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Heat

A new Cultural Anthropology post by Alex Nading, as part of the Lexicon for an Anthropocene Yet Unseen series.

'We used to call it “global warming.” Behind the Anthropocene, we are told, is a gathering heat. Perhaps it emanates from the birth of internal combustion. Perhaps it is as old as cooking, hunting, and gardening.

Identifying a material prime mover for the rising heat is one of many challenges for anthropology in the Anthropocene, but I must admit that I’m prone to thinking with heat as a metaphor. In a variety of medical systems—including Western biomedicine—body temperature, both perceived and measured, plays a central role in diagnosis. Bringing this metaphorical heat to debates over the health of the planet invites appeals to another metaphor: Gaia. Contemplating the Anthropocene, some of us imagine an overheated, weary Mother in the throes of Her last days.

Yet Gaia seems too big a figure to think with—too deceptively unifying. Heat is everywhere, but it is also profoundly differential...'

Read the full post on Cultural Anthropology

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