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Cultures of Energy Profile

Cultures of Energy

English, Sciences, 1 season, 219 episodes, 3 days, 17 minutes
About
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 a Mingomena Media production. Co-hosts are @DominicBoyer and @CymeneHowe
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219 - Climate Storytelling (with CNN's Bill Weir)

Dominic and Cymene react to the police violence sweeping across US university campuses. Then (15:11) we are thrilled to welcome CNN’s Chief Climate Correspondent, Bill Weir, to the podcast. We begin with the big news of the day—the landmark legal ruling by the European court of human rights that Switzerland had violated the human rights of more than 2,000 older Swiss women by failing to cut its national greenhouse gas emissions. Then, we dive into Bill’s great new book, Life as We Know It (Can Be): Stories of People, Climate, and Hope in a Changing World (Chronicle Books 2024). We talk about how to balance nightmares and dreams in climate storytelling, techniques for building effective story arcs, the five stages of climate grief, and disrupting the idea that consumption leads to happiness. Bill explains the ideas of protopia and YIMBYism to us and emphasizes the need to act locally and with humility as he shares with us some of the more encouraging stories he’s encountered in his travels as a reporter. We close by discussing what Bill thinks has changed in terms of news coverage of climate change during the course of his long and storied career. Please listen and share!!
4/27/20241 hour, 5 minutes, 34 seconds
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218 - Solar Futures (with Siddharth Sareen)

Cymene tries to convince Dominic to join the Freemasons on this episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast. Plus, a shallow dive into Buzkashi, the national sport of Tajikistan, the country that helped convince the UN to designate 2025 the International Year of Glaciers’ Preservation. Then (13:22) we are thrilled to welcome Siddharth Sareen from U Stavanger, author of The Sun Also Rises in Portugal (Bristol U Press, 2024) and the winner of this year’s Nils Klim Prize in Norway (go Sid!) We start with how Sid’s interests in energy research shifted from India to Portugal, an underappreciated star in solarity. We talk about the struggle between large scale solar and community solar in the context of aspirations toward a just energy transition. We discuss the environmental impact of solar and how it can be improved, and Sid explains why standards matter as solar becomes a more mature industry and how standards of commoning could help to constitute a better future for solar power. Finally, we discuss the need to pursue prefigurative politics as way of bringing more energy utopias into the world and allowing them to flourish.
3/17/20241 hour, 9 minutes, 2 seconds
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217 - A Song of Concrete and Ice (with Cristián Simonetti)

Cymene accounts for her mysterious conversion from a coffee-drinker to a tea-drinker but [spoiler alert] it turns out she’s not a doppelganger after all. Then after some EV road trip talk (16:06) we are delighted to have Cristián Simonetti join us from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. We start with Cris’s research on concrete, one of the most abundant contemporary materials, and what it reveals about the course of the Anthropocene trajectory. From there we talk about the debate over the Anthropocene designation and how stratigraphers tend to petrify earth processes by valuing solids over fluids. From there we move to talking about ice and his interest in the viscosity of glaciers and soil. We circle back to concrete and how the Romans conceived of it as a solid fluid and as a conversation between the elements. Finall,y we talk about the special role glaciers have played in the Chilean Anthropocene. Glaciers move like ketchup? Concrete is a colloid? For those and further revelations, please listen on!
2/29/20241 hour, 2 minutes, 55 seconds
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216 - Carbon Colonialism (with Laurie Parsons)

Cymene arrives at the Covid party on this week’s episode and she’s got the sultry radio voice to prove it. We share a few words about a magnificent pug named Doug and Cymene discovers  Russell Brand’s rightward "grift drift" to her horror. Then (18:58) we welcome Laurie Parsons to the podcast to talk about his excellent new book, Carbon Colonialism (Manchester U Press, 2023), which originated from his long-term research on the Cambodian garment industry. Laurie explains how when it comes to climate change we’re really not all in it together: carbon colonialism creates northern resource feasts and luxury at the expense of great climate and social vulnerability in the Global South. From this discussion of the deep inequalities in climate impacts, we move to the way the COP process has been perverted in recent years, the contested landscape of climate resilience, the low profitability of extraction, ignorance as green capital, and whether there is a pathway toward a non-extractive global economy. Laurie explains to us his skepticism about the idea of sustainable consumption and his feeling that we’ve entered the age of environmental sophistry. Finally, we discuss six myths that Laurie has identified that help to keep carbon colonialism going. Enjoy!
2/6/20241 hour, 10 minutes, 49 seconds
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215 - No More Fossils (with Cara Daggett)

The Cultures of Energy podcast is back with the first of several new episodes for 2024. First, Cymene and Dominic share what they've learned from their very late arrival to watching the show Survivor and why Shadow, their 75% chihuahua, has never worked a day in her life and proudly so. Then (11:40) the main part of this week's episode is a conversation between Dominic and Cara Daggett (https://www.caranewdaggett.com) about his latest book No More Fossils (online Open Access edition here: https://manifold.umn.edu/projects/no-more-fossils. Many thanks to Maggie Sattler from U Minnesota Press for organizing the conversation and for a wonderful job of producing and editing the interview. Next episode coming soon: a report on a cross-country electric adventure and a conversation with Laurie Parsons about his new book Carbon Colonialism.
1/24/20241 hour, 15 minutes, 44 seconds
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214 - Oil Beach (with Christina Dunbar-Hester)

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.
4/27/20231 hour, 8 minutes
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213 - The City Electric (with Michael Degani)

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!!
1/19/20231 hour, 27 seconds
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212 – Carbon Technocracy (with Victor Seow)

Cymene and Dominic relate tales from their harrowing weekend of having to deal with the absence of Henry Rollins in Black Flag and the presence of an active shooter down the block. Then (15:35) we welcome Harvard’s own Victor Seow to the podcast to discuss his remarkable book, Carbon Technocracy: Energy Regimes in Modern East Asia (U Chicago Press, 2022). We start with how studying labor migration in Manchuria first led him to the largest open coal mine in Asia, Fushun—now a pit with three times  the excavated material of the Panama Canal—whose story became the crux of the book. We talk about Victor’s engagement with Tim Mitchell’s concept of “carbon democracy” and how some of Mitchell’s ideas about energy and politics were anticipated by Japanese administrators during their occupation of Manchuria. That gets us to chatting about the mechanization and automation of coal mining as a technopolitical responses aimed at managing potentially unruly coal miners. We cover the rise of petropolitics in the coal belt and the idea that coal could be made to serve the purposes of oil. We discuss the enduring allure of technocracy today as well as Victor’s observation that technocracies seldom achieve what they set out to achieve. What is a world in a mine? Is there such a thing as carbomelancholia among coal miners? Why does modern energy fear scarcity? These questions answered and more on today’s episode!
11/8/20221 hour, 8 minutes, 12 seconds
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211 - Half Earth Socialism (feat. Drew Pendergrass and Troy Vettese)

Cymene and Dominic talk about hauling ice, champagne socialism and the mystery of Viennetta cakes on this week’s intro. Then (16:07) we are joined by Troy Vettese, an environmental historian, and Drew Pendergrass, an environmental engineer, to talk about their bold and imaginative new book, Half-Earth Socialism: A Plan to Save the Future from Extinction, Climate Change and Pandemics (Verso 2022, https://www.versobooks.com/books/3818-hal). We begin with the value of thinking in impractical ways and how utopian socialists past like Edward Bellamy, William Morris and Otto Neurath inspired this project. We discuss how high growth expectations have bedeviled planning in the past and talk about the flaws in the utopia of automated luxury socialism. Is capitalism an inherently irrational system? Does planning have irrational tendencies too? We cover where the idea to make a game version of the book came from (https://play.half.earth). We move from there to what the Left could stand to learn from the tactics of the neoliberal revolution, the necessity of utopian imagination for mass organizing, how intellectuals underestimate the readiness of the working class for change and much, much, more. Also please check out Drew and Troy’s Noema essay based on the book at: https://www.noemamag.com/planning-an-eco-socialist-utopia/
9/13/20221 hour, 12 minutes, 4 seconds
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210 - Rights of Nature (feat. Daphina Misiedjan)

Dominic and Cymene begin this week’s episode with a medley of Hawaiian experiences, everything from 25-foot waves to energy utopias to whether watching Sharknado can actually help someone overcome fear of sharks. Then, we welcome to the podcast the brilliant Dr. Daphina Misiedjan from Erasmus University Rotterdam (https://www.eur.nl/en/people/daphina-misiedjan) to help us better understand the evolving legal and cultural debates concerning Rights of Nature. Daphina surveys the places around the world where Rights of Nature has become an active political discussion, beginning with Ecuador and its pathbreaking constitutional recognition of Pachamama. We talk about the challenges Rights of Nature interventions face in overcoming European colonial law and legal principles like terra nullius that naturalize extractivist and individualistic property relations. We compare Rights of Nature movements to Universal Human Rights movements and discuss where rights meet obligations. We turn from there to Daphina’s research on Yemen, the first country projected to run out of drinking water. We talk about the ethical questions raised by endemic water shortages in places like Yemen, South Africa and California. We close on Daphina’s current work on climate justice in the Dutch Caribbean, where colonialism and climate change are intersecting in an increasingly troubling way. Enjoy!!  P.S. Here's a teaser for our next episode: https://play.half.earth
7/19/20221 hour, 4 minutes, 21 seconds
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209 - Degrowth (feat. Timothée Parrique)

Dominic and Cymene share first impressions of Honolulu and query why there are chickens everywhere. Then (16:50) we are thrilled to welcome economist Timothée Parrique (https://timotheeparrique.com @timparrique) to the podcast to bring us up to speed with the latest news from ecological economics and its signature degrowth paradigm. We start with the basics. There’s more talk about degrowth now than ever before. But what are degrowth proponents really advocating? Timothée explains how degrowth is not meant to deprive poorer countries of prosperity, it’s best understood as a diet for countries already overshooting the world’s ecological carrying capacity. We talk about the problems with the “green growth” paradigm and how it usually just moves pollution around the planet despite the existence of a few decoupling unicorns. With the IPCC report mentioning degrowth for the first time in a recent report, is degrowth ready for the mainstream? What can the pandemic teach us about degrowth and the effort to distinguish the more and less essential parts of the economy” We talk about how the world can no longer afford the profligate emissions of the super-rich. And, finally, we discuss the cooperative economy movement and how it is already helping to create the better world that degrowth imagines.
6/26/20221 hour, 14 minutes, 31 seconds
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208 - Sarah Besky

Cymene and Dominic talk about flying chihuahuas and playground chamomile in this week’s intro. Then (12:26), we welcome Cornell’s Sarah Besky (http://www.sarahbesky.com/index.html) to the podcast to talk about her latest book Tasting Qualities: The Past and Future of Tea (U California Press, 2020). We start with how and why Sarah first became interested in tea. From there we move on to the relationship between quality, distinction and standardization in Indian tea making. How did the experience of British colonialism shape the experiential qualities of tea? Has the digitization of tea auctions reinforced or disrupted those colonial trends? Sarah explains plantation sickness to us and why is it spreading. We talk about tea jitters and the chemical life of tea and why Sarah thinks about tea as a tentacular form. We close by discussing climate change and how it is impacting the Indian tea industry from monsoons to landslides. Enjoy!
4/20/20221 hour, 2 minutes, 58 seconds
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207 - Dilip da Cunha

Cymene and Dominic begin with a speculative analysis of malfunctional laptops. Then (11:32) we welcome the brilliant landscape architect Dilip da Cunha to the podcast to talk about his longstanding collaborative work with Anuradha Mathur on wetness, rivers, monsoons, estuaries and so much more (https://www.mathurdacunha.com). Dilip explains how it was the Mississippi landscape that first got them thinking about rivers and how the representation of rivers impacts design. He encourages us to think wetness beyond the divide of land and water (and about rivers as the colonization of rain for the purposes of development). We move from there to how geometry precedes geography and the ancient roots of our terrestrial centrism. We discuss the supposed islandness of Mumbai and why Dilip and Anu think that Mumbai would be better described as an estuary in the monsoon. Dilip challenges the current “living with water” paradigm of imagining coastal communities in an era of sea level rise and explains why he thinks living creatively and agilely between clouds and aquifers might the better way of conceiving our wet future. We close on estuarian thinking and the need to develop a conceptual language beyond fair weather landscapes. This episode of Cultures of Energy is dedicated to the memory of Anuradha Mathur who passed away in the weeks between the recording of our conversation and its broadcasting.
3/30/20221 hour, 11 minutes, 37 seconds
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206 - Gail Simmons

Dominic and Cymene share a close encounter with a phantom raccoon and offer two ideas for sure-to-succeed new TV shows. Then (12:17) we are thrilled to welcome Gail Simmons—star judge of Bravo’s Emmy and James Beard-award winning show Top Chef as well as a food writer and culinary expert—to the show. We get started with how Gail‘s background in anthropology influenced her career. Speaking of cultures and cuisine, we ask whether non-western cuisines finally receiving the recognition and respect they are due from the world of fine dining. Do standards of taste still bear the imprint of colonial legacies? We talk food justice and insecurity and what is problematic about the concept of “food desert” as a way of talking about what might be better called “food apartheid.” We touch on the impact of climate change on the culinary industry and the stigma vegetarians still face in some restaurants. We close on why Top Chef finally decided to come to Houston, the most diverse city in America and what surprised and delighted Gail once she arrived. You can find this season’s run of Top Chef at: https://www.bravotv.com/top-chef Enjoy!
3/10/202257 minutes, 21 seconds
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205 - Intersectional Ecologies

  Cymene and Dominic talk war, sunglasses and unexpected colors and then (10:27) we pivot to the main event, a discussion of intersectional ecologies featuring three brilliant minds: Bridget Guarasci (https://www.fandm.edu/bridget-guarasci), Amelia Moore (https://web.uri.edu/maf/meet/amelia-moore-2/) and Sarah Vaughn (https://anthropology.berkeley.edu/sarah-e-vaughn). We start with their 2021 Annual Review of Anthropology article, “Intersectional Ecologies: Reimagining Anthropology and Environment” and talk about how their reading group became a writing group. We discuss how environmental anthropology has evolved over time and its need to diversify its citational practices. What are the environmental stories that need to be told in our troubled times? Turning toward their individual research projects, we talk about how those projects have been influenced by their intersectional ecologies collaboration. We hear about alternative histories of Block Island, mining and trans-Mediterranean mobility, and the role of Bermudian insurance companies in place creation and in shaping knowledge of climate change. We close talking about collaboration, how it has become a part of their practice, and how audit culture needs to accept collaboration as a new standard.
3/2/202258 minutes, 35 seconds
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204 - Elizabeth Povinelli Returns

A potpourri of hot topix leads off this week’s episode: ASMR, Super Twosday, Ukraine, Bitcoin, and the correct pronunciation of Lindsey Lohan’s name. Then (17:36) we are so very thrilled to welcome Beth Povinelli back to the pod to discuss her latest book, The Inheritance (Duke UP 2021), a graphic memoir that plumbs the messy relationships among nationality, ethnicity, kinship, religion, and belonging. We talk about the dual origin stories of the project, both on a beach in Belyuen and in response to the recent rise of heritage (DNA) capitalism and surging white supremacism in the United States. We discuss the challenge of finding one’s way back to childhood and the fracturing that lies at the core of all identity claims. Beth explains how her experiences in Belyuen made her reconsider everything about her own home. We talk about how no two dispossessions are the same, the absorptive politics of whiteness for European immigrants, structures of care and disregard, and the cunning of the law of the father in families and settler society. At the end, we talk about how The Inheritance relates to her work with the Karrabing Film Collective, which work to intervene in settler narratives without being tied to settler literacy. Watch out for the film version of The Inheritance and check out Karrabing Film Collective works at https://www.kunststrom.com/karrabing-film-collective-en.html and https://www.madrenapoli.it/en/exhibition/rethinking-nature/. Outro music courtesy of Beth’s talented sister, Sharon. Thanks, Sharon!
2/23/20221 hour, 18 minutes, 34 seconds
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203 - David Farrier

Cymene and Dominic discuss extraterrestrial lavatology, evil corporate accounting software, skyfarms and chinchillas on this week’s intro. Then (14:15) we are so delighted to welcome David Farrier (U Edinburgh) to the podcast to discuss his justly acclaimed latest book, Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils (FSG, 2020). David talks about how the Anthropocene has distorted our sense of time and new relations with deep time inspired him to wonder about what humanity’s material legacy will look like far in the future. Whose material legacy is that exactly? Who might discover our future fossils? How do we decenter the human without indulging in extinction fantasies? What could story and myth do to protect future beings against some of the more toxic colonial legacies that are being left behind? What are the implications of the current colonization of the future and how can we become better ancestors? Finally, we talk about walking in the forest as a literary practice. Enjoy!
2/17/20221 hour, 2 minutes, 52 seconds
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202 - Shannon Mattern

Cymene and Dominic talk about the vine that’s taking over their house and then (12:30) we welcome the New School’s magnificent Shannon Mattern to the podcast We discuss her new book A City is Not a Computer: Other Urban Intelligences (Princeton UP, 2021) which explores the limits of computational models for understanding knowledge in urban contexts. We begin with the deep history of urban intelligence and the role of cybernetics in offering computation as a universal analogy. We talk about other venerable tropes too, like the city as graft and the city as tree. We cover the limits of datafication to understand urban life. Does Shannon have a perfect urban dashboard model in mind? How much is big tech driving dashboardization and how much the charisma of universal representations? We talk failure and function, access as a tech panacea, smart cities, the politics of shade, libraries and kindred examples of “other urban intelligences.” Finally, we turn to the magic of Shannon’s Twitter work and how it informs her teaching. Enjoy!
2/10/20221 hour, 2 minutes, 20 seconds
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201 - Arturo Escobar

Aaaaand we’re back! Cymene and Dominic start off with their usual nonsense, which culminates in a lively discussion of the missile silo now listed on the real estate site Zillow (we were wrong on some of the specs btw, it’s in Abilene, Kansas and only $380,000, survivalist bargain hunters can find all the deets here: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2432-Fair-Rd-Abilene-KS-67410/113177058_zpid/?utm_source=zillowgonewild&utm_medium=zillowgonewild&utm_campaign=zillowgonewild)  Then (15:31) we welcome our marvelous guest, Arturo Escobar. We start by discussing Arturo’s latest book Pluriversal Politics (Duke UP, 2020) and how the concept of pluriverse—a world where many worlds fit—emerged from an effort to understand emergence in a time of emergency. We talk about how the contemporary crisis is a crisis of a particular civilizational model and about the need to re/turn to an awareness of radical interdependence and possibility. Can Left politics overcome its reliance on the figure of “the enemy” and deal with its fear of the end of modernity so as to make its politics more pluriversal? What is radical social change? Why have the pathologies of isolation have proven to be worse than the pathologies of connection? We discuss Arturo’s interest in design alongside philosophy and anthropology and what it would mean to shift from an ontology of development to one of care. Arturo closes by gifting us an everyday exercise to help foster greater relational awareness. See you next week!
2/2/20221 hour, 4 minutes, 33 seconds
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200 - Laura Nader

Wow, we made it to 200 episodes and 250k downloads this week. Thank you everyone for listening for the past nearly four years.  It also seems like a good milestone for a change of pace. Your tireless cohosts need to take an extended break from weekly podcasting in order to commit ourselves more fully to a couple of other creative opportunities that have emerged during our time away from Rice. But please know that Cultures of Energy has been a project that brought us much joy (and helped us to meet so many amazing people!) It also helped to keep us sane through some dark times. And the kind words many of you have sent our way over the years have meant the world to us. Go you!! The channel will stay active for the foreseeable future in case you’d like to access the back catalog for listening or teaching purposes. And it's very likely that we’ll upload new episodes and content from time to time connected with special events. But for now please just enjoy our conversation with someone who has long been on our wish list, Laura Nader, a founding mother of the field of energy humanities. We speak to her about how her scholarship and activism became entangled with energy over the years, starting with her experience as the only anthropologist (and only woman!) on the US Committee on Nuclear and Alternative Energy Systems during the Carter presidency. Super big thanks to Daena Funahashi for her work behind the scenes to make this episode possible!  
10/24/201957 minutes, 52 seconds
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199 - Bathsheba Demuth

Your co-hosts talk clonal trees and dispense important advice about relationships, breakups, and having “the conversation” with your children on this week’s podcast. Then (17:16) we talk to Brown University’s Bathsheba Demuth (http://www.brdemuth.com) about her new book Floating Coast (https://wwnorton.com/books/9780393635164) a beautifully conceived and written environmental history of the Bering Strait from the 18ththrough the 20thcenturies. We start with how American and Soviet modernist projects differentially impacted Beringia during the 20thcentury and why the oceanic productivity of the Arctic attuned her to the energy transformations that then became a powerful red thread throughout the book. We turn from there to the temporality of whales, baleen as infrastructure and path dependency, Soviet vs. American conceptualizations of progress, the place of indigenous memories and knowledge in her historical methodology, and much much more.
10/17/20191 hour, 1 minute, 42 seconds
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198 - The Mississippi (an Anthropocene River)

Dominic and Cymene discuss Swiss silence and whether soup can be a meal on this week’s podcast. Then (13:53) we sit down with Christoph Rosol and Tom Turnbull, two of the organizers of the baroque and fascinating project of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (https://www.hkw.de/de/index.php) and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (https://www.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de), Mississippi: An Anthropocene River. Christoph and Tom talk with us about this project evolved out of the celebrated Anthropocene Curriculum and Anthropocene Campus series. We discuss what the research and artistic activities are that are associated with the project’s five field stations, exploring themes such as deindustrialization, land restoration, indigenous-settler politics, invasive species, and ecocide. We talk about issues of scale and the search for the most apt critical zones through which to engage Anthropocene processes, the Mississippi as canal instead of river, and close with the little known history of the Mississippi Valley Committee and the idea that watersheds could form the basis of new kind of democracy. Find out more information on the Mississippi project at https://anthropocene-curriculum.org
10/10/201956 minutes, 6 seconds
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197 - Climate Book Club Special!

