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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: 2019
Aug 15, 2019

Dominic and Cymene talk airbnb for flies, slime-mold residencies and close encounters with hypothermia to get things going. Then (11:36), hey, it’s primary debate season and if you’re like your co-hosts you probably find evaluating the sprawling field of Democratic candidates for the U.S. Presidency fairly bewildering. So in this week’s pod we drill down into climate policy among the Democrats. Where do the various candidates stand? Who is recognizing climate change as a political priority? Who has the best climate action plan? Who is stuck in the carbon pricing past and who is being imaginative or even realistic about what it will take to address today’s climate emergency? What are the important climate issues that are not even being talked about? Here to break it all down for us is climate policy expert Leah Stokes (https://www.leahstokes.com) from the University of California Santa Barbara. In closing we talk about why leaning in to collective political action on climate is so much more important than policing individual consumption decisions. So in that spirit, join the movement, get ready to protest on September 20th (https://globalclimatestrike.net)!!

Aug 9, 2019

Addled by cleaning products and dustballs, Cymene and Dominic imagine what a multispecies Ph.D. program might look like on this week’s podcast. Then (13:59) we welcome Queen of Feminist Petrocultural Studies™ Sheena Wilson to the podcast! We start with how growing up in Alberta helped attune her to the need for feminist and decolonial energy transitions and then turn to her critical take on petrofeminism and how feminist infrastructural theory can help to unmake the (petro) energy infrastructures and imaginaries which capture us today. From there we turn to petromobility and how the freedom of the few all too often depends on the confinement of the many, the tortured rhetorics and logics of Canada’s “ethical oil” campaign, and the world-making possibilities of feminist, decolonial, “glitchfrastructures.” We close with a breakdown of the Just Powers research initiative (https://www.justpowers.ca) that Sheena is leading now in Alberta.

Aug 1, 2019

Dominic and Cymene talk about the Democratic debates on this week’s podcast. Then (13:57) we are humbled and thrilled to have legendary journalist Andrew Revkin join the conversation. We chat with Andrew about the environment beat back in the 1980s and how he became one of the first American journalists to take on the topic of climate change. We talk about the struggle for both reality and nuance in climate coverage, how to get people to connect emotionally to climate issues, and Andrew shares experiences from the trenches of the “information wars” surrounding climate science and his thoughts about the dangers of “narrative capture” in climate coverage. From there, we turn to the challenges of broadcast vs. online journalism, the new Initiative on Communication and Sustainability that Andrew is leading at Columbia University and the unmet responsibility of universities to do more on climate. We close on climate change as a long-term intergenerational ethical problem in which we live with the carbon legacies of previous generations and where the fruits of decarbonization actions today will only benefit generations to come.

Jul 25, 2019

Cymene and Dominic talk about Ok glacier’s 15 minutes of fame on this week’s podcast (e.g. https://slate.com/technology/2019/07/okjokull-iceland-glacier-death-plaque.html), ridiculous hate mail, and what it feels like being in the middle of the news maelstrom. And the first ever Cultures of Energy Everyday Climate Warrior™ award is bestowed upon Daisy Hernandez from Popular Mechanics. Then (15:52) we welcome the marvelous Mark Nuttall (http://marknuttall.com) to the podcast to discuss all that is happening in the Greenland today. We start with his new book (co-authored with Klaus Dodds), The Arctic: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford U Press, 2019) and how Mark thinks about the Arctic as a paradoxical space. We talk about the discourse of the “New Arctic” and its geopolitical implications, the Inuit experience of climate change, self-government and the extractivist politics of the new Greenlandic resource frontier, and the sharpened global gaze resting on Greenland at the moment. Mark tells us about the adaptive resilience of indigenous lifeways in the face of climate change and advancing industrialization and urbanization in the parts of Greenland where he has done fieldwork for decades. We touch on the dramatic changes the Greenlandic capital Nuuk is now experiencing and the tensions between the aspirations to Greenlandic state sovereignty and the Inuit Circumpolar Council and then close with the fascinating stories of Camp Century and Project Iceworm.

