The Anthropocene monument : on relating geological and human time

Szerszynski, Bronislaw (2017) The Anthropocene monument : on relating geological and human time. European Journal of Social Theory, 20 (1). pp. 111-131. ISSN 1368-4310

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In the Parthenon frieze, the time of mortals and the time of gods seem to merge. Dipesh Chakrabarty has argued that with the advent of the Anthropocene the times of human history and of the Earth are similarly coming together. Are humans entering the ‘monumental time’ of the Earth, to stand alongside the Olympian gods of the other geological forces? In this paper I first look at the cultural shifts leading to the modern idea of separate human and Earth histories. I examine the changing use of monuments to mediate between human and other temporalities. I explore the use of ‘stratigraphic sections’ as natural monuments to mark transitions between the major time units of Earth history, and the erection of intentional monuments nearby. I suggest that the Anthropocene, as a geological epoch-in-the-making, may challenge the whole system of monumental semiotics used to stabilise our way of thinking about deep time.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
European Journal of Social Theory
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, European Journal of Social Theory, 20 (1), 2017, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the European Journal of Social Theory page: on SAGE Journals Online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? anthropocenegeologystratigraphymonumentstimecultural memorysocial sciences(all)sociology and political sciencediscipline-based research ??
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13 Sep 2016 09:16
Last Modified:
25 Jun 2024 00:45