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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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Aug 26, 2016

Dominic and Cymene discuss air conditioning, fathers who don’t listen, and share certain VC-ready ideas for revolutionary technology. Then (10:04) we welcome to the podcast esteemed and delightful Norwegian anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen to talk about his recent book Overheating: An Anthropology of Accelerated Change (http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/O/bo25051909.html) and the collaborative research project from which it originated. We talk about intertwining crises of economy, environment and culture in the context of the mind-boggling acceleration of social change over the past 25 years. Thomas muses on how modernity has lost its nerve and faith in progress as endless cheap energy has finally turned against us. This brings us to the double-bind of modernity between growth and sustainability and why today’s goals for development should focus more on improving relationships than on securing material luxuries. Thomas concludes that we need more political imagination about what constitutes a good life. We then turn to his fieldwork in Gladstone, Australia, a city “marinated in fossil fuels,” and its struggle with “solastalgia,” the sense of loss connected to the rapid deterioration of natural environment. Thomas agrees that it’s no accident the Overheating project is based in Norway given the country’s somewhat paradoxical situation—“the vegetarian that runs a butcher shop”—as a petrostate strongly commitment to environmental sustainability and future-oriented ethical investment. We close by musing on how increasing climate refugeeism might impact European multiculturalism in the future. Concerned that the treadmill of modern life is moving ever faster? Then this episode is for you.

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