Conference “How to Think the Anthropocene?” (Paris, November 5-6, 2015)



How to think the Anthropocene?

Anthropologists, philosophers and sociologists facing climate change.

The conference, coordinated by Catherine Larrère and under the auspices of Philippe Descola, will be jointly organized by:

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 arouses as much fears as hopes: 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.

From this perspective, and with the desire to mobilize all efforts to find a solution, we wish to gather together philosophers, anthropologists and sociologists for an international conference that will take place in Paris, at Collège de France, on November 5-6, 2015.

We propose two main axes of reflection:

  1. climate change as both global and heterogeneous
  2. mitigation and adaptation as possible responses to climate change.

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.

Once we realise that it is not possible, at this stage, to prevent the climate change that has already taken place, there are only two plausible responses: mitigation or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to the effects of climate change. These two responses are by no means mutually exclusive. It would be naïve to think that only one of them might be sufficient: even though we cannot simply accept adapting ourselves to any changes to come and we should indeed continue to concentrate political efforts on mitigation, it will remain necessary to think of adaptation to processes which are on-going, and that will go on even if we manage to reduce drastically greenhouse gas emissions. We have no reason to see adaptation as an automatic adjustment process that would lessen the urgent need to reduce gas emissions and that would be tantamount to adopting the “business as usual” strategy.

In order to grasp the significance of these two axes, the one of globality and diversity and the other of adaptation and mitigation, and to make clear the challenges they raise, we want to confront the view of those who conceptualize relations between human societies and their environment from a wide comparative perspective. We would like to invite scholars from various disciplines to face problems that have recently been central to philosophical, anthropological and sociological debates about climate change, and to explore them in confrontation with the two axes mentioned above.

Call for papers and symposia for the conference is announced here.  

Keynote speakers

Patronage Committee

Scientific committee

  • Christophe Bonneuil (CNRS/Centre Alexandre Koyré)
  • Pierre Charbonnier (CNRS/EHESS-LIER)
  • Philippe Descola (Collège de France)
  • Mathias Girel (ENS Ulm)
  • Dale Jamieson (NYU)
  • Catherine Larrère (Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne), Fondation de l’Ecologie Politique
  • Emmanuel Picavet (Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne)
  • Anna Zielinska (Université Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne / MPIL)

Working languages of the Conference will be English and French; all plenary talks will be available in both languages.

Contact :

Our partners :

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photo: bart kuzia


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