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  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan
  • Babak Afrassiabi
    • Babak Afrassiabi is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, he has collaborated with Nasrin Tabatabai on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
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      published contributions
  • S. Ayesha Hameed
    • Dr. S. Ayesha Hameed is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures and the Joint Programme Leader in Fine Art and History of Art Research Fellow in Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, London. She received her PhD in Social and Political Thought at York University, Canada in 2008
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      published contributions
  • Sammy Baloji
  • Subhankar Banerjee
  • On Barak
    • On Barak is a social and cultural historian of science and technology in non-Western settings. He has been a senior lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University since 2012. Prior to this, he was a member of the Princeton Society of Fellows. In 2009, Barak received a joint PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University. His most recent book is On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt (University of California Press, 2013), and his current publication project, Coalonialism: Energy and Empire before the Age of Oil, is funded by a European Union Marie Curie Award and an Israel Science Foundation Grant.
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      published contributions
  • Anil Bawa-Cavia
    • Anil Bawa-Cavia is a computer scientist with a background in machine learning. He runs STDIO, a speculative software studio. His practice engages with algorithms, protocols, encodings, and other software artifacts and his doctoral research at the Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London was on complex networks in urbanism. He is a founding member of Call & Response, a sonic arts collective and gallery space in London, and a member of the New Centre for Research & Practice.
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      published contributions
  • Etienne Benson
  • Josh Berson
  • Jeremy Bolen
  • Benjamin Bratton
    • for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow. Bratton is also Professor of Digital Design at the Eur
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      published contributions
  • Axel Braun
    • Axel Braun studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, and fine arts at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. His artistic research deals with controversial infrastructure projects, tautology as an attempt to understand reality, and failed utopias in art and architecture. Currently, he is pursuing the long-term project Towards an Understanding of Anthropocene Landscapes. Recently exhibited works include Some Kind of Opposition (2016) at Galeria Centralis, Budapest, and Dragonflies drift downstream on a river (2015) at Kunstmuseum Bochum.
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      published contributions
  • Keith Breckenridge
  • François Bucher
    • s, focusing on ethical and aesthetic problems of cinema and television, and more recently on the image as an interdimensional field. His work has been exhibited at
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      published contributions
  • Lino Camprubí
  • Zachary Caple
  • Ele Carpenter
    • Dr. Ele Carpenter is a senior lecturer in curating at Goldsmiths, London. Her curatorial practice responds to interdisciplinary socio-political contexts such as the nuclear economy and the relationship between craft and code.
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      published contributions
  • Andrew Chubb
    • Andrew Chubb is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia conducting research on the relationship between Chinese public opinion and government policy in the South China Sea. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Contemporary China, Pacific Affairs, East Asia Forum, and Information, Communication & Society. His blog, South Sea Conversations (southseaconversations.wordpress.com), provides translations and analysis of Chinese discourse on the South and East China Sea issues.
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      published contributions
  • Louis Chude-Sokei
    • Louis Chude-Sokei is a writer and scholar currently teaching in the English Department at the University of Washington, Seattle. His academic interests range from West African, Caribbean, and American literary and cultural studies to a particular focus on sound, technology, and performance. His literary and public work focuses on immigration and black-on-black cultural contacts, conflicts, and exchanges. Chude-Sokei is the author of the award-winning book The Last “Darky”: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora (2006) and The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics (2016).
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      published contributions
  • Claire Colebrook
    • Claire Colebrook is a professor of English at Penn State University. Her areas of specialization are contemporary literature, visual culture, and theory and cultural studies. She has written articles on poetry, literary theory, queer theory, and contemporary culture. Colebrook is the co-editor of the series Critical Climate Change, published by Open Humanities Press, and a member of the advisory board of the Institute for Critical Climate Change. She recently completed two books on extinction for Open Humanities Press, Death of the PostHuman and Sex after Life (both 2014), and with Tom Cohen and J. Hillis Miller co-authored Twilight of the Anthropocene Idols (2016).
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      published contributions
  • Ana Dana Beroš
    • chitect and curator focused on creating uncertain, fragile environments that catalyze social chan
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      published contributions
  • Pietro Daniel Omodeo
  • Rana Dasgupta
  • Filip De Boeck
    • Filip De Boeck is actively involved in teaching, promoting, coordinating and supervising research in and on Africa at the Institute for Anthropological research in Africa at the U
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      published contributions
  • Seth Denizen
    • Seth Denizen is a researcher and design practitioner trained in landscape architecture and evolutionary biology. Since completing research on the sexual behavior and evolutionary ecology of small Trinidadian fish, his work has focused on the aesthetics of scientific representation, madness, and public parks, the design of t
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      published contributions
  • Rohini Devasher
  • Jonathan Donges
    • Jonathan Donges is a postdoctoral researcher who holds a joint position at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (as Stordalen Scholar) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He studies planetary boundaries and social dynamics in the Earth system from a complex dynamical system perspective. At Potsdam, he is Co-head of the flagship COPAN (Coevolutionary Pathways) project (www.pik-potsdam.de/copan). His published research includes work on complex network theory, dynamical systems theory, and time series analysis, with a focus on their application to our understanding of past and present climate variability and its interactions with humankind on planet Earth.
