Many thanks to Dipesh Chakrabarty for critical comments on the draft version.
A HISTORY OF THE SPECIES?1
Article first published online: 9 OCT 2013
© 2013 Wesleyan University
History and Theory
Volume 52, Issue 3, pages 462–472, October 2013
How to Cite
Jonsson, F. A. (2013), A HISTORY OF THE SPECIES?. History and Theory, 52: 462–472. doi: 10.1111/hith.10680
- Issue published online: 9 OCT 2013
- Article first published online: 9 OCT 2013
- deep time;
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.