In this week's special guest episode, Leah Stokes (UC Santa Barbara) and Bina Venkataraman take over the Cultures of Energy podcast to discuss Bina's new book, The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age (https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780735219472?aff=penguinrandom). This interview is part of the Twitter discussion, #climatebookclub, which is an informal group that Leah runs to get people to talk about climate books on Twitter. We will be discussing the book on Twitter on Wednesday Oct 2 at 5:30 EST / 2:30 PST so feel free to look up the #climatebookclub hashtag and join in the conversation! To learn more about Bina's writing: http://writerbina.com To learn more about Leah's research: http://leahstokes.com
10/1/201945 minutes, 28 seconds
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196 - Energy Democracy

Cymene and Dominic wonder whether Brexit or Impeachment will make for better political theater in the months ahead. Then (14:22) we talk to three wonderful folks who are in the process of assembling the Routledge Handbook of Energy Democracy, an interdisciplinary gathering of contributions spanning scholarly and activist engagements. Our three guests are Danielle Endres (https://www.danielleendres.com), Andrea Feldpausch-Parker (https://andreafeldpausch-parker.weebly.com) and Tarla Peterson  (https://www.utep.edu/liberalarts/communication/people/faculty/faculty-pages/tarla-peterson.html). We talk about the distinctive forms that the energy democracy movement is taking both inside and outside the academy, some of the projects that inspire them, strategies for making energy systems more visible and open to citizen intervention, whether renewable energy can renew democracy, the danger of participation fatigue, and much much more!
9/26/201958 minutes, 5 seconds
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195 - Laura Watts Returns

Cymene and Dominic tease a family revelation and describe a museum full of caricatures of East Germany (a regime that tbh itself kinda caricatured socialism). Then (17:03) we welcome back to the podcast the one and only Laura Watts (https://sand14.com), now at Edinburgh, who has a marvelous new book out with MIT Press, Energy at the End of the World: An Orkney Islands Saga. We start there and talk about how the remains of a Neolithic city first brought her Orkney and inspired her with its archaeology of the future. Inverting traditional conceptions of center and periphery, future and past, seemingly remote Orkney has now become the center of a marine energy future. We chat about her use of the Saga form as a structuring principle in the book, why she finds hope in the relational character of the “Orkney electron,” and the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) as a global beacon of renewable energy science and industry. We talk about the troubles of harvesting energy from dangerous water, the ambivalence of life in a “living lab” and the intertwined futures of Orcadian humans, marine wildlife and marine energy. We close on writing, and how the choice of words can make some worlds more or less possible. Finally, folks, just a reminder to drop whatever you are doing and go out and strike for climate action this Friday, September 20. To find the nearest march to you check out, https://globalclimatestrike.netSee you on the streets!
9/19/20191 hour, 7 minutes, 33 seconds
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194 - Christine Folch

Dominic and Cymene take a trip down MTV memory lane to the romantic 1990s on this week’s podcast. Then (16:00) we welcome the brilliant Christine Folch from Duke U to the pod to talk about her brand new book, Hydropolitics: The Itaipú Dam, Sovereignty, and the Engineering of Modern South America (Princeton U Press, 2019 - https://press.princeton.edu/titles/30066.html). We start with the dam itself; Itaipú is both the largest dam in the world and the world’s largest power plant. Christine explains how it came to be that South America is the lone continent where renewable energy is the dominant source of electricity and what the political consequences of hydropower have been. We talk through how different energy materialities influence politics and economies, the differences between modes of sovereignty defined by land, water and electricity, and frequency patriotism. We turn from there to the politics of debt and hydrodollars, the necessity of studying up, and what fieldwork among technocrats and engineers is like. We close on what the world might learn from the Brazil-Paraguay partnership in renewable energy generation as it contemplates even larger scale coordinations of decarbonized energy.
9/12/20191 hour, 4 minutes, 2 seconds
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193 - Sea Level Rise (feat. Orrin Pilkey Jr)

Your cohosts talk chihuahuas and squirrels on the verge on this week’s podcast. Then (14:56) we are delighted to welcome Orrin Pilkey Jr., Professor Emeritus at Duke University, to the podcast. Orrin is one of the world’s foremost experts on sea level rise and has just co-authored a new book with his son Keith Pilkey called Sea Level Rise: A Slow Tsunami on America’s Shores (Duke U Press, 2019; https://www.dukeupress.edu/sea-level-rise). Orrin tells us how it was a hurricane that first prompted him to start studying coastal environments. We talk about how sea level rise is finally beginning to see some real political attention in threatened areas but about the limits of what can be done to hold the oceans at bay. Orrin explains how, for example, Miami and New Orleans are doomed, if for different reasons, and asks what will become of their millions of climate refugees. We talk about the need to take retreat seriously as the best option for dealing with sea level rise and how costly measures like seawalls and beach nourishment programs create their own environmental problems. We touch on subsidence, rebounding and other factors influencing coastal erosion, and then discuss the hundreds of critical infrastructure facilities that are sited no more than four feet above sea level. We close on the book’s recommendations to people already living on the coast about what to do now, including sample letters one could write to family members to get them thinking about the impacts of sea level rise.
9/6/201956 minutes, 26 seconds
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192 - Elizabeth DeLoughrey

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.
8/29/201959 minutes, 18 seconds
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191 - Amanda Boetzkes

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.
8/23/20191 hour, 56 seconds
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190 - Democrats on Climate (feat. Leah Stokes)

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)!!
8/15/201951 minutes, 45 seconds
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189 - Sheena Wilson

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.
8/9/20191 hour, 5 minutes, 39 seconds
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188 - Andrew Revkin

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.
8/1/20191 hour, 7 minutes, 14 seconds
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187 - Mark Nuttall

Cymene and Dominic talk about Ok glacier’s 15 minutes of fame on this week’s podcast (e.g. https://slate.com/technology/2019/07/okjokull-iceland-glacier-death-plaque.html), ridiculous hate mail, and what it feels like being in the middle of the news maelstrom. And the first ever Cultures of Energy Everyday Climate Warrior™ award is bestowed upon Daisy Hernandez from Popular Mechanics. Then (15:52) we welcome the marvelous Mark Nuttall (http://marknuttall.com) to the podcast to discuss all that is happening in the Greenland today. We start with his new book (co-authored with Klaus Dodds), The Arctic: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford U Press, 2019) and how Mark thinks about the Arctic as a paradoxical space. We talk about the discourse of the “New Arctic” and its geopolitical implications, the Inuit experience of climate change, self-government and the extractivist politics of the new Greenlandic resource frontier, and the sharpened global gaze resting on Greenland at the moment. Mark tells us about the adaptive resilience of indigenous lifeways in the face of climate change and advancing industrialization and urbanization in the parts of Greenland where he has done fieldwork for decades. We touch on the dramatic changes the Greenlandic capital Nuuk is now experiencing and the tensions between the aspirations to Greenlandic state sovereignty and the Inuit Circumpolar Council and then close with the fascinating stories of Camp Century and Project Iceworm.
7/25/201958 minutes, 11 seconds
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186 - Joanna Zylinska

Cymene talks about her exciting new life as a contractor on this week’s podcast. Then (10:14) we welcome the brilliant theorist, artist and curator, Joanna Zylinska (http://www.joannazylinska.net) to the podcast to discuss her excellent new book, The End of Man: A Feminist Counterapocalypse (U Minnesota Press, 2018). We start with the central argument of the book that there is an intimate relationship between Silicon Valley technicism on the one hand and alt-right white supremacist populism on the other. We talk through genealogies of apocalyptic thinking and how they are interwoven with masculinist promises of salvation and Joanna explains why she thinks it is important to take seriously the sociopolitical precarity that is the norm for the vast majority of the world’s human population. We turn from there to her thoughts on breaking the “apocalypse habit,” why Isabelle Stengers’s Gaia concept might be a helpful alternative, and the importance of minimal ethics for her approach to the Anthropocene. We discover whether there is a place for play and laughter in the Counterapocalypse and then talk about the difficulties of representing the Anthropocene in art and her own short film  “Exit Man” (https://vimeo.com/203887003) which serves as a companion to The End of Man. Finally, we talk about the links she sees between Anthropocene stupidity and Artificial Intelligence.  PS Your co-hosts duograph on wind power in Southern Mexico is now available with Duke University Press. To receive a 30% discount on each volume use the code E19BOYER for “Energopolitics” (https://www.dukeupress.edu/energopolitics) and E19HOWE for “Ecologics” (https://www.dukeupress.edu/ecologics) at checkout. 
7/18/201955 minutes, 16 seconds
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185 - Andrew Blum

Co-host Cymene reminisces this week about being the first intern hired by Wired magazine waaaay back in the day. Then (14:42) we are joined by journalist Andrew Blum (https://www.andrewblum.net)—the celebrated author of Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet—to talk about his new book, The Weather Machine (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2019). We dive deep into it, beginning with our “golden age” of meteorology, and its improved computer simulations. We talk about human presence within massive information infrastructures, his interest in place philosophy, balancing attentions to weather and climate, comparing weather banality vs. weather catastrophe; and, Andrew explains to us the different ways of interpreting the history of weather forecasting. From there we turn to the intersection of war and weather, how Cold War rivalry and internationalism helped shape the weather machine as a global cooperative project, and whether private corporations like Google and IBM will control the future of forecasting. Chemtrails and other weather conspiracies make an appearance, as does the secret Nazi invasion of Canada to build a weather station. We close talking about weather and sympathy and sharing storm stories.
7/11/20191 hour, 10 minutes, 30 seconds
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184 - Natalie Loveless

Dominic and Cymene celebrate the one thing the USA ever did right—Mr. Rogers. And we wonder whether there is such a thing as Canadian BBQ.  Then (13:02) the delightful Natalie Loveless (http://loveless.ca/about) joins the pod. She is the author of a forthcoming book with Duke University Press, How to Make Art at the End of the World: A Manifesto for Research-Creation, and that’s where we begin the conversation with a discussion of the relatively new domain of “research-creation” in Canadian higher education and its potential to help expand who belongs in universities and their modes of legitimate practice. We turn from there to the dilemmas of teaching climate catastrophe to students and her new book project, Sensing the Anthropocene: Aesthetic Attunement in an age of Urgency, which connects research-creation to climate justice. We talk about relation as artistic form and why she thinks it is so crucial that Anthropocene art pursue ecological forms that rupture the systems that brought us to our present circumstances. Finally, we discuss why it’s important not to be captured by the tools and temporalities of university audit culture, her thoughts on the Anthropocene concept as lure and barnacle, and how we might build a feminist university of creativity, experiment and with an eros that is cathected, committed and sustaining.
7/4/20191 hour, 2 minutes, 9 seconds
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183 - Solar Power, Solar Justice (feat. Dustin Mulvaney)

Cymene and Dominic cover the stress (and joy!) of center directorships and sandwich-making on this week’s podcast. Then (13:53) Dustin Mulvaney (http://www.dustinmulvaney.com) visits the pod to tell us all the things we need to know about solar energy but were afraid to ask. He’s the author of the excellent new book, Solar Power: Innovation, Sustainability and Environmental Justice(U California Press, 2019). We start by talking about whether it’s possible to make a solar power revolution both rapid and just. That gets us to the toxic externalities of solar cell manufacture and his work with the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (http://svtc.org) to create a Solar Scorecard system that helps pressure manufacturers to clean up their production processes.  Dustin breaks down for us the environmental advantages and disadvantages of both photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar (CSP) systems and then we turn to what he calls the “Green Civil War” brewing between animal rights activists and renewable energy activists over land use changes especially in the American Southwest. In closing we discuss whether a radically decentralized energy ecology could help advance environmental justice goals and what lessons should be learned from Obama era ARRA solar investments in terms of improving energy justice in the future.
6/27/20191 hour, 7 minutes, 46 seconds
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182 - Heather Davis

Your cohosts report on the adventures of Cymene’s birthday week. We then (10:41) revel in the glory of having the most excellent Heather Davis (https://heathermdavis.com)—co-editor of Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies (London: Open Humanities Press, 2015) and editor of Desire Change: Contemporary Feminist Art in Canada (MAWA and McGill-Queen’s UP, 2017)—from the New School on the podcast. We begin with her new book project, Plastic: The Afterlife of Oil—soon to be part of the Elements series at Duke U Press—and talk about how the duration of plastic haunts the present and influences our future in many often invisible ways. Heather explains to us what she means by “petrotime,” how plastic creates an intimacy with deep time and impermanence, and what we learn from creatures who have found the plastisphere nourishing.  We turn from there to the problem of inheritance, mutability, plastic’s inability to uphold its own promise of synthetic universality and yet its capacity to globalize plasticity. We ask Heather what she thinks of the alt-plastics movement and talk about whether new plastics will really challenge the culture of disposability.  Finally, we touch on plastic as a bastard child of humanity, Heather’s work on art in the Anthropocene and her thoughts about how artistic practice can help us to learn to live otherwise.
6/21/201959 minutes, 35 seconds
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181 - Nigel Clark

Cymene and Dominic discuss a strange effort to police sugar packet play on this week’s podcast. Then (15:52) we are delighted to welcome Nigel Clark to the conversation. Nigel is Chair of Social Sustainability and Human Geography at Lancaster University (https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/lec/about-us/people/nigel-clark ). He is the author of Inhuman Nature: Sociable Life on a Dynamic Planet (2011) and co-editor of Atlas: Geography, Architecture and Change in an Interdependent World (2012), Material Geographies (2008) and Extending Hospitality(2009).  We start things off by talking about a new book he is working on called The Anthropocene and Societythat he is working on with Bron Szerszynski and what it means to rethink humanity through planetary strata, flows, and multiplicity. We turn from there to Australian feminism, phosphates, Aotearoa New Zealand as a space of settler grassland experiments, wealth, and geocide. Then we touch on fire and its excess, our brittle life on an earth’s surface caught between solar and geothermal vitalities, metamorphosis, the early connection between gunpowder and combustion engines and European geotrauma. A special birthday week shout-out to our very own eternal Cymene Howe :)    
6/13/20191 hour, 3 minutes, 59 seconds
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180 - Max Liboiron

It’s a dazzling display of randomness to open this week’s podcast as your co-hosts discuss the Inslee/DNC fracas, writing memoirs in the forest, whether “in the danceline” can sub for “in the pipeline” and then Cymene coins the word “heteropuntal.” Then (18:03) we are very fortunate to welcome Max Liboiron (https://maxliboiron.com) to the podcast. Max is Director of the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR) and Assistant Professor of Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland.  We begin with CLEAR as an incubator for better, more anti-colonial and feminist scientific methods, relations and ethics. She tells us about the importance of equity and humility in her lab’s work, and how they’ve established feminist protocols for conversation and authorship. We turn from there to their research on marine plastic pollution, which talks back to universalist discourse on plastic contamination. Max talks about the hate mail they’ve received, environmental harm vs. environmental violence, the importance of null results, wrestling with toxic agency and why she moved away from art to get her hands dirty in colonial science. In closing we talk about the open science hardware as a mixed bag, upstream violence, and which is more fun: stand up or roller derby. Be good relations, dear listeners, and cite CLEAR’s work! You can find more information and an archive at: https://civiclaboratory.nl
6/6/20191 hour, 3 minutes, 33 seconds
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179 - Nicole Starosielski

On this week’s pod, we firstly recall the happy days of After Oil School 2: Solarity. Then (14:31) your co-hosts share their conversation with the amazing Nicole “NicStar” Starosielski (NYU) about about her fascinating new book project Media Hot and Cold,which offers a deep dive into all things thermocultural. We talk with Nicole about how her earlier work on undersea cables led to a broader interest in temperature as a medium and mode of communication. We talk about the importance of queering McLuhan and moving toward more feminist and antiracist approaches to media. We chat about thermal sexism and the rise of thermal personalization under neoliberalism, thermal violence and the spread of sweatboxes, and her work to develop a non-extractive metallurgical method of analysis. We turn from there to practices of sunlight and why Nicole was inspired to think about solarity via her work as a farmer.  We close on the new book series she is editing with Stacy Alaimo, Elements (for Duke U Press). Check it out at: https://www.dukeupress.edu/books/browse/by-series/series-detail?IdNumber=4219856  PS A big COE pod shoutout to the organizers of Solarity and the Canadian Centre for Architecture for making this week’s episode possible!! PPS If you are thinking of going to the AAS meetings in Canberra this December please consider submitting a paper to the “It’s Elemental” panel that we are doing together with the magnificent Tim Neale. More information here: (https://nomadit.co.uk/conference/aas2019/p/8184)
5/30/201959 minutes, 11 seconds
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178 - Chris Kelty

