The digital “Anthropocene”: mediating environmental crisis and transformation

The digital “Anthropocene”: mediating environmental crisis and transformation (17 May 2023, KU Leuven Faculty of Social Sciences)

We are surrounded by indications that the accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere has irrevocably altered the systems of life on earth, with the “anthropocene” (or capitalocene, plantationocene…) becoming not just a matter of intellectual debate but a lived reality. At the same time, human lives are increasingly realized in digital spaces, which often provides privileged links to non-human environments and species. These widespread mediations urge attention to how digital technologies shape interactions with the “anthropocene”, serving as conduits structuring the formation of relationalities, sociocultural practices, and imaginaries.

In this workshop, we seek to collaboratively address such key questions as: Do new practices, such as datafication and the formalization of nature, spur changes in the concept of (anthropogenic) nature, and if so, how? In what ways do digital and virtual realities – spaces which are reshaping human sociality – interact with anthropocenic worlds, troubling categories of the human/non-human? Do digital technologies and practices influence the geographies and relationalities through which humans interact with the more-than-human world and engage in conservation efforts, and does digital mediation inflect engagement with climate change, biodiversity loss, and other indicators of the “anthropocene”?

We welcome papers that address these topics and more, to be submitted by 12 April 2023. Please send a title and 250-word abstract to Applications are encouraged from PhD students, postdoctoral scholars and early career ZAP from KU Leuven, University of Antwerp, and Hasselt University. Notice of acceptance will be issued by 24 April 2023. Stipends for train travel will be provided for attendees from University of Antwerp and University of Hasselt.

Our workshop is organized around a seminar to be delivered by Professor Liana Chua (University of Cambridge) between 14:00-16:00 in Ruth Benedict Hall, FSW 00.113, KU Leuven. Prior to the seminar in FSW 03.155, six participants will present and gain feedback on ongoing research. The workshop concludes with a roundtable session, with participants reflecting on some of the premises and basic arguments of research in this domain by discussing a pair of recent texts:

von Essen, E., Turnbull, J., Searle, A., Jørgensen, F.A., Hofmeester, T.R., and van der Wal, R. (2021) Wildlife in the Digital Anthropocene: Examining Human-Animal Relations through Surveillance Technologies.Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space. OnlineFirst.

Tsing, Anna L., Jennifer Deger, Alder Keleman Saxena and Feifei Zhou, eds. (2021) Feral Atlas: the More-than-Human Anthropocene. Stanford University Press.


We look forward to your abstracts, and to seeing you in May!


    17 mei, 2023
    icon Faculty of Social Sciences
    Parkstraat 45
    3000 Leuven
    Ruth Benedict room (SW 00.113)
    PhD postdoc ZAP