The Anthropocene reveals a newly emerging necessity to orient intellectual comprehension, scientific research, and political action towards the behavior of inter-operational systems and the temporal processes that underlie them. To reduce the risk of systemic collapse of basic ecological, economic and societal functions, it is vital to better understand the configuration and dynamic evolution of the crucial nexus between human agency and the Earth system in its complex, highly interactive, interdependent, and time-critical nature.
In a series of international conferences, workshops, and joint writings our group discusses the intellectual challenges, methodological frameworks, and historical lineages of such a research endeavor, working together with experts from various fields such as climate and Earth system science, systems ecology, environmental history and environmental humanities, economics, law, anthropology, and political ecology. On the most fundamental level our initiative asks: What are the analytical and interpretative approaches to studying the complex interactions and coevolutionary dynamics that have led the Earth onto an Anthropocene path? And how do we apply their insights to cope with its further unfolding and rapid intensification?
The result of these discussions so far is the proposed science of geoanthropology: an updated version of Earth system research (the geo, including the bio) merged with cultural theories and histories of socio-material, energetic, and informational flows (the anthropos) to form a new discipline (the logos). The scope of geoanthropology would therefore be to carefully identify, qualitatively describe, parametrize, model, and interpret, in an iterative fashion, the concrete interactions and dynamics that have been unfurled by the operational closure of the geosphere and the technosphere. With a special focus on temporal processes and temporalities (system latencies on varied scales, asymmetric time horizons, political reaction times, intertemporal justice, etc.), geoanthropology presents an opportunity to develop the key competency of the historical profession further into a comprehensive understanding of the reciprocal logics inherent in the coevolutionary dynamics of bio-physical, socio-cultural, and technological changes.