Approaches to the Anthropocene: A Conversation with Philippe Descola and Bruno Latour

Dr. Philippe Descola was a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Peter Wall Institute and Dr. Bruno Latour was the fall 2013 Wall Exchange lecturer. On September 25, 2013 they engaged in a discussion at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver about the concept of the “Anthropocene.”

Dr. Descola and Dr. Latour are two of France’s most prominent intellectuals, redefining their respective fields of expertise by considering the place of human agency—and non-human actors—in the construction of the modern world. In this conversation, Dr. Latour and Dr. Descola debated the idea of the anthropocene, a new geological era in which humans have become the principal agents for the transformation of our planetary systems, from small-scale consumption of natural resources to to large-scale, human-induced climate changes. Drawing on the fields of anthropology, science studies and other allied disciplines, these two thinkers discussed their views on how intervention in the natural world has not only transformed planetary ecosystems, but also the very ideas and models we use to think about the planet as a whole. This event was co-sponsored by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, the Museum of Anthropology and the Consulat général de France à Vancouver.