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Anna Barcz

Anna Barcz

Title: The Role of Storytelling: the Anthropocene in the Cartography of the Future (following the Rivers)


Historic maps have been used to reconstruct and study the human impact on environments but still there are gaps in the theory of cartography which ecocritically orientated studies and digital opportunities fill in. Thanks to the development of digital editions (incl. various GIS tools) and curatorial practices (Smith 2019), numerous projects use maps to critically reflect on the future of remaining ecosystems and natural resources (e.g. Rebecca Solnit’s Atlases, Multispecies Resistance in Benohr et al. 2021 or the Aquacritical Atlas of the River Vistula in Barcz & Waclawik 2022). From hybrid geography and counter-cartography to deep mapping, cartography has become part of the Anthropocene debate (Tally & Battista 2016; Bodenhamer, Corrigan & Harris 2022). New epistemic alliances between arts, literary studies, geography and history involve more digital creativity to question cartographical sources and anthropocentric constrains of knowledge in order to retell complex and difficult relations between humans and environments and their mapped histories of negotiating space in the Anthropocene.

In my aquacritical practice, I am aware that the rivers – as lines, stripes or ribbons – were constructed by modern cartography. What alternative stories we can tell to re-animate the rivers’ complex natures and which flow against this image of disciplined rivers by the cartographical reason? To grasp the rivers’ problematic status as political borders in the context of remaining environments; to de-militarise, de-patriarchise and de-nationalise the rivers in maps and mapping processes; to enact their mighty, undisciplined and real presence in the flood prone Anthropocenic world?


Barcz, A. & Waclawik, P. 2022. Aquacritical Atlas of the River Vistula. Zenodo.

Benohr, Jens & Virik, Kara & Farò, David & Brinksma, Maike & G., Antonia & Donihue, Ross. 2021. Multispecies Resistance: A Cartography of Love and Disaster.

Bodenhamer D., Corrigan J. & Harris T. (Eds.). 2022. Making Deep Maps. Foundations, Approaches, and Methods. Routledge

Smith J. 2019. The Lake as Archive.

Solnit Rebecca, Atlases

Tally R., Battista Ch. 2016. Introduction. In: Ecocriticism and Geocriticism. Overlapping Territories in Environmental and Spatial Literary Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, p. 1-15.

Bio: Anna Barcz is trained as a philosopher and literary scholar interested in ecocritical storytelling and environmental history. She works as an Assistant Professor at the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw (in the Department of Historical Atlas); she was the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Trinity Long Room Hub (Trinity College Dublin) in 2018-2019, and Rachel Carson Centre Fellow (LMU, Munich) in 2019-2020. Her books include: Environmental Cultures in Soviet East Europe: Literature, History and Memory (Bloomsbury 2020); Animal Narratives and Culture: Vulnerable Realism (CSP 2017) and Ecorealism: From Ecocriticism to Zoocriticism in Polish Literature (in Polish, 2016). She has served as PI of a few research grants in environmental humanities, incl. her aquacritical studies on the Odra and Vistula Rivers.