Dominic and Cymene talk about HBO's Chernobyl and discuss whether humans will eventually try to breed chihuahua-scale alligators. Then (18:45) we welcome the multitalented Chris Kelty to the podcast to talk about his forthcoming book, The Participant (https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/P/bo44520895.html) and his recent fieldwork on animal control in Los Angeles. Chris explains how the challenge of describing experience is at the heart of participant-observation and how that challenge motivated him to delve deeply into what exactly “participation” has meant over time. We talk through the genealogy of thinking about participation and how historical efforts to make participation mobile and scalable ended up constraining its forms significantly. Chris describes what he means by the form of personhood he terms “contributory autonomy” and how it finds its apotheosis in the infinite and fleeting participatory publics of social media today. We detour from there into the recent Facebook scandals, how Twitter is formatted to foment opinionating over understanding, and what could be done to make participatory practices more substantive and stable. We then turn to Chris’s recent animal control ride-alongs and what he is learning about the politics of human interaction with feral urban mammals, the ethics of making them killable, and current anthropological debates about the Anthropocene and domestication.  Finally, we hear that Limn (https://limn.it) has a new project going on resilience and cities. If you are attending 4S, check out the Limn panels there!
5/23/20191 hour, 6 minutes, 27 seconds
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177 - Recentering Energy Justice

We give Mexican President AMLO a piece of our minds on this week’s podcast for doubling down on extractivist petronationalism. Then (15:43) Cymene and Dominic report back from the “Recentering Energy Justice” symposium at UC Santa Barbara, which was the culminating event of UCSB’s Mellon Foundation funded Sawyer Seminar on “Energy Justice in Global Perspective” (https://energyjustice.global.ucsb.edu/about). We sit down with the project leads, Javiera Barandarian and Mona Damluji, together with their colleagues, Stephan Miescher, David Pellow, Emily Roehl and Janet Walker (https://energyjustice.global.ucsb.edu/people) to process the event and what they learned about energy justice along the way. We talk about the need to look to the Global South and indigenous communities for guidance in pursuing programs of energy justice, and the importance of connecting to Santa Barbara as ancestral Chumash land, as a petrocultural space and as a site of environmental disaster. We move from there to the ethical questions of conceptualizing justice cross time and space and the roles that scholar-activism and pedagogy can play in fostering meaningful collaborations concerning energy and environmental justice issues that can move toward true consent relations. We close on what they would do if the Mellon Foundation were (wink, wink) to magically re-up their funds for another year.
5/16/20191 hour, 14 minutes, 26 seconds
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176 - Jason Cons

In a time- and perspective-bending intro segment possibly designed by friend of the pod Chris Nolan, Cymene and Dominic are joined by Jason Cons (jasoncons.net) from the University of Texas who helps us to introduce his own interview in order that we can talk about the impact of last week’s Cyclone Fani on Bangladesh. The news, as it happens, is surprisingly encouraging. From there (18:33) we travel back in a time a week to the main part of the interview. We start with how Austin is adapting to the brave new world of ubiquitous electric scooters and from there move into his work on the making of Bangladesh into an exemplary space for experiments in climate adaptation. We talk about the shifting priorities of development intervention and how they are coming to forefront security objectives like reducing climate migration even as regions around the delta are widely predicted to become uninhabitable in as little as two decades’ time. We discuss the history of development ventures in the country, the imagination of chaotic futures and wastelands foretold, heterotopias and heterodystopias, delta temporalities and fugitive landscapes. Jason explains the limited capacity of political and legal imaginations predicated on dry land to understand the damp ontology of alluvial regions. On the last lap we talk about the usefulness of the Anthropocene concept in Bangladesh, and his recent publications on chokepoints and resource frontiers.
5/9/20191 hour, 11 minutes, 32 seconds
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175 - Kathryn Yusoff

Cymene and Dominic talk about homemade treadmills and the virtues of wasting time on this week’s podcast. Then (15:33) we welcome the one and only Kathryn Yusoff, Professor of Inhuman Geography (best job title ever!) at Queen Mary University of London. Her title mojo is virtually unstoppable because her latest book is called A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None(U Minnesota Press, 2019). We begin with how she became interested in the grammars that underlie geology in the context of colonial history.  We talk about the historical alchemy that produced what Kathryn terms “white geology” and how that history overdetermines much discourse surrounding the Anthropocene today, often erasing the extractive logics that have brought us to our present situation. From there we roam on to the intersection between geofeminist philosophy and critical race studies, the double life of the inhuman, the weaponization of energy, racial injustice and environmental futurity, geology as a low resolution form of biopolitics, the possibility of a geopoethics that breaks that cycle, and the gendered and racialized politics of citation. In closing we talk about queer fire and the flamboyance of the earth. PS The image credit for this week's cover image is © Justin Brice Guariglia (https://guariglia.com)
5/2/201958 minutes, 57 seconds
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174 - Stuart Gibbs

FINALLY an episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast that is for once totally wholesome and family-friendly and appropriate to listen to with your kids! Cymene and Dominic share their own thoughts about talking to children about climate change. And then (13:51) we welcome an author that will be well known (especially to listeners aged 8-12 and their families), Stuart Gibbs, the author of the very popular FunJungle, Spy School and Moonbase Alpha middle grade series. Stuart has thematized both climate change and animal conservation in his books and we talk to him about how readers have responded to those interventions, about his writing process in general, and why he thinks it’s important for adults to talk to children honestly about our environmental challenges. If you happen to be in the Houston area on April 30th, please check out Stuart’s reading at the Blue Willow Bookstore, deets here: https://www.bluewillowbookshop.com/event/stu-gibbs-0 PS And, as promised, here are some solid online resources for teaching especially younger kids about climate change and climate action: http://climatechangeconnection.org/resources/climate-friendly-schools/resources-for-schools/; https://www.commonsense.org/education/articles/4-free-tools-to-teach-about-climate-change; https://www.earthguardians.org/50simplethings/; https://thinkprogress.org/how-to-talk-to-a-5-year-old-about-climate-change-ef8ec30b1bd1/
4/25/201958 minutes, 1 second
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173 - Dina Gilio-Whitaker

Dominic and Cymene talk about sunburns, the petrocultural epic that is the reboot of Dynasty, and whatever ASMR is. Then (19:46) the terrific Dina Gilio-Whitaker joins us to talk about her new book, As Long as Grass Grows:The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock (Beacon, 2019). A member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, Dina teaches America Indian Studies at Cal State San Marcos and is policy director and senior research associate at the Center for World Indigenous Studies. We begin by looking back at Standing Rock and the Idle No More movement and talk about how important those were to environmental politics and prospects of energy transition today. Then we talk about how to further the decolonization of the environmental justice movement. We cover colonial unknowing, the erasure of genocide, and the importance of land and place based ethics for human survival. Dina tells us about her research on Panhe, a long-standing Acjachemen sacred site threatened with development, the complexities of sovereignty and recognition it surfaces and then we talk about how far the Rights of Nature legal arguments can go in the settler courts. Finally we debate what’s the real surfing capital of the world, the Institute for Women Surfers project (https://www.instituteforwomensurfers.org), surf feminism, and why Dina and her collaborators see surfing as an environmental justice issue. PS Shout out to Krista Comer for this week’s episode and pls check out Dayla Soul’s film about women’s big wave surfing, It Ain’t Pretty (trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6VDCZudTlg)
4/18/20191 hour, 6 minutes, 51 seconds
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172 - Climate Leviathan (feat. Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright)

Cymene and Dominic discuss last month’s catastrophic blackout in Venezuela on this week’s podcast. Then (17:39) we’re thrilled to have the chance to chat with Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright about their fascinating, provocative new book, Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future (Verso, 2018). We start with how the book came to be and what they mean by the potential future scenarios of “climate leviathan,” “climate behemoth” and “climate Mao.” We then turn to how climate change might prompt planetary sovereignty and what will happen if global capitalism is allowed to define that sovereignty. We talk about the enduring power of nationalist sentiments and imaginaries, especially in the form of adopting a “war footing” against climate change, and why they think we shouldn’t put all our eggs in the Green New Deal basket. We debate to what extent Keynesianism is really petroknowledge and how the image of leviathan haunts political thinking today. We close with a fourth scenario they term “climate X” and what we can imagine about the possibilities of a non-capitalist locally-sovereign future. PS For those of you in the Houston area, please join us for Cultures of Energy 8 this week (details at culturesofenergy.org) or follow the live-tweets from the symposium via @cenhs
4/11/20191 hour, 13 minutes, 49 seconds
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171 - Jerome Whitington

Cymene and Dominic celebrate a podcast milestone and bid adieu to 1990s Democrats and their market-loving, head-kissing ways on this week’s show. Then (15:40) Dominic has a chance to chat with NYU’s Jerome Whitington who has just published a fascinating book on hydropower in Laos—a country some are calling the “battery of Southeast Asia”—entitled Anthropogenic Rivers: The Production of Uncertainty in Lao Hydropower(Cornell U Press, 2019). We start off with where hydropower fits within the contemporary debate on renewable energy transition and why it receives so much less attention than solar and wind energy. Then we turn to how Jerome got interested in the Theun-Hinboun Dam project in particular and why he decided to frame the study in terms of knowledge and uncertainty. We discuss the importance of an experimental moment in the dam’s history when the power company sought to collaborate with environmental activists to allay concerns about the ecological and social impacts of the dam project. Jerome explains what he means by “technical entrepreneurialism” and we talk about how to think about the meaning of “anthropogenic” without getting stuck in nature/culture binaries. Shifting gears, we discuss Jerome’s current research on carbon accounting and he explains the influence of corporate accounting logics and Silicon Valley culture on practices like carbon offsets and why he doesn’t think carbon accounting is ultimately going to stop climate change. We close on the need for more academic activism on climate.
4/4/201958 minutes, 31 seconds
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170 - Ursula Biemann

Dominic and Cymene talk about the weltschmerz of turning 10, review this week’s flood & fire news and offer handy recycling tips (e.g. don't recycle snakes!) on this week’s podcast. We then (19:08) are delighted to welcome the marvelous video artist, curator and theorist, Ursula Biemann (https://www.geobodies.org) to the conversation; Ursula has thematized energy and environment themes extensively in her work. We start with oil and her 2005 project, Black Sea Files (https://www.geobodies.org/art-and-videos/black-sea-files) which explores how energy infrastructure shapes flows of fuel and people in the Caspian region. We discuss the multiperspectival camera work that is one of her signatures and move from there to Forest Law (2014) which contrasts the logics of oil extraction in the Ecuadorian Amazon with indigenous cosmology of the living forest (https://www.geobodies.org/art-and-videos/forest-law). We talk about forests as future proliferating ecologies, how film can make visible connections between processes and places across the world, and why she likes to think of her films as doing work opposite to abstraction. We move then to Deep Weather (2013), a short film that connects the tar sands of northern Canada to the “hydro-geography” of an increasingly flood-threatened Bangladesh (https://www.geobodies.org/art-and-videos/deep-weather). In closing, Ursula explains to us her next project: founding a university in Ecuador to help bridge indigenous and western forms of environmental knowledge. Listen and enjoy!  Ps Wishing Ms. Brijzha Boyer a very happy birthday!
3/28/20191 hour, 3 minutes, 23 seconds
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169 - Tim Ingold

Cymene and Dominic talk corporate irresponsibility—looking at you ITC and Boeing—on this week’s podcast. Then (13:44) we welcome the legendary Tim Ingold to the conversation. We start by talking about his new book, Anthropology: Why it Matters (Polity Press, 2018) and Tim explains why he thinks the practice of science should be grounded in art. We move from there to the importance of amateurism, how much impact phenomenology has had upon Tim’s thinking about biosocial being, and why he wanted to write a manifesto about anthropology’s relevance today. We engage his arguments that anthropology’s attention to different ways of thinking and being in the world are crucial speculative resources and how overcoming the conventional concept of inheritance might be the key to overcoming the opposition between the biological and the social. We turn from there to understanding life as a constant flow of re/productive activity and the temporal and performative basis of shared imagination. That leads us to his second recent book, Anthropology and/as Education (Routledge, 2018) in which Tim pushes back against the idea that education is about the transmission of information. From there we talk about what fascinates him about architecture, how to think about creation beyond the imposition of form on to matter, process ontology and why clouds are not furniture of the sky. We close on the Anthropocene and how Tim views the goal of sustainability not as solving all problems for all time but of giving each generation the possibility of starting afresh.
3/21/20191 hour, 5 minutes, 42 seconds
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168 - Lauren Berlant & Katie Stewart

Cymene discovers the joy of Bob Ross on this week’s edition of the podcast and your co-hosts take a moment to discuss the scandal that is pay to play higher education. Then (18:09) we welcome to the pod the dynamite duo of Lauren Berlant and Katie Stewart to talk about their marvelous new book, The Hundreds(https://www.dukeupress.edu/the-hundreds?viewby=subject&categoryid=80&sort=author in which the contributions are all written in multiples of a hundred words. We hear the origin story of the project and its aim to explore ways of documenting ordinariness in which one could develop concepts based on descriptions.  We turn from there to Katie and Lauren’s different writing styles, affectography vs. ethnography, and the magic of shortness.  Our guests discuss whether there is a new critical and collaborative ethics afoot in the human sciences today and muse on the intimacy of misrecognition. We talk about their new series at Duke UP, “Writing Matters”, and how they came to the idea for the unusual index and reference sections of the book. Finally, we close with their advice to scholars just starting out on fostering collaborations and talk about importance of building trust and why there’s nothing better than good brainstorming.
3/14/201959 minutes, 21 seconds
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167 - Lucas Bessire

Cymene’s sushi confessions on this week’s podcast lead us to the idea that supporting daydrinking and carb-heavy lunches in the oil industry might be an effective way to slow down the advance of petroculture (Behold, the Napocalypse!) Then (14:25) we welcome to the podcast the fantastic Lucas Bessire (University of Oklahoma). We talk with Lucas about his award-winning book Behold the Black Caiman (U of Chicago Press, 2014) and how it synthesized years of fieldwork in the Chaco region of Paraguay on indigenous Ayoreo reactions to environmental transformation and devastation. We talk about myths of “first contact” with isolated peoples as a kind of governmental fiction and turn from there to topics such as: Ayoreo irreverence to stable form, anthropology as a bedeviling practice, surviving contact, indigenous radio and poetic realignment, and the need to talk about rebecoming as a value that coexists with loss. We then move to Lucas’s work on the Ayoreo video project https://lucasbessire.net/yocoredie-the-ayoreo-video-project/) and the resource frontier resonances between the Chaco and his native Kansas in the era of fracking. We close talking about his current research ventures including “After the Aquifer”—which grapples with groundwater depletion and responsibility in the American Great Plains—and the Arctic Futures Working Group.
3/7/201955 minutes, 22 seconds
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166 - Kyle Powys Whyte

Cymene and Dominic talk about restaurants failed by their bathrooms and “Human Uber” on this week’s podcast. We are then (14:20) delighted to welcome Kyle Powys Whyte—Tinnick Chair in the Humanities at Michigan State, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a philosopher whose work brings Indigenous (Neshnabé) philosophy to bear on environmental issues—to the podcast (https://kylewhyte.cal.msu.edu). We start with the need to decolonize the Anthropocene concept because of how it smuggles in traditional prejudices about Indigenous peoples and often serves as a vehicle for settler privilege and what Kyle terms “settler apocalypticism.” We turn from there to settler colonialism as a mode of ecological domination and Neshnabé conceptions of time, responsibility and morality, and climate injustice as a breakdown in consent relationships. Kyle shares his thoughts about climate change as an insidious loop but also his concern that climate talk too often avoids addressing enduring structures of violence and oppression. Kyle argues for not allowing the politics of urgency to dictate the pace of rebuilding kinship between humans and nonhumans. We close with his thinking about the importance of activism, Indigenous futurism, and the need to get past the idea of protecting this world instead of making a better one.
2/28/20191 hour, 5 minutes, 39 seconds
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165 - Amanda Lynch & Siri Veland

Is coughing an identity? Well, if it’s your identity your cohosts have the scoop on a reputed new coughing cure on this week’s podcast. We are then (15:26) joined by a dynamic duo—Amanda Lynch (Director of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society) and Siri Veland (Senior Researcher at the Nordland Research Institute in Bodø, Norway). We talk to them about how their collaboration on climate change adaptation led to a new book, Urgency in the Anthropocene (MIT Press, 2018) which takes a distinctively positivist-meets-constructivist approach to its problem. We talk about the challenges and joys of talking about the Anthropocene across the earth sciences and social sciences.  We discuss the urgency of thinking with greater imagination but also of being careful what kinds of imagination we embrace. From there we turn to the Anthropocene as a kind of myth that enables but also constrains government and policy responses. We talk modes of coexistence and the recognition of dignity as a starting point for listening. And we close by discussing their latest collaboration, the ArcticChallenge Project and its focus on oil ontologies.
2/22/20191 hour, 59 seconds
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164 - Eduardo Kohn

What’s worse than listening to lovebirds on Valentine’s Day? Surely it is listening to them wondering whether the rideshare model can be applied to socks. So feel free to skip past all that nonsense (15:19) to our special holiday conversation with anthropologist and philosopher Eduardo Kohn. We begin with his influential book, How Forests Think, and how Eduardo’s fieldwork in Amazonia and the semiology of Charles Saunders Peirce helped him break down the nature-culture dualities of much western theory. Eduardo walks us through icons and indexes as ways of knowing and being in the world and discusses how the modern (human) investment in symbols and symbolic abstraction has contributed to the Anthropocene trajectory. We talk about academic resistance to engaging the semiosis of life in its broadest sense, why ethnographic method should be celebrated as a form of (iconic) mindful attention to the world, what’s similar about art and science as modes of knowing, and how sylvan thinking can be an ethical practice in the Anthropocene. We turn from there to Eduardo’s current scholarly and creative collaborations that cross legal, scientific and shamanic registers in the interest of “cosmic diplomacy.” We close by talking about the ethical importance of aesthetic experiments and accepting life as a wild guess.
2/14/20191 hour, 4 minutes, 41 seconds
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163 - Beyond Debt (feat. Daromir Rudnyckyj)

Dominic and Cymene review the Green New Deal and the erotic life of Adam Smith on this week’s episode of the podcast. Then (18:52) Daromir Rudnyckyj joins us to talk about his new book, Beyond Debt: Islamic Experiments in Global Finance, (U Chicago Press, 2018), which takes us deep into the rapidly evolving world of Islamic finance. Daromir explains to us the spirit and letter of Islamic finance, how its investment and risk-sharing norms depart from those the debt-based model of western finance, and what the implications would be for capitalism were Islamic finance to become the dominant global investment model. We ask him whether a bigger role for Islamic finance would do anything to reign in the growth obsession of contemporary economic thought and practice. Daromir explains how Islamic moral philosophy limits speculative investment and seeks to imagine a form of capitalism beyond debt. We discuss whether the debt jubilee model really breaks with the logic of western capitalism and whether it would be possible to expand the presence of Islamic finance in the global North without inflaming Islamophobic hysteria. We discuss what “halal finance” might be and whether it could better acquaint investors with the real local impacts of their capital investments. We close talking about Daromir’s latest work on local alternative currencies.
2/8/20191 hour, 3 minutes, 55 seconds
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162 - Kim Fortun

Cymene and Dominic discuss frostquakes and fyre festivals on this week’s edition of the podcast. Then (15:49) we are joined by a most esteemed guest, Kim Fortun from UC Irvine, author of Advocacy after Bhopal (U Chicago Press, 2001) and President of the 4S association. We start with Kim’s thoughts on late industrialism and why it became such an important concept for her research. We dig into the doubleness of “hyperexpertise” associated with our late industrial contemporary, and ask what is robust and what is ruined. Kim explains why she favors ethnography as a mode of disrupting ossified forms of expertise. And we turn from there to her ongoing work on environmental health issues and how the challenges of collaborative research spurred her interest in developing better datasharing infrastructures and virtual research platforms like PECE (http://worldpece.org) and the The Asthma Files (http://theasthmafiles.org). We talk about the politics of scholarly communication and Kim tells us what she thinks the obstacles are to the Open Access and Open Data movements gaining traction. We close on her thoughts on where STS is today as a community and field of knowledge and what excites her about its future.
1/31/20191 hour, 4 minutes, 1 second
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161 - Eben Kirksey