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      published contributions
  • Keller Easterling
  • Anna Echterhölter
  • David Edgerton
    • David Edgerton is Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and a professor of modern British history at King’s College London. After teaching at the University of Manchester, he became the founding director of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at Imperial College London (1993–2003), and moved along with the centre to King’s College London in August 2013. He is the author of many works, including The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900 (2007), which argues for and exemplifies new ways of thinking about the material constitution of modernity.
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      published contributions
  • Technosphere Editorial
  • Sasha Engelmann
  • Lois Epstein
    • stein is Arctic Program Director at the Wilderness Society an American land conservation non-profit. A licensed engineer, she has served on a number of federal advisory committees, including a National Academy of Sciences committee studying oil and gas regulations, and, for twelve years, a committee focusing on oil pipeline safety. Epstein holds a Master of Civil Engineering with a specialization in environme
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      published contributions
  • Eberhard Faust
  • Jennifer Gabrys
    • Jennifer Gabrys is Reader in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Principal Investigator on the ERC-funded project, "Citizen Sense." Her publications include Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics (University of Michigan Press, 2011); and Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming).
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      published contributions
  • Elaine Gan
  • Oliver Gantner
  • Florian Goldmann
    • Florian Goldmann is a Berlin-based artist and a PhD candidate at the DFG Research Training Center Visibility and Visualisation – Hybrid Forms of Pictorial Knowledge as well as at the Brandenburg Center for Media Studies, both Potsdam University. His research focus is the utilization of models as a means of both commemorating and predicting catastrophe. In 2015, he took part in the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan. Goldmann is one of the founders of the research collective STRATAGRIDS and the author of Flexible Signposts to Coded Territories (2012), an analysis of football hooligan graffiti in Athens as a system of fluid signage.
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      published contributions
  • Mark Graham
  • Jacques Grinevald
  • Johan Gärdebo
    • Johan Gärdebo is a PhD candidate at the Royal Institute of Technology affiliated to the Environmental Humanities Laboratory (EHL). H
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      published contributions
  • Orit Halpern
    • Orit Halpern is a Strategic Hire in Interactive Design and an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal. Her work bridges the histories of science, computing, and cybernetics with design and art practice. She is also a co-director of the Speculative Life Research Cluster, Montreal, a laboratory situated at the intersection of art and life sciences, architecture and design, and computational media (www.speculativelife.com). Her recent monograph, Beautiful Data (2015), is a history of interactivity, data visualization, and ubiquitous computing. www.orithalpern.net
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      published contributions
  • Gerda Heck
  • Carola Hein
    • Carola Hein is a professor of the history of architecture and urban planning in the Architecture Department at Delft University of Technology. She has published widely on topics in contemporary and historical architectural and urban planning, notably that of Europe and Japan. Her current research interests include transmission of architectural and urban ideas along international networks, focusing specifically on port cities, and the global architecture of oil. Her books include Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks (2011), Cities, Autonomy, and Decentralization in Japan (2006), and The Capital of Europe: Architecture and Urban Planning for the European Union (2004).
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      published contributions
  • Julian Henriques
    • Julian Henriques is the convener of the MA in Script Writing and Director of the Topology Research Unit in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. Prior to this, he ran the film and television department at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. His credits as a writer and director include the reggae musical feature film Babymother (1998) and as a sound artist, Knots & Donuts, exhibited at Tate Modern in 2011. Henriques researches street cultures and technologies and his publications include Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation, and Subjectivity (1998), Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques, and Ways of Knowing (2011), and Sonic Media (forthcoming).
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      published contributions
  • Hanna Husberg
    • Hanna Husberg is a Stockholm-based artist. She graduated from ENSB-A in Paris in 2007 and is currently a PhD in Practice candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna.
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      published contributions
  • Sabine Höhler
  • Erich Hörl
  • Timothy Johnson
  • Peter K. Haff
  • Bernd Kasparek
  • Laleh Khalili
  • Alexander Klose
    • Dr. Alexander Klose studied History, Law, Philosophy, Art, and Cultural Studies. From 2005-07 he held a scholarship at Bauhaus Universität Weimar for his PhD project on standardized containers used in transport as one of the leading material media in the 20th century. Between 2009 and 2014 he worked as a research associate and programme developer at Kulturstiftung des Bundes. In 2015 in the forefront of COP 21, he co-curated Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge No. 18 – On Becoming Earthlings: 150 dialogues and exercises in shrinking and expanding the Human at Musée de l'Homme, Paris. His latest publication is: The Container Principle. How a box changes the way we think (2015).
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      published contributions
  • Karin Knorr Cetina
  • Scott Knowles
  • Nile Koetting
  • Nicole Koltick
    • Nicole Koltick is an assistant professor in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She is Founding Director of the Design Futures Lab at Westphal College, which is currently pursuing design research to stimulate debate on the potential implications of emerging technological and scientific developments within society. Koltick’s practice spans art, science, technology, design, and philosophy, and current work focuses on the philosophical, material, and relational implications of aesthetics as they intersect with emerging developments in computational creativity, artificially intelligent autonomous systems, robotics, and synthetic biological hybrids.
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      published contributions
  • Nik Kosmas
  • Matthijs Kouw
    • Matthijs Kouw joined the Rathenau Instituut, The Hague, in March 2016. He holds an MA in Philosophy and an MSc in Science and Technology Studies from the University of Amsterdam as well as a PhD from Maastricht University. In his PhD thesis, Kouw describes how and to what extent reliance on models can introduce vulnerabilities through the assumptions, uncertainties, and blind spots concomitant with modeling practice. He was employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), during which time he acted as a member of the Dutch delegation for plenary sessions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
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      published contributions
  • Matija Kralj
  • Kei Kreutler
  • Lars Kulik
    • Lars Kulik studied biology at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He received his doctorate on the development of social behavior of rhesus monkeys at the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. He lives with his family in Berlin.
