Astrid Schwarz

Astrid Schwarz (BTU Cottbus)



The Anthropocene is a much-debated and also controversial term however there is general agreement on the fact that it identifies a collapse of cultural and natural history. Accordingly, traditional separations such as between naturally grown and technically made objects are not possible anymore, just as the identification of purely natural processes. The garden is a place, in which these distinctions never worked, it has always been a product of likewise human’s and nature’s agency. Furthermore, the garden is linked to humankind in a very fundamental sense, it nurtures not primarily physical but also metaphysical needs and desires. It is full of impure things that assemble in a distinct place. In other words, gardens provide a wide range of models and techniques to deal with dynamic processes and combined things.

Recently, actors in quite different areas of science and engineering are talking of ‘gardening’ to manage mitigation or/and adaptation to climate change in the Anthropocene while meaning quite different things. Some propose an experimental approach on the global scale taking on the wording of gardening business, others are convinced that conventional gardening techniques are sufficiently efficient in order to contribute managing climate change.

In my talk I will challenge the modalities of how things do work together in a garden, is garden design rather a matter of composing or of combining? Are gardens rather ‘combines’ than compositions and in what way does the scale matter? What does it mean, if it is argued that gardeners collaborate with materials? And finally, in what sense may an engineer/scientist act as a gardener?


Astrid Schwarz is Lecturer at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Her main topic is the Philosophy of the Environmental Sciences, of the Anthropocene. Special research focus furthermore on landscape, the garden and gardening as central metaphors for engineering stewardship of Planet Earth.


Experiments in Practice. Pickering & Chatto Publishers, London 2014

mit Alfred Nordmann: Neue Objekte: epistemisch, technisch, sozial. (In: S. Maasen, M. Kaiser, M. Reinhart & B. Sutter (Hg.), Handbuch Wissenschaftssoziologie, Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2012, S. 291-302)

Schwarz, A.E. & K. Jax (2011), Ecology Revisited. Reflecting on Concepts, Advancing Science (Handbook of ecological concepts). Dordrecht: Springer 2011.

Technische Universität Darmstadt The Society for Philosophy and Technology Technische Universität Berlin Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft  Institute of Philosophy TU Darmstadt