Although we have been working around, through, and with the term “post-Anthropocene” for quite some months now, it still happens regularly that one of us asks: wait, why is our theme “post”-Anthropocene again, instead of just “Anthropocene”? Although the prefix ‘post’ seems to specify a period after an event, it is rarely used to just indicate a historic period. Post-modernism, for example, is a critique, a way of thinking that did not so much come after modernism, as coincided with, responded to, and existed simultaneously with it. Postmodern architecture, too, does not proclaim the end of modernism, but alongside other historical movements and buildings, uses it as inspiration. It is impossible to draw a clear line between the two: they are entangled together, sometimes they even look the same. Post-truth politics does not point at a period after truth but specifies a politics in which (reference to) truth is no longer primarily important. Post-capitalism is concerned with thinking of alternatives, acting on a situation in which capitalism has existed (and still does).
We use ‘post’ in ‘post-Anthropocene’ in an attempt to acknowledge our condition, yet to think beyond, around and through it: to find ways to act after the (continuing) event of The Anthropocene. This geological epoch, declared in 2016 by the International Geological Congress, acknowledges the tremendous and often irreversible effects that humans have on (life on) planet Earth. We are in it. We’re implicated, entangled, situated, up to our necks and muddling through it. In fact, the geographers who proclaim this new epoch, say that we have been living in the Anthropocene since the 1950s. For most of us, that means that we have been ‘in it’ for all our lives.
The Anthropocene has been proclaimed a historical and scientific fact, but to us it is a matter of concern. Following Latour’s idea of Dingpolitik, we engage in situations in which we can practice an alternate politics, and alternate connections to everyday objects by what collectively worries us. The Anthropocene is something that concerns us all. Even if it’s called a ‘geological epoch’, we still need ways to think and act. It is not distant but enmeshed with our everyday lives, our everyday ecologies. With this prefix ‘post’ we look for ways to go about ‘in catastrophic times’.