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      published contributions
  • Richard L. Hindle
    • Richard L. Hindle is an assistant professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning at the University of California, Berkeley. His current research focuses on patent innovation in landscape related technologies, from large-scale mappings of riverine and coastal systems to detailed historical studies on the antecedents of vegetated architecture. His work explores the potential of new technological narratives and material processes to reframe theory, practice, and the production of landscape. Recent works include the articles “Levees That Might Have Been” (2015), and “Infrastructures of Innovation” in Scaling Infrastructure (MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism, 2016), and the exhibition Geographies of Innovation at UC Berkeley (2015).
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      published contributions
  • Brian Larkin
  • Bruno Latour
  • John Law
    • hn Law was a professor of sociology at Keele University, Lancaster, and the Open University, Milton Keynes, and a co-director of the Economic and Social Researc
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Esther Leslie
    • t theories of aesthetics and culture, with a particular focus on the work of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. It deals with the poetics of science, European literary and visual modern
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      published contributions
  • S. Løchlann Jain
  • Donald MacKenzie
  • Chowra Makaremi
  • Annapurna Mamidipudi
  • Laura McLean
    • Laura McLean is a curator, artist, and writer based in London. She is a graduate of Goldsmiths College and Sydney College of the Arts, where she later lectured. She has also studied at Alberta College of Art and Design, and the Universität der Künste Berlin.
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      published contributions
  • Eden Medina
    • Eden Medina is an associate professor of informatics and computing, affiliated associate professor of law, and adjunct associate professor of history at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research and teaching address the social, historical, and legal dimensions of our increasingly data-driven world, including the relationship of technology to human rights and free expression, the relationship between political innovation and technological innovation, and the ways that human and political values shape technological design. Medina’s writings also use science and technology as a way to broaden understandings of Latin American history and the geography of innovation. She is the author of Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile (2011) and the co-editor of Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America (2014).
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      published contributions
  • Anne-Sophie Milon
    • Anne-Sophie Milon is an artist and a freelance illustrator and animator working and living in Bristol, UK. After completing two Masters in Art, she has recently concluded the program of experimentation in Art and Politics at SciencesPo (SPEAP) in Paris.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Gerald Nestler
    • Gerald Nestler is an artist and writer who combines theory and post-disciplinary conversation with video, installation, performance, text, code, graphics, sound, and speech. He explores what he calls the derivative condition of contemporary social relations and its paradigmatic financial models, operations, processes, narratives, and fictions. He is currently working on an “aesthetics of resolution” that maps counterfictions and counterimaginations for “renegade activism,” which revolves around the demonstration as a combined artistic, technological, social, and political practice. Nestler holds a practice-based PhD from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London.
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      published contributions
  • Daniel Niles
    • terial, millenary and momentary—that their knowledge takes, and, finally, the significance of this experience to our understanding of t
    • 1
      published contributions
  • James P. M. Syvitski
    • James P. M. Syvitski is Executive Director of the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS) at the University of Colorado Boulder. From 2011 to 2016, he chaired the International Council for Science’s International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), which provides essential scientific leadership and knowledge of the Earth system to help guide society toward a sustainable pathway during rapid global change. His specialty is the global flux of water and sediment (river and ocean borne) and its trends in the Anthropocene. He works at the forefront of computational geosciences, including sediment transport, land-ocean interactions, and Earth-surface dynamics.
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      published contributions
  • Luciana Parisi
    • Luciana Parisi is Reader in Cultural Theory, Chair of the PhD program in Cultural Studies, and Co-director of the Digital Culture Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research focuses on cybernetics, information theory and computation, complexity and evolutionary theories, and the technocapitalist investment in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. Her books include Abstract Sex: Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire (2004) and Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space (2013). She is currently researching the history of automation and the philosophical consequences of logical thinking in machines.
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      published contributions
  • Lisa Parks
  • Matteo Pasquinelli
  • Karen Pinkus
    • w York. She is also a faculty fellow of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Ithaca. Author of numerous publications in literary studies, Italian studies, critical theory, and environmental humanities, Pinkus is also Editor of the journal Diacritics. In her latest book, Fuel (2016), Pinkus thinks about issues crucial to climate ch
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      published contributions
  • Giulia Rispoli
  • Sophia Roosth
    • t when researchers are building new biological systems in order to investigate how biology works. She holds a PhD from the Massachuse
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      published contributions
  • Arno Rosemarin
  • Rafico Ruiz
    • afico Ruiz is Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. He studies the relationships between mediation and social space, particularly in the Arctic and subarctic; the cultural geographies of natural resource engagements; and
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Kim Rygiel
    • f International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada. Her research focuses on border security, migration, and citizenship in North America and Europe. She investigates how citizens and non-citizens engage in citizenship practices and challenge notions
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      published contributions
  • Dorion Sagan
  • Isabelle Saint-Saëns
  • Birgit Schneider
  • Sever
    • SEVER was developed as a speculative design project by Francesco Sebregondi, Alexey Platonov, Inna Pokazanyeva, and Ildar Iakubov during the New Normal postgraduate program at Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow. SEVER seeks to intervene into current Arctic debates by disturbing the landscape of the region’s possible futures
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Jens Soentgen
  • Nick Srnicek
  • Lizzie Stark
    • Lizzie Stark is an author, journalist, and experience designer. She is the author of two books, Pandora’s DNA (2014), exploring so-called ‘breast cancer genes’ and her first book, Leaving Mundania (2012), which investigates the subculture of live action role play, or larp. Her journalism and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, the Daily Beast, The Today Show Website, io9, Fusion, the Philadelphia Inquirer and elsewhere. She holds an MS from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has organized numerous conventions and experiences across the US. Her most recent work is as a programming coordinator for Living Games Austin, and as co-editor and contributor for the #Feminism anthology, which collects 34 nano-games written by feminists from eleven countries.
