This week it’s our end of year special edition of the Cultures of Energy podcast. Dominic and Cymene discusses a couple of energy news stories from 2018, Dominic apparently says Permian “basement” instead of “basin,” and they share heartwarming resolutions for 2019 including doing more yoga in the desert with children. Then (18:55) our search for a holiday movie that somehow thematizes climate change turned up a strange Finnish film, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, which turned out to be not really about climate change. But it does feature an evil Santa buried underneath a mountain who is set free by a mining operation. It’ll make a fittingly weird end to your 2018 or beginning to your 2019. In any case, thanks for listening to the podcast this past year!! More great episodes coming soon in the new year!
Cymene and Dominic wonder whether there’s a holiday film out there that also addresses Anthropocene issues and wonder whether the Grinch was actually woke to climate change. Then (12:40) we welcome our good friend Rhys Williams, from the University of Glasgow, to the podcast to talk to us about the emerging genre of solarpunk fiction. We start with the basics: what solarpunk is, what its origins are, and why its online community is just as interesting as its literary products if not more so? Rhys explains what’s punk about the movement’s unapologetically optimistic take on the future despite our dark times. We talk speculative worlds, glowing aesthetics, the work of light and the joy of community. Rhys explains why he thinks it’s important for energy humanities to move “outside the text” and also to take fantasy seriously. We then explore some solarpunk narratives that Rhys finds particularly compelling and discuss how the stories exert agency beyond themselves. In closing, Rhys offers suggestions as to where get started with your own exploration of the solarpunk canon. Wishing much holiday merriment to all listeners great and small!
Dominic and Cymene wonder whether there isn’t some way to make the academic job market experience slightly less spirit-killing on this week’s podcast. Then (14:36) we are most fortunate to get U Michigan anthropologist Jason De León (http://undocumentedmigrationproject.com) on the phone to talk about his book The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail (U California Press 2015) and its exploration of “desert necroviolence” in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. We talk about the long-standing U.S. “prevention through deterrence” border policy, its use of landscape as weapon, how multispecies relations and nonhuman forces factored so significantly into the story of migration he wanted to tell, and whether the Trump regime has altered previous patterns of necroviolence. We discuss governmental discourse on the desert as killer, the materiality and industry of undocumented border migration, the phenomenology of migration and why migrants often say it’s impossible to go back. We ask Jason how climate change is figuring into his current comparative work on undocumented migration and he explains how the film Sleep Dealer may be more than science fiction. We close by talking about his new photoessay project on Honduran smugglers and hypermasculinity and why working with artistic collaborators is such an important strategy for reaching a wider public.
Dominic and Cymene talk about gloomy climate news and dogs that can judge the goodness in human souls on this week’s podcast. Then (19:16) we catch up with environmental artist Maria Whiteman at her residency at the Environmental Resilience Institute at Indiana University. We engage several of her art projects from the past decade and talk about touching as a way of remembering, what fascinates her about animals and landscapes, tactile encounters with taxidermy, the impact of the deaths of Leonard Cohen and David Bowie, truckstops as muses, and finally her current work with fungi as proxies for thinking about climate change and the Anthropocene. Check out all of Maria’s work at http://maria-whiteman.squarespace.com