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“Mississippi. An Anthropocene River” Reimagines the Mississippi River

October 31, 2019

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, organized by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin and the Max Planck Institute, investigates the Mississippi River as an exemplary landscape of global environmental change. This year, Mississippi. An Anthropocene River has been investigating, highlighting, and sharing historical and contemporary issues of their respective region.

The project, which uses a variety of approaches to these issues, including scientific, artistic, and historical work, is composed of five field stations along the river, the Anthropocene River School, a two-month canoe journey down the river, and a final River Campus in New Orleans to conclude the project.

According to Roopali Phadke, a professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN who has been studying rivers for 20 years, now is the time to rethink what we know about the Mississippi River region. “Thinking about how human agency and geological agency might come together in the Anthropocene opens up a new window of storytelling,” she says. “We’re in a de-industrializing moment. There’s an opportunity to reimagine all of this infrastructure, [which] no longer meets the purposes it was intended for.”

John Kim, Associate Professor at Macalester, emphasizes the importance of innovation and thinking outside of the box throughout the project. “Part of the project is to think about the ways in which data creates the parameters by which we know the Mississippi River. At lot of researchers are asking questions about the Mississippi in ways that haven’t yet been opened or asked at a level of critical inquiry and research that it demands.”

Find out more about the research being done as a part of Mississippi. An Anthropocene River on the HKW website.

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