• Anthropocene;
  • cornucopianism;
  • deep time;
  • energy;
  • extinction;
  • history;
  • kinship;
  • species


By rejecting the old divide between prehistory and history, the group of scholars behind Deep History opens a new window on the problem of the unity and diversity of human experience over the very long run. Their use of kinship metaphors suggests not only a link between modern society and the deep past, but also perhaps a way to imagine the common legacy of the human species. But what emerges from Deep History is hardly a sunny story about the distant origins of social justice and ecological harmony. The other central metaphor of the book—the fractal—uncovers the slow prelude to the Anthropocene. Rather than seeing a sharp break in the Industrial Revolution from an “organic” to a fossil fuel-burning economy, these scholars stress the history of environmental destruction that has accompanied human expansion. My critical reading presents an alternative understanding of deep history as an arena for a new politics of species. Here a cornucopian understanding of human adaptation clashes with a new pessimism about the climatic fragility of Neolithic civilization.