“Mississippi. An Anthropocene River” Field Station #2: Anthropocene Drift

May 15, 2019

image © HKW

Mississippi. An Anthropocene River takes the concept of the Anthropocene – the period of history during which humans have been the dominant influence on climate and the environment – into the field. The project investigates the Mississippi River as an exemplary landscape of global environmental change. Until November 2019, five field stations located along the banks of the river will analyze these changes as they manifest in the region.

The second Field Station, “Anthropocene Drift,” examines the process of biome change by juxtaposing two landscapes, each differently shaped by climate, geology and culture. The first, located in the Kickapoo River Valley in southwestern Wisconsin, is part of the so-called “Driftless Area” known for its sustainable agriculture practices. The second, the Corn Belt, is just south of the “Driftless Area” and defined by endless expanses of predominantly flat and linear fields of crops.  Over one hundred years ago, this landscape was dominated by a vast grassland, the Grand Prairie. Despite the near-total elimination of this grassy environment, Illinois is still known as “The Prairie State.”

Three components make the ongoing fieldwork in the region accessible to the general public. The first, “Field Guides to the Anthropocene Drift” is a series of artful guidebooks that each respond to a different cultural and/or scientific aspect of the project in this region. Another, “The Kickapoo Waystation” is a distributed architectural project that assembles books, maps, images, seeds and other materials contextualizing the region and features a recording room and a low-power FM radio transmitter. Lastly, “Over the Levee, Under the Plow,” a four-day mobile symposium, positions the agro-engineering of rural America within the broader framework of settler colonialism in order to understand the historical, political and epistemic roots of the agricultural and environmental crisis.

To stay updated on the activities of Field Station 2, visit the Anthropocene website and see our previous blog on the project.

“Mississippi. An Anthropocene River” is organized by Haus der Kulturen der Welt, the Max Planck Institute for History, and many partners in the US and internationally.

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