Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Turbulence: Turbulent Matters - Posthumanism, Agency and the Anthropocene

20 June 2019, 5:00 pm–7:00 pm

Turbulence 2

We are delighted to welcome speakers Dr Martin Crowley (Cambridge) and Dr Joanna Page (Cambridge) for this event on ‘Turbulent Matters: Posthumanism, Agency and the Anthropocene’. The speakers will each give a thirty-minute talk and will then be joined by discussants Dr Mara Polgovsky Ezcurra (Birkbeck, History of Art) and Dr Lucy Bollington (UCL, Institute of Advanced Studies) who will commence the Q&A session.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Lucy Bollington


IAS Common Ground
Ground Floor, South Wing, UCL
United Kingdom
Earthlings Against Latour! or: Problems of Political Agency in the Anthropocene, by Dr Martin Crowley 

If the Anthropocene describes human activity as a distinctive geophysical force, this activity has simultaneously emerged as enmeshed with the actions of all kinds of other beings. What are the consequences of this for an understanding of political agency? Bruno Latour's recasting of agency across human-nonhuman assemblages is here fundamental. But we must also go beyond Latour, to imagine political agency as not only ecologically plural, but also robust enough to fight for this plurality in the conflicts of the Anthropocene.

Turbulence and agency in contemporary Latin American art-science projects, by Dr Joanna Page

For Naomi Oreskes, Bruno Latour, Dipesh Chakrabarty and other thinkers on climate change, humans have become geological agents in their capacity to alter the Earth’s systems. This paper will explore how three contemporary artists – Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (Mexico), Claudia Müller (Chile), and Paúl Rosero Contreras (Ecuador) – reflect critically on the relationship between humans and planetary forces. Engaging closely with the turbulent dynamics of solar flares, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, their projects interrogate the usefulness and the limitations of ‘species thinking’ and question the easy universalism of current theories of the Anthropocene. They also demonstrate how contemporary art-science projects can expand our conceptions of a ‘common world’, a subject of increasing theoretical interest on both sides of the Atlantic.


Martin Crowley is Reader in Modern French Thought and Culture at the University of Cambridge, where he is also Anthony L. Lyster Fellow in Modern and Medieval Languages at Queens' College. His current research explores the possibility of modelling decisive political agency without grounding this in disastrous human exceptionalism.

Joanna Page is a Reader in Latin American Literature and Visual Culture at the University of Cambridge. She has published a number of books on literature, film, and graphic fiction from Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America. Her current research project, funded by the British Academy, is entitled ‘Science and the Arts in Contemporary Latin America: Constructing a Life in Common’.

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