Cosmologies of Ruins and Ruination: Infrastructures and the Anthropocene

Author(s): Christopher Morehart

Year: 2018


Scientists debate the Anthropocene as a geological epoch. But as a cultural phenomenon, the Anthropocene is recent. And as a cultural phenomenon, the Anthropocene projects a cosmology across history. This paper specifically examines how this cosmology understands the materiality of infrastructures, the built substrate upon which networks of human and non-human worlds intersect and collide. I argue that this cosmology contrasts infrastructures of the recent past as dangerous and polluting against infrastructures of the distant past as sacred and pure. This paper approaches this matter via the analysis of archaeological, historical, and ethnographic data over the past 1000 years in the Basin of Mexico. This case is particularly relevant because this region’s landscapes, places, and people both have defied and haven fallen within the limits of the Anthropocene cosmology. The development in infrastructures tied to varying institutional systems has always had to encounter—physically, socially, and culturally—the materiality of precedent, a trajectory that shows the Anthropocene is not simply geological or cultural but also is political. The need to project a cosmology of sustainability onto the present and into the future depends upon how the Anthropocene’s ideal and contrasting categories are strategically deployed.

Cite this Record

Cosmologies of Ruins and Ruination: Infrastructures and the Anthropocene. Christopher Morehart. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444890)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 18.48 ; max long: -94.087; max lat: 23.161 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22320