What can a pesticide pump, a jar full of sand, or an old calico print tell us about the Anthropocene the age of humans? Just as paleontologists look to fossil remains to infer past conditions of life on earth, so might past and present-day objects offer clues to intertwined human and natural histories that shape our planetary futures. In this era of aggressive hydrocarbon extraction, extreme weather, and severe economic disparity, how might certain objects make visible the uneven interplay of economic, material, and social forces that shape relationships among human and nonhuman beings?Future Remains is a thoughtful and creative meditation on these questions. The fifteen objects gathered in this book resemble more the tarots of a fortuneteller than the archaeological finds of an expedition they speak of planetary futures. Marco Armiero, Robert S. Emmett, and Gregg Mitman have assembled a cabinet of curiosities for the Anthropocene, bringing together a mix of lively essays, creatively chosen objects, and stunning photographs by acclaimed photographer Tim Flach.
The result is a book that interrogates the origins, implications, and potential dangers of the Anthropocene and makes us wonder anew about what exactly human history is made of.
Gregg Mitman is the Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History of Science, Medical History, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of Breathing Space: How Allergies Shape Our Lives and Landscapes and coeditor of Documenting the World: Film, Photography, and the Scientific Record, the latter also published by the University of Chicago Press. Marco Armiero is associate professor of environmental history and the director of the Environmental Humanities Lab at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. He is the author of A Rugged Nation: Mountains and the Making of Italy and coeditor of Nature and History in Modern Italy and A History of Environmentalism: Local Struggles, Global Histories. Robert S. Emmett is visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Roanoke College, Virginia. He is the author of Cultivating Environmental Justice: A Literary History of US Garden Writing.