Your co-hosts celebrate MLK day, muse over whether Gattaca invented Tinder, toy with the idea of kale eugenics, and if that weren’t enough, Cymene Howe predicts Ragnarok on this week’s edition of the Cultures of Energy podcast. Valhalla will have to wait though because first (16:51) we catch up with the ever dynamic Eben Kirksey, live and direct from the Hart Senate Office Building in DC. We talk about the climate action impasse in the US capital and contrast that with direct action mobilizations to make New York carbon neutral and to protest BP’s LNG project in West Papua. Eben tells us about his current work on CRISPR gene editing and connects it to his earlier and ongoing interest in multispecies relations. He explains why narratives of apocalypse and salvation surrounding gene editing miss the point even as these technologies do point toward new potentialities of life within biocapitalist regimes of inequality and exclusion. We touch on the ethics of bioengineering and geoengineering and Eben suggests that it may fall to the human sciences (and biohackers) to imagine and enact other modes of care. We close with how he became interested in chemicals and chemoethnography and his next project on multispecies justice in West Papua. Kale Gattaca!
1/24/201947 minutes, 1 second
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160 - Matthew T. Huber

Cymene and Dominic talk democratic do-overs, vegan falcons, Hegel’s bagels, and the 1980s arcade game Dig Dug on this week’s edition of the podcast. Then (19:51) we have a chance to catch up with Matt Huber from Syracuse, author of Lifeblood: Oil, Freedom, and the Forces of Capital (U Minnesota Press, 2013), about what he’s been up to lately. We start with his thinking about what a truly socialist climate politics would look like and how it would be oriented to the problems of the new working class, what Matt terms “the 63%.” Then Matt explains why he thinks taxing the rich and corporations makes more sense than taxing molecules. We talk about what lessons a Green New Deal could take from the original New Deal, the U.S. as a “rogue state” on climate, who should be striking to pressure elites to take climate change seriously, the pernicious individualization of carbon footprints, and what should be grown and de-grown in a climate woke economy. In closing, Matthew makes a strong case for a total expropriation of the fossil fuel industry so that we can focus developing energy that is not the ruin of the planet. Enjoy! PS and please do send us your takes on the most profound video games of the 1980s :)  
1/17/20191 hour, 4 minutes, 57 seconds
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159 - Gísli Pálsson

Cymene and Dominic are back and borderline alert for 2019. They recently watched the first half of Netflix’s Bird Box and speculate as to whether the alleged “Bird Box challenge” is further evidence of the doom of our species. Then (16:00) we welcome Icelandic anthropological legend Gísli Palsson to the podcast to talk about his latest book project, Down to Earth: A Memoir, a wonderful discussion of human beings and their relationship with earthquakes, stones and lava. We begin with the 1973 volcanic eruption that indelibly impacted Gísli's life as it destroyed his childhood home and buried his town in ash like an Icelandic Pompeii. We talk about homes and habitats both specific and global, the need for a new geosocial contract, the vitality of rocks, life as geolubricant, and the return to premodernist thinking as we confront that volcano in our living room, the Anthropocene. Gísli tells us about some of the amazing volcano projects artists like Nelly Ben Hayoun are undertaking these days. And we close on geological intimacy, necessary optimism and whether we humans are becoming petrified, even fossilized.
1/9/20191 hour, 2 minutes, 18 seconds
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158 - Goodbye 2018/Rare Exports

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!
12/31/20181 hour, 2 minutes, 9 seconds
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157 - Solarpunk (feat. Rhys Williams)

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!
12/20/20181 hour, 3 minutes, 49 seconds
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156 - Jason De León

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.  
12/13/20181 hour, 9 minutes, 13 seconds
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155 - Maria Whiteman

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
12/6/20181 hour, 6 minutes, 44 seconds
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154 - Evan Berry

Cymene and Dominic rediscover the Violent Femmes on this week's podcast and that prompts a discussion of the best albums of all time. We then (18:54) welcome American U’s Evan Berry to the podcast, author of Devoted to Nature: The Religious Roots of American Environmentalism (U California Press, 2015) and the PI of a Luce Foundation funded project on “Religion and Climate Change in Cross-Regional Comparison.” We start with the Pope and his views on climate change and then quickly move on to Evan’s argument that much apparently secular environmentalist thinking has deep affinities with Christian theology. We revisit Lynn White’s famous argument that Christianity devalues nature, discuss the need to move past “great man” narratives of the evolution of environmentalism, and ruminate on what 19th century Christian environmentalists considered to be the “moral salubriousness of nature.” Evan shares his thoughts on how Protestant nominalism may have informed American climate denialism over time and also about how walking as a form of “recreational salvation” became linked to the valorization of wilderness. We discuss whether American Christianity is exceptional in terms of climate morality and why American political culture has become an incubator for religious radicalism. We then turn to how climate change is now impacting religious systems across the world and how better intergenerational ethics might teach us to think collectively rather than individually. Finally, we discuss another recent book project Evan has undertaken with Rob Albro, Church, Cosmovision, and the Environment: Religion and Social Conflict in Contemporary Latin America (Routledge 2018).
11/29/20181 hour, 15 minutes, 35 seconds
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153 - Laura Ogden

Dominic and Cymene talk urban turkey encounters on this week’s edition of the Cultures of Energy podcast. With multispecies on our minds, we then (8:59) check in with Dartmouth’s Laura Ogden. We begin with her experience growing up in the Everglades and how it sparked a life long interest in multispecies relations and the hidden histories of landscapes often regarded as “wilderness.” We touch on her 2011 book Swamplife and talk alligator subjectivity, their relations with humans and the special challenges of thinking about predator-predator relations within multispecies ethnography. Laura gives us her take on the environmental challenges facing swamplife in the Everglades today and then we turn to her current work on invasive species in Tierra del Fuego. We hear how Peronism brought Canadian beavers to Argentina and how their spread into Chile helped her to rethink species assemblages. We talk about Laura’s collaborations with feminist performance artists and ecologists, why she thinks the term “resilience” is an anti-politics machine, and the first environmentalist victory in Chilean history. We close by discussing her current book project, Loss and Wonder at the World’s End.
11/22/201859 minutes, 51 seconds
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152 - Adriana Petryna

California is burning again. So, in solidarity, Cymene and Dominic try to do an intro segment with N95 masks on and quickly realize this isn’t a good way to have to live. To learn more about the evolving field of wildfire management we then (13:40) chat with the amazing Adriana Petryna from U Penn. First we ask how a nice anthropologist like her became famous for studying disasters like Chernobyl. We discuss how she came to her concept of “biological citizenship” and her thinking about risk. That gets us back to wildfires and Adriana’s interest in scientific responses to our unpredictable climate. We get into how current models of fire suppression and prevention are deteriorating as fires become more unpredictable and as firefighters resist the idea that they become a military force tasked with fighting nature. Adriana describes the situation of responding to a changing climate as though it is not changing as “diligent insanity.” We then talk about how denialism is often linked to the idea that we’re protected (by a cult of first responders); about fire as a non-linear process; and about the need to update models of fire behavior to take “new fire” and new fuels into account. Finally. Adriana shares her thoughts on “retreat” as analytic and possible new mode of biopolitics in the Anthropocene. Want to read more? Check out Adriana’s brand new article on wildfires in Cultural Anthropology:https://culanth.org/articles/977-wildfires-at-the-edges-of-science-horizoning-work
11/15/20181 hour, 11 minutes, 23 seconds
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151 - Anne Galloway

Cymene and Dominic get their mojo back as they dip their toes into the blue wave. Then (13:12) we connect with Anne Galloway about her life and work as a scholar and a farmer. We start with Anne’s thoughts on how raising sheep as a farmer has made her part of a flock and how the complexity of those relations have changed how she thinks about the Anthropocene, in particular about death. Anne answers the question, “Can you kill something you love?” and this gets us to talking about ethics, responsibility and kinship in our relations with “livestock animals.” Anne explains why she finds it problematic that academics and activists often equate all animal husbandry with industrial farming practices. We talk about catching flak from farmers as well as academics, about companionate animals named and unnamed, the key characteristics of sheepishness, and turn from there to Anne’s interests in ethnographic and speculative design and her plan to do a second doctorate in creative writing. We close by wondering whether Anne has any chance of getting her sheep into Peter Jackson’s next Tolkien adaptation.
11/8/20181 hour, 7 minutes, 25 seconds
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150 - Paige West

Cymene and Dominic recap their Halloween on this week’s episode of the podcast and plug the spooky new Cultural Anthropology series, “Time of Monsters,” (https://culanth.org/fieldsights/1584-time-of-monsters). Then (15:59) with many eyes on next week’s U.S. midterm election, Paige West joins us in the studio to process the social and environmental stakes of our contemporary political situation. We talk about slogging through the past two years of  Trumpism, the resurgence of interest in local politics, the politicization and erasure of climate issues in the U.S., and how much New Yorkers are still paying attention to climate change years after Hurricane Sandy. A frank conversation follows about what climate-minded scholars can really do to help in these political times and about the need to experiment with new media for public communication to help us find wider audiences. We consider whether we can assemble a coalition of scholars who will pledge to give free lectures on climate change at community colleges around the country. What do you think dear listeners? Would you join us? We close with the indigenous hip hop scene that is better than the punk renaissance we dreamed of in 2016. And we promise Paige an owl. PS You can listen to the Snotty Nose Rez Kids on Soundcloud at: https://soundcloud.com/snottynoserezkids
11/1/20181 hour, 6 minutes, 3 seconds
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149 - Tim Neale

Dominic tries to sing Ted Cruz out of office on this week’s podcast and retells a story about the senator’s dirty shirt. Then (14:59) fellow anthropologist and environmental humanities podcaster Tim Neale (of Deakin University) joins us from the future in Melbourne. With him we review their very successful recent Anthropocene Campus and its effort to think deep thoughts and deep time through the lens of the elements while visiting exotic local Anthropocene sites like Melbourne’s “poo farm.” We then return to Tim’s own work and talk through his recent book, Wild Articulations: Environmentalism and Indigeneity in Northern Australia (U Hawaii Press, 2017) which traces the rise and fall of Australia’s Wild Rivers Act and the ways in which the aestheticization of environment can contribute to the dispossession of indigenous peoples. We talk about effort to include and exclude rivers and aboriginal peoples from settler liberal politics, the impact of the 1992 Mabo Decision and the negotiation of usufructuary rights, why the Wild Rivers Act was eventually repealed and with what legacy. We then turn to Tim’s new research on fire management, carbon storage and risk modeling in Australia and close by plugging Tim’s own excellent podcast, anthropology@deakin, which you can find at https://soundcloud.com/user-910866758  PS American citizens, please don’t forget to vote!!  
10/25/20181 hour, 10 minutes, 17 seconds
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148 - Caroline A. Jones

Dominic and Cymene talk foot injuries, bears, and a project called "smell my box." We then (15:52) welcome to the podcast the marvelous Caroline Jones from MIT who talks about her amazing research and curatorial work on bioart, biofiction, psychology, phenomenology, neuroscience and much much more. We start with her provocative concept of “symbiontics” which points toward a change of human consciousness necessary for our survival as a species. She tells us about the works of artists like Jenna Sutela, Tomás Saraceno and Annicka Yi who have helped inspire her symbiontic thinking. We talk cultural evolution, survival of the most interdependent as an alternative to survival of the fittest, art as philosophy and politics, feminist bacteria, and the ethics of interspecies art. We turn from there to her current collaboration with historian of science Peter Galison on visibility and invisibility in the Anthropocene. We close on cybernetics, the idea that consciousness doesn’t stop at the limits of the individual mind and what we could learn from splicing a bit of sequoia genetic material into our own.  
10/18/20181 hour, 7 minutes, 47 seconds
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147 - Paul Warde

We get to hear about Cymene’s mod years and her experience this week with “cat therapy.” And then (14:06) Dominic speaks with Cambridge environmental historian Paul Warde about his new book, The Invention of Sustainability: Nature and Destiny, ca. 1500-1870 (Cambridge UP 2018) which traces our contemporary interest in sustainable futures back to the concerns and inventions of early modern politics and economy. We start with the endemic problems of sustenance and fuel that were much on the mind of early modern European government and how they helped to shape future resource provision into a durable political problem. Paul explains how also changing was the idea that government should be responsible for resource provision in the first place and how this suggests that sustainability is an intrinsic feature of modern politics rather than a problem that is likely to be solved through particular policy interventions. We talk intergenerational ethics, the circumstances surrounding the transition from wood fuel to coal, the rise of a concept of “state” as autonomous political entity, the preoccupations of early political economy, early technoptimism, urbanization, metabolic rift and much more. We close with Paul’s thinking about energy policy today.
10/11/20181 hour, 4 minutes, 51 seconds
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146 - Cara Daggett

Dominic and Cymene talk about the country’s first robot sex brothel coming to Houston. And then (14:40) we welcome the amazing Cara Daggett to the podcast. Cara has an amazing book in press with Duke that everyone should pre-order. It’s entitled The Birth of Energy: Fossil Fuels, Thermodynamics and the Politics of Work and it describes how the modern conceptualization of the term “energy” only came about during the Victorian period. Cara begins by explaining how Aristotle’s conceptualization of energy as “dynamic virtue” was different from our own imagination of the relationship of energy and work as having to do with moving matter. From there we move to exploring the labor/energy nexus that proved so vital to European modernity. We talk about what empire, evolutionary theory, Presbyterianism and thermodynamics contributed to Victorian thinking about energy. We turn to entropy, decay and waste and how Victorian energy imaginaries have been extended to include much discourse on renewable energy too. We make a brief detour through the Victorian Anthropocene before asking whether it is possible to unwind energy conceptually from a soul-crushing Protestant ethic of perpetual work. We close with a discussion of Cara’s recent article on petromasculinity and the misogyny of fossil fuel use and what it was like to become a target of radical right venom. What would a feminist energy system look like? Listen on!
10/4/20181 hour, 10 minutes, 18 seconds
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145 - Solarity! (feat. Darin Barney & Imre Szeman)

This week’s episode starts with some serious reflections on cracked masculinity, misogyny, 1980s culture, and the Supreme Court. But in the spirit of demanding better worlds to come, we then (15:30) welcome Darin Barney (McGill U) and Imre Szeman (U Waterloo) to talk through how best to imagine and enact positive solar futures. We start with their planning for After Oil 2: Solarity, a conference that will take place at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (https://www.cca.qc.ca/en/) in Montreal May 23-25, 2019. Imre begins by walking us through logic behind the first edition of After Oil (http://afteroil.ca/what-is-aos/), which brought together forty people from diverse backgrounds to write a manifesto on life after petroculture. Darin then explains the concept for Solarity and how it seeks to push the speculative dimension of energy humanities farther in order to help break with the hegemony of various forms of petroknowledge. We talk about solarity as a zone of contestation, solarity as menace, solarity as emancipation from other social ills, and raise questions such as ‘what would solar theory look like?’ After hearing about their exciting plans for Solarity, we close by catching up with Imre and Darin about their own latest research projects. PS Go McGill for moving one step closer to fossil fuel divestment!
9/27/20181 hour, 5 minutes, 14 seconds
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144 - Rosalind Fredericks

Cymene and Dominic debate whether dogs can have bullshit jobs on this week’s podcast. Then (13:46) we are most fortunate to welcome NYU’s Rosalind Fredericks to the podcast to talk about her brand new book, Garbage Citizenship: Vital Infrastructures of Labor in Dakar, Senegal (Duke U Press). But before getting there we ask Rozy why she thinks garbage/waste/discard studies are becoming so popular these days and what its lively interdisciplinary conversation is teaching us about value and materiality. Rozy tells us about how sanitation infrastructure first got her interested in understanding waste and how the trash strikes that took place during her fieldwork cemented her commitment to studying the politics and materiality of garbage in Dakar. We talk about the Set/Setal movement and how it utilized garbage work as a medium through which to revitalize Senegalese politics. From there we turn to the intersection of waste with Islamic ideas of purity and practices of piety, the political power of wastework, consumption and recycling, urbanization, climate refugeeism and the African Anthropocene. Rozy explains to us what she means by “vital infrastructures” and “salvage bricolage” as we turn to her new research on the work of trash reclaimers at one of Dakar’s largest dumps. We close with Rozy’s distant past life as a dumpster diver and her prize mini bottle collection.
9/21/201859 minutes, 54 seconds
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143 - Graeme Macdonald

Cymene and Dominic answer the timeless surrealist question, can raisins function as bait, on this week’s podcast. We then (9:20) welcome to the podcast Scotland’s finest son, Graeme Macdonald (currently on loan to Warwick) who explains first of all that he had nothing to do with the making of couscous sandwiches at Petrocultures 2018. But he does cop to enjoying very much working together with Janet Stewart and Rhys Williams on bringing that event to fruition. We then move on to more serious matters and Graeme tells us why he thinks interest in petrocultures is growing and how the energy humanities relate to the environmental humanities more broadly. That leads us to the entanglement of oil and modern fiction, whether there are different petrofictions in different places around the world, and if we need a new romanticism for the era of renewables. We then turn to science fiction in Scotland and its connection to the many terraforming projects that have occurred there; we talk post-oil dystopian fictions, hollow earth narratives, peat bogs and carbon sequestration, and the tensions surrounding decarbonization and Scottish devolution in the UK. We close on climate imaginaries and whether the Global North has made any progress in conceiving of post-carbon democratic life. This episode is brought to you by Buckfast Tonic Wine, the official irresponsible beverage decision of the Cultures of Energy podcast. Consider having one for the ditch but nae prezh!
9/14/20181 hour, 5 minutes, 20 seconds
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142 - Sleep Dealer

On this week’s podcast, Cymene and Dominic recap their time at the marvelous Petrocultures 2018 event in Glasgow and tell tales of adventures with quinoa sandwiches and Buckfast, a curious liquor better known locally as “stab-yer-pal.” Then (13:25) we offer another edition of our Soylent Rainbow segment, talking classic ecofilms that you’ve recommended to us. This time it’s Alex Rivera’s 2008 cult film, Sleep Dealer, which brilliantly imagines a dystopian future of militarized water, reality TV drone killings and cyberlabor as the United States has invented a new way to exploit Mexican labor power without allowing workers’ bodies to cross borders. It’s a film in many ways ahead of its time that deserves a watch in 2018. We talk about its many strengths but also what we might do differently if the film were remade today. Speaking of which, Charlie Brooker, if you are out there, this is a Black Mirror episode waiting to happen!!
9/7/201843 minutes, 51 seconds
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141 - Lacy M. Johnson

Dominic and Cymene report from Scotland where they have arrived for what looks to be an amazing Petrocultures 2018 event. Some talk of haggis and whiskey follows. But it’s also the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey back in Houston and to process how we feel about that (11:07) we invite our dear colleague, Lacy M. Johnson (http://www.lacymjohnson.com) into THE STUDIO to talk about where we find our heads at one year later. We talk about whether Harvey has shifted Houstonians’ willingness to accept climate change and Lacy talks about her own Harvey experience and how it motivated her to develop the Houston Flood Museum project, a virtual museum that launched this week (https://houstonfloodmuseum.org). Lacy explains why she thinks “discovery” might be a better way to think about life post-trauma rather than “recovery” and why it was compassion rather than strength that helped us through the disaster. We talk about her writing process and then turn from there to Lacy’s forthcoming book, The Reckonings (Simon & Schuster, http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Reckonings/Lacy-M-Johnson/9781501159008), a marvelous collection of essays. We spend a little extra time on her harrowing account of the 43,000 tons of nuclear waste that were dumped in a North St. Louis landfill in the 1970s and the smoldering underground fire that is edging ever closer to the site. In closing, Lacy explains why we need to give ourselves permission to feel joy in an imperfect world because joy is a form that justice takes.
8/30/20181 hour, 10 minutes, 5 seconds
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140 - Judit Hersko

Cymene and Dominic chat about the Wizard of Oz, unglacier tours, rocket toilets and motorized scooters to lead off this week’s podcast. Then (12:37) we are most fortunate to have the chance to talk about art and the Anthropocene with celebrated artist Judit Hersko (http://www.judithersko.com) who represented her native Hungary at the Venice Biennale in 1997. We talk about her earliest work about personal and collective memory and also her longstanding interests in phenomenology, materiality and lucidity and how all of these informed her later approaches to the intersection of art and science. That leads us to her trip to Antarctica and the adventures there—ranging from dinner with Prince Albert of Monaco to the aforementioned incinerator toilets—and what the whole experience taught her about the possibilities and limits of collaboration between art and science. And from there we move to the figure of the Unknown Explorer in her work and how it draws attention to the absence of women in polar history and science before the 1960s. We talk about her more recent projects thematizing Anthropocene phenomena such as oceanic acidification and atmospheric carbon and close with Judit’s advice to young artists to learn to meet your muse halfway.
8/23/20181 hour, 4 minutes, 5 seconds
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139 - Andri Snaer Magnason

Dominic and Cymene bask in 15 seconds of Icelandic limelight and discuss Madonna@60.  Then (14:28) to celebrate the premiere of our film, “Not Ok: A Little Movie About a Small Glacier at the End of the World,” we whet your appetite with the full interview with brilliant Icelandic writer and filmmaker Andri Snaer Magnason—author of Dreamland (Citizen Press, 2006) and The Story of the Blue Planet (Seven Stories, 2000)—that we did for the film. In the interview, Andri and Cymene discuss his family’s close relationship to glaciers and what glaciers have meant to Icelanders in the past and more recently. They talk about geological time and human time, why we need to see oil, addiction to destruction, what Andri talked to the Dalai Lama about, the Big Melt and much more. Tomorrow’s the big day. Wish us luck, dear listeners!
8/16/201848 minutes, 48 seconds
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138 - John Hartigan returns!

