Climate change as ‘the end of the world’? Mythological cosmogonies and imaginaries of change

Viveiros de Castro explores the relevance of the mythopoeic register as a vehicle for imagining ‘the end of the world’. Actors employ the term climate change to embody and express such scenarios of dramatic change, envisioning it according to cultural context. Anthropology can provide a platform for non-hegemonic local views to challenge existing perceptions of what climate change constitutes and can extend to, thus clarifying responses and strategies to mitigate it. In the contemporary context of collapse and crisis, existing cosmologies are challenged. Assigning agency in climate change can lead to a re-examination of categories of nature/culture, and open the way for non-modern ontologies to show us how we might otherwise construct worlds and actors. Challenging hegemonic narratives of climate change and their epistemological and ontological bases, we create cracks that can open up the way for new worlds to come into being.

The following papers are a selection of those presented at a triple panel session the Royal Anthropological Institute’s conference on Anthropology, Weather and Climate Change, held at the British Museum’s Clore Centre, 27th-29th May 2016, and are displayed here as the basis for ongoing collaborations. We explore how mythologies of climate change as ‘end of the world’ furnish viable narratives through which humans can envision situations of dramatic world change and renewal. The group continues to welcome research on local perceptions of climate change which might for example, incorporate consumption and cultural change, or challenge categories of causality and nature/culture in constructive ways. Rosalyn is also convening a lab at the upcoming ASA conference in Durham this July, opening up the same themes to new researchers. We welcome relevant attempts to illuminate the everyday meanings of a vast discourse, especially imaginings that lead to communities’ means to adapt to and come to terms with collapse and change, and open the way for ‘worlds otherwise’.

RAI2016 Conference Programme

Panel 27-Contributors and Abstracts

Rosalyn Bold: Climate change and Equivocation

Alessandro Questa: Echoes of a Broken World

Bronislaw Szerszynski: Gods of the Anthropocene

Chantelle Murtagh: Diferente Pollera pero la misma chola