Jul 18, 2019

Cymene talks about her exciting new life as a contractor on this week’s podcast. Then (10:14) we welcome the brilliant theorist, artist and curator, Joanna Zylinska (http://www.joannazylinska.net) to the podcast to discuss her excellent new book, The End of Man: A Feminist Counterapocalypse (U Minnesota Press, 2018). We start with the central argument of the book that there is an intimate relationship between Silicon Valley technicism on the one hand and alt-right white supremacist populism on the other. We talk through genealogies of apocalyptic thinking and how they are interwoven with masculinist promises of salvation and Joanna explains why she thinks it is important to take seriously the sociopolitical precarity that is the norm for the vast majority of the world’s human population. We turn from there to her thoughts on breaking the “apocalypse habit,” why Isabelle Stengers’s Gaia concept might be a helpful alternative, and the importance of minimal ethics for her approach to the Anthropocene. We discover whether there is a place for play and laughter in the Counterapocalypse and then talk about the difficulties of representing the Anthropocene in art and her own short film  “Exit Man” (https://vimeo.com/203887003) which serves as a companion to The End of Man. Finally, we talk about the links she sees between Anthropocene stupidity and Artificial Intelligence.  PS Your co-hosts duograph on wind power in Southern Mexico is now available with Duke University Press. To receive a 30% discount on each volume use the code E19BOYER for “Energopolitics” (https://www.dukeupress.edu/energopolitics) and E19HOWE for “Ecologics” (https://www.dukeupress.edu/ecologics) at checkout. 

Jul 11, 2019

Co-host Cymene reminisces this week about being the first intern hired by Wired magazine waaaay back in the day. Then (14:42) we are joined by journalist Andrew Blum (https://www.andrewblum.net)—the celebrated author of Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet—to talk about his new book, The Weather Machine (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2019). We dive deep into it, beginning with our “golden age” of meteorology, and its improved computer simulations. We talk about human presence within massive information infrastructures, his interest in place philosophy, balancing attentions to weather and climate, comparing weather banality vs. weather catastrophe; and, Andrew explains to us the different ways of interpreting the history of weather forecasting. From there we turn to the intersection of war and weather, how Cold War rivalry and internationalism helped shape the weather machine as a global cooperative project, and whether private corporations like Google and IBM will control the future of forecasting. Chemtrails and other weather conspiracies make an appearance, as does the secret Nazi invasion of Canada to build a weather station. We close talking about weather and sympathy and sharing storm stories.

Jul 4, 2019

Dominic and Cymene celebrate the one thing the USA ever did right—Mr. Rogers. And we wonder whether there is such a thing as Canadian BBQ.  Then (13:02) the delightful Natalie Loveless (http://loveless.ca/about) joins the pod. She is the author of a forthcoming book with Duke University Press, How to Make Art at the End of the World: A Manifesto for Research-Creation, and that’s where we begin the conversation with a discussion of the relatively new domain of “research-creation” in Canadian higher education and its potential to help expand who belongs in universities and their modes of legitimate practice. We turn from there to the dilemmas of teaching climate catastrophe to students and her new book project, Sensing the Anthropocene: Aesthetic Attunement in an age of Urgency, which connects research-creation to climate justice. We talk about relation as artistic form and why she thinks it is so crucial that Anthropocene art pursue ecological forms that rupture the systems that brought us to our present circumstances. Finally, we discuss why it’s important not to be captured by the tools and temporalities of university audit culture, her thoughts on the Anthropocene concept as lure and barnacle, and how we might build a feminist university of creativity, experiment and with an eros that is cathected, committed and sustaining.

Jun 27, 2019

Cymene and Dominic cover the stress (and joy!) of center directorships and sandwich-making on this week’s podcast. Then (13:53) Dustin Mulvaney (http://www.dustinmulvaney.com) visits the pod to tell us all the things we need to know about solar energy but were afraid to ask. He’s the author of the excellent new book, Solar Power: Innovation, Sustainability and Environmental Justice(U California Press, 2019). We start by talking about whether it’s possible to make a solar power revolution both rapid and just. That gets us to the toxic externalities of solar cell manufacture and his work with the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (http://svtc.org) to create a Solar Scorecard system that helps pressure manufacturers to clean up their production processes.  Dustin breaks down for us the environmental advantages and disadvantages of both photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar (CSP) systems and then we turn to what he calls the “Green Civil War” brewing between animal rights activists and renewable energy activists over land use changes especially in the American Southwest. In closing we discuss whether a radically decentralized energy ecology could help advance environmental justice goals and what lessons should be learned from Obama era ARRA solar investments in terms of improving energy justice in the future.

