Labour, Energy, and Information as Historical Configurations Notes for a Political Metrology of the Anthropocene

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The essay contributes to the debate on the role of metrics in geoanthropology. It argues that the use of the energy metric in the study of the Anthropocene among other phenomena should be seen in its relation to the metrology of labour and productivity that originated in the industrial age. In order to clarify this genealogical question, the essay extends the method of ‘historical metrology’ (Kula) to the notion of energy and, in addition, to the notion of information, that can be understood in its own as a metric of knowledge, mental labour, communication and cooperation. In illuminating the nexus between the abstractions of political economy and technoscience, the essay stresses specifically the role of machines (such as the steam engine and telegraph) as ‘epistemic mediators’ (Wise). The essay concludes by advocating for the inclusion of political metrology in the necessary toolbox and ‘geopraxis’ (Omodeo) of the Anthropocene.

Keywords: Anthropocene, Geoanthropology, History of Metrology, Political Economy


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