Cymene and Dominic check in from Iceland on this week’s edition of the podcast and talk about the virtues of the Icelandic horse. Then (12:36) we welcome dear friend and horsexpert John Hartigan back to the podcast. We’ve come a long way since Episode 4 but it turns out John has been keeping pretty busy too. We start off with his new book, Care of the Species (U Minnesota Press, 2017) about human-maize relations and the science of plant biodiversity in Mexico and Spain. We talk about maize as an emblematic companion species as it both feeds and works humans on its own behalf, about John’s discovery that the concept of raza (race) was applied to non-humans long before humans, and what that implies for understanding the intersection of race and care today. This gets us to what nonhumans like sheep and cattle contributed to colonization, efforts to maintain plant biodiversity as a bulwark against the unknowns of climate change, the enduring power of taxonomical conceptions of species, plant sexuality under human care, and the modern tendency toward “plant blindness” in our relationship to the world. Finally, we do a lightning round of updates on John’s current suite of projects including an ethnography of the sociality of wild horses in Spain, a study of Peruvian bullfighting and a historical novel about the wreck of the Spanish armada in Ireland and the hidden cultural connection between Spain and Ireland that followed.
8/9/20181 hour, 13 minutes, 15 seconds
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137 - Michael E. Mann & The Trouble

We start this week’s double episode on climate science and climate policy with ruminations on Trumpian arguments against fuel efficiency, Europe breaking its heat record, and what in retrospect were the breakthrough technological achievements of the 1970s—the Ronco inside the egg shell egg scrambler and the Popeil pocket fisherman. Then (14:04) we chat with star climate scientist Michael E. Mann. Mike brings us up to speed on the implications of the latest climate science and explains why the current attribution models connecting climate change to extreme weather events and sea level rise may be too conservative. We talk about the 20thanniversary of his famous “hockey stick” chart and how far we’ve come on climate adaptation since then. We turn from there to some of his recent projects branching out into new media ranging from his blog (http://michaelmann.net) to his much anticipated children’s book (The Tantrum that Saved the World)—a collaboration with author/illustrator Meg Herbert—and Mike tells us why he thinks scientists need to engage the public directly in an era of fragmented and often manipulated news media. We close by discussing why it’s so important to engage youth around climate issues and why We. All. Need. To. Vote. This. November. In our second segment (48:32) we check in with Soren Dudley and Johnathan Guy, two editors of an impressive brand new online magazine, The Trouble, which offers a forum for bringing together left political thinking and climate policy. Johnny and Soren explain why they think this intervention is so timely and necessary today, bringing together direct action spirit and wonky policy discussion. Please check out their excellent work at https://www.the-trouble.com, follow them @thetroublemag and, above all, send them love!
8/3/20181 hour, 12 minutes, 56 seconds
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136 - Jennifer Gabrys

Your cohosts discuss what sensory technologies they might wish for their own home and the kind of multispecies encounters Cymene might have had in a Tegucigalpa red light district hotel (trigger warning: there be cockroach stories ahead!) Then (20:29) we chat with the multitalented Jennifer Gabrys from Goldsmiths (https://www.jennifergabrys.net), author most recently of Program Earth (U Minnesota Press, 2016), and her fascinating work on the spread of environmental sensing technologies and the impacts they are having on our worlds. Jennifer explains to us why she became taken with Whitehead’s concept of the “superject” as a different, more distributed and relational way of thinking about sensation and experience. That gets us to talking about nonhuman modes of sensing, what humans want from all these sensors, the problem of environmentality in smart city designs, computational urbanism, and why the figure of the idiot interests her in terms of thinking about models of digital participation. Jennifer explains how we can be for a world (and for other worlds) rather than simply of the world and why the etho-ecological is thus such an interesting domain for her.  In closing, we return to Jennifer’s pathbreaking work on digital waste and the need for electronic environmentalism and talk about the e-waste/energy nexus and the paradox of spending ever more energy to monitoring ourselves using more energy. Listen on!
7/26/20181 hour, 12 minutes, 41 seconds
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135 - Christina Cogdell

Cymene and Dominic talk surprising energy trends and how to make news more fun with games. Then (15:05) we talk with the marvelous Christina Cogdell from UC-Davis about her fascinating soon-to-be-published book, Toward a Living Architecture? Complexism and Biology in Generative Design (U Minnesota Press, https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/toward-a-living-architecture). We talk about how her background studying eugenics in the 1930s informed her interest in the interplay of architecture, biology and computational science in the emergent field she calls, “generative design.” We discuss what the growing interest in using living materials for architectural purposes might have to do with climate change, the relationship between complexity theory and eugenicism, the porting of natural systems models across the human sciences and why some in generative architecture actually oppose notions of “sustainability.” We turn from there to topics like eugenic algorithms, the idea that complexity is the key to the universe and living building projects from arborsculpture to bioprinting to genmod kudzu cities and beyond. Will buildings and other architectural objects need veterinarians in the future? Is Lamarckism making a comeback in generative design? This and many other questions will be covered in this week’s episode. Listen on! PS And check out Christina and her students’ amazing product life cycle website at: http://www.designlife-cycle.com
7/19/20181 hour, 11 minutes, 10 seconds
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134 - Leo Coleman

Dominic and Cymene react to the new CENHS podcast studio and share a tale of robot sushi misadventure. Then (15:02) we welcome Leo Coleman (Hunter College) to the program and get right into his new book, A Moral Technology: Electrification as Political Ritual in New Delhi (Cornell U Press, 2017) and its exploration of the political and moral history of electricity in India since the early 20th century. We talk about how electricity unleashes the imagination of modern urban life, mundane uses vs. grand rituals of electrified power, and, apropos of the making of the postcolonial Indian state, Leo argues we need a more subtle understanding of Gandhi’s concerns about the ethical impact of electrification. We turn from there to what extent electricity reshaped India’s public sphere in the past, how the grid became an object of political concern, and whether the neoliberal era has brought new moralities of electricity to India. That brings us to the electronic and political dimensions of India’s new energy metering, biometric and surveillance projects. We close with Leo’s fascinating essay on the impact of electricity upon Durkheim’s thinking about morality and his new research on hydropower and equality in Scotland.
7/12/20181 hour, 8 minutes, 12 seconds
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133 - María Puig de la Bellacasa

Dominic and Cymene indulge a little post-Pruitt glee on this week’s podcast and speculate about the possibility of six foot tall low carbon lava lamps in the future. Then (16:46) we are thrilled to be joined by star STS scholar and emergent anthropologist María Puig de la Bellacasa to talk about her celebrated new book, Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds (U Minnesota Press, 2017). We start with the importance of care in feminist philosophy and how this work, alongside her own activist background, inspired this project. She asks us to consider how we can make knowledge that takes seriously a politics of care without giving ourselves over to the neoliberal commodification of care. And she asks how a commitment to speculative ethics can lead us to imagine and enact worlds different than the one we inhabit now. Later on, María tells us about what led her to quit philosophy and why appropriation might not actually be such a bad thing. Then we turn to her work with permaculturalists and soil scientists, what it was like to study with Starhawk, changing paradigms of soil ontology and ecology, what are alterbiopolitics, speculative ethics in a time of political crisis, and so much more.
7/5/20181 hour, 11 minutes, 31 seconds
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132 - Jeffrey Jerome Cohen

Cymene and Dominic debate the Pet Rock as a capitalist or proto-new-materialist venture on this week’s episode of the podcast. Then (16:59) we welcome to the podcast multitalented environmental humanist and soon-to-be decanal superstar Jeffrey Jerome Cohen from Arizona State. With Jeffrey we talk about unsustainably hot desert cities as harbingers of the future and then quickly get to his fascinating book Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman (U Minnesota Press, 2015) and its exploration of litho-human relationships both medieval and modern. Jeffrey explains how his work seeks to appreciate medieval ways of knowing. He argues that they might help us to reinvigorate our way of understanding the world today—not least by conceiving lithic materials as something more than inert resources—and improve our ethics of relationality with the more-than-human world. We talk about stones as transport devices in human storytelling and as archives of catastrophe, the Noah’s Ark trope, and fire as elemental force, human companion, and challenge to think with. We then turn to Jeffrey’s work on monsters, but mostly as a pretense to get him to tell us his Pixar lawsuit story. Finally we discuss his most recent book, Earth(Bloomsbury, 2017), co-authored with planetary geologist, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, and how we might imagine human life as part of planetary life more widely. Wondering why monsters and aliens are green? Listen on!
6/29/20181 hour, 9 minutes, 31 seconds
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131 - Waterworld

On this week’s podcast, in honor of the summer solstice we bring to you another edition of Soylent Rainbow, our occasional special feature talking ecopocalyptic films past and present. This time, we decided to revisit the 1995 Kevin Costner vehicle, Waterworld, to see if the critics of yesteryear were too harsh. Was Waterworld really ahead of its time in spotlighting climate change? We surface the energy and environmental themes of the film, muse on its clunky dialogue and nods to Greek mythology, and then talk recycling, colanders-as-hats, the charm and hokiness of non-CGI effects, “go juice,” “smeat,” the cameo of the Exxon Valdez, toxic masculinity and nuclear families and much more. Thanks to everyone who sent us suggestions! There were so many good ones, it was hard to choose and we’ll try to squeeze in more Soylent Rainbow episodes in the weeks to come :)
6/21/201848 minutes, 33 seconds
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130 - Transhumanism (feat. Andrew Pilsch)

On this week’s Cultures of Energy pod we discuss this week’s disturbing revelations concerning the toxic work environment at the journal HAU (3:04)—if you need/want to catch up on the story please check out @hilaryagro and footnotesblog.com—and discuss the wider implications for Open Access publishing in Anthropology. Then, after a brief detour through feats of superraccoon strength we turn (18:00) to imaginaries of the more-than-human as we welcome (21:01) Andrew Pilsch to the podcast to discuss his new book Transhumanism: Evolutionary Futurism and the Human Technologies of Utopia (U Minnesota Press, 2017). We start by talking about the principal tenets of transhumanist thinking, as technological futurist movement and lifestyle brand and then get into the controversies surrounding transhumanism’s settler colonial and masculinist instincts and its impact upon Silicon Valley culture. We explore some of the evolutionary futurisms that predated transhumanism and ask whether computerization drove h+ thinking or vice-versa. We talk meme culture, ideas of the afterlife, Skynet, accelerationism, jetpack communism, and Andrew explains why feminist scholarship has been so important for his thinking about technological futurism. That leads us to xenofeminism and the effort to reclaim reason from patriarchal knowledge. And what Generation Z thinks of transhumanism. As Andrew says, just because things sound like crazy sci/fi ideas doesn’t make them less real. So if you care to upload your consciousness into our eternal cloud of reason, listen on!
6/14/20181 hour, 7 minutes
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129 - Juan Salazar

Live from Santa Cruz, CA, Cymene and Dominic cover the politics of homelessness, celebrity academic sightings, and the legacy of R.E.M. Then (13:01) anthropologist and filmmaker Juan Salazar joins us from the future (or at least Friday). We talk with him about his several currents projects related to climate change and Antarctica, including a comparative project on Antarctica’s “gateway cities” (Capetown, Christchurch, Hobart, Punta Arenas, Ushuaia) and how they are creating a new urban culture facing South rather than North. We discuss how climate change has generated unprecedented attention in the Antarctic and Juan explains how he became interested in charting “anticipatory modes of futuring” through media ranging from documentaries to museums to games. That leads us to his film Nightfall on Gaia (https://vimeo.com/117241386) and to why he thinks anthropological theory has not sufficiently engaged the problem of the future in recent years. Juan talks us through his filmmaking process, how he bridges the ethnographic and speculative dimensions of the work, and what he finds problematic in Antarctica films like Werner Herzog’s, Encounters at the End of the World. We turn then to Antarctica as an extraterrestrial space and close by talking about new projects including one concerning the longest bamboo bridge in the world and another about the rise of environmental insecurity following the peace process in Colombia.
6/8/20181 hour, 5 minutes, 25 seconds
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128 - Bethany Wiggin

Cymene and Dominic talk about climate despair and climate violence on this week’s edition of the Cultures of Energy podcast, and on a lighter note, a perfect 48 hours in Santa Cruz, CA, in 1986. Then (14:56) we are delighted to welcome superhero humanist Bethany Wiggin to the podcast. Bethany directs the marvelous Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (http://www.ppehlab.org), co-founded Data Refuge (https://www.datarefuge.org) and the Schuylkill River & Urban Water Research Corps (http://www.schuylkillcorps.org) and, when she’s not caping up to save the planet, Bethany is a mild-mannered Germanist researching and writing about novels and cultural translation, among other things. In the conversation we cover her current and future projects, highlighting especially the importance of pursuing utopias and ecotopian experiments in dark times, the need to care for ugly places, the importance of systems interdisciplinarity, data as a living organism, object biographies, and the logistics of teaching in boats. Bethany gives us a preview of her next book, Utopia Found, Lost, and Re-Imagined in Penn’s Woodsand discusses her comparative research on Rising Waters. Why do Germanists keep founding environmental humanities initiatives? We crack that case wiiiide open this week. Listen on! PS Check out the website for the new Anthropocene Unseen lexicon at: https://punctumbooks.com/titles/anthropocene-unseen-a-lexicon/ PPS This week’s cover image is from Jacob Rivkin’s Floating Archives project. Jacob is currently artist-in-residence at PPEH.
5/31/20181 hour, 6 minutes, 59 seconds
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127 - Ancient Civilizations & Climate Change (feat. Hervé Reculeau)

Dominic and Cymene wish Westworld was better on this week’s episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast and then dry their tears with the news that the trailer and website for the “Not Ok” film has launched. Please check it out at https://www.notokmovie.com. We then (12:16) welcome University of Chicago historian Hervé Reculeau to the podcast to talk about how Bronze Age civilizations in Mesopotamia coped with climate change. Hervé explains how recent attention to paleoenvironmental evidence has helped to disrupt and complexify narratives of civilizational health and collapse in the region. That gets us to his research on irrigation as a tool against advancing aridification and why massive infrastructure projects of the period may have had very little impact. We talk about the ways in which past civilizational collapses are being mobilized now as commentaries upon our present ecological crises and Hervé cautions against projecting our own environmental problems on to ancient societies. Did ancient societies have conceptions of “climate” at all? Can understandings of “climate change” coexist with weather gods? Listen on and find out!
5/24/201854 minutes, 46 seconds
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126 - Jaume Franquesa

Cymene and Dominic talk air pollution and bumper stickers on this week’s ozone action edition of the podcast. Then (9:19) we are happily joined by fellow wind power enthusiast Jaume Franquesa (SUNY-Buffalo) to talk about his brand new book, Power Struggles: Dignity, Value, and the Renewable Energy Frontier in Spain (Indiana U Press, 2018), which focuses on Southern Catalonia to tell a broader story about the politics of renewable energy transition in Spain (and beyond). We discuss the diverse energy landscape of the region and how legacies of nuclear energy and anti-nuclear activism came to shape wind power’s adoption. Jaume discusses the radical cooperativist roots of Spanish wind power and also how it was metabolized over time by energy corporations, an electric oligopoly and the state to create a more extractivist model of aeolian politics. We turn from there to the invisibilization of energy production and its consequences for energy frontiers as well as how agrarian and industrial imaginations compete in Catalonia, a place long projected as both a terroir of luxury goods and a wasteland in need of modern development. Jaume explains how the separation of country and city helps support capitalist accumulation and we close by exploring the importance of dignity and indignation in the resistant subjectivity of Catalonia. Can we challenge the idea that political inventiveness only emerges in cities? Listen on and find out!
5/18/20181 hour, 2 minutes, 39 seconds
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125 - Displacements Recap (w. Anand Pandian, Andrea Muehlebach & Marcel LaFlamme)

This week’s podcast is devoted to discussing a prototype for making academic conferences less carbon intensive and more accessible to our colleagues outside the global North. Case in point is last month’s remarkably successful Displacements conference (https://displacements.jhu.edu) organized by the Society for Cultural Anthropology which broke all previous SCA records for contributions and participation because of its unique hybrid format of online screenings and in person gatherings at fifty sites across the world. Gathered together (13:18) to discuss how it all went down and what it meant are chief conference organizer Anand Pandian (Johns Hopkins), operations guru Marcel LaFlamme (Rice) and Andrea Muehlebach  (U Toronto) who organized one of the most active gatherings in Toronto. We talk about frustrations with conventional conference formats, how to create a synchronous sense of eventness across the world, the challenges of accessibility and decarbonization, whether Displacements was really more of a distributed festival and how to unlock the artistic potential in scholarship. We close with a discussion of how simple folk like our listeners could start their own Displacements-style projects for as little as a hundred bucks. The low carbon academic revolution is coming!
5/10/20181 hour, 16 minutes, 6 seconds
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124 - Summerson Carr

