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The Anthropology of the Anthropocene: Borders and boundaries of the Anthropos

Wednesday 23 February 2022
Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden


For questions and signing up for this masterclass, please send an email to Gemma van der Wal at

About the masterclass

In the first part of this masterclass on the Anthropology of the Anthropocene we will introduce the students to contemporary debates within our field about the concept of the Anthropocene and the ramifications for our studies and relations with both our interlocutors and colleagues in other disciplines. We will ask questions about who the Anthropos is when we talk about the Anthropocene, linking the concept to debates about diversity and inequality, the field of political ecology and ontology. We will discuss how we can take debates about the Anthropocene to include impacts on and of ‘other than humans’, and delve into the emerging field of more-than-human sociality and multi-species ethnography.

In the second part of the masterclass we will ask participants to reflect on the relevance of these debates to their own research projects. This can be linked directly to the concept of the Anthropocene, or the way in which we connect those other central debates in anthropology to the Anthropocene. We will ask each of you to present your ideas in a 5-minute pitch (max. 3 slides, but you are not obliged to use slides).

Preparations prior to class

Please read the texts below and prepare the following: 

a. Select an article you think is relevant to the master class, which connects the topics of the master class to your own research project.

b. Prepare a 5-minute pitch on the relevance of the masterclass to your research project (3 slides maximum, but please note that you are not obliged to use slides.

Required readings

  • Davis, H., & Todd, Z. (2017). On the Importance of a Date, or Decolonizing the Anthropocene. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 16(4), 761-780. 
  • Mathews, A. S. (2020). Anthropology and the Anthropocene: criticisms, experiments, and collaborations. Annual Review of Anthropology49, 67-82.
  • Tsing, A. L., Mathews, A. S., & Bubandt, N. (2019). Patchy Anthropocene: landscape structure, multispecies history, and the retooling of anthropology: an introduction to supplement 20. Current Anthropology60(S20), S186-S197.
  • Optional (blog):

This first masterclass will be followed by a festive lunch in the common room of the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University.


This masterclass is part of the course Contemporary Anthropology of the Netherlands School of Anthropology. Each masterclass takes 3-4 hours and offers a combination of a lecture and a seminar.

The NESA masterclasses are for all Cultural Anthropology PhD students from Utrecht University, University of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Radboud University and Leiden University. 

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