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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: August, 2019
Aug 29, 2019

Cymene and Dominic talk about Jakarta sinking and Greta rising in this week’s intro. Then (14:32) we are thrilled to welcome Elizabeth DeLoughrey (https://english.ucla.edu/people-faculty/elizabeth-deloughrey/) to the conversation! We start with her latest book, Allegories of the Anthropocene (Duke UP 2019), and its effort to provincialize Anthropocene concept by taking more seriously the history of empire which produced some of its more problematic universalisms. Liz talks about the need to bring indigenous, feminist, decolonial and Global South perspectives more centrally into Anthropocene discourse and discusses her love-hate relationship with allegory. We turn from there to the relationality of islands, salvage environmentalism, settler apocalypticism, the militarization of the atmosphere, and allegory as a form for staging other worlds. That leads to a spirited discussion of encounters between human and nonhuman bodies and between geology and culture, and finally we turn to the critical potentials of ocean studies, blue humanities and her next project on extraterritorial spaces (atmosphere, ocean, poles). PS You can find an Open Access version of Allegories of the Anthropocene at http://oapen.org/search?identifier=1005202. But considering purchasing a copy since proceeds are going to support the important work of RAICES (https://www.raicestexas.org), the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.

Aug 23, 2019

Dominic and Cymene compare denialist and evangelical hate mail on this week’s podcast and then share a few reflections on Sunday’s trip to the top of Ok mountain. Then (16:53) we welcome the marvelous Amanda Boetzkes (https://amandaboetzkes.com) to the conversation so we can talk about her terrific new book, Plastic Capitalism (MIT Press, 2019). What is “waste art,” when did it take shape and with what motivations? We talk about how waste relates to energy and how  “zero waste” sustainability discourse might paradoxically reinforce capitalist ideology and economy. We discuss how Bataille, Irigaray and Zizek inform an ethics of waste, the kinship of excess that exists between much art and waste itself, and the sado-masochism of plastic. From there we turn to the materialities, relationalities and temporalities that plastic creates, its refusal of degeneration and whether the looming shift from petroplastics to bioplastics makes any difference. We close on energy expenditure, the “carnal sun” and plastic as a condensed form of solarity.

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.

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