Jun 21, 2019

Your cohosts report on the adventures of Cymene’s birthday week. We then (10:41) revel in the glory of having the most excellent Heather Davis (https://heathermdavis.com)—co-editor of Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies (London: Open Humanities Press, 2015) and editor of Desire Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada (MAWA and McGill-Queen’s UP, 2017)—from the New School on the podcast. We begin with her new book project, Plastic: The Afterlife of Oil—soon to be part of the Elements series at Duke U Press—and talk about how the duration of plastic haunts the present and influences our future in many often invisible ways. Heather explains to us what she means by “petrotime,” how plastic creates an intimacy with deep time and impermanence, and what we learn from creatures who have found the plastisphere nourishing.  We turn from there to the problem of inheritance, mutability, plastic’s inability to uphold its own promise of synthetic universality and yet its capacity to globalize plasticity. We ask Heather what she thinks of the alt-plastics movement and talk about whether new plastics will really challenge the culture of disposability.  Finally, we touch on plastic as a bastard child of humanity, Heather’s work on art in the Anthropocene and her thoughts about how artistic practice can help us to learn to live otherwise.

Jun 13, 2019

Cymene and Dominic discuss a strange effort to police sugar packet play on this week’s podcast. Then (15:52) we are delighted to welcome Nigel Clark to the conversation. Nigel is Chair of Social Sustainability and Human Geography at Lancaster University (https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/lec/about-us/people/nigel-clark ). He is the author of Inhuman Nature: Sociable Life on a Dynamic Planet (2011) and co-editor of Atlas: Geography, Architecture and Change in an Interdependent World (2012), Material Geographies (2008) and Extending Hospitality(2009).  We start things off by talking about a new book he is working on called The Anthropocene and Societythat he is working on with Bron Szerszynski and what it means to rethink humanity through planetary strata, flows, and multiplicity. We turn from there to Australian feminism, phosphates, Aotearoa New Zealand as a space of settler grassland experiments, wealth, and geocide. Then we touch on fire and its excess, our brittle life on an earth’s surface caught between solar and geothermal vitalities, metamorphosis, the early connection between gunpowder and combustion engines and European geotrauma. A special birthday week shout-out to our very own eternal Cymene Howe :)

 

 

Jun 6, 2019

It’s a dazzling display of randomness to open this week’s podcast as your co-hosts discuss the Inslee/DNC fracas, writing memoirs in the forest, whether “in the danceline” can sub for “in the pipeline” and then Cymene coins the word “heteropuntal.” Then (18:03) we are very fortunate to welcome Max Liboiron (https://maxliboiron.com) to the podcast. Max is Director of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR) and Assistant Professor of Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland.  We begin with CLEAR as an incubator for better, more anti-colonial and feminist scientific methods, relations and ethics. She tells us about the importance of equity and humility in her lab’s work, and how they’ve established feminist protocols for conversation and authorship. We turn from there to their research on marine plastic pollution, which talks back to universalist discourse on plastic contamination. Max talks about the hate mail they’ve received, environmental harm vs. environmental violence, the importance of null results, wrestling with toxic agency and why she moved away from art to get her hands dirty in colonial science. In closing we talk about the open science hardware as a mixed bag, upstream violence, and which is more fun: stand up or roller derby. Be good relations, dear listeners, and cite CLEAR’s work! You can find more information and an archive at: https://civiclaboratory.nl

