Dominic and Cymene start off with a review of the new Apple TV Cli-Fi series Extrapolations especially its killer walruses and then recap a chat with German climate activist Luisa Neubauer and former US National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy about how civilizational change is coming, either by design or by disaster. Then [23:51] we are thrilled to have USC’s Christina Dunbar-Hester join us on the podcast to talk about her new book Oil Beach (U Chicago Press, 2023), a study of toxic infrastructure and more-than-human relations in the Los Angeles port complex. We begin with how her interests in media became interests in energy and climate and how underneath silicon there is petroleum. Then, we turn to the challenges of seeing organismic life under the “lethal sublime” of petro/military/industrial infrastructure and to Christina’s concept of “infrastructural vitalism.” We ask: What if pipelines carried water instead of oil? How much of LA’s “green port” mythology is real? We close talking about what Christina means by trans-species supply chain justice” and how one of the LA ports’ greatest products is the making of scale itself. Enjoy, dear listeners, and remember that walruses will save us from all the evil villains of the Anthropocene.
Cymene and Dominic natter a bit about holiday misadventures and then (13:49) happily welcome Mike Degani (Cambridge U) to the podcast to talk about his new book, The City Electric (Duke UP 2022). We begin with how Mike became interested in electricity as an ethnographic object through experiencing power failures in Dar es Salaam. Then we talk about how electropolitics threads through various key moments in Tanzanian history. We turn to Tanzanian postsocialism, the durability of socialist habitus and how Mike’s concept of modal reasoning connects to the moral quandaries of neoliberal transition as well as to European and African conceptions of parasites. We move from there to illegal connections and pirate electricity, electricity as a mode of state intimacy, the electrified sensorium of the city, and northern fantasies of energy without consequences. We close on why getting infrastructure right is key to surviving the Anthropocene. Listen and enjoy!!