A Meaningful Anthropocene?: Golden Spikes, Transitions, and Boundary Objects

Author(s): Todd Braje; Matthew Lauer

Year: 2018


Despite opposition by a number of anthropologists, archaeologists, sociologists, and other historical and social scientists, a proposal to designate a geologic epoch of humans, the Anthropocene, is moving forward with a proposed starting date sometime in the last 50 years. The Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) and other, mostly, geological scientists have focused on the stratigraphic signatures for the boundary marker in lieu of understanding the long-term processes that have resulted in human domination of the Earth. As a growing number of papers that explicitly reference the Anthropocene are published, a theme that ties them together is the general lack of continuity on how we should define an Anthropocene. While the AWG strives to reach a consensus definition, we argue that the Anthropocene is best viewed as a ‘boundary object,’ where it can be adaptable enough to incorporate multiple viewpoints but robust enough to be meaningful within different disciplines. In doing so, we can maintain the original intent of an Anthropocene epoch, as a call-to-arms for future sustainable management of local, regional, and global environments, and fundamentally reconfigure established boundaries between nature and culture and the social and natural sciences.

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A Meaningful Anthropocene?: Golden Spikes, Transitions, and Boundary Objects. Todd Braje, Matthew Lauer. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443996)

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Abstract Id(s): 18809