The Anthropocene Divide: Obscuring our Understanding of Socio-Environmental History

Author(s): Andrew Bauer; Erle Ellis

Year: 2017


Much scientific debate has focused on the timing and stratigraphic signatures for the Anthropocene. In this paper, we argue that strident debate about the Anthropocene’s chronological boundaries arises because its formal periodization necessarily forces an arbitrary break in a long history of human alteration of environments. The aim of dividing geologic time based on a "step-change" in the global significance of socio-environmental processes goes directly against the socially differentiated and diachronous character of human-environment relations. The environmental outcomes of human actions are not the coordinated synchronous product of a global humanity, but rather result from heterogeneous activities rooted in situated socio-political contexts entangled with material difference. Thus, the Anthropocene periodization, what we term the "Anthropocene Divide," obscures rather than helps understandings of long-term human environmental relationships and the social and political contexts of their production.

Cite this Record

The Anthropocene Divide: Obscuring our Understanding of Socio-Environmental History. Andrew Bauer, Erle Ellis. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430820)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 59.678; min lat: 4.916 ; max long: 92.197; max lat: 37.3 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15327