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      published contributions
  • Lucy Suchman
    • ology of Science and Technology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Lancaster, UK. Her research interests within the field of feminist science and technology studies are focused on technological imaginaries and material practices
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Kaushik Sunder Rajan
    • echnology studies, and postcolonial studies, holding a special interest in the global political economy of biomedicine, with a comparative focus on the Un
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      published contributions
  • Jenna Sutela
    • Jenna Sutela’s installations, texts, and sound performances seek to identify and react to precarious social and material moments, often in relation to technology. Most recently, she has been exploring exceedingly complex biological and computational systems, ultimately unknowable and always becoming something new. Her work has been presented, among other places, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and her writing has been published by Fiktion, Harvard Design Magazine, and Sternberg Press.
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      published contributions
  • Bronislaw Szerszynski
    • Bronislaw Szerszynski is a Reader in Sociology at Lancaster University in the UK. Szerszynski’s work has developed across several themes, including the role of Western religious history in shaping contemporary understandings of technology and the environment—typified by his book Nature, Technology and the Sacred (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005).
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      published contributions
  • Elisa T. Bertuzzo
    • Elisa T. Bertuzzo studied comparative literature, sociology, communication, and media studies and holds a PhD in urban studies. She was a curator and project leader with Habitat Forum Berlin, including for the project Paradigmising Karail Basti (2010–16). Bridging discourses from the fields of cultural and urban studies, her research focuses on the everyday life facets of urbanization and settlement in South Asia. On that topic, she published Fragmented Dhaka: Analysing Everyday Life with Henri Lefebvre’s Theory of Production of Space (2009) and runs her multimedia project Archives of Movement (since 2012), which deals with the everyday life of temporary labor migrants in Bangladesh and India.
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      published contributions
  • Gregory T. Cushman
    • Gregory T. Cushman is Associate Professor of International Environmental History at the University of Kansas.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Nasrin Tabatabai
    • Nasrin Tabatabai is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, she has collaborated with Babak Afrassiabi on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Ksenia Tatarchenko
    • dies Institute, Geneva University, specializing in the history of Russian science and technology. She has held positions as a visiting Assistant Professor of History at NYU Shanghai and a post-doctoral fellow at the Harriman Institute, Columbia. Most broadly, she studies questions of knowledge circulation to situate Soviet developments in the global context. She is currently writing a book on science and innovation cultures in Siberia provisionally
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Katerina Teaiwa
    • Dr. Katerina Teaiwa is Associate Professor at the Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History & Language and the president of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies. Her main area of research looks at the histories of phosphate mining in the central Pacific. Her work does not only span academic research, publications, and lectures, but also manifests itself in other formats within the arts and popular culture. Her work has inspired a permanent exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which tells the story of Pacific phosphate mining through Banaban dance. In 2015, she published „Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba“, Indiana University Press. She is currently working with visual artist Yuki Kihara on a multimedia exhibition for Carriageworks in Sydney.
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      published contributions
  • Jol Thomson
  • Claire Tolan
  • John Tresch
  • Etienne Turpin
    • Etienne Turpin is a philosopher, Founding Director of anexact office, and a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, where he coordinates the Humanitarian Infrastructures Group and co-directs the PetaBencana.id disaster mapping project for the Urban Risk Lab. He is the editor of Architecture in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Design, Deep Tim
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      published contributions
  • Asonseh Ukah
    • Asonzeh Ukah is a sociologist and historian of religion. He joined the University of Cape Town in 2013 and previously taught at the University of Bayreuth (2005–13), where he also earned a doctorate and habilitation in history of religions. His research interests include religious urbanism, the sociology of Pentecostalism, and religion and media. He is Director of the Research Institute on Christianity and Society in Africa (RICSA), University of Cape Town, and Affiliated Senior Fellow of Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), University of Bayreuth. He is the author of A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power (2008) and Bourdieu in Africa (edited with Magnus Echtler, 2016).
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      published contributions
  • Underworlds
  • Sebastian Vehlken
    • Sebastian Vehlken is a media theorist and cultural historian at Leuphana University Lüneburg and Permanent Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS). From 2013 to 2017, he worked as MECS Junior Director, and in 2015–16, he was a visiting professor at Humboldt-Universität Berlin, the University of Vienna, and Leuphana. His areas of interest include the theory and history of computer simulation and digital media, the media history of swarm intelligence, and the epistemology of think tanks. His current research project, Plutonium Worlds, explores the application of computer simulations in West German fast breeder reactor programs.
