Courtney Addison;
Courtney Addison, Victoria University of Wellington;
Timothy Neale, Deakin University;
Thao Phan, Deakin University

New Orleans 2019: Conversing

Building on the Cultural Anthropology Theorising the Contemporary collection ‘An Anthropogenic Table of Elements,’ this participatory experiment invites guests to join in theorising a new Table of Elements for the Anthropocene. For 150 years the famous Periodic Table of Chemical Elements has exerted its ontological ordering on the matter of the world and on popular thought. Today, concepts such as the Anthropocene question how we understand the effects, interrelations, and our own responsibilities to the chemical chaos that surrounds us. Can rethinking the elemental better illuminate our present troubles?

We propose to ‘set the table’ for an Anthropocenic conversation. Where the Periodic Table is a graphical device for ordering information, this literal table invites participants to sit, share, and question the contentious elements that shape our current predicament. A dining table functions as a surface on which food is shared and relationships are made. It thus serves as an apt metaphor for hospitality and exchange—traits urgently needed to navigate ethical modes of being and doing in anthropogenic times.