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In light of the recognition of the Anthropocene – a geological epoch of our own making – this chapter asks how well anthropology is equipped to deal with the challenge that the recognition of human geological agency presents to our time perspectives. It offers two theoretical starting points to initiate the conversation between anthropological theory and the history of the encounter with deep time within Britain: the anthropologist E.E. Evans-Pritchard and the geologist James Hutton. This discussion introduces three key questions for an anthropology of deep time: what is the relationship between human rhythms and the rhythms of the more-than-human world within which humans live? What is the significance of our time horizons, their proximity or distance? And whose time is deep time?
This chapter explores the particular significance of the present, and the ways in which anthropology has approached ‘presentism’ as a metaphysical claim, a sociological description, and a means of analysis. While recognising that an analysis of the conditions of presentism is crucial for understanding contemporary social life, the central argument here is that any attempt to embrace presentism as a methodological tool or even metaphysical truth risks distorting human activity in a disastrous way by abstracting it from the material environment that makes such activity possible. The chapter concludes with a reflection upon the relationship between time and mystification in order to understand temporal disjuncture: conditions of life which obscure – and at the same time are violently dissonant with – the temporality of the ecologies and geologies which make that life possible. The task for anthropology is to analyse the conditions of this extraction from deep time, not to replicate it.
What underlies the English rural idyll? This chapter explores the relationship between stratigraphy, economy, and sense of place, taking as its primary focus the chalk hills of South Cambridgeshire, the ‘great croprolite boom’, and the significance of cement production. Yet in exploring the way in which social and economic change delves into geological history, it challenges chronotopes that emphasise continuity and consonance within the landscape, focussing our attention instead on temporal disjuncture, displacement, and a geology in motion.
Ground that was once the floor of the sea; sea rising up and snatching away ground. Folding hills, coastlines shaped and reshaped. There is nothing static about the terrain upon which we live and on which we depend.
This book seeks to understand human life in relation to these deep-time movements. It sets out to explore the way in which social rhythms interact with ecological and geological rhythms. Yet in the course of such a task, dislocations become apparent – the tension between the short-term orientation of contemporary life and the vast span of the physical processes on which that present draws. What are the horizons of a society’s sense of time? This is a question of enormous significance for anthropological analysis, as I intend to show.
Recognising that our maps of deep time are themselves products of the entangled relationship between the biographical and the geological, this chapter takes inspiration from the ‘biographical geology’ of the Scottish stonemason and geologist Hugh Miller. Turning our ethnographic focus to the Orkney Islands, where Miller hunted for fish fossils within the Old Red Sandstone, this chapter considers the ways in which deep time protrudes into the present. In particular, we consider the dynamics of erosion (and the role of concrete defences in holding the line against erosion) and the impact of the discovery of geological resources – particularly oil and uranium – as they shape people’s identity in relation to time and place.
This concluding chapter locates our present geological moment politically and economically, arguing that the major ecological degradation which has been made visible at the level of geological time is a result of the Lockean designation of ‘unused’ land as waste to be made productive. And crucially, this designation of land as waste goes hand in hand with the extraction from deep time: it involves bracketing out the long-term history of the landscape and its ecological future for the work of extracting economic value in the now. To expand our time horizons is, in fact, to recognise the contemporary relationship with deep time as wastage.
Taking as its focus the drained peatlands of the East Anglian fens, this chapter examines the formation and wastage of peat as a particular case study of human geological agency; a particular instance of the global transformation of a net carbon sink into a net carbon source. Here we see lived encounters with time depth that bring us face-to-face with temporal disjuncture: in particular, we see how the fenlands today find themselves locked-in to a present from which variation becomes unthinkable.
The work of mapping the processes of geological formation is entangled with the process of extraction from deep time – a conquest figured in relation to the coal measures. Building on Alfred Gell’s approach to the relationship between time and the ways in which it is culturally constructed, this chapter addresses the question ‘Whose time is deep time?’ through a consideration of the politics of marking the boundaries of time in nineteenth-century Imperial Britain, with a particular focus on the Cambridge geologist Adam Sedgwick.
