Deep time: an anthropological problem

Richard Irvine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


As anthropologists attempt to engage with the emergent idea that we are now living in the 'Anthropocene' - a geological epoch of our own making - it becomes important to locate the timeframe of human activity within the deep time of planetary history. This paper asks whether anthropology is properly equipped for this challenge. By discussing the encounter with deep time in the earth sciences, I argue that deep time is not an abstract concept, but part of the phenomenal world impacting on people at the level of experience. The anthropological challenge, then, is to find new ways of exploring the interrelationships between human and geological temporalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-172
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Anthropology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Anthropocene
  • Environment
  • Geology
  • Landscape
  • Time


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