Beyond the Anthropocene: multispecies encounters in contemporary Latin American literature, art, and film

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In the face of what many scientists and cultural theorists are calling the Anthropocene, a new era characterized by catastrophic human impact on the planet’s geologic, atmospheric, and ecological makeup,

In the face of what many scientists and cultural theorists are calling the Anthropocene, a new era characterized by catastrophic human impact on the planet’s geologic, atmospheric, and ecological makeup, Latin American writers, artists, and filmmakers today from various disciplinary and geographical positionalities are engaging in debates about how to respond ethically to this global crisis. From an interdisciplinary perspective that incorporates cutting-edge theories in multispecies ethnography, material ecocriticism, and queer ecology, this study examines multispecies relationships unfolding in three telescoping dimensions—corporealities, companions, and communities—in contemporary Latin American cultural production while uncovering indigenous and other-than-dominant epistemologies about human-nonhuman entanglements. I argue that contemporary cultural expression uncovers long, overlapping histories of social and environmental exploitation and resistance while casting the moment of encounter between individuals of different species as hopeful figurations of human-nonhuman flourishing beyond the Anthropocene. Instead of remaining hopelessly mired in the dire geographies of planetary decline, the works of Uruguayan writer Teresa Porzecanski, Mexican author Daniela Tarazona, Mexican textile sculptor Alejandra Zermeño, Argentine filmmaker Lucía Puenzo, Colombian installation artist María Fernanda Cardoso, Colombian poet Juan Carlos Galeano, Colombian graphic artist Solmi Angarita, and Brazilian poet Astrid Cabral dramatize a multitude of multispecies encounters to imagine the possibility of a better world—one that is already as close as our skin and as present as the nonhuman “others” that constitute our existence. These works imagine the human itself as a product of multispecies interactions through evolutionary time, multispecies companionships as formed around queer kinships, and biocultural communities as emerging through communicative, ethical encounters.