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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: June, 2019
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

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