Taft Research Center Talk

I just returned from visiting the University of Cincinnati where I gave a talk at the Taft Research Center. Many thanks to the UC Dept. of Anthropology for inviting me to share my work. Here is a copy of the paper I presented, which summarizes some of the ideas put forward in my book Amazonia in the Anthropocene.

Cultures of Energy Podcast

Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer invited me on to the Cultures of Energy podcast to discuss my recent book Amazonia in the Anthropocene. Our conversation touched on an number of different topics including Amazonian deforestation, the politics of indigeneity, terra preta do índio (Amazonian Dark Earth), American Confederates in the Amazon, weeds (and weed), flooding in south Florida, Marx and the metabolic rift, and “night soil” (i.e. human shit). The episode just went online today. Give it listen.

The Challenges of the Anthropocene: A Conversation

Yesterday I spoke with Matthew DeMello about my recent article The Irony of the Anthropocene. We discussed some of the challenges posed by this new geological epoch and the current ecological crisis facing humanity. We also talked about how the global situation compares with that of the Amazon region specifically. You can take a listen here.

The Irony of the Anthropocene

I just published a short essay with The Conversation that outlines some of the inherent contradictions and ironies in the Anthropocene. Despite the common portrayal of humanity as the dominant force on the planet, I argue that the Anthropocene is rooted in a growing realization that we are in a state of ecological crisis that defies our control.

Review of “Amazonia in the Anthropocene” in TLS

Michael F. Brown reviewed my book in the Times Literary Supplement this July. Here’s a brief excerpt:

“Growing awareness of humankind’s role in shaping Amazonian environments raises new questions about anthropology’s hoariest dichotomy: the distinction between nature and culture. Anthropologists working elsewhere in Amazonia – notably Philippe Descola, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro and Eduardo Kohn – have embraced strands of post-humanist thought that reject an exclusive focus on human intentionality in favour of indigenous ideologies that portray the natural world as an eminently social domain…Amazonia in the Anthropocene offers an admirably concise and accessible contribution to this analytical ferment…[Kawa] wishes to challenge current scientific thinking about the Anthropocene, the proposed geological epoch defined by humanity’s pre-eminent role in reshaping the planet’s physical features – land, water, and atmospheric conditions. We may think of ourselves as having achieved planetary mastery, but ultimately, Kawa insists, “humans are not the only actors of consequence in the world, nor are humans the only ones who can ‘see’ or ‘think’ or ‘know’.”

Q&A with UT Press

University of Texas Press just posted a short interview with me about my new book Amazonia in the Anthropocene: People, Soils, Plants, Forests, which was published this month. The interview touches on recent debates over the origins of the Anthropocene as well as my critiques of its current conceptualization. It also discusses some of the problems with the dominant portrayals of Amazonia and its people that circulate outside of the region. UT Press will be promoting the book at the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) in New York City this week.