leveraging diverse methods including DIY science, acoustic ecologies and new material studies, Austen creates multimedia works that develop aesthetics of sustainability.

Kat Austen is a person. In her artistic practice, she focusses on environmental issues. She melds disciplines and media, creating sculptural and new media installations, performances and participatory work. Austen’s practice is underpinned by extensive research and theory, and driven by a motivation to explore how to move towards a more socially and environmentally just future.

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Noémi Tousignant - Toxic Peanuts in the Anthropocene


“Anthropocene” invites us to tell certain kinds of stories about unnaturalness, pathogenicity and damage. What is the range of options, and what kinds of evidence are needed, for producing “Anthropocene accounts” of history, ecology and toxicity?

In this seminar, Noémi will reflect on these questions with respect to aflatoxins, metabolites of crop-colonizing fungi that are classified as carcinogens, as they arise in Senegal’s peanut economy.

Peanut farming has, since the early twentieth century, radically altered Senegalese landscapes, foodways and demography. Yet there is little data on how these changes may have affected fungal metabolisms, or on the parameters and effects of varying Senegalese exposures to aflatoxin-bearing peanuts.

Without such causal threads to pull on, can aflatoxin and its carcinogenicity in Senegal be historicized as effects of the peanut economy?

Link to event recording

Carina Fearnley - Walking the Sound: Beside the Ocean of Time


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.

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Simon Turner - 'Earth Indices: Evidence and Experiment, A Golden Spike for the Anthropocene'

Exploring the background of the stratigraphic start of the Anthropocene through the Earth Indices: On Evidence and Experiment project.

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