How might one responsibly review a field just coming into being—such as that provoked by the term Anthropocene? In this article, we argue for two strategies. First, working from the premise that the Anthropocene field is best understood within its emergence, we review conferences rather than publications. In conference performances, we glimpse the themes and tensions of a field-to-come. Second, we interpret Anthropocene as a science-fiction concept, that is, one that pulls us out of familiar space and time to view our predicaments differently. This allows us to explore emergent figurations, genres, and practices for the transdisciplinary study of real and imagined worlds framed by human disturbance. In the interplay and variation across modes for constructing this field, Anthropocene scholarship finds its shape.
Anthropocene as Science Fiction and Scholarship-in-the-Making
Heather Anne Swanson, Nils Bubandt and Anna Tsing
Influences from Global Imagery and Globalization
The experience of girlhood is shifting in Tanzania as family structure is altered by economic migration and the impact of HIV/AIDS. Also significant is the influence of globalization and global imagery, which are shaping the nature of girlhood and the experience of transitioning to young womanhood. A deeper understanding of how globalizing influences are changing girls' growing up experiences, from the perspectives of the girls themselves and the adults who intersect with them in their daily lives is essential. A rural versus urban comparative case study was conducted in the Kilimanjaro region of northern Tanzania, which explored the perspectives of girls and adults through a range of methodologies. Both adults and girls expressed concerns that globalization is negatively influencing the transition to young womanhood, with girls feeling much more appreciative of the new gendered opportunities provided by the influx of external influences.
The Politics of Carnival in the Dutch Province of Limburg
Leonie Cornips and Vincent De Rooij
In this article, we will present two case studies of language and cultural practices that are part of or strongly related to carnival, in the Dutch peripheral province of Limburg, and more precisely in the southern Limburgian city of Heerlen, which in turn is considered peripheral vis-à-vis the provincial capital Maastricht. We will consider carnival as a political force field in which opposing language and cultural practices are involved in the production of belonging as an official, public-oriented 'formal structure' of membership, and belonging as a personal, intimate feeling of being 'at home' in a place (place-belongingness) (Antonsich 2010; Yuval-Davis 2006). In the case studies presented here, we take seriously the idea that ideology, linguistic form and the situated use of language are dialectically related (Silverstein 1985). In doing so, we wish to transcend disciplinary boundaries between anthropology and (socio)linguistics in Europe.
This article shows in what ways Matthew Ratcliffe’s phenomenological theory of existential feelings is relevant to film and media studies. Existential feelings are “feelings in the body, which are experienced as one‘s relationship with the world as a whole.” They are related to other concepts in film theory; however, their relation to films has never been systematically examined. The article discusses how audiovisual media are able to represent, express, and evoke existential feelings, and even work as “qualia machines” in making viewers partially share feelings of characters. Focusing on the paradigmatic case of depression and on exemplary films like Dominik Graf’s Deine besten Jahre, the article identifies different aesthetic strategies to express existential feelings. Building on that, the article argues that the power of films to evoke related feelings in the viewers is a crucial factor in spreading ideas about how others feel and conveying collective structures of feeling.
Global Memory, Trauma and the 'Negative Sublime'
Andrew S. Gross
This essay argues that the construction of the Jewish Museum Berlin and the Berlin Holocaust Memorial constitutes a paradigm shift in Holocaust commemoration in Germany. The structures architecturally resemble their US counterparts and particularly the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum more than they do the other memorials and museums in Berlin’s complex commemorative landscape. American responses to the European catastrophe have significantly impacted European commemorative forms. Indeed, an internationally recognizable memorial architecture seems to be emerging, one emphasizing gaps, voids, incongruities and the personal relation to what theorists and commentators have begun to call ‘negative’ or ‘evil sublime’. Contemporary memorials and museums are not designed to ‘merely’ house collections; rather, they draw attention to themselves as symbols and symptoms of traumatic memory. They act out the trauma of the Holocaust as architecture; walking through them is supposed to be a step towards working through that trauma as feeling and experience.
‘And how should I begin?’ Naturally, or post-naturally enough, at the end. We have been hearing for some time recently of the end of things and this paradoxically, is where we must start. Book titles have warned us of the End of the Nation and Nation State, the End of Print, the End of Architecture, The End of Work, the End of Man, the End of Economic Man, the End of Time, the End of the Future, the End of History and yes, the End of the World. It doesn’t take a salaried cultural critic to see here the symptom of an encroaching mood, the expression on the part of marooned journalists and intellectuals of what Raymond Williams termed a ‘structure of feeling’. It expresses not so much conviction – though these scenarios of the end could not in one way be more final – as the waning of common beliefs and values. Hence the appearance world-wide of millennial sects, outcrops of New Age mysticism, the thrill of out of body experiences and the paranormal; even if, thanks to postmodernism, these tend to be more normal than para, and to come at you via the X Files or the Virgin multiplex than anywhere more distant. New media combine oddly with the new mysticism, advanced technologies with advancing teleologies. This is the way then that we are seeing in the fin de siècle, the beckoning end of century when Bakhtinian carnival will at last take to the streets, fleeing its confinement in works of cultural theory, and we shall all go belly up and dance our heads off. Or when half the world will fall into poverty, disease, and starvation and the other half wear itself out in vainglorious in-fighting, leaving a sybaritic residue to enter upon a computer-aided decadence of virtual existence. Or when we shall go up in smoke in a bang and whimper all at once.