This week’s Cultures of Energy podcast is brought to you by the number zero. Our co-hosts cover the need for more fun in academic life and Hollywood takes on the Anthropocene. Then (9:11) Cymene speaks with the ever joyful Diane Nelson, Professor of Anthropology at Duke University and author of Who Counts? The Mathematics of Death and Life after Genocide (Duke University Press, 2015). They talk hot-tub feminism, the power of numbers in how we think and feel about the world, genocide in the Capitalocene, and the politics of land, forests and hydroelectric power in Guatemala today. Diane offers us lessons from living in a country that has experienced massive human and environmental losses but also reminds us that, like the number zero, every end is also a beginning.
This week’s Cultures of Energy podcast is a double episode focusing on two art shows that CENHS has sponsored for Houston’s FotoFest 2016 biennial, “Changing Circumstances: Looking at the Future of the Planet” (http://2016biennial.fotofest.org). In the intro segment, Cymene and Dominic talk to Rice English Professor Joseph Campana, Director of CENHS’s Arts & Media Research Cluster. Joe curated the CENHS-FotoFest show and realized it in collaboration with the Rice Building Workshop. We discuss the concept for the show and it’s many reinventions and creative partnerships along the way.
Then we delve deeper with the artists themselves. First, (12:53) we speak to Marina Zurkow about the collaborative project Dear Climate (http://dearclimate.net) that she has developed together with Una Chaudhuri, Oliver Kellhammer, and Fritz Ertl. Dear Climate juxtaposes punky agitprop posters with podcasts encouraging meditation and compassion for our environment. It unfolds from the certainty that no paradigmatic changes are coming without changing how we think about the world. With Marina, we talk about how art should hybridize instead of proselytize, creating material encounters that can short-circuit expectations. Jellyfish and dandelions also make special guest appearances.
In the final segment (44:46) we interview Judy Natal about her latest multimedia project, Another Storm is Coming. Judy describes her research adventures in East Texas and Southern Louisiana. She talks about the beautiful people she met in places like Port Arthur and Cameron Parish and how they have struggled to remain resilient in one of the world’s most active hurricane corridors. We talk about the cultural complexity of storms, about the entanglements of oil culture and nature, and what is fascinating about shorelines and other liminal spaces. Judy asks us (all): What kind of light and air do we want to live with in the future?
Dominic and Cymene debate what Albertan city is most like Houston and then (6:44) talk to Imre Szeman, Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies and Professor of English, Film Studies and Sociology at the University of Alberta. They discuss Imre’s work with the Petrocultures Research Group (http://petrocultures.com) and the many dimensions of its After Oil project (http://afteroil.ca/). What is the allure of the tar sands? How does petroleum steer politics in Alberta and Canada? Why are First Nations at the forefront of blocking new fossil fuel infrastructures? Can energy humanities get involved in game design and secondary school education? These answers (and more) on this week’s podcast.