Dominic and Cymene begin with a deep dive into the marvelous world of goat yoga and wonder what other animals should get into the game. Of course, we only learned about goat yoga because of this week’s guest, the fabulous Summerson Carr from the University of Chicago. We talk to her (17:39) about her most recent book, Scale: Discourse and Dimensions of Social Life (co-edited with Michael Lempert, downloadable for free at luminosoa.org) and explore why scale has become such a resonant thematic across the human sciences today. We talk about how researchers often pre-scale their objects of analysis and why scaling always seems to mean thinking bigger. That gets us to talking about climate science and how American scientists in particular are both undermined by anti-intellectualism but also informed by pragmatist ideas of knowledge that suspend certainty in favor of inquiry into the unknown. Summerson tells us about the similarities she sees between anthropology and social work and how we might attend to the plurality of scaling practices at work in the world. Switching gears, Summerson tells us the amazing story of a 66 foot concrete Japanese dock that set to sea by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and its several months’ voyage across the Pacific to Oregon. And that brings us to her amazing “Operation Bedbug” essay, which shows how bedbugs have forced a recalibration of social workers’ professional expertise beyond means-ends thinking and toward embracing the experimental possibilities of the present moment. We close with her current research on therapeutic animals and, of course, the discovery of goat yoga. If you’re feeling stressed out dear listeners chances are there is a goat yoga situation near you. Send us pictures!
5/4/20181 hour, 2 minutes
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123 - Elizabeth F.S. Roberts

Cymene and Dominic talk true crime and Pruitt crime on this week’s podcast before (13:59) welcoming the fabulous Liz Roberts from the University of Michigan to the conversation. Our offspeed start features the legend of Mick Taussig’s formica table before Liz tells us how she became interested in building bridges between anthropology and epigenetic science and found her way to the ELEMENT study, which has been investigating the impact of chemical exposure upon Mexican children since the 1990s. We talk genes, bodies and environments and Liz links deterministic models of the gene to infrastructures of impermeability that flourished (for some) during the mid 20th century. Turning to her NSF funded fieldwork in Mexico City, Liz shares what she learned about how borders matter and why she is cautious to embrace “entanglement” as an analytical norm. We talk about white middle class anxieties about exposure and permeability and how they compare with sentiments in Mexico. This leads us to her recent work on water and trust and how Coca Cola made people in Mexico City not trust the tap water. And that gets us to soda and its relationship to class and care. Finally we turn to Liz’s latest project, “Mexican Exposures” (mexicanexposures.com) and her interdisciplinary approach to collaborative bioethnography.
4/27/20181 hour, 12 minutes, 35 seconds
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122 - Making Alternate Worlds (feat. Ganzeer & Jeff VanderMeer)

After Cymene and Dominic take a moment to call out for profit academic publishing and cheerleading, this week’s podcast brings you (16:00) the keynote panel from CENHS’s Cultures of Energy 7 symposium, which explored the art, craft and significance of making alternate worlds. The conversation features famed Egyptian artist Ganzeer (The Solar Grid) celebrated novelist Jeff VanderMeer (Annihilation, Borne) in conversation with Cymene (Unda) about worldmaking in the context of our the ecological crises besetting our planet and its species. All three explain their approaches to storytelling and worldmaking and the conversation that follows (43:51) ranges widely from what kinds of new opportunities for story-making our contemporary ecological conditions offer us to the dangers of colonial and racialized imaginations carrying over into alternate worlding practices and how we break free of old systems of thought to imagine true alternatives to the status quo. Special thanks to Caroline Levander for moderating the discussion!! PS If you haven’t checked out the amazing virtual SCA conference, Displacements 2018, you should (!) and can at http://displacements.jhu.edu
4/20/20181 hour, 32 minutes, 43 seconds
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121- Heather Paxson

Dominic and Cymene plug Cultures of Energy 7—this year’s energy humanities symposium at Rice which begins today, details at culturesofenergy.org—and then they turn to cheese, why it’s funny, how it can be applied to cats, “cheddaring,” and much more. Is there an anthropologist who knows more about cheese than anyone? Yes of course there is, it’s MIT’s Heather Paxson, author of the award-winning The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America (U California Press, 2012). She joins us (14:59) to talk about her research on the microbiopolitics of food and naturally we begin with what’s in her fridge. Heather tells us about her investigation of artisanal cheesemaking and what it tells us about the shift from Pasteurian to Post-Pasteurian regimes of microbiopower. We hear about goat ladies as revolutionaries, the truth about vegan cheese, and debate whether artisanal foodmaking is an elite project. Heather discusses the search for moral meaning in everyday life as a throughline in her work and we turn to her latest research on food safety inspections, the porosity of food borders and the synecdochic reasoning of the state when it comes to managing food flows. We close by discussing the impact of feminist analytics of labor in her research. What is “beef candy China”? Listen on and you might just find out!
4/12/20181 hour, 9 minutes, 7 seconds
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120 - Brian Larkin

Dominic and Cymene discuss the Houston city government’s recent decision to elevate new homes in the floodplains and they take a few moments to plan their dream dinner parties. We then (18:12) teleport you to the office of amazing Columbia anthropologist and infrastructure guru, Brian Larkin. Brian explains to us how his interest in practices of media circulation led him to research infrastructures of communication and mediation. That leads us to his recent work on electricity in Nigeria, the productivity of the grid’s failure and the ontogenesis of new electric systems like generators. We talk about how the state and modernity figure into electrical discourse, ambient infrastructures, the in/visibilization of infrastructure, and how technology overcodes space in order to create its conditions of existence. We then turn to China’s becoming a global infrastructural powerhouse and how the digital infrastructures of everyday life differ across the world. We stump Brian momentarily as to his own ideal dinner party companions but he reciprocally blindsides us with the information that his masters thesis was on … wait for it … Donald Trump and then shares what he learned about Trump’s appeal. We talk about the explosion of both the conception and reality of mediation in the Internet era and whether a Media Worlds vol 2 might be coming. We close on questionsof infrastructural repair and being perpetually in beta. Hey, who’s on your dinner party wish list?
4/5/20181 hour, 16 minutes, 50 seconds
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119 - Petroculture Doubleheader (feat. Carola Hein, Rebecca Babcock & Jason Lagapa)

This week on the Cultures of Energy podcast we offer up a special double episode of petrocultural analysis. Cymene and Dominic set the stage with a new offshore pub concept, The Oily Hound, and then in the first segment (9:26) Dominic chats with Carola Hein from TU-Delft about her work at the intersection of oil, architecture and cities. They talk about her current research on the “global petroleumscape,” how the constant reinvention of oil has transformed urban environments over time, her design studios on imagining post-oil cityscapes in places like Rotterdam and Dunkirk and the uneven and somewhat paradoxical greening of petroscapes in the 21st century. They close by ruminating on whether the world is really done with oil and what sea level rise will mean for the Netherlands. In our second segment (59:00) Cymene and Dominic speak with Rebecca Babcock and Jason Lagapa from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin about their NEH-funded “Boom or Bust” project (https://www.utpb.edu/cas/academic-departments/literature-and-languages-department/boomorbust/) that collects the energy stories of West Texas and sponsors public conversations around energy’s economic and social impacts in the region. We talk about their experiences organizing book clubs and writing workshops and what they’ve learned—about the precarity of energy jobs, economic justice, the relations between landowning and working families, and local perceptions of climate change—along the way. We close with what people are making of wind power in West Texas.
3/29/20181 hour, 35 minutes, 23 seconds
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118 - Candis Callison

Dominic and Cymene talk Tom Waits, velour jumpsuits and the long afterlife of Hurricane Harvey. And then (13:33) we are most fortunate to welcome to the podcast Candis Callison (U British Columbia) a scholar doing amazing work on indigeneity, climate change and journalism. We start by discussing the wonderful podcast, Media Indigena, which Candis co-hosts with Kim TallBear and Rick Harp, which tackles indigenous issues across North America, including most recently the politics of pipeline expansion in Canada. We move from there to Candis’s recent book, How Climate Change Comes to Matter: The Communal Life of Facts (Duke U Press 2014), which explores the multiplicity of meanings of “climate” and “climate change” in different discourse communities ranging from the Inuit to journalists to evangelical Christians in the United States. We talk about the paradoxes journalists face in trying to provide objective and yet affective reporting on climate issues and whether indigenous media projects have different stories to tell than mainstream climate journalism. We turn from there to how we can collaborate on climate issues despite different cultures and meanings, the ethics of care, the layering of climate change upon colonialism in the Arctic and why “collective continuance” is a better way of thinking about the climate struggle than individualist environmentalism. Check out Candis’s recent podcasts at (https://www.mediaindigena.com/podcast/) and take frequent breaks from the news this week to think about warm puppies!
3/22/20181 hour, 7 minutes, 8 seconds
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117 - Orit Halpern

Cymene and Dominic share wild tales on this week’s Spring Break edition of the Cultures of Energy podcast and make the case for #feralgarden4thward as the weedy edge of Houston urbanism. Then (11:30) we welcome the fantastic Orit Halpern to the podcast to discuss her research at the intersection of data, smartness, resilience and cities. We start off with her recent book, Beautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason since 1945 (Duke U Press, 2015) and what it teaches us about how ubiquitous computing became positioned as the solution to all our ills. We talk about the importance of cybernetics to this story and Orit gives us her take on its origins, rise to prominence, and impact on how we understand rationality before we turn to the aesthetics and affects of data and how cybernetics has informed contemporary obsessions with “smartness” and “resilience.” That brings us to Orit’s new book project, The Smartness Mandate, and she tells us about the paradigm shift from environment to ecology in the 1970s, how cybernetic thought machines came to inform governmentality, and how financial instruments have come to be fused into projects of ecology. Finally we do a deep dive into the surveillance apparatuses and infrastructural sublime of smart cities, exploring how one can grapple analytically with these ideas without becoming submerged in smartness’s own logic of versioning and iterability. Why join the Borg? They might be better than your bad boyfriend. For that to make sense, listen on!
3/16/20181 hour, 1 minute, 25 seconds
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116 - Dana Powell

Happy International Women’s Day from the Cultures of Energy podcast! Cymene and Dominic struggle to remember an Indigo Girls song and reminisce about desert Stonehenge and vegan punk. Then (12:18) we welcome to the podcast anthropologist Dana Powell who has just published a remarkable new book, Landscapes of Power (Duke U Press, 2018), on the long and complicated history of Diné (Navajo) engagements of energy from oil and uranium to coal and sheep. We begin with the story of what brought her to the study of Diné energy and environmental concerns and how and why the energopolitics of coal and indigenous sovereignty came to dominate her fieldwork. We talk about the resonance of OPEC for Navajo nationalism, the significance of Diné mineral rights, the need to complicate our understanding of what indigenous resistance looks like in terms of energy, the importance of Standing Rock, and the importance of extraction for the Navajo national economy. We turn from there to the growing awareness of climate change impacts on the Colorado plateau, the rising interest in renewable energy in Navajo nation and Diné metaphysics of landscape. Dana shares her reflections on the ethics of ally work and her advice on doing it well. We close with a discussion of indigenous futurist art and how it has inspired her work.
3/8/201857 minutes, 40 seconds
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115 - Joshua Reno

Dominic and Cymene make a cinematic announcement and offer dubious pronunciations. Then (13:05) we welcome to the podcast legendary anthropologist of waste, Joshua Reno from Binghamton University, author of Waste Away: Working and Living with a North American Landfill (U California Press, 2015). We remind Josh first of all about his undergraduate thesis on the “Columbine effect” in American society and talk through school shootings as a media, racial and political phenomenon ever since. Josh explains how he got interested in studying the United States as a “nation of landfills” and we talk about landfills’ logic of material repression and how they enable fantasies of limitless growth. We discuss the need to rescale waste and make visible its social, material and multispecies dimensions and Josh describes the advantages of his biosemiotic approach to theorizing waste. We turn from there to wastework as a form of labor, metabolism as a conversation in the human sciences, and the energy/waste nexus. Josh explains how many waste-to-energy projects don’t actually trouble the logic of landfill as much as one might expect and the connection he sees between denying waste and denying death in our culture. We discuss the dark horizon of spectacular disaster waste that will accompany climate change and close with a discussion of Josh’s current book project about what happened to all that Cold War American military hardware that wasn’t used in battle. Interested in hearing about landfill ghosts? Then listen on!
3/2/20181 hour, 3 minutes, 52 seconds
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114 - The Shale Dilemma (feat. Shanti Gamper-Rabindran)

The kids are all kinds of all right on this week’s episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast. Then (12:55) we welcome our guest, environmental economist Shanti Gamper-Rabindran from the University of Pittsburgh to discuss her remarkable new volume, The Shale Dilemma: A Global Perspective on Fracking and State Development (U Pittsburgh Press, 2018) that gives us a comparative snapshot of where shale oil and gas development is at across the world today. Following the lead of the U.S. where hydraulic fracturing, despite its many environmental consequences, has led an enormous rise in fuel productivity, some countries are actively developing shale resources while others have banned fracking and still others wait and see. Shanti explains the arguments governments make in favor of developing shale resources and why the energy security argument seems to dominate all other concerns. We talk about the dangers of shale development and how the risks and benefits of fracking are very often unevenly distributed. She explains what she’s learned about the frontlines of shale development in China and explains the differences between the outcomes of shale development vs conventional oil and gas extraction. We talk about “carbon leakage,” why inadequate carbon credit schemes have not impacted greenhouse gas emissions and, finally, whether it is truly possible to estimate the “social cost of carbon” when the impacts of climate change appear to be accelerating.
2/23/201856 minutes, 12 seconds
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113 - Paul N. Edwards

Cymene and Dominic talk love and precarity and then (13:52) we are very fortunate to welcome Stanford historian of climate science extraordinaire, Paul N. Edwards to the podcast. We ask Paul how he might update his portrait of “climate knowledge infrastructure” were his landmark book, A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming (MIT Press, 2010), to be published today. Paul talks about how the Internet impacted public understanding of climate science and helped to make what was once a relatively quiet and settled area of science into a highly politicized field, at least in places like the U.S. We talk about the strategic production of ignorance (agnotology), how skeptics are wreathing themselves in the trappings of science and Paul briefs us on the Trump administration’s war on climate data and peer review. That gets us back into the history of climate science and how scientific consensus was produced around the relationship of atmospheric carbon dioxide to global warming. We discuss whether contemporary climate models are “kludgey,” the Holy Grail of cloud-resolving models, the art of hindcasting the 20th century and how we know the post 1970s temperature spike is anthropogenic. Paul gives his take on whether there is enough climate knowledge infrastructure out there globally to withstand a 4 or 8 year US withdrawal. We turn from there to the energy politics of building new data infrastructure and why Paul finds Bitcoin appalling. Finally, we close on Paul’s all-too-timely new project on the modeling of nuclear winter scenarios and their climatological impacts.
2/15/201859 minutes, 42 seconds
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112 - Graham Harman

What do the Super Bowl, horse-based gymnastics, the fact that magic might be really real and bragging about Bruno Latour have in common? Why, they are on your co-hosts minds this week on the podcast. Then (13:00) we are most fortunate to welcome philosopher Graham Harman (Sci-Arc, https://doctorzamalek2.wordpress.com) to the program. Graham starts us off with a beginner’s guide to his philosophy, object oriented ontology (ooo) including what does and does not count as an “object” in his thinking. That gets us to the influence of Heidegger and Husserl upon ooo and from there to the optimal relationship between philosophy and science, why aesthetics is first philosophy, the problem of causation and how we are all Stanislavskian method actors when it comes to the experience of art. The conversation turns from there to speculative realism and ooo’s effort to reintroduce metaphysics to continental philosophy. Graham explains why ooo isn’t as anti-Kantian as it seems and also speaks out for what cannot be measured by science in a time when the humanities are under siege. We then explore the relationship between philosophy and physics with the help of Karan Barad’s work on agential realism and talk about ooo’s place in the broader anti-anthropocentric turn in the human sciences since the 1970s. Graham explains to us how Latour became such an important part of his post-Heideggerian recovery, what he makes of the Anthropocene, and how ethics and politics intersect with ooo. We close on his recent book Immaterialism: Objects and Social Theory (Polity, 2016) and what he discovered about the Dutch East India company along the way. What happens when humans aren’t 50% of every situation? Listen on and find out!
2/9/20181 hour, 5 minutes, 37 seconds
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111 - A Philosopher's Guide to Fracking (feat. Adam Briggle)

This week on the Cultures (not Vultures) of Energy podcast, Cymene and Dominic declare Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom the cultural grandparent of all Honey Badger videos. Then (15:32) we welcome to the podcast philosopher, activist and energy humanist hero, Prof. Adam Briggle (U North Texas, adambriggle.com), to discuss his remarkable book, A Field Philosopher’s Guide to Fracking (Liveright, 2015), which tells the tale of how Adam and his fellow residents of Denton Texas organized a successful referendum to ban fracking in the heart of the Barnett Shale. Although later suppressed by the Texas legislature, the Denton case surfaces both the possibilities and limits of citizen action in a state that severs subsurface mineral rights from surface property rights. And it raises profound questions about the capacity of liberal political philosophy and the governmental institutions it has inspired in countries like the U.S. to truly meet the environmental challenges of our era. Together with Adam, we talk about what “field philosophy” is exactly, the surface/subsurface relation as philosophical and political problem, the rights of corporations vs. those of municipalities and what lessons the dark turn in the Denton story holds for anti-fracking activism going forward. We talk about how to create environmental messages that resonate across the ideological spectrum, the future of fracking, proactionary ethics and how fracking reveals the fault lines around liberty within liberal political ontology. Listen on! PS And please if you haven’t already check out our Chicago Climate Change and Culture (4CI) summer institute! https://summer.uchicago.edu/programs/chicago-climate-change-culture-institute-4ci
2/2/20181 hour, 4 minutes, 1 second
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110 - Lisa Sideris

Cymene and Dominic announce their latest educational venture, the Chicago Climate Change & Culture Institute (4CI) and ask y’all’s help in getting the word out — https://summer.uchicago.edu/programs/chicago-climate-change-culture-institute-4ci — Then (10:48) joining us from the fashionable eastern time zone is the fabulous Lisa Sideris. We talk to her about her new book Consecrating Science: Wonder, Knowledge, and the Natural World (U California Press, 2017). Lisa explains how her earlier research on the neglect of Darwinism in religious environmental ethics set the stage for this project investigating those who put forward science as a kind of religion. We talk about the historical roots of “Epic Science,” its anthrocentric narratives, our soft spot for the charisma of Carl Sagan, and how scientism leverages wonder to devalue the natural world. Lisa explains how the narratives from these “new cosmologists” also devalue the humanities relative to the sciences and we discuss whether patriarchal monotheism also informs ideas like Gaian spirituality and Teilhard de Chardin’s “noosphere.” She connects new cosmological thinking also to the conception of the Anthropocene, especially the “good Anthropocene,” the Ecozoic and the idea of human-directed evolution. And, case in point, we talk about the Koch-sponsored Smithsonian Hall of Human Origins exhibition and its agenda to rewrite the story of climate change as a positive one for Homo Sapiens. That leads us to Lisa’s thoughts on Pope Francis, Rachel Carson and Biosphere 2. We end with Lisa’s spirited defense of the humanities. Listen on and please help us to get the word out about 4CI!
1/26/201859 minutes, 38 seconds
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109 - Hannah Knox

