Anthropocircumferentialism is a word coined by Tim Ingold in his dense and fascinating book The Perception of the Environment. He sets this concept in contrast to anthropocentrism. Anthropocircumferentialism suggests that humanity is placed outside the global environment since the environment has no longer a place for human beings. What does he mean by setting humanity outside the global environment? Are we not in it?
Ingold suggests “that the notion of the global environment, far from marking humanity’s reintegration into the world, signals the culmination of a process of separation” (p 209). The global environment is not a lifeworld, it is a world apart from life. The global environment is not the world where most of us experience in our daily life. We may encounter parts of a city or a village, but never the global environment.
The image of the world as a globe is a colonial one. It “presents us with the idea of a preformed surface waiting to be occupied, to be colonized first by living things and later by human (usually meaning Western) civilisation” (p 214). When the world is seen a globe it has become an object of appropriation for a collective humanity, rather than the local lifeworld we are accustomed to. We do no longer belong to the world, it is the world that belongs to us. We live by the illusion that we have inherited the earth, as if it is a property, and that we are responsible for handling it on to our children. This sets humans apart from the environment as caretakers, we are no longer meshed with it.
The global perspective marks the triumph of technology over cosmology. Whereas cosmology guides human action within the world, technology guides human action upon the world. People have moved from revelation to control, from partial knowledge to calculated risk according to Ingold.
I would say this is one of the reasons cosmology in the shape of New Age and the 2012 phenomenon is making a return coincides with the occupy Wall Street movement. People are apparently fed up with anthropocircumferentialism without ever hearing about this tongue-twisting word.
Ingold, T. (2000). The Perception of the Environment: Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling, and Skill. London: Routledge.