May 30, 2019

On this week’s pod, we firstly recall the happy days of After Oil School 2: Solarity. Then (14:31) your co-hosts share their conversation with the amazing Nicole “NicStar” Starosielski (NYU) about about her fascinating new book project Media Hot and Cold,which offers a deep dive into all things thermocultural. We talk with Nicole about how her earlier work on undersea cables led to a broader interest in temperature as a medium and mode of communication. We talk about the importance of queering McLuhan and moving toward more feminist and antiracist approaches to media. We chat about thermal sexism and the rise of thermal personalization under neoliberalism, thermal violence and the spread of sweatboxes, and her work to develop a non-extractive metallurgical method of analysis. We turn from there to practices of sunlight and why Nicole was inspired to think about solarity via her work as a farmer.  We close on the new book series she is editing with Stacy Alaimo, Elements (for Duke U Press). Check it out at: https://www.dukeupress.edu/books/browse/by-series/series-detail?IdNumber=4219856  PS A big COE pod shoutout to the organizers of Solarity and the Canadian Centre for Architecture for making this week’s episode possible!! PPS If you are thinking of going to the AAS meetings in Canberra this December please consider submitting a paper to the “It’s Elemental” panel that we are doing together with the magnificent Tim Neale. More information here: (https://nomadit.co.uk/conference/aas2019/p/8184)

May 23, 2019

Dominic and Cymene talk about HBO's Chernobyl and discuss whether humans will eventually try to breed chihuahua-scale alligators. Then (18:45) we welcome the multitalented Chris Kelty to the podcast to talk about his forthcoming book, The Participant (https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/P/bo44520895.html) and his recent fieldwork on animal control in Los Angeles. Chris explains how the challenge of describing experience is at the heart of participant-observation and how that challenge motivated him to delve deeply into what exactly “participation” has meant over time. We talk through the genealogy of thinking about participation and how historical efforts to make participation mobile and scalable ended up constraining its forms significantly. Chris describes what he means by the form of personhood he terms “contributory autonomy” and how it finds its apotheosis in the infinite and fleeting participatory publics of social media today. We detour from there into the recent Facebook scandals, how Twitter is formatted to foment opinionating over understanding, and what could be done to make participatory practices more substantive and stable. We then turn to Chris’s recent animal control ride-alongs and what he is learning about the politics of human interaction with feral urban mammals, the ethics of making them killable, and current anthropological debates about the Anthropocene and domestication.  Finally, we hear that Limn (https://limn.it) has a new project going on resilience and cities. If you are attending 4S, check out the Limn panels there!

May 16, 2019

We give Mexican President AMLO a piece of our minds on this week’s podcast for doubling down on extractivist petronationalism. Then (15:43) Cymene and Dominic report back from the “Recentering Energy Justice” symposium at UC Santa Barbara, which was the culminating event of UCSB’s Mellon Foundation funded Sawyer Seminar on “Energy Justice in Global Perspective” (https://energyjustice.global.ucsb.edu/about). We sit down with the project leads, Javiera Barandarian and Mona Damluji, together with their colleagues, Stephan Miescher, David Pellow, Emily Roehl and Janet Walker (https://energyjustice.global.ucsb.edu/people) to process the event and what they learned about energy justice along the way. We talk about the need to look to the Global South and indigenous communities for guidance in pursuing programs of energy justice, and the importance of connecting to Santa Barbara as ancestral Chumash land, as a petrocultural space and as a site of environmental disaster. We move from there to the ethical questions of conceptualizing justice cross time and space and the roles that scholar-activism and pedagogy can play in fostering meaningful collaborations concerning energy and environmental justice issues that can move toward true consent relations. We close on what they would do if the Mellon Foundation were (wink, wink) to magically re-up their funds for another year.

May 9, 2019

In a time- and perspective-bending intro segment possibly designed by friend of the pod Chris Nolan, Cymene and Dominic are joined by Jason Cons (jasoncons.net) from the University of Texas who helps us to introduce his own interview in order that we can talk about the impact of last week’s Cyclone Fani on Bangladesh. The news, as it happens, is surprisingly encouraging. From there (18:33) we travel back in a time a week to the main part of the interview. We start with how Austin is adapting to the brave new world of ubiquitous electric scooters and from there move into his work on the making of Bangladesh into an exemplary space for experiments in climate adaptation. We talk about the shifting priorities of development intervention and how they are coming to forefront security objectives like reducing climate migration even as regions around the delta are widely predicted to become uninhabitable in as little as two decades’ time. We discuss the history of development ventures in the country, the imagination of chaotic futures and wastelands foretold, heterotopias and heterodystopias, delta temporalities and fugitive landscapes. Jason explains the limited capacity of political and legal imaginations predicated on dry land to understand the damp ontology of alluvial regions. On the last lap we talk about the usefulness of the Anthropocene concept in Bangladesh, and his recent publications on chokepoints and resource frontiers.

