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Cultures of Energy

Cultures of Energy brings writers, artists and scholars together to talk, think and feel their way into the Anthropocene. We cover serious issues like climate change, species extinction and energy transition. But we also try to confront seemingly huge and insurmountable problems with insight, creativity and laughter. We believe in the possibility of personal and cultural change. And we believe that the arts and humanities can help guide us toward a more sustainable future. Cultures of Energy is sponsored by Rice University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS, pronounced ‘sense’). Join the conversation on Twitter @cenhs and on the web at culturesofenergy.com
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Now displaying: September, 2018
Sep 27, 2018

This week’s episode starts with some serious reflections on cracked masculinity, misogyny, 1980s culture, and the Supreme Court. But in the spirit of demanding better worlds to come, we then (15:30) welcome Darin Barney (McGill U) and Imre Szeman (U Waterloo) to talk through how best to imagine and enact positive solar futures. We start with their planning for After Oil 2: Solarity, a conference that will take place at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (https://www.cca.qc.ca/en/) in Montreal May 23-25, 2019. Imre begins by walking us through logic behind the first edition of After Oil (http://afteroil.ca/what-is-aos/), which brought together forty people from diverse backgrounds to write a manifesto on life after petroculture. Darin then explains the concept for Solarity and how it seeks to push the speculative dimension of energy humanities farther in order to help break with the hegemony of various forms of petroknowledge. We talk about solarity as a zone of contestation, solarity as menace, solarity as emancipation from other social ills, and raise questions such as ‘what would solar theory look like?’ After hearing about their exciting plans for Solarity, we close by catching up with Imre and Darin about their own latest research projects. PS Go McGill for moving one step closer to fossil fuel divestment!

Sep 21, 2018

Cymene and Dominic debate whether dogs can have bullshit jobs on this week’s podcast. Then (13:46) we are most fortunate to welcome NYU’s Rosalind Fredericks to the podcast to talk about her brand new book, Garbage Citizenship: Vital Infrastructures of Labor in Dakar, Senegal (Duke U Press). But before getting there we ask Rozy why she thinks garbage/waste/discard studies are becoming so popular these days and what its lively interdisciplinary conversation is teaching us about value and materiality. Rozy tells us about how sanitation infrastructure first got her interested in understanding waste and how the trash strikes that took place during her fieldwork cemented her commitment to studying the politics and materiality of garbage in Dakar. We talk about the Set/Setal movement and how it utilized garbage work as a medium through which to revitalize Senegalese politics. From there we turn to the intersection of waste with Islamic ideas of purity and practices of piety, the political power of wastework, consumption and recycling, urbanization, climate refugeeism and the African Anthropocene. Rozy explains to us what she means by “vital infrastructures” and “salvage bricolage” as we turn to her new research on the work of trash reclaimers at one of Dakar’s largest dumps. We close with Rozy’s distant past life as a dumpster diver and her prize mini bottle collection.

Sep 14, 2018

Cymene and Dominic answer the timeless surrealist question, can raisins function as bait, on this week’s podcast. We then (9:20) welcome to the podcast Scotland’s finest son, Graeme Macdonald (currently on loan to Warwick) who explains first of all that he had nothing to do with the making of couscous sandwiches at Petrocultures 2018. But he does cop to enjoying very much working together with Janet Stewart and Rhys Williams on bringing that event to fruition. We then move on to more serious matters and Graeme tells us why he thinks interest in petrocultures is growing and how the energy humanities relate to the environmental humanities more broadly. That leads us to the entanglement of oil and modern fiction, whether there are different petrofictions in different places around the world, and if we need a new romanticism for the era of renewables. We then turn to science fiction in Scotland and its connection to the many terraforming projects that have occurred there; we talk post-oil dystopian fictions, hollow earth narratives, peat bogs and carbon sequestration, and the tensions surrounding decarbonization and Scottish devolution in the UK. We close on climate imaginaries and whether the Global North has made any progress in conceiving of post-carbon democratic life. This episode is brought to you by Buckfast Tonic Wine, the official irresponsible beverage decision of the Cultures of Energy podcast. Consider having one for the ditch but nae prezh!

Sep 7, 2018

On this week’s podcast, Cymene and Dominic recap their time at the marvelous Petrocultures 2018 event in Glasgow and tell tales of adventures with quinoa sandwiches and Buckfast, a curious liquor better known locally as “stab-yer-pal.” Then (13:25) we offer another edition of our Soylent Rainbow segment, talking classic ecofilms that you’ve recommended to us. This time it’s Alex Rivera’s 2008 cult film, Sleep Dealer, which brilliantly imagines a dystopian future of militarized water, reality TV drone killings and cyberlabor as the United States has invented a new way to exploit Mexican labor power without allowing workers’ bodies to cross borders. It’s a film in many ways ahead of its time that deserves a watch in 2018. We talk about its many strengths but also what we might do differently if the film were remade today. Speaking of which, Charlie Brooker, if you are out there, this is a Black Mirror episode waiting to happen!!

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