Amidst an unfolding environmental crisis, suspicion about the totalising and homogenising spatial grammars of the ‘Anthropocene’ has spurred the development of a new spatial concept which, its proponents hope, can better ground the science and politics of environmental change in local geographies. In this second report on science and technology, I use this concept as a lens onto recent work in geography concerned with the space-times of ‘environmental’ sciences and technologies, broadly construed. The notion of the ‘critical zone’, and the practice of ‘critical zone science’, directs our attention to geographical work on situated practices of interdisciplinarity, on new modes of producing and working with ‘big data’, and on the volumetric, vertical and subterranean spaces of technoscientific practice. Emerging research has also engaged with the technologisation of critical zone management, while new insights into ‘lively capital’ and nonhuman labour push us to see the critical zone not just as an increasingly technologised space, but as itself a technology of human autopoiesis. Amidst the febrile politics of sustaining this planetary living-system, new questions are being asked about what it means to be critical in the critical zone.
- critical zone