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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: July, 2019
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.

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