May 2, 2019

Cymene and Dominic talk about homemade treadmills and the virtues of wasting time on this week’s podcast. Then (15:33) we welcome the one and only Kathryn Yusoff, Professor of Inhuman Geography (best job title ever!) at Queen Mary University of London. Her title mojo is virtually unstoppable because her latest book is called A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None(U Minnesota Press, 2019). We begin with how she became interested in the grammars that underlie geology in the context of colonial history.  We talk about the historical alchemy that produced what Kathryn terms “white geology” and how that history overdetermines much discourse surrounding the Anthropocene today, often erasing the extractive logics that have brought us to our present situation. From there we roam on to the intersection between geofeminist philosophy and critical race studies, the double life of the inhuman, the weaponization of energy, racial injustice and environmental futurity, geology as a low resolution form of biopolitics, the possibility of a geopoethics that breaks that cycle, and the gendered and racialized politics of citation. In closing we talk about queer fire and the flamboyance of the earth. PS The image credit for this week's cover image is © Justin Brice Guariglia (https://guariglia.com)

Apr 25, 2019

FINALLY an episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast that is for once totally wholesome and family-friendly and appropriate to listen to with your kids! Cymene and Dominic share their own thoughts about talking to children about climate change. And then (13:51) we welcome an author that will be well known (especially to listeners aged 8-12 and their families), Stuart Gibbs, the author of the very popular FunJungle, Spy School and Moonbase Alpha middle grade series. Stuart has thematized both climate change and animal conservation in his books and we talk to him about how readers have responded to those interventions, about his writing process in general, and why he thinks it’s important for adults to talk to children honestly about our environmental challenges. If you happen to be in the Houston area on April 30th, please check out Stuart’s reading at the Blue Willow Bookstore, deets here: https://www.bluewillowbookshop.com/event/stu-gibbs-0

PS And, as promised, here are some solid online resources for teaching especially younger kids about climate change and climate action: http://climatechangeconnection.org/resources/climate-friendly-schools/resources-for-schools/; https://www.commonsense.org/education/articles/4-free-tools-to-teach-about-climate-change; https://www.earthguardians.org/50simplethings/; https://thinkprogress.org/how-to-talk-to-a-5-year-old-about-climate-change-ef8ec30b1bd1/

Apr 18, 2019

Dominic and Cymene talk about sunburns, the petrocultural epic that is the reboot of Dynasty, and whatever ASMR is. Then (19:46) the terrific Dina Gilio-Whitaker joins us to talk about her new book, As Long as Grass Grows:The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock (Beacon, 2019). A member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, Dina teaches America Indian Studies at Cal State San Marcos and is policy director and senior research associate at the Center for World Indigenous Studies. We begin by looking back at Standing Rock and the Idle No More movement and talk about how important those were to environmental politics and prospects of energy transition today. Then we talk about how to further the decolonization of the environmental justice movement. We cover colonial unknowing, the erasure of genocide, and the importance of land and place based ethics for human survival. Dina tells us about her research on Panhe, a long-standing Acjachemen sacred site threatened with development, the complexities of sovereignty and recognition it surfaces and then we talk about how far the Rights of Nature legal arguments can go in the settler courts. Finally we debate what’s the real surfing capital of the world, the Institute for Women Surfers project (https://www.instituteforwomensurfers.org), surf feminism, and why Dina and her collaborators see surfing as an environmental justice issue. PS Shout out to Krista Comer for this week’s episode and pls check out Dayla Soul’s film about women’s big wave surfing, It Ain’t Pretty (trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6VDCZudTlg)

Apr 11, 2019

Cymene and Dominic discuss last month’s catastrophic blackout in Venezuela on this week’s podcast. Then (17:39) we’re thrilled to have the chance to chat with Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright about their fascinating, provocative new book, Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future (Verso, 2018). We start with how the book came to be and what they mean by the potential future scenarios of “climate leviathan,” “climate behemoth” and “climate Mao.” We then turn to how climate change might prompt planetary sovereignty and what will happen if global capitalism is allowed to define that sovereignty. We talk about the enduring power of nationalist sentiments and imaginaries, especially in the form of adopting a “war footing” against climate change, and why they think we shouldn’t put all our eggs in the Green New Deal basket. We debate to what extent Keynesianism is really petroknowledge and how the image of leviathan haunts political thinking today. We close with a fourth scenario they term “climate X” and what we can imagine about the possibilities of a non-capitalist locally-sovereign future. PS For those of you in the Houston area, please join us for Cultures of Energy 8 this week (details at culturesofenergy.org) or follow the live-tweets from the symposium via @cenhs

Apr 4, 2019

Cymene and Dominic celebrate a podcast milestone and bid adieu to 1990s Democrats and their market-loving, head-kissing ways on this week’s show. Then (15:40) Dominic has a chance to chat with NYU’s Jerome Whitington who has just published a fascinating book on hydropower in Laos—a country some are calling the “battery of Southeast Asia”—entitled Anthropogenic Rivers: The Production of Uncertainty in Lao Hydropower(Cornell U Press, 2019). We start off with where hydropower fits within the contemporary debate on renewable energy transition and why it receives so much less attention than solar and wind energy. Then we turn to how Jerome got interested in the Theun-Hinboun Dam project in particular and why he decided to frame the study in terms of knowledge and uncertainty. We discuss the importance of an experimental moment in the dam’s history when the power company sought to collaborate with environmental activists to allay concerns about the ecological and social impacts of the dam project. Jerome explains what he means by “technical entrepreneurialism” and we talk about how to think about the meaning of “anthropogenic” without getting stuck in nature/culture binaries. Shifting gears, we discuss Jerome’s current research on carbon accounting and he explains the influence of corporate accounting logics and Silicon Valley culture on practices like carbon offsets and why he doesn’t think carbon accounting is ultimately going to stop climate change. We close on the need for more academic activism on climate.

Mar 28, 2019

Dominic and Cymene talk about the weltschmerz of turning 10, review this week’s flood & fire news and offer handy recycling tips (e.g. don't recycle snakes!) on this week’s podcast. We then (19:08) are delighted to welcome the marvelous video artist, curator and theorist, Ursula Biemann (https://www.geobodies.org) to the conversation; Ursula has thematized energy and environment themes extensively in her work. We start with oil and her 2005 project, Black Sea Files (https://www.geobodies.org/art-and-videos/black-sea-files) which explores how energy infrastructure shapes flows of fuel and people in the Caspian region. We discuss the multiperspectival camera work that is one of her signatures and move from there to Forest Law (2014) which contrasts the logics of oil extraction in the Ecuadorian Amazon with indigenous cosmology of the living forest (https://www.geobodies.org/art-and-videos/forest-law). We talk about forests as future proliferating ecologies, how film can make visible connections between processes and places across the world, and why she likes to think of her films as doing work opposite to abstraction. We move then to Deep Weather (2013), a short film that connects the tar sands of northern Canada to the “hydro-geography” of an increasingly flood-threatened Bangladesh (https://www.geobodies.org/art-and-videos/deep-weather). In closing, Ursula explains to us her next project: founding a university in Ecuador to help bridge indigenous and western forms of environmental knowledge. Listen and enjoy!  Ps Wishing Ms. Brijzha Boyer a very happy birthday!

Mar 21, 2019

Cymene and Dominic talk corporate irresponsibility—looking at you ITC and Boeing—on this week’s podcast. Then (13:44) we welcome the legendary Tim Ingold to the conversation. We start by talking about his new book, Anthropology: Why it Matters (Polity Press, 2018) and Tim explains why he thinks the practice of science should be grounded in art. We move from there to the importance of amateurism, how much impact phenomenology has had upon Tim’s thinking about biosocial being, and why he wanted to write a manifesto about anthropology’s relevance today. We engage his arguments that anthropology’s attention to different ways of thinking and being in the world are crucial speculative resources and how overcoming the conventional concept of inheritance might be the key to overcoming the opposition between the biological and the social. We turn from there to understanding life as a constant flow of re/productive activity and the temporal and performative basis of shared imagination. That leads us to his second recent book, Anthropology and/as Education (Routledge, 2018) in which Tim pushes back against the idea that education is about the transmission of information. From there we talk about what fascinates him about architecture, how to think about creation beyond the imposition of form on to matter, process ontology and why clouds are not furniture of the sky. We close on the Anthropocene and how Tim views the goal of sustainability not as solving all problems for all time but of giving each generation the possibility of starting afresh.

Mar 14, 2019

Cymene discovers the joy of Bob Ross on this week’s edition of the podcast and your co-hosts take a moment to discuss the scandal that is pay to play higher education. Then (18:09) we welcome to the pod the dynamite duo of Lauren Berlant and Katie Stewart to talk about their marvelous new book, The Hundreds(https://www.dukeupress.edu/the-hundreds?viewby=subject&categoryid=80&sort=author in which the contributions are all written in multiples of a hundred words. We hear the origin story of the project and its aim to explore ways of documenting ordinariness in which one could develop concepts based on descriptions.  We turn from there to Katie and Lauren’s different writing styles, affectography vs. ethnography, and the magic of shortness.  Our guests discuss whether there is a new critical and collaborative ethics afoot in the human sciences today and muse on the intimacy of misrecognition. We talk about their new series at Duke UP, “Writing Matters”, and how they came to the idea for the unusual index and reference sections of the book. Finally, we close with their advice to scholars just starting out on fostering collaborations and talk about importance of building trust and why there’s nothing better than good brainstorming.

Mar 7, 2019

Cymene’s sushi confessions on this week’s podcast lead us to the idea that supporting daydrinking and carb-heavy lunches in the oil industry might be an effective way to slow down the advance of petroculture (Behold, the Napocalypse!) Then (14:25) we welcome to the podcast the fantastic Lucas Bessire (University of Oklahoma). We talk with Lucas about his award-winning book Behold the Black Caiman (U of Chicago Press, 2014) and how it synthesized years of fieldwork in the Chaco region of Paraguay on indigenous Ayoreo reactions to environmental transformation and devastation. We talk about myths of “first contact” with isolated peoples as a kind of governmental fiction and turn from there to topics such as: Ayoreo irreverence to stable form, anthropology as a bedeviling practice, surviving contact, indigenous radio and poetic realignment, and the need to talk about rebecoming as a value that coexists with loss. We then move to Lucas’s work on the Ayoreo video project https://lucasbessire.net/yocoredie-the-ayoreo-video-project/) and the resource frontier resonances between the Chaco and his native Kansas in the era of fracking. We close talking about his current research ventures including “After the Aquifer”—which grapples with groundwater depletion and responsibility in the American Great Plains—and the Arctic Futures Working Group.

Feb 28, 2019

Cymene and Dominic talk about restaurants failed by their bathrooms and “Human Uber” on this week’s podcast. We are then (14:20) delighted to welcome Kyle Powys Whyte—Tinnick Chair in the Humanities at Michigan State, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a philosopher whose work brings Indigenous (Neshnabé) philosophy to bear on environmental issues—to the podcast (https://kylewhyte.cal.msu.edu). We start with the need to decolonize the Anthropocene concept because of how it smuggles in traditional prejudices about Indigenous peoples and often serves as a vehicle for settler privilege and what Kyle terms “settler apocalypticism.” We turn from there to settler colonialism as a mode of ecological domination and Neshnabé conceptions of time, responsibility and morality, and climate injustice as a breakdown in consent relationships. Kyle shares his thoughts about climate change as an insidious loop but also his concern that climate talk too often avoids addressing enduring structures of violence and oppression. Kyle argues for not allowing the politics of urgency to dictate the pace of rebuilding kinship between humans and nonhumans. We close with his thinking about the importance of activism, Indigenous futurism, and the need to get past the idea of protecting this world instead of making a better one.

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