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      published contributions
  • Vladimir Vernadsky
  • Davor Vidas
    • Davor Vidas is a research professor in international law and Director of the Law of the Sea Programme at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Lysaker, Norway. He is Chair of the Committee on International Law and Sea Level Rise and a member of the Anthropocene Working Group. Vidas has been involved in international law research for over thirty years, focusing since 2009 on implications of the Anthropocene for the development of international law. Among his books are The World Ocean in Globalisation (2011) and Law, Technology and Science for Oceans in Globalisation (2010). He is the editor-in-chief of the book series Anthropocene (Skolska knjiga, Zagreb), launched in 2017.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Kalindi Vora
  • Hannes Wiedemann
    • Hannes Wiedemann is a Berlin-based photographer. He studied at the Ostkreuz School of Photography, Berlin. For his project Grinders (2015–16), he followed the American bodyhacking community, a small group of people across the United States working out of garages and basements to become real cyborgs. Recent exhibitions include NEW PHOTOGRAPHY II (2017) at Gallery ALAN, Istanbul, and HUMAN UPGRADE, with Susanna Hertrich (2016), at Schader-Stiftung Gallery, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt. www.hanneswiedemann.com
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Cary Wolfe
    • Cary Wolfe is Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English and Founding Director of 3CT: Center for Critical and Cultural Theory at Rice University, Houston. He is the author of What Is Posthumanism? (2010), a book that weaves together principal concerns of his work: animal studies, system theory, pragmatism, and post-structuralism. It is part of the series Posthumanities, for which he serves as Founding Editor at the University of Minnesota Press. His most recent publication is Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in Biopolitical Frame (2013) and earlier books and edited collections include Animal Rites: American Culture, The Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory (2003) and Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal (2003).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Andrew Yang
  • Jan Zalasiewicz
    • Dr. Jan Zalasiewicz is Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Leicester and Chair of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. A field geologist, paleontologist, and stratigrapher, he teaches and publishes on geology and earth history, in particular on fossil ecosystems and environments that span over half a billion years of geological time.
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      published contributions
  • Anna Zett
  • Sander van der Leeuw
    • ionships, and complex systems theory. He investigates the preconditions for and the practices and role of invention, sustainability, and innovation in societies. He has done
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      published contributions
  • Liv Østmo
    • Liv Østmo is one of the founders and current Dean of the Sámi University of Applied Sciences, Kautokeino, Norway, where she researches and lectures on the subject of multicultural understanding. For the last eight years, Østmo has worked with traditional Sámi knowledge and she is currently working on putting the finishing touches on a methodology book about the documentation of this knowledge.
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      published contributions
© Agostino Iacurci, 2018

Vladimir Vernadsky and the Co-evolution of the Biosphere, the Noosphere, and the Technosphere

How did the current notion of “spheres” as an operational interface between living and inert matter come into being, and how did it go on to infiltrate thinking about the bio-techno-sphere, which today seems the best descriptive model for our own habitat? In this profound historical contextualization of the work and life of the eminent Russian naturalist Vladimir Vernadsky, historians of science Giulia Rispoli and Jacques Grinevald draw on the transformational role of concepts.
Two Faces of the Cosmos
In the introduction to the book Living MatterVladimir Vernadsky, Zhivoe Veshestvo. Moscow: Nauka, 1978. A more complete edition was published in 1991. An unpublished French text, “La matière vivante dans la biosphère“ dates from Bourg la Reine, November 1925.
, titled “Two faces of the Cosmos,” Vladimir Vernadsky described the main two conceptions that have permeated the scientific understanding of the universe. He pointed out that the first view of the cosmos was a mathematical, physical, and mechanical representation of it that can be grasped by human reason. Often epitomized by the works of Galileo Galilei, René Descartes, Isaac Newton, Leonhard Euler, and Pierre-Simon Laplace, this worldview excludes living organisms; thus, human beings have no place among all the “esoteric” physical elements and movements forming this material universe. This vision was foreign to us for it did not contemplate our role in the cosmos and all the interferences we can generate. No turmoil may come from humankind’s activity when considered with this mechanistic Weltanschauung. Therefore, such interpretation leads to an oversimplified theory of the cosmos, leaving out, for instance, a perspective from natural sciences, evolution, and energetics.
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Vladimir Vernadsky, 1934. Source: Wiki Commons

Besides the classical, physical, and mathematically driven image of the cosmos there is another that is much more familiar to human understanding. This is not broken up into geometric shapes and, rather than addressing the whole cosmos, it refers to just a part of it—that is the Earth as an evolving planet, whose geological spheres have been thoroughly studied not only by physical geographers, but also by famous naturalists such as Alexander von Humboldt, Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, or Eduard Suess. The epistemological novelty of this second worldview, says Vernadsky, consists mainly in the idea that our cosmos contains a natural phenomenon that is often overlooked in the purely physical and mechanical interpretation of it. This element is life, as opposed to entropy.
