How to think the Anthropocene? Anthropologists, philosophers and sociologists facing climate change.

November 5, 2015 - November 6, 2015
College de France

11 Place Marcelin Berthelot
Paris 75005

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  • Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
  • Fondation de l'écologie politique
  • Collège de France

Keynote speakers:

Dominique Bourg
University of Lausanne
John Broome
Oxford University
Isabelle Delpla
Université Jean-Moulin Lyon 3
Philippe Descola
College de France
Dale Jamieson
Bruno Latour
Sciences Po Paris
Valerie Masson-Delmotte
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Philippe Descola
College de France
Catherine Larrère
Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

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How to think the Anthropocene?

Anthropologists, philosophers and sociologists facing climate change.

In December 2015, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as the COP21 (21st Conference of the Parties), will take place in Bourget, near Paris. This conference raises both hopes and fears, and many think that this meeting is the last chance to cut a deal that might impose greenhouse gas emissions reduction and thus moderate global warming in order to avoid otherwise inevitable catastrophic impacts on the environment. 

Climate change is a global phenomenon par excellence, given the magnitude of worldwide ecological disruption caused by human activities. This is the main reason why some believe that the planet has left the Holocene and entered a new ecological epoch, the Anthropocene, distinguished by the impact of human populations (and of their activities) on geophysical phenomena. However, this global change is also a heterogeneous phenomenon: not only local populations all over the world are diversely affected depending on its effect on their living environment, but also their contributions to climate change differ, as well as their capacity to confront it.

During the conference, we will discuss the various aspects of justice in distribution of environmental responsibilities as a response  to climate change, in particular in the context of the principle “of shared but differentiated responsibilities” adopted in Rio de Janeiro and debated since then at climate conferences. Local consequences of climate change (sea level rise, drastic decline or increase of mean precipitation, melting of glaciers and ice caps, droughts frequency and intensity, hurricanes, forest fires, etc.) will impact populations with different resilience capacities. Responsibility and justice also presume active solidarity from countries either better adapted or richer, or both; therefore, we have to think about climate migration and its social and cultural consequences.

The Anthropocene hypothesis implies that human and natural history meet, and this affirms the unification of humanity, understood as a natural force. What does this unity mean, if, at the same time, we acknowledge that the magnitude of the influence of each human population on the global climate change varies considerably, and that different populations experience differently its consequences? How should it be understood from an anthropological point of view, since anthropology tends to insist on diversity of cultures and communities? Moreover, if nations’ search for a common stance makes it necessary to define the general interest, what are possible bases to determine this unity, given that this stance has to be not only political but also scientific?

We hope that we will able if not answer all those questions, at least provide a perfect setting to discuss them in a multidisciplinary context of social and human sciences. 

The conference is set to feature more than 50 distinguished speakers, including: 

  • Bernadette Bensaude Vincent (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
  • Christophe Bonneuil (Centre A. Koyré, Cnrs-Ehess-Mnhn)
  • Dominique Bourg (Université de Lausanne) 
  • Yves Cochet (Institut Momentum) 
  • Amy Dahan (IFRIS, Paris)
  • Isabelle Delpla (Université Lyon 3) 
  • Philippe Descola (Collège de France)
  • Jean-Baptiste Fressoz (Centre A. Koyré, Cnrs-Ehess-Mnhn)
  • Jacques Grinevald (Member of the Anthropocene Working Group/International Commission on Stratigraphy)
  • Clive Hamilton (Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics in Australia, & Charles Sturt University, member of the Board of the Climate Change Authority, Australia)
  • Alf Hornborg (University of Lund, Sweden)
  • Virginia Araceli García Acosta (Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Mexico)
  • Dale Jamieson (New York University) 
  • Catherine Larrère (Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne, président of the Fondation de l’Écologie Politique) 
  • Bruno Latour (Sciences Po)
  • Simon Lewis (University of Leeds)
  • Mark Maslin (University College London)
  • Valérie Masson-Delmotte (Laboratoire des sciences du climat et de l’environnement & Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change/IPCC) 
  • Germán Palacio (Universidad Nacional de Colombia / University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • Marie-Hélène Parizeau (Université Laval, Canada)
  • Astrid Ulloa (Universidad Nacional de Colombia)
  • Jan Zalasiewicz (University of Leicester)

The attendance is free, but please think about registering before coming to the conference: 

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November 1, 2015, 9:00am CET

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