Dominic and Cymene report on icy Rice and the raw and the cooked. And then (14:47) we speak to our dear friend Hannah Knox from University College London. We start with why Hannah thinks infrastructure has become such a lively area of research in the human sciences. We then turn to Hannah’s recent book, co-authored with Penny Harvey, Roads: An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise (Cornell U Press, 2015). We talk about how roads materialize political power at the same time that they incorporate expertise within themselves, whether thinking about infrastructure differs in the North and the South, cultures of engineering, and the co-dependency of rhetoric and materials in road-making. Hannah shares her thoughts on the promise of infrastructure, impossible publics and roads as future-making projects. We turn from there to a sampling of Hannah’s other ongoing research projects including studying a digital simulation that models the ecological future of Manchester and how climate science intersects with other kinds of administrative knowledge in the UK. Hannah explains how climate action and expertise is increasing moving outside expected spaces and politics because of austerity measures. And we close by talking about moral landscapes of sustainability and energy consumption.
1/19/20181 hour, 2 minutes, 42 seconds
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108 - Steve Mentz

Cymene and Dominic talk games and wombs of yore. And then (15:15) we turn to a conversation with the original blue humanist, Steve Mentz from St. John’s University. We start with his recent work, Shipwreck Modernity (U Minnesota Press, 2015) and its effort to pluralize thinking about the Anthropocene. We are introduced to concepts like the Homogenocene, the Thalassocene and of course the Naufragocene, the age of maritime disasters. We talk about shipwreck as ecological parable and master narrative, and how narrating catastrophes made it easier to endure them. The inhospitable environment of life on the water leads us to discuss scurvy, immersion, and why we need to learn to live inside of wrecks inside of trying to avoid them. Steve explains to us why the ecological future belongs to swimmers instead of sailors. We then turn to a recent collaborative project, Oceanic New York (Punctum, 2015) and his recent interest in Newtown Creek in Brooklyn, the site of an oil spill several times greater than the Exxon Valdez that few really know about. We close by talking about whether oceans are finally receiving their due in the humanities today and how we might reclaim our waterscapes through “wild swimming.”    
1/12/20181 hour, 4 minutes, 35 seconds
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107 - Michael Watts

Cymene and Dominic report on the insane fireworks situation in Reykjavík. Then (16:02) Dominic chats with our esteemed energy humanist colleague Michael Watts from UC-Berkeley. Michael explains how he accidently backed in to studying Nigerian petroculture in the 1970s and how he has traced the formation of the Nigerian petrostate from the Biafran war through the insurgencies of the 1990s and 2000s. We discuss the legacies of those insurgencies for the politics of oil in Nigeria today, the epistemological challenges of trying to comprehend the global character of the petroleum in its local/national manifestations especially when “the numbers make no bloody sense” and the industry shrouds itself in secrecy. We analyze the characteristics of oil frontiers and discuss whether an end to the boom/bust cycle of oil development is nigh. Then we turn to Michael’s recent volume, Subterranean Estates: Life Worlds of Oil and Gas (Cornell U Press, 2015) edited together with Hannah Appel and Arthur Mason, and especially his chapter on “accumulated insecurities” and the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Michael shows us the parallels between the neoliberal deregulation of, and actuarial logics within, the energy and financial industries and this brings Deepwater into a generative comparison with the 2008 financial crash. We move from there to Michael’s partnership with Ed Kashi and why photography has always been a passion of his. We close by talking about Michael’s ongoing interest in agriculture—in particular the future of Californian agriculture in a time of drought and fire—and about his work to demystify the research proposal as an element of graduate training.
1/4/20181 hour, 3 minutes, 7 seconds
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106 - Macarena Gómez-Barris

Cymene and Dominic kick off the last podcast of 2017 with an emotional year in review; there is talk of resolutions for 2018 and then Cym informs the world about what it’s like to be in a float cabin that’s a little too cold. We are then (18:03) so happy to share our last 2017 podcasty moments with the ever-dynamic Macarena Gómez-Barris from Pratt Institute. We do a deep discussion of her new book, The Extractive Zone (Duke U Press, 2017), its queer and porous analytics, and the project of foregrounding “submerged perspectives” from the Americas against the backdrop of racialized extractive capitalism. We talk about how to localize a phenomenon as vast and complex as extractivism, New Age settler colonialism, and how Andean phenomenology can offer different modes of ecological thinking and social praxis to northern norms. Maca explains why she thinks undoing our sense of mastery in academic work is itself a contribution to an anti-extractivist politics and the conversation moves from there to decolonizing the anthropocene and capitalocene concepts with the help of southern ecofeminisms and the arts. Maca introduces us to the fish-eye episteme and how it can counteract the drone/surveillance logic of technocracy and also to “geochoreography”—moving with the earth and being moved by it. We close by discussing the work of the new Global South Center she just founded at Pratt and her effort to widen the audience for critical theory. Wishing all of our listeners a very happy new year. We’ll see you on the other side in 2018. And meanwhile remember that it’s all about the tease.
12/28/20171 hour, 5 minutes, 54 seconds
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105 - Sheila Jasanoff

On this holiday edition of the Cultures of Energy podcast, Cymene and Dominic discuss redistributions of wealth and what they are looking for in a holiday robot. Then (10:51) we welcome someone who we’ve been dying to talk to for some time—Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. We begin with her long-standing interest in climate science and where she thinks the epistemic and institutional roots of U.S. climate skepticism lie. We talk about the broader problem of transcendental facts vs. situated experiences, how civic epistemologies of climates are formed, and what it means to talk about “belief” in climate change (and Santa Claus for that matter). We move from there to technologies of humility, efforts to democratize science, knowledge silos, inter-expert rivalries and the possibilities of epistemic charity. Sheila explains to us why matters of fact and matters of concern are inseparable and why critique has never run out of steam. Finally she shares her thoughts about how institutions like the IPCC could pay greater attention to justice issues and about how we can work to create a global democracy commensurate with global knowledges and global publics.
12/21/20171 hour, 3 minutes, 29 seconds
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104 - Marianne Lien

Dominic and Cymene wonder if they could drink 12 diet cokes a day. That makes us thirsty for water and the life aquatic and so (11:44) we welcome the brilliant Marianne Lien from the University of Oslo to the podcast. We begin with faunal and floral settler colonialism in Tasmania and discuss early ventures in aquaculture and acclimatization around the world. Then we dive into Marianne’s fabulous and influential book, Becoming Salmon (U California Press, 2015), and hear how a project that started with a focus on globalization made its own multispecies turn toward the study of domestication. We talk about the salmon domus, terrestrial vs. aquatic modes of husbandry, unmaking the wild/domesticated distinction, what invisibility means for human/animal relations, mirrors and boundaries, and the diversity of salmon cultures. From there we cover salmon aesthetics and caring for swarms, the trouble with killing animals, the growing recognition of the sentience of salmon, the value of anthropomorphism for multispecies understanding and the complexity of trying to engineer an ecology. We close by talking about Marianne’s new work on landscapes and assimilation in Norway’s north and what anthropology can contribute to public understanding of the multiplicity of the world. Listen and enjoy! PS Cymene had to disappear half-way through the main interview to be on a AAA panel; rumors of her having had enough of her co-host are totally or at least 75% untrue :)
12/14/20171 hour, 10 minutes, 6 seconds
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103 - Astrida Neimanis

Coming to you this week from Kreuzberg, Cymene and Dominic imagine Truman Show Berlin. Then (9:04) we connect to Australia at long last with the help of Astrida Neimanis from the University of Sydney. We talk about her recent book, Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology (Bloomsbury, 2017), and her efforts to rethink embodiment and relationality via water. Astrida explains to us the difficult capaciousness of “water” as a concept and the need for more particular phenomenological engagements, weighs in on “blue humanities” and talks with us about what seems distinctive and exciting about feminist environmental humanities today. We talk misogyny and the erasure of feminist voices, the politics of citation, and toxic masculinities and that brings us to Astrida’s new body of work on water as a queer archive of feeling. She explains why she thinks we need to talk more about our crazy attachment to a fossil-fueled life and what we can learn about desire from what is dumped in the deep watery places of the world. We talk about the multiplicity of anthropocene temporalities, tidalectics, and building antichrononormative communities. We muse on fathoming and the messy contingencies of water and knowledge and why we need more relating and better imaginaries. We close on which archives Astrida wants to work on next, in particular chemical weapons in the seas around Australia and “rehabilitated” wetlands near Hamilton Ontario, and how water always forgets but also always remembers.
12/8/20171 hour, 8 minutes, 12 seconds
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102 - Kregg Hetherington

Cymene and Dominic report from the AAA meetings in Washington DC and talk love, monsters, vodkasts, sodcasts and godcasts. Then (10:49) we are joined by the delightful Kregg Hetherington who transports us to the soylands of Paraguay. We talk about his book Guerilla Auditors (Duke UP, 2011), discourses of corruption and transparency, the pathologization of campesino life and the social life of documents. We turn from there to the soy boom in Paraguay, the fragility of monoculture and the impact of soy agriculture’s extensive chemical infrastructure. Kregg explains why he views soy as a hyperobject and what he sees as the potentials and limits of “soy democracy.” We discuss the statist trap of environmental progressivism, infrastructure, how to avoid a “monoculture of the mind” and we debate the ethics of the future perfect as we wrestle with the anthropocene. Wondering what “agrobiopolitics” is? Listen on!
11/30/20171 hour, 7 minutes, 26 seconds
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101 - Joe Masco

Cymene and Dominic explain “trunk cake” and then (9:27) we welcome to the podcast the fabulous Joe Masco, author most recently of Theater of Operations (Duke UP, 2014). The conversation starts with the relationship between affect and knowledge in the U.S. security state and whether Joe thinks biosecurity has maintained its noir character in the Trump era. We discuss the critical role the imaginary plays in counter-terrorist statecraft, how the war on terror helped to lay groundwork for the spread of propaganda and “alternative facts” today, and how today’s condition of climate emergency draws upon discourses and infrastructures of nuclear emergency developed in the 20th century. Joe explains how radioactive fallout studies helped shape the science of ecology and prompt the first international environmental treaties and why the department of defense today views climate change through the lens of weapons of mass destruction. We talk about what institutions of national security and a “deep (petro)state” are contributing to resistance to climate action and Joe tells us how the nuclear era is entering into a new phase in the 21st century even as nuclear statecraft appears to have abolished both “war” and “peace” from the political imagination. We close with a discussion of nuclear renaissance and nuclear sublime and why we must resist a climate sublime that is emerging to take its place.
11/23/20171 hour, 3 minutes, 41 seconds
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Ep. #100 - Robert Macfarlane

On this week’s landmark 100th episode of the podcast, the artist-almost-known-as-Bebeny tells the true crime story behind her name. Then (14:07) we welcome to the centenary party celebrated writer (and walker!) Robert Macfarlane, author most recently of Landmarks (PenguinRandomHouse, 2015) as well as a frequent contributor to The Guardian. We start with how Rob got from his humble beginnings in 19th century Victorian literary studies to the marvelous entanglements of language and landscape that have been his muse and craft for many years now. Rob talks about his work to salvage the linguistic attentiveness to nature found in the cultures of Britain as well as his fascination of late with what happens when a rapidly changing climate outstrips our lexical resources. That leads us to “solastalgia,” the existential distress we experience through rapid environmental change and dwelling loss. And to Rob’s landscape word of the day project which reveals a hunger for biodiverse terrain language. We ruminate on the “English eerie” as an alternative to the pastoral and how it impacts our peripheral vision of environmental disruption. We touch on the plastics crisis, apocalyptic dreams, shifting baseline syndrome, the gap between childhood and nature, and children as wondernauts. Rob tells us about his trip to the Onkalo nuclear waste storage facility in Finland, a structure devoted to the time scale of eternity, and the problem of communicating danger to future cultures. Then we share our encounters with ice, talk cryo-human relations and the true meaning of nostalgia. If you enjoyed this conversation, please check out Rob’s new film, Mountain (dir. Jennifer Peedom, 2017), and his beautiful new children’s book done together with Jackie Morris, The Lost Words (Hamish Hamilton, 2017), which we’ll go ahead and call our official Cultures of Energy holiday gift recommendation. Please also take a moment to review the pod at iTunes and support the indiegogo campaign for the graphic novel The Beast https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-beast-is-a-comic-about-two-dirty-industries-art-comics#/ which thematizes the entanglement of the oil and advertising industries in Canada.
11/16/20171 hour, 12 minutes, 57 seconds
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Ep. #99 - Kath Weston

Cymene and Dominic review this week’s blue wave and talk about becoming a more multispecies household. Then (10:57) we welcome to the podcast the brilliant and wise Kath Weston to talk about her new book Animate Planet: Making Visceral Sense of Living in a High-Tech Ecologically Damaged World (Duke UP, 2017). We begin with the persistent siren song of modernity even in the face of ecological destruction, yes/and thinking, what it is was like to be in Tokyo for the 3/11 disaster, atomic divorce, and how our close visceral encounters with compromised environments might be politically generative. Kath explains how experiential empiricism can contribute to what is generally known as “climate denial” and how our high tech industrially damaged planet is remaking us. We discuss kinship, animisms new and old, and what Kath is terming “steampunk anthropology.” Then we talk about the cool thing that happens in the final paragraph of the book—but you’ll have to read it to see!—and how the political ecology of precariousness we live in resists modernity’s desire to know how the story ends. For us, the story ends with Kath’s reflections on life in Charlottesville after this August’s violence. Listen on!!
11/10/20171 hour, 8 minutes, 46 seconds
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Ep. #98 - Allan Stoekl

It’s been a big week in Houston between Halloween and the World Series (Go Astros!) and your co-hosts process all that as well as recent developments in the investigation of Honduran land activist Berta Caceres’s murder. Then (9:17) we are delighted to welcome OG energy humanist (and birthday boy!) Allan Stoekl to talk about his work at the juncture of energy, philosophy and literature. We begin with Allan’s very influential book Bataille’s Peak (Minnesota 2007) and how it responded to the peak oil worries of the mid 2000s. Allan explains how he became interested in the finitude and expenditure of energy in the first place and why he thinks Bataille remains an important muse for thinking through our energy dilemmas today. We talk energy-as-wealth, the need to spend, and whether there are different ways of wasting than the ones we have now. From there we turn to Allan’s concept of orgiastic recycling and to possibly the most powerful nonsense word of our times, “sustainability.” Talking about his current book project, we cover the scales and time horizons of sustainability and ask why the term is so difficult to avoid. Allan offers a quite fascinating set of observations about populations blooms, the excessiveness of other species and why the Anthropocene may not exist. We learn about terraforming assemblages, wonder what isn’t a city anymore, imagine how metal speaks, and eventually come to doubt that a “balance of nature” really exists. Listen on!
11/3/20171 hour, 9 minutes, 42 seconds
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Ep. #97 - Nikhil Anand

Cymene and Dominic talk about Al Gore’s visit to Rice and share thoughts on going solar both at home and in Puerto Rico. Then (12:25) we welcome Nikhil Anand from the University of Pennsylvania to the podcast to talk about his fascinating new book, Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai (Duke UP, 2017), which examines the evolution of “hydraulic citizenship” in Mumbai. We begin with the Mumbai floods and why they were no “natural disaster.” Turning to a discussion of liberalism in cities, Nikhil explains how water pressure and political pressure interact in Mumbai to create fickle yet efficacious modes of citizenship. We compare the wasteful yet essential character of electric and hydraulic “gridlife” and discuss how people are increasingly being forced to provide their own infrastructure not only in India but also in places like Detroit and Philadelphia. Nikhil explains how talk of scarce resources connects to a conservative politics of place, how leakiness and porosity are actually crucial to how water infrastructure operates, and how he thinks about the intersection of materiality and publics. We conclude by talking about the promise of infrastructure, what we learn from thinking about cities through water rather than land, and his new research project with Bethany Wiggins, Rising Waters, which investigates racialized and class-based geographies of injustice along rivers and in the wetlands of Philadelphia and Mumbai.
10/26/201758 minutes, 10 seconds
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Ep. #96 - Matthew Burtner

Dominic and Cymene talk surprise interspecies encounters. Then (11:08) we talk to composer, musician and sonic activist Matthew Burtner (http://matthewburtner.com , http://www.ecosono.org) about his work in ecoacoustics that touches on environmental issues ranging from multispecies relations to climate change. Matthew explains how his upbringing in Alaska created an early interest in the environment and led him toward an accidental kind of climate activism. Then we talk wind and breathing, why he composed the world’s first climate change opera (Auksalaq), how he collaborates with scientists to sonify and perform scientific data, and why he feels that music can allow us to experience time scales and environments differently. We hear the fascinating story behind how Matthew became the world’s most famous composer of music for moths, the challenges of writing music for multiple species, and how creating new sonic environments could help to address environmental crises like pollination. Finally, Matthew explains why he feels it’s so important to decenter humans in his art and activism. Listen on!
10/19/20171 hour, 17 seconds
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Ep. #95 - Gretchen Bakke

Ofcymene and Ofdominic share their thoughts on The Handmaid’s Tale and then (17:20) we are delighted to welcome to the podcast, Gretchen Bakke, anthropologist and author of the celebrated The Grid: The Fraying Wires between Americans and our Energy Future (Bloomsbury, 2016). We begin with this week’s announcement of the termination of the Clean Power Plan and the politics of “baseload energy” today. From there, we cover why electricity is a commodity like no other, how electricity is actually like polyamorous love, the challenges of writing for a wider public, and the infrastructural revolution that we are experiencing (but not always aware of). Gretchen explains how the future of electrical infrastructure has come into focus only very recently and discusses how subtraction (from the grid) may become a key resource in the future. We talk about the unreliable state of the U.S. grid and how it prompted the military to pioneer the use of microgrids. We ask whether we can trust utilities to work with us on creating a more distributed and decarbonized electrical infrastructure. And Gretchen suggests that the utility model may already be dead. We wrap up with the place of conservation in the transition, how hyperlocal production could reduce our electricity consumption 40% with no immediate change in lifestyle, and why government (and not markets or philanthropy) needs to drive the transition.
10/12/20171 hour, 11 minutes, 38 seconds
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Ep. #94 - The Yes Men

Your co-hosts compare inaction on gun violence to inaction on climate change and rant a little about how we can hope for a better future world when we can’t even make our communities safe in the present. Then (17:57), in the name of improving our political edutainment, we welcome to the podcast The Yes Men, the activist duo who over the past two decades have made impersonating authorities and hoaxing news media into an art form. We find out how they got started in the early days of the Internet and later adapted their craft as the ecology of media evolved. That leads us to the challenges and opportunities of hoaxing in the era of fake news and why they think the rise of Trumpism means that getting involved in grassroots politics is now more important than engineering spectacles. They explain why climate change has become such an important focus of their activism, how they balance seriousness and humor, and why it’s so important that we get past our own guilt about the bad choices we’re forced to make and get active and communicative. Something’s coming, Houston. If you’re interested in getting involved, say yes at yeslab.org. For more information on The Yes Men’s past actions see http://theyesmen.org
10/5/20171 hour, 9 minutes, 36 seconds
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Ep. #93 - John Broome

Dominic and Cymene chat about community wind power, bioplastics, sucropolitics, and the inevitability of edible children’s toys. Then (11:10) Cymene sits down to talk with economist-turned-philosopher John Broome, Emeritus Professor at Oxford and author of Climate Matters: Ethics in a Warming World (Norton, 2012) to talk about morality, ethics and climate change. John explains why he thinks moral messaging around climate change has been ineffective thus far and how we can appeal to self-interest to stimulate climate action. We talk about the intergenerational externalities of high carbon lifestyles, how large scale actions like a carbon tax could change the identity of future generations, and the need to reform mainstream economic theories of efficiency, value, goodness, and nature. John argues that our duty to future generations is not a duty of justice but of making the world a better place. Does economics have a place for ethics? Listen on and find out!
9/28/20171 hour, 5 minutes, 59 seconds
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Ep. #92 - Roy Scranton