Soil as a Biogeochemical Sphere
These two competing views that Vernadsky faces in his analysis are not easy to integrate, especially if one takes into account that the physical image of the cosmos tends to diminish sacral aspects of the Earth that, in old Russian and peasant culture, are traditionally associated with its “maternal” living Nature. This tradition that finds its roots in the Russian and European Middle AgesCaroline Merchant, The Death of Nature. New York: Harper Collins, 1980.
no doubt played an important role in the development of mining, metallurgy, mineralogy, geology, and early earth sciences; perhaps it also helps explain the exceptional interest in the study of the pedosphere that led Saint Petersburg University professor Vasily Vasilyevich Dokuchaev (1846–1903) to establish soil science (pedology) as a fundamental and applied scientific discipline. Dokuchaev’s systemic and genetic approach to the study of the Earth’s landscapes and his investigation of soil as a “global natural object” at the crossroad of chemistry, mineralogy, geology, meteorology, and biological sciences thoroughly inspired Vernadsky. The pedosphere is studied here in its genesis and formation as the soil changes with time under the action of several factors: mineral, climatic, and geological, and also biotic and anthropogenic. The novelty at the time of such a holistic approach relies on the study of soil not only for its geophysical and chemical composition, but also from the viewpoint of its microbiological functioning and evolutionary history. The pedosphere is not just a substratum made from the weathering of rocks; rather, it has also been formed by an amazing entangled diversity of plants, animals, and microorganisms over myriads of years. The same seems true with the world’s oceans through phytoplankton and marine biogeochemistry.
Conceiving nature as an entangled, complex system, Vernadsky affirmedIn line with other naturalists like his Ukrainian colleague Sergei N. Vinogradsky.
the need for a more suited approach to explore the features of soil as a bioinert body and its essential role in the Earth’s biogeochemical regulation. Furthermore, Vernadsky contributed to the rise of Russian and Soviet nuclear research, being the leading promoter of radiogeology and radioecology.Georgy S. Levit, “Looking at Russian Ecology through the Biosphere Theory,” in Astrid Schwarz and Kurt Jax (eds), Ecology Revisited. Dordrecht: Springer, 2011 pp. 333–47. See also David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb. London and New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994, pp. 29–48 (“Nuclear prehistory”); Alexei B. Kojevnikov, Stalin’s Great Science. London: Imperial College Press, 2004; and Simon Inges, Stalin and the Scientists. London: Faber and Faber, 2016.
This matrix of diverse scientific trajectories led him to intersect sciences of both inanimate and animate nature, making them converge into a new research pathway that he was to name “biogeochemistry” in 1923.
Living Matter goes Spherical
Vernadsky believed that the Earth as a whole is indebted to complex geobiological processes. An important part of his work is in fact focused on the emergence of a new notion: living matter. In depicting the importance of this massive biogeochemical force he did not simply sum up Earth and life, but elaborated on an integrative idea of their biogeochemical interaction, with living matter serving as an operational interface between them.Kiril M. Khailov “Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky: Originator of the Biosphere Concept,” La mer: Societe franco-japonese d’oceanographie, vol. 32 (1994): pp. 1–4.
Vernadsky believed that the structure of living organisms is analogous to that of inert matter, although much more complex. Therefore, a living structure is not just an agglomerate of inert stuff; the difference seems to reside in dissymmetry and its energetic character, which cannot be compared geochemically with the static chemistry of molecular structures that are not able to reproduce themselves.Vladimir Vernadsky, The Biosphere. New York: Copernicus/Springer-Verlag, 1998.
Lying in the cyclical interaction of organic and mineral elements, living matter—through the photosynthesis of autotrophic plants—transforms solar energy into chemical energy that becomes available in the form of nutrients for other heterotrophic organisms populating the Earth. As Vernadsky claimed, the Earth’s surface is continuously shaped by the interaction between biological organisms and abiotic components, which forms its vital cycle. Vernadsky investigated living matter in the light of the geological evolution of the geospheres, namely the pedosphere, the hydrosphere, the lithosphere, and the atmosphere. As he explained:
“Living matter has a huge significance in the chemical history of the Earth’s crust. At every step, we run into his role in the establishment of minerals—a role that is very peculiar: living matter is a source of energy whose budget affects the natural chemical reactions, that is, the formation of minerals. It collects energy from the sun and turns it into chemical energy. In so doing, it proves to be a conveyor and a storage of cosmic energy.Ibid.
Living matter, which is the sum of all organisms on Earth at any one geological time, is also described as a thin membrane covering the Earth. It tends to occupy all the space because it is a dynamic force in constant motion. This geological mass comprises living organisms, their products, parts of their decomposed bodies, their liquids, and so forth. It is the circulation of living matter that for thousands of years has contributed, and still contributes, to shaping the sphere of life, playing a crucial role even in the equilibrium of the whole Earth.
The Biosphere
The book that Vernadsky wrote in 1925 in Bourg la Reine, near Paris, is nowadays considered one of the first attempts to sketch out a comprehensive theory of the biosphere. The book, containing two parts: “The biosphere in the cosmos” and “The domain of life,” was entitled Biosfera and published in Leningrad in 1926. It described the sphere of life as a region of the Earth’s surface that is characterized by a specific thermodynamic field.Vladimir Vernadsky, “La structure chimique de la matière vivante et la chimie de l’écorce terrestre,” Revue générale des Sciences pures et appliquées, vol. 34, no. 2 (1923): pp. 42–51.
Despite the novelty of the concept, Vernadsky had borrowed this term and the embryonic idea from Suess, who was referring to the biosphere as a zone above the lithosphere, connected with air and water that is limited in space and time and concerns only life and its unity on the Earth as a planet.Eduard Suess, Die Entstehung der Alpen. Vienna: W. Braunmüller, 1875, pp. iv–168; see also Suess, Das Antlitz der Erde. Prague and Vienna: F. Tempsky, 1909, vol. III, 2, pp. iv–789.
Vernadsky’s account of the biosphere was much broader than the one proposed by the Austrian geologist. The Russian naturalist saw the biosphere as a holistic system placed in a cosmic framework, enabled and empowered by the Sun. The geological envelopes covering the Earth are part of the same biogeochemical process of the circulation of elements, but every layer has its own specific organization.