Beginning with an ethnography of controversy in the representation of time at the Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, this chapter focuses on the role of catastrophe as rupture in time, confronting us with the transformative potential of events that render planetary history radically discontinuous. Yet while in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century history of the earth sciences catastrophism became displaced as orthodoxy by uniformitarian explanations, becoming a shadow mode of explanation associated primarily with Christian Biblical literalism, the significance of catastrophe in earth history has re-emerged in a distinct form through the recognition of mass extinction events. Indeed, it has a particular contemporary significance, as we increasingly recognise our own extractive relationship with time as catastrophe: vectors of a mass extinction event, the likes of which have occurred only five times in the last 540 million years or so.
In the face of debates about the Anthropocene - a geological epoch of our own making - and contemporary concerns about ecological crisis and the Sixth Mass Extinction, it is more important than ever to locate the timeframe of human activity within the deep time of planetary history. This path-breaking book is a timely critical review of the anthropology of time, exploring our human relationship with the timescale of geological formation. Richard D. G. Irvine shows how the time-horizons of social life are a matter of crucial concern, and lays bare the ways in which human activity becomes severed from the long-term geological and ecological rhythms on which it depends.
Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) are a highly valued aquaculture species, and, as obligate carnivores, they have a demonstrated preference for dietary protein over lipid or starch to fuel energetic growth demands. In order to investigate how carnivorous fish regulate nutritional cues, we examined the metabolic effects of feeding two isoenergetic diets that contained different proportions of digestible protein or starch energy. Fish fed a high proportion of dietary starch energy had a higher proportion of liver SFA, but showed no change in plasma glucose levels, and few changes in the expression of genes regulating key hepatic metabolic pathways. Decreased activation of the mammalian target of rapamycin growth signalling cascade was consistent with decreased growth performance values. The fractional synthetic rate (lipogenesis), measured by TAG 2H-enrichment using 2H NMR, was significantly higher in barramundi fed with the starch diet compared with the protein diet (0·6 (se 0·1) v. 0·4 (se 0·1) % per d, respectively). Hepatic TAG-bound glycerol synthetic rates were much higher than other closely related fish such as sea bass, but were not significantly different (starch, 2·8 (se 0·3) v. protein, 3·4 (se 0·3) % per d), highlighting the role of glycerol as a metabolic intermediary and high TAG-FA cycling in barramundi. Overall, dietary starch significantly increased hepatic TAG through increased lipogenesis. Compared with other fish, barramundi possess a unique mechanism to metabolise dietary carbohydrates and this knowledge may define ways to improve performance of advanced formulated feeds.
The main drivers of Svalbard reindeer population dynamics are likely to be limited food resources, periods of harsh winter weather and their abundant parasitic nematode infections. To show parasite demographic impact requires three approaches: field observation to document life history and abundances of parasites/hosts; manipulation of infection to quantify the effect of parasite intensity on host fitness; appropriate population models of density-dependent transmission. We monitored the reindeer population and intensity of parasites in culled reindeer, and treated a randomly selected reindeer group with an anthelmintic, comparing their fitness with a control group. The two main nematode species differed in life histories. Ostertagia gruehneri infected reindeer over the summer. Marshallagia marshalli transmission was limited to the harsh arctic winter. This implies that our treatment only affected O. gruehneri and showed that reindeer fecundity depends on intensity of O. gruehneri infection, which varied between years and was positively related to host population size. Modelling this interaction suggested a role for O. gruehneri in reindeer population regulation. More experiments with a delayed anthelmintic treatment, designed to manipulate M. marshalli numbers over the winter, provided little evidence of this parasite’s impact on host population dynamics.
Alteplase is an effective treatment for ischaemic stroke patients, and it is widely available at all primary stroke centres. The effectiveness of alteplase is highly time-dependent. Large tertiary centres have reported significant improvements in their door-to-needle (DTN) times. However, these same improvements have not been reported at community hospitals.
Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre (RDRHC) is a community hospital of 370 beds that serves approximately 150,000 people in their acute stroke catchment area. The RDRHC participated in a provincial DTN improvement initiative, and implemented a streamlined algorithm for the treatment of stroke patients. During this intervention period, they implemented the following changes: early alert of an incoming acute stroke patient to the neurologist and care team, meeting the patient immediately upon arrival, parallel work processes, keeping the patient on the Emergency Medical Service stretcher to the CT scanner, and administering alteplase in the imaging area. Door-to-needle data were collected from July 2007 to December 2017.
A total of 289 patients were treated from July 2007 to December 2017. In the pre-intervention period, 165 patients received alteplase and the median DTN time was 77 minutes [interquartile range (IQR): 60–103 minutes]; in the post-intervention period, 104 patients received alteplase and the median DTN time was 30 minutes (IQR: 22–42 minutes) (p < 0.001). The annual number of patients that received alteplase increased from 9 to 29 in the pre-intervention period to annual numbers of 41 to 63 patients in the post-intervention period.
Community hospitals staffed with community neurologists can achieve median DTN times of 30 minutes or less.
The morphology of englacial drainage networks and their temporal evolution are poorly characterised, particularly within cold ice masses. At present, direct observations of englacial channels are restricted in both spatial and temporal resolution. Through novel use of a terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) system, the interior geometry of an englacial channel in Austre Brøggerbreen, Svalbard, was reconstructed and mapped. Twenty-eight laser scan surveys were conducted in March 2016, capturing the glacier surface around a moulin entrance and the uppermost 122 m reach of the adjoining conduit. The resulting point clouds provide detailed 3-D visualisation of the channel with point accuracy of 6.54 mm, despite low (<60%) overall laser returns as a result of the physical and optical properties of the clean ice, snow, hoar frost and sediment surfaces forming the conduit interior. These point clouds are used to map the conduit morphology, enabling extraction of millimetre-to-centimetre scale geometric measurements. The conduit meanders at a depth of 48 m, with a sinuosity of 2.7, exhibiting teardrop shaped cross-section morphology. This improvement upon traditional surveying techniques demonstrates the potential of TLS as an investigative tool to elucidate the nature of glacier hydrological networks, through reconstruction of channel geometry and wall composition.
Fe deficiency in early childhood is associated with long-term consequences for cognitive, motor and behavioural development; however explorations in healthy children from low risk, high-resource settings have been limited. We aimed to explore associations between Fe status and neurodevelopmental outcomes in low risk, healthy 2-year-olds. This study was a secondary analysis of a nested case–control subgroup from the prospective, maternal-infant Cork Babies after Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints: Evaluating the Longitudinal Impact using Neurological and Nutritional Endpoints (BASELINE) Birth Cohort Study. At 2 years, serum ferritin, Hb and mean corpuscular volume (MCV) were measured and neurodevelopment was assessed using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (n 87). Five children had Fe deficiency (ferritin <12 µg/l) and no child had Fe deficiency anaemia (Hb<110 g/l+ferritin<12 µg/l). Children with microcytosis (MCV<74 fl, n 13) had significantly lower mean cognitive composite scores (88·5 (sd 13·3) v. 97·0 (sd 7·8), P=0·04, Cohen’s d effect size=0·8) than those without microcytosis. The ferritin concentration which best predicted microcytosis was calculated as 18·4 µg/l (AUC=0·87 (95% CI 0·75, 0·98), P<0·0001, sensitivity 92 %, specificity 75 %). Using 18·5 µg/l as a threshold, children with concentrations <18·5 µg/l had significantly lower mean cognitive composite scores (92·3 (sd 10·5) v. 97·8 (sd 8·1), P=0·012, Cohen’s d effect size=0·6) compared with those with ferritin ≥18·5 µg/l. All associations were robust after adjustment for potential confounding factors. Despite a low prevalence of Fe deficiency using current diagnostic criteria in this healthy cohort, microcytosis was associated with lower cognitive outcomes at 2 years. This exploratory study emphasises the need for re-evaluation of the diagnostic criteria for Fe deficiency in young children, with further research in adequately powered studies warranted.