The Digital Anthropocene

The outcome of a workshop, ETHOS Lab will, on behalf of workshop collaborators and participants share a Digital Anthropocene Syllabus. Read more about the workshop below, and stay tuned on this page for resources.

Download the Digital Anthropocene Poster here.

We make the digital from the natural world, crafting metals and plastics into sleek handheld forms. We observe and make our understandings of environments through digital devices, spreadsheet accounting and carbon calculations. We have brought epochal shifts into being through rhetoric, disciplines, and geological measures. The Anthropocene is a digitally mediated and produced time. Yet the ‘we’ of these statements is an unevenly distributed set of actors, and the politics of producing the Digital Anthropocene are pressing. From planetary observation and oceanic measurement to marine tailings, the appropriation of precious metals and labours of pollution, anthropocenic knowledge is deeply woven in with computation, tools, media and devices.

This workshop draws together interdisciplinary thinking on the natural and the digital, the environmental and the managerial, the material and the sensor-ial. In 2018’s Data Ecologies of the Anthropocene, James Maguire and Astrid Anderson asked how data and environment making are becoming mutually constitutive. In this follow up, we advance that starting point by asking how a syllabus on The Digital Anthropocene could reflect this co-constitution. Working collaboratively, the outcome of the workshop will be a co-authored, annotated Digital Anthropocene Syllabus, hosted on the ETHOS website and sites of participating institutions. It will be open access, free to download, and cite-able, modifiable to different teaching situations, programs and class sizes.

A syllabus on a topic such as this should be an interdisciplinary challenge, and part of the work of the workshop will be to draw out the scope, themes and questions that feel relevant and pressing for such a course. What do students need to read? What might be considered foundational texts, and why? How might students be equipped to ask questions of their own? In answering these questions, we aim to delineate for 2019 a fast emerging field of study, and think through our own current and future research projects.

During the afternoon, small working groups will develop module titles and descriptions, reading lists, and/or field based practical workshops. If there is interest within the convened group, we may aim to publish the syllabus as part of a write up of the event, primarily to help the syllabus into circulation. Participants will be asked to prepare by bringing 2-3 articles, chapters or books they would like to see on this syllabus.