Innovatively, Vernadsky’s systemic and organizational perspective in the study of the phenomena taking place in the biosphere laid the ground for the birth of global ecology, an emerging environmental discipline studying the human impact on the Earth; the field acquired scientific status in the West with the ecological school of George Evelyn Hutchinson. Most importantly, Vernadsky’s biosphere theory seems to be, in a slanted, retrospective light, a historical antecedent to Lynn Margulis and James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis, for it underlined the role that the sum of all living organisms, as living matter, has had since its emergence and evolution in shaping the surface of the Earth to create the most suited environments for its spreading. As Lovelock pointed out, Vernadsky was the first scientist to make a general conclusion that living organisms as a whole take part, during all geological times, in the cycles of chemical elements, their evolution, and regulation. According to Lovelock, Vernadsky clearly recognized that there is a connection between life as a whole and the geological, chemical, and physical environment of the Earth as a singular planet in the Solar system. In this regard, Lovelock concluded, Vernadsky can be no doubt regarded as one of the “most illustrious predecessorsJames Lovelock, “A Prehistory of Gaia,” New Scientist, vol. 111, no. 517 (1986): p. 51.
of Gaia theory and the view of the Earth as system, which will be the driving notion underlined in the recent developments of Earth System Science.Jacques Grinevald, “On a Holistic Concept for Deep and Global Ecology: The Biosphere,” Fundamenta Scientae, vol. 8, no. 2 (1987): pp. 197–226.
According to Vernadsky, living matter has turned the Earth’s biosphere into a self-regulative, complex, bio-inert planetary system.Levit, “Looking at Russian Ecology through the Biosphere Theory,” 2011, p. 339.
This is the case if we consider for instance the role of ozone—formed by three oxygen atoms (O3)—in the atmosphere, whose presence in the stratospheric ozone layer has made possible the absorbing of those harmful solar radiations that, if able to reach the Earth’s surface, would have destroyed life.The so-called “great oxidation” around 2.30 billion years ago was a major event in the coevolution of life, atmosphere, and Earth.
Such an ozone screen formed from free oxygen is itself a product of life.Vernadsky, The Biosphere, 1998, p. 49.
As in a positive feedback loop, life has increased possibilities for its own expansion over the terraqueous globe. Vernadsky saw life as the geological force par excellence that has determined the biogeochemical foundations and history of the Earth’s biosphere. In line with his conception of the coevolution of living matter and the changing face of the Earth, he also envisioned the power that civilized humankind would have had on the evolution of the biosphere before Chernobyl and Fukushima, and even before Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
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© Agostino Iacurci, 2018

The Transition to the Noosphere
In Vernadsky’s view, the biosphere has to be conceptualized within a planetary, evolutionary framework;Jonathan D. Oldfield and Denis J. B. Shaw, “V.I. Vernadsky and the noosphere concept: Russian understandings of society nature interaction,” Geoforum, vol. 37, no. 1 (2006): pp. 145–54.
Vernadsky is even recognized as a forerunner of astrobiology. As the evolution of our planet proceeds, the role of life becomes increasingly influential in its further destiny.Nikita Moiseev, et al., “Biosphere Models,” in R. K. Kates, et al., Climate Impact Assessments. SCOPE, 27 (1985): pp. 493–510.
In this connection, Vernadsky devoted a great deal to the understanding of the intellectual and technological developments of human civilization in the biosphere. Inspired by several precedents and notably by Henri Bergson’s notion of Homo faber, he believed that human industrial activity, for instance mining and civil engineering, was having a major mineralogical and geological impact on the evolving biosphere and the circulation of elements across the entangled geospheres. He came to the conclusion that humankind was becoming able to modify the whole energy flow and all of its biotic and mineral elements. Homo faber was indeed transforming the face of the Earth, and expanding itself into every corner of the terraqueous globe; even outside it, within the cosmic space. As a matter of fact, other living organisms are confined solely to the geobiosphere, but humankind has been able to temporarily abandon its planet to explore a space beyond the Earth.
Vernadsky stressed that human agency was approaching planetary proportions, leading the Earth’s atmosphere to undergo a radical change in its chemical composition. To this regard, like Pierre Curie in his 1905 Nobel conference, he envisioned the threat of atomic war, the alarming scenario of the 1940s that would later be the object of investigation by the advocates of the “Nuclear Winter” theory, among them Paul Crutzen, the founding-father of the Anthropocene notion. To explain this new anthropogenic interference with biogeochemical processes and Earth history, Vernadsky introduced an additional sphere, the noosphere, to identify a new stage of the biosphere’s evolution in which the human mind, through scientific research and engineering development, becomes the main driving force for global environmental change in future-Earth history.Vernadsky developed his view in a book written in the 1930s, entitled Scientific Thought as a Planetary Phenomenon, which was posthumous, made available, in a censored form in 1978, and in a flawed English translation in 1997.
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© Agostino Iacurci, 2018

The biosphere and the noosphere have to be considered as inseparable, interconnected systems that are crossed by a continuous exchange of biogeochemical and cultural processes. Human activity is indeed associated with the rise of a new form of energy that is not only biogeochemical but also, and at the same time, cultural. The exchange between the two spheres, however, does not compromise the specific autonomy of each one. Boundaries between them play an important role: Rather than obstructions or barriers, they act to increase the differentiation of sub-systems within a whole substantial unity.
