The politics of urbanization and the Anthropocene: a view from Cahokia

Author(s): Sarah Baires

Year: 2017


Anthropocene: a hotly debated geological epoch entangled with climate change, the Industrial Revolution, and the perceived deleterious effect of humans on the natural world. A dialectic surrounds the Anthropocene because identifying this epoch, geologically, has real implications for global politics and the future of humanity in a changing global environment. Crossland (2014) suggests that to understand the palimpsest of global human action that resulted in the Anthropocene requires us to consider a broader network of relational events that move beyond the Industrialized West. This necessitates a re-orientation from a human-centric view of the world to one that considers human and other-than-human relations. Archaeology is uniquely situated to examine the Anthropocene; we are concerned with the multi-scalar interactions of humans with the natural world. In this paper, I examine the concept of urbanism at Cahokia, a pre-Columbian North American city, and its relationships with the Anthropocene. I discuss the implications for and results of ‘city-life’ that have had unique impacts on the global environment (e.g. excess garbage, modifying the natural environment, development of agriculture). My data concerns the construction of monumental earthworks and neighborhoods with the natural environment and their impact on the environment.

Cite this Record

The politics of urbanization and the Anthropocene: a view from Cahokia. Sarah Baires. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430823)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -104.634; min lat: 36.739 ; max long: -80.64; max lat: 49.153 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15971