Risk and Uncertainty in the Anthropocene – London, 26 June

21st May 2019

Risk and Uncertainty in the Anthropocene

Goldsmiths, London, 26th June 2019

A one-day conference at Goldsmiths hosted by the Political Economy Research Centre and the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity

09.00 to 16.30 – full programme to follow

– Attendance is free but registration is essential. Please register here. –


  • Louise Amoore – Durham University and author of Cloud Ethics: Algorithms and the Attributes of Ourselves & Others
  • Geoff Mann – Simon Fraser University and co-author of Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future


  • Patrick Bigger (Lancaster University) – Geopolitical ecologies of risk in the everywhere war
  • Jana Bacevic (University of Cambridge) – Ontological uncertainty and knowing the future: a sociology of knowledge for the Anthropocene?
  • Richard Lane (Utrecht University) – The history of the future(s): The Anthropocene externalisation of the environment
  • Joshua Bowsher & Theo Reeves-Evison (Brunel University & Birmingham City University) – On Capital’s Watch: Derivative Nature and the Temporal Logic of Biodiversity Credits
  • Duncan McLaren (Lancaster University) – Exploring Anthropocene Futures with Reflexive Deliberation and Unsettling Political Scenarios
  • Sophie Haines (University of Oxford) – Emergent environments: technologies of anticipating socio-ecological futures

This conference aims to explore from a multidisciplinary perspective the role of risk and uncertainty in the Anthropocene. It explores the specific logics, strategies, forms of knowledge and technologies that different actors are, or should be, using to approach risk and uncertainty.

The scale and timing of existing and potential impacts of environmental degradation in the Anthropocene appear to belie our efforts to interpret and manage them. Yet ‘risk management’ remains the dominant mode of representing and governing catastrophic environmental change, with the pretension of ‘taming uncertainty’. Managed as risk, environmental breakdown and catastrophe can be approached in accounting and investment terms: they can be rendered ‘investable’, and conducive to market opportunity and framings such as ‘natural capital’.

This ‘new era’ of environmental breakdown challenges established forms of expertise and authority and tasks us with thinking about new approaches to politics and political economy. Embracing radical uncertainty permits us to consider multiple, alternative futures, opening up for discussion political and economic settlements seemingly out of reach. But given the timescales for responding to threats such as the climate crisis, what kind of politics or political economy does fast approaching existential risk provoke? Suggestions for ‘war mobilisation’ analogies in fighting climate change or ideas about engineering the planet might give some indication.

In facing the need for transformative and systemic change, it is also necessary to question who will bear the risks and uncertainties of the Anthropocene. How will risk and the costs of mitigation be distributed over time and space? Where will it be situated – locally, at the urban level, globally – and what consequences does this have for different disciplinary approaches?

For details on how to find Goldsmiths, click here.

Email inquiries to n.taylor[at]gold.ac.uk