Noosphere as a Bio-techno-sphere
Vernadsky was not the only one to introduce the notion of the noosphere. Edouard Le Roy developed this idea in complicity with his younger friend Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. They proposed to look at this stage as the last and ultimate one in the biosphere’s evolution. The noosphere is a culmination of a collective spiritual agent, a super-mind, which drives the Earth towards the Omega-Point.Georgy Levit, Biogeochemistry-Biosphere-Noosphere. The Growth of the Theoretical System of Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky. Berlin: VWB Verlag Für Wissenschaft Und Bildung, 2001.
Vernadsky’s conceptualization of the noosphere differed significantly from those advanced by the French Catholic thinkers. According to Vernadsky the problem of the origin of life was the problem of the formation of the Earth’s biosphere, therefore the impact of human consciousness on Earth was a question entirely rooted in the biosphere and its biogeochemistry. In contrast to a spiritual stage qualitatively separated from the biosphere, the noosphere, according to Vernadsky, marks the emergence of human technological and scientific activity as a geological phenomenon that is functionally and physiologically dependent on Earth’s mechanisms. Thus, the noosphere is a concrete material system that connects humankind and the planetary environment through science and technics, and whose processes can be traced back in the Earth’s geochemistry. The noosphere discloses a complex system in which all life, including man and its exosomatic instruments, the earthly environment, and all technologies became inseparable. In this respect the word bio-techno-sphere would be even more suited then technosphere to untwist the bundle underlying the Vernadskian notion of the noosphere.
As Vernadsky pointed out in his Problems of Biogeochemistry, in the course of the last half-millennium the development of civilized humankind’s strong influence over its surrounding nature, and its comprehension of it, continued growing ever more powerful and with an accelerating tempo.
“During that time the unified culture embraced all the surface of the planet (see § 64), the book printing became discovered, all earlier inaccessible areas of the Earth were recognized, new forms of energy (steam, electricity, radioactivity) were mastered, all chemical elements became coped with and used for human demands, telegraph and radio were invented, the drilling penetrated into the Earth’s crust for kilometers, and man rose with his aeroplanes to a height of over 20 kilometers from the surface of the geoid. [...] The question of the planned, unified activity for mastering nature and for the right distribution of the wealth is now on the agenda. This question is tied up with the consciousness of the unity and equality of all people, with the consciousness of the unity of the noosphere."Vladimir Vernadsky, Scientific Thought as a Planetary Phenomenon, Moscow: Nongovernmental Ecological V.I. Vernadsky Foundation, 1997, pp: 186-187. Vernadsky, “‘Problems of Biogeochemistry’ II: The Fundamental Matter-Energy Difference between the Living and Inert Natural Bodies of the Biosphere” (trans. George Vernadsky, ed. and condensed by G. E. Hutchinson), Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, vol. 35 (June 1944), pp. 483–517.
Was Vernadsky a precursor to the post-Second World War Holocene-Anthropocene transition? Probably not. It is true that he had already prefigured ethical issues deriving from the ecological imbalances of man’s engagement with nature in a time when ecological concerns were banished under the Stalinist regime; but Vernadsky was thus censored, deformed, or ignored until very recently. However, if on the one hand he believed that changes and accelerations in the human technical system of labor and production can cause geological phenomena of huge significance, on the other his noosphere notion seems to coincide with the fulfillment of a new morality, a new rationality, and eventually the emergence of a new humanism. This does not resemble the catastrophic tone of Crutzen’s Geology of Mankind or, more in general, the idea of the Anthropocene that constantly reminds us about the damaging effects that humankind has had on the environment since at least the thermo-industrial revolution of the mid-nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Indeed, Vernadsky’s latest writings on the noosphere seem instead more optimistic with regard to humanity’s future use of scientific and technological knowledge.
By highlighting the importance of the study of coevolution between humanity and the biosphere from a long-term perspective, the noosphere unveils a more complex concept, in philosophical terms, and with a historical depth that precedes humankind’s most recent endeavors.Oldfield and Shaw, “V.I. Vernadsky and the noosphere concept,” 2006. We must remember also that Vernadsky’s geological thought was mainly Huttonian, and very different from the “Wegenerian revolution” (J. Tuzo Wilson) of the 1960s or the more recent neocatastrophism of mass extinctions and biodiversity crisis thinking.
Understanding the noosphere calls then for a more comprehensive historical analysis, going beyond an explanation of the human degradation of terrestrial ecosystems, the so-called global environment, or sustainability.
Vernadsky’s holistic approach problematizing the relations between humankind, scientific and technological progress, and the Earth was overlooked by his contemporaries. This lack of intellectual and institutional support in the West (France, England, and the United States) was one of several reasons why Vernadsky decided to return to the Soviet Union, where he developed his biogeochemical studies within the Academy of Sciences. In the Stalinist State Vernadsky was respected as an international-class geoscientist and even honored, but not really understood; his social and philosophical ideas were repressed by communist ideologists. After his death, and at the beginning of the Cold War, Vernadsky’s ideas were banned and rehabilitated only during Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika.
Vernadsky’s renaissance started in the 1960s, and the rediscovery of his biosphere–noosphere theory, the originality of his approach, and the charisma of his persona emerge vividly today, driving us through the intricate threads connecting the Anthropocene debate and the rebirth of the technosphere notion, but still able to fuel and enrich current controversies and narratives.