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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: January, 2019
Jan 31, 2019

Cymene and Dominic discuss frostquakes and fyre festivals on this week’s edition of the podcast. Then (15:49) we are joined by a most esteemed guest, Kim Fortun from UC Irvine, author of Advocacy after Bhopal (U Chicago Press, 2001) and President of the 4S association. We start with Kim’s thoughts on late industrialism and why it became such an important concept for her research. We dig into the doubleness of “hyperexpertise” associated with our late industrial contemporary, and ask what is robust and what is ruined. Kim explains why she favors ethnography as a mode of disrupting ossified forms of expertise. And we turn from there to her ongoing work on environmental health issues and how the challenges of collaborative research spurred her interest in developing better datasharing infrastructures and virtual research platforms like PECE (http://worldpece.org) and the The Asthma Files (http://theasthmafiles.org). We talk about the politics of scholarly communication and Kim tells us what she thinks the obstacles are to the Open Access and Open Data movements gaining traction. We close on her thoughts on where STS is today as a community and field of knowledge and what excites her about its future.

Jan 24, 2019

Your co-hosts celebrate MLK day, muse over whether Gattaca invented Tinder, toy with the idea of kale eugenics, and if that weren’t enough, Cymene Howe predicts Ragnarok on this week’s edition of the Cultures of Energy podcast. Valhalla will have to wait though because first (16:51) we catch up with the ever dynamic Eben Kirksey, live and direct from the Hart Senate Office Building in DC. We talk about the climate action impasse in the US capital and contrast that with direct action mobilizations to make New York carbon neutral and to protest BP’s LNG project in West Papua. Eben tells us about his current work on CRISPR gene editing and connects it to his earlier and ongoing interest in multispecies relations. He explains why narratives of apocalypse and salvation surrounding gene editing miss the point even as these technologies do point toward new potentialities of life within biocapitalist regimes of inequality and exclusion. We touch on the ethics of bioengineering and geoengineering and Eben suggests that it may fall to the human sciences (and biohackers) to imagine and enact other modes of care. We close with how he became interested in chemicals and chemoethnography and his next project on multispecies justice in West Papua. Kale Gattaca!

Jan 17, 2019

Cymene and Dominic talk democratic do-overs, vegan falcons, Hegel’s bagels, and the 1980s arcade game Dig Dug on this week’s edition of the podcast. Then (19:51) we have a chance to catch up with Matt Huber from Syracuse, author of Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom, and the Forces of Capital (U Minnesota Press, 2013), about what he’s been up to lately. We start with his thinking about what a truly socialist climate politics would look like and how it would be oriented to the problems of the new working class, what Matt terms “the 63%.” Then Matt explains why he thinks taxing the rich and corporations makes more sense than taxing molecules. We talk about what lessons a Green New Deal could take from the original New Deal, the U.S. as a “rogue state” on climate, who should be striking to pressure elites to take climate change seriously, the pernicious individualization of carbon footprints, and what should be grown and de-grown in a climate woke economy. In closing, Matthew makes a strong case for a total expropriation of the fossil fuel industry so that we can focus developing energy that is not the ruin of the planet. Enjoy! PS and please do send us your takes on the most profound video games of the 1980s :)

 

Jan 9, 2019

Cymene and Dominic are back and borderline alert for 2019. They recently watched the first half of Netflix’s Bird Box and speculate as to whether the alleged “Bird Box challenge” is further evidence of the doom of our species. Then (16:00) we welcome Icelandic anthropological legend Gísli Palsson to the podcast to talk about his latest book project, Down to Earth: A Memoir, a wonderful discussion of human beings and their relationship with earthquakes, stones and lava. We begin with the 1973 volcanic eruption that indelibly impacted Gísli's life as it destroyed his childhood home and buried his town in ash like an Icelandic Pompeii. We talk about homes and habitats both specific and global, the need for a new geosocial contract, the vitality of rocks, life as geolubricant, and the return to premodernist thinking as we confront that volcano in our living room, the Anthropocene. Gísli tells us about some of the amazing volcano projects artists like Nelly Ben Hayoun are undertaking these days. And we close on geological intimacy, necessary optimism and whether we humans are becoming petrified, even fossilized.

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