Dominic and Cymene share fun facts about ice worms and water bears on this week's bonus episode of the podcast. Then (9:27) we continue our effort to process this storm season philosophically by welcoming old friend and new dad, Roy Scranton, to the podcast. We start with his now all-too-prescient NYT article, “When the Next Hurricane Hits Texas,” and discuss why Harvey was not even the worst kind of hurricane we might anticipate in Houston. We talk about what’s worth preserving, reincarnation in the Anthropocene, rethinking ontological relations, climate change as hyperobject, the election of Trump as a collective threat response, why we can’t put off addressing societal relations and ethical commitments any longer, and what to tell our children about catastrophes now and coming. Roy explains why he doubts the efficacy of individual action to solve climate change but also why he thinks it’s so important that we continue to live and find joy in our world. This leads to some moving reflections on parenting and climate change and we close with Roy’s new work and what we can and can’t learn from collective action during the WWII era for the fight against climate change today.
9/22/20171 hour, 2 minutes, 39 seconds
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Ep. #91 - Environmental Injustice at the EPA

Cymene and Dominic wonder whether haunted houses can help in the fight against climate change. Then (11:55) we welcome Britt Paris (UCLA) and Sara Wylie (Northeastern U) to the podcast to bring us up to speed on what the Environmental Data Governance Initiative (EDGI, https://envirodatagov.org) has been doing to monitor the unfolding anti-science agenda at the EPA and other federal agencies, especially recent cuts to environmental justice initiatives. We talk about how they both got involved in EDGI, the important of open source infrastructure to their work, the language and practice of data rescue, what the collective has discovered about what went on in the first 100 days of the Trump presidency, what we can learn from the successful resistance to the Reagan administration’s efforts to dismantle the EPA, and what is contained in their remarkable new report, “Pursuing a Toxic Agenda: Environmental Injustice in the Early Trump Administration” (http://100days.envirodatagov.org/pursuing-toxic-agenda/). We discuss the EPA’s “starvation diet” even under Obama, how to optimize the relationship between communities and data and why a move toward a decolonizing and feminist principles of “environmental data justice” would be a step in the right direction. Finally we close with climate change as an environmental justice issue, the need to build alternative data gathering systems, the future of EDGI and how you can get involved with their work if you feel so moved, dear listeners.
9/19/20171 hour, 3 minutes, 53 seconds
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Ep. #90 - Low Carbon Leisure & Pleasure (w. Daniel Aldana Cohen)

Please enjoy our first live Cultures of Energy show in which Cymene, Dominic and Penn sociologist Daniel Aldana Cohen (of Hot & Bothered podcast fame, https://www.dissentmagazine.org/tag/hot-bothered) talk to Nerd Nite Austin about how to expand our emotional range when dealing with the Anthropocene, the limits of environmental austerity messaging for changing high carbon behavior and, while waiting for the global North to finally get around to embracing a degrowth ethos, why we might want to experiment with embracing low carbon leisure and pleasure activities that could help us to decarbonize our modern lives faster while still having fun. Bonus: you’ll also learn about a low carbon drinking game involving the words “capitalocene” and “chicken bones.” Special thanks to Lewis Weil and JC Dwyer for organizing the event and to Jacob Weiss for ace sound engineering. Watch for the event video coming soon to https://vimeo.com/nerdniteaustin
9/15/201747 minutes, 14 seconds
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Ep. #89 - Naveeda Khan

Dominic and Cymene plug low carbon leisure and pleasure and consider the world of competitive dishwashing. Then (8:49) we welcome to the podcast the amazing Naveeda Khan from Johns Hopkins. We compare the experiences and media coverage of recent flooding in Houston and South Asia, noting especially how terms like “shelter” and “refugee” are deployed differently. Then Naveeda shares her reflections on her trips to the COP meetings and explains what she learned about South-South politics and the anthrocentrism underlying international climate remediation efforts. From there we talk about her remarkable ethnographic work with chaura communities living on shifting riverine islands in northern Bangladesh. We discuss whether Bangladesh is indeed the world’s posterchild for climate precarity, how to think with rivers and about their evolving personhood, how local thinking in the riverine communities challenges both Islamic eschatology and northern climate change discourse, Bangladesh as global future, and Romanticism. We muse on Islamic cosmology, creaturely beings, and ecological thought and then close with a discussion of loss vs. damage. Listen on!
9/7/20171 hour, 25 seconds
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Ep. #88 - Harvey's Aftermath (feat. Jim Blackburn)

The sun is finally shining again over Houston but the process of coming to terms with Hurricane Harvey’s catastrophic impact on the city and region has only just begun. Cymene and Dominic share their thoughts about how the storm will affect Houston’s future. Then (24:29) we are joined by our Rice colleague, celebrated environmental attorney and advocate Jim Blackburn, who is the co-director of Rice’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) center. Jim shares his perspective on what made Harvey an exceptional event but also explains why Harvey is not even the worst kind of hurricane strike on Houston one could reasonably imagine. We discuss the limits of relief that drainage engineering can offer the city and the need to pursue a wider range of non-structural solutions to make the Houston area better prepared for future storms. Jim shares his vision for a circular economy along the Gulf Coast that will reintegrate economic and natural systems, restoring critical ecological infrastructure to the city while preserving the Galveston Bay for future generations. To learn more about Jim’s plan, please read his book, A Texan Plan for the Texas Coast (Texas A&M U Press, 2017). Meanwhile, here are some of the places you can donate to help Houston’s recovery both in the short and longer term: Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund (ghcf.org), American Red Cross (redcross.org you can also text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10), Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (tejasbarrios.org, #tejasharveyfund), Galveston Bay Estuary Program (http://www.gbep.state.tx.us), Houston Audubon Society (https://houstonaudubon.org)
8/31/20171 hour
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Ep. #87 - Hurricane Harvey (feat. Timothy Morton)

On today’s emergency shelter in place edition of the Cultures of Energy podcast we speak to Timothy Morton to help process the Hurricane Harvey landfall and catastrophic flooding that Houston and SE Texas is experiencing right now. We muse on hyperobjects, human-nonhuman solidarities, hurricanes vs tornados, the optimal Harvey soundtrack, Charlottesville, samsara, denial, neoliberalism, storm porn, disasters vs catastrophes, and taking responsibility for the things we understand. It’s a little philosophical experiment from inside the storm. Sending love and support to our fellow Houstonians on what has shaped up to be our city’s most challenging day ever.
8/27/201743 minutes, 58 seconds
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Ep. #86 - Kaushik Sunder Rajan

Hurricane Harvey is bearing down on the Texas coast, which prompts some moments of reflection from your co-hosts. Then (13:02) we welcome dear friend of the pod, Kaushik Sunder Rajan from the University of Chicago, to the conversation to talk about his fascinating new book, Pharmocracy (Duke UP, 2017), which explores the global hegemony of the pharmaceutical industry. We talk about what happens to democracy when health gets appropriated by capital, the logic of capital itself and questions of historical determinism, how much the behavior of the pharmaceutical industry can be explained by its capture by finance capital, what the Shkreli-esque figure of “Evil Pharma” obscures, and how pharma has come to control a variety of states across the world. We then move on to the sacralization of health, pharmapublics in the global South vs the global North, clinical trials, the opioid crisis, drugs as commodities and whether there’s a clean line between therapy and addiction. Kaushik explains what concerns him about corporate social responsibility initiatives and entities like the Clinton Foundation as modes of health governance and he shares his discoveries about Big Pharma’s underwriting by the US government, which leads us in turn to compare the American empire’s pill politics with its petro politics. In closing we talk about current progressive and rightwing politics in the US and India, Kaushik places his bet on how long Trump will remain in office, and we learn about what’s good and not so good about cricket today. Seize the state, dear listeners!
8/25/20171 hour, 14 minutes, 2 seconds
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Ep. #85 - Jason W. Moore

Cymene and Dominic talk capital and Vanilla Isis and then (11:21) we welcome to the podcast the one and only Jason W. Moore from Binghamton University, author of Capitalism in the Web of Life (Verso, 2015) and Anthropocene or Capitalocene? (PM Press, 2016). We chat with Jason about his most recent work, co-authored with Raj Patel, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things (U California Press, 2017), forthcoming this October. We talk about why he wanted to write a book for a broader audience, the problems with the “anthropocene” concept in the human sciences, how “capitalocene” can improve our thinking about world history, and how we can avoid vulgar materialism in critical environmental research and activism today. We cover the role that states and agriculture have played in shaping modern capitalism and Jason calls for a seriously engaged pluralism to tackle the urgent challenges of our era. We discuss the cheapening or thingification of life, capitalism as a gravitational field, the importance of frontiers, the violence of the Great Domestication, and why if green energy remains in the mode of “cheap fuel” nothing will change about capitalist accumulation. Jason explains why racial and gender domination are so often lacunae in critiques of petromodernity. Finally we ruminate on how to unmake the capitalist world-ecology and the key principles of the “reparation ecology” that Jason and his colleagues are calling for. Tired of the debate within the left about whether to prioritize jobs or the environment? Then you’ll want to listen on!
8/18/20171 hour, 7 minutes, 39 seconds
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Ep. #84 - Ashley Carse

It’s all about the Panama Canal on this episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast! Dominic and Cymene sing Van Halen and share tales of self-sabotaging students and then (13:58) the phenomenal Ashley Carse joins us to talk about the Panama Canal research that culminated in his book, Beyond the Big Ditch (MIT Press, 2014). We learn about the early 20th century geopolitics that led to the canal zone and how it helped create the state of Panama. We move from there to the world-making powers of empire and transportation, Panama as a logistics hub, who the “Zonians” are, Panamanian hydropolitics, and growing concerns about drought’s impact on both canal operation and the nation’s future. Ashley shares with us some of the crazier schemes the U.S. and Panamanian governments have come up with over the years to improve the canal and explains how aspects of “nature” like forests and rivers have been made into canal infrastructures. We turn then to his new work on dredging and sediments. That gets us to urbanization and the global shortage of sand, transoceanic shipping, and the deepening of harbors to accommodate still more massive ships. We conclude by returning to the Panama Canal, its retrocession to Panamanian control and subsequent life as a space of post-imperial nostalgia. Listen on! PS Also, we researched it and the Van Halen song has nothing actually to do with Panama. It’s about David Lee Roth’s car. But still it’s fun to sing #noregrets.
8/10/20171 hour, 8 minutes, 12 seconds
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Ep. #83 - Jennifer Lieberman

Dominic and Cymene go into the vault to talk steam tunnels, heat wells, bland college town food and Enrico Fermi’s ghost. Then (10:41) we are fortunate to be joined by Jennifer Lieberman from the University of North Florida who introduces her terrific new book, Power Lines: Electricity in American Life and Letters, 1882-1952 (MIT Press, 2017). Jenni explains how electricity’s symbolization of both nature and human mastery of nature captured the cultural imagination of the early 20th century and she compares electricity’s deep cultural significance in its early decades with how concepts like “information” and “communication” infuse popular ontologies today. We move from there to electrovitalism, how electricity transformed the industrial era, and early electric fantasies and utopias, not least Tesla’s wireless electricity. We examine how the rise of systems thinking paralleled the institutionalization of electricity and the unique kinds of metonymy that electricity afforded. We delve into her case studies including what Mark Twain, Jack London and Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote about electricity and how racism, feminism and electricity intersected during the period. We close with a discussion of what writers today are doing with electricity at a time when new electric utopias promise an escape route from fossil-fueled climate change.
8/4/20171 hour, 1 minute, 41 seconds
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Ep. #82 - The Climate Media Net

This week on the Cultures of Energy podcast we do a deep dive into a fascinating project, The Climate Media Net (https://theclimatemedia.net), which seeks to make climate change a bigger part of television comedy and drama in the UK. First, Cymene and Dominic brainstorm their own climate TV ideas. Then (18:45) we’re joined by one of the architects of the Climate Media Net, producer Nick Comer-Calder, formerly of the BBC and Discovery Networks Europe. Nick takes us behind the scenes of television making in the UK and talks about the challenges the issue of climate change poses from the perspective of commissioning programs and project development. Nick explains why he nevertheless feels that climate change represents one of the greatest creative opportunities of our era. We discuss the limitations of the documentary form in terms of changing opinions, the need to create emotional stakes and attachments regarding climate change, and why he thinks turning toward comedies and dramas might be the route forward. He shares the surprising results of his research on how much UK citizens actually know about climate change, his thoughts on bringing climate change into weather forecasts and the reasons why he is generally wary about dystopian narratives. If all this TV talk gets your synapses firing, let us know! It’s time to Trojan horse this whole Golden Age of TV thing :)
7/27/20171 hour, 4 minutes, 2 seconds
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Ep. #81 - Snowpiercer with Ragnar Hansson

Summer’s a good time to just relax and have a little fun, no? This week we’re introducing a new occasional feature on the Cultures of Energy podcast, a lively discussion of a work of climate fiction. After debating what to call the feature (Ecoflix, Drowned Worlds, Soylent Rainbow, even Unicorn Time—whaaaat?—) we transport you (14:29) to a Volvo rocketing across the Icelandic Highlands and a conversation about the cult-favorite 2013 Bong Joon Ho film, Snowpiercer. Together with our special guest, Icelandic filmmaker, comedian and podcaster, Ragnar Hansson, we do a deep dive into the film and the controversy surrounding its release in the U.S. Do you think insect bars get a bad rap? Concerned about Chris Evans’s emotional range? Unflappable in the face of raver mobs? Then listen on!
7/20/20171 hour, 9 minutes, 53 seconds
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Ep. #80 - Gökçe Günel

Dominic and Cymene eat crow about Larsen C, discuss d-bags and make an exciting announcement about next week’s episode. Then (16:29) we welcome to the podcast former CENHS postdoc and current Arizona anthropologist Gökçe Günel. We learn about Gökçe’s fascinating work on Abu Dhabi’s prototype city-of-the-future, Masdar City, a project which recently culminated in her forthcoming book, Spaceship in the Desert: Energy, Climate Change and Urban Design in Abu Dhabi (Duke Univ. Press, 2018). We talk about the early hype surrounding Masdar and what actually came to be, some of the most interesting experiments (driverless pod cars, an energy-based currency system), the aspirations of Arab urbanism, and why the project as a whole has often been called a failure. Gökçe shares with us her thoughts about the true legacies of Masdar, urban retrofitting, labor theory of value vs. energy theory of value, and proleptic temporality (the telling of the future before the future happens). We turn from there to Gökçe’s more recent work on desalination and carbon capture in the Arabian peninsula and finally to her current work on power ships, floating generators that are being used to power cities across the world. Listen on!
7/13/20171 hour, 2 minutes, 15 seconds
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Ep. #79 - Antarctica! with Jessica O'Reilly

With Antarctica back in the news again, Dominic and Cymene share their feels about the imminent Larsen C calving and the possibly less probable rise of penguins and puffins against human governance (#thepuffrising). Then we talk to the only anthropologist we know who works in Antarctica, the fabulous Jessica O’Reilly from Indiana University. We start by discussing how public and scientific narratives about Antarctica have changed over the past 15 years, the disintegration of Larsen B during Jessy’s research, and the rise of “crack tourism” at Larsen C. We turn from there to her new book, The Technocratic Antarctic: An Ethnography of Scientific Expertise and Environmental Governance (Cornell U Press, 2017), and talk about charismatic data and charismatic ice, Antarctica as a society of experts, the Antarctic treaty and what’s happening with polar politics today. Jessy discusses the inherent conservatism of climate scientists, what they say to each other beyond the public eye, and whether she can imagine Antarctica morphing into a resource frontier as the Arctic has. Finally we turn to her exciting new research project, an ethnographic study of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Listen on! PS A big late-breaking Cultures of Energy pod shoutout to Volvo for accelerating the phaseout of internal combustion engines; the news broke just after we’d recorded this episode.
7/7/20171 hour, 5 minutes, 18 seconds
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Ep. #78 - Sophia Roosth

Cymene and Dominic talk drone dreams, disappearing glaciers and boring sagas and then (13:07) the wonderful Sophia Roosth (Harvard, History of Science) joins the pod to talk about, among other things, her excellent new book, Synthetic: How Life Got Made (U Chicago Press, 2017). We begin with synthetic biology, where it came from and what counts as “life” and what counts as “making” in the field. We then discuss how synthetic biologists think their way between creation, construction, and design, the noise and signal of life, exegesis as an evolutionary force, whether genetically modified organisms are queer lifeforms, and how synthetic biology and maker culture intersected in the amateur DIY bio community. We talk about intellectual property, venture capital and how bioengineering came to be captured by the logic of industrial capitalism. We turn from there to bioterror and why synthetic biology doesn’t make Sophia’s top ten list of things to be scared about. We cover biological salvage and deextinction experiments like Pleistocene Park and Sophia explains how synthetic biology has unsettled scientific understandings of “species.” Finally we hear a bit about her fascinating new work with geobiologists on the origins of life. Listen on!
6/29/20171 hour, 4 minutes, 17 seconds
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Ep. #77 - Matthew Schneider-Mayerson

Dominic and Cymene expose the truth behind a rabid raccoon attack and then (16:46) former CENHS star Matthew Schneider-Mayerson (now Yale-NUS) joins the podcast to talk about his book Peak Oil: Apocalyptic Environmentalism and Libertarian Political Culture (U Chicago Press, 2015). Matthew reminds us how much the threat of “peak oil” and energy depletion was a topic of public concern and commentary in the late 2000s and explains how he came to study the community of hardcore “peakists.” We talk about the racial and gender dynamics of the movement and whether they echo the anxieties of white masculinity on display in recent right wing populism. Matthew explains how he came to view peakism as a distinctively neoliberal social movement, what the emotional and spiritual landscape of the movement looked like, the difficulty of imagining a positive life after oil, and whether peakism foreshadowed contemporary reckonings with the Anthropocene. Matthew then tells us about his work to help establish the Fossilized Houston art collective (www.fossilizedhouston.com) and a new project, Loan Words to Live By, which will curate a set of ecologically significant terms that don’t exist in English but should. Finally we turn to Matthew’s current research and reflections on Singapore including eco-authoritarianism, sea-level rise, floating buildings, and the paradox of Singapore as a massively carbon intensive "garden city."
6/22/20171 hour, 4 minutes, 47 seconds
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Ep. #76 - Greta Gaard

Cymene and Dominic speak ecological truth to nostalgia and then (16:09) welcome to the pod Greta Gaard, Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin River Falls, and, once upon a time, a co-founder of Minnesota’s Green Party. We all know ecofeminism is back but Greta reminds us how it never really went away. She takes us back to the beginning and the diverse intellectual and activist projects and intersectional alliances that helped inform ecofeminism’s birth in the 1980s. We talk about the backlash against ecofeminism’s perceived essentialism and speciesism, the balance between theory and practice that evolved over time, and how to compare posthumanism, animal studies and ecofeminism today. Greta shares her disappointment at the ideas that have been borrowed from ecofeminism without due recognition. And we discuss whether feminism can be relevant today without engaging the environment and environmental justice. We then turn to her forthcoming book, Critical Ecofeminism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), which seeks to recuperate the pathbreaking philosophical work of Val Plumwood. We turn from there to ecomasculinity, ecoerotics and erotophobia, we talk about good and bad kinds of milk/ing, and Greta shares what went wrong with the Green Party of the United States in the 1990s and what she thinks about third party politics now.
6/15/20171 hour, 6 minutes, 31 seconds
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Ep. #75 - Claire Colebrook

Cymene and Dominic speculate about fonts and life after academe. Then the fantastic Claire Colebrook joins us on the pod. We begin by discussing her recent two volume collection, Essays on Extinction (Open Humanities