Inheriting the Anthropocene

How can we imagine heritage beyond or in excess of the human? What might a posthuman heritage site look like? How might we learn to inherit with our more-than-human kin?

This project – part of Rodney Harrison’s AHRC Heritage Priority Area Research programme – explores the implications of such questions in the shadow of the Anthropocene – a newly defined geological epoch that designates a period during which human activity has become the dominant influence in terms of climate and the environment. The project interrogates how this concept might provoke new understandings of some of the core themes of heritage, from care and vulnerability to inheritance and interpretation. Scholars and practitioners are beginning to confront the entanglement of human and non-human aspects of heritage in thought provoking ways, but this is distributed across many disparate areas of research and practice. This project aims to document and reconcile this work in pursuit of a ‘more-than-human’ critical heritage studies.

At the core of this project lies the question of blurred boundaries and the relational production of heritage; whether tangible or intangible, natural or cultural, human or non-human. The recent emergence of posthumanist thinking has sought to dissolve such categories, and we aim to examine the possibilities and pitfalls of following this trajectory within heritage theory and practice.

The project has three main outputs:

  • A short co-authored book written with Rodney Harrison provisionally titled Inheriting the Anthropocene: Heritage in More-than-Human Worlds
  • An interdisciplinary symposium around the theme ‘Deterritorialising the Future’
  • A special edited volume expanding on contributions to the symposium.

In addition, my paper ‘Critical Heritage and the Posthumanities: Problems and Prospects’ has now been published in the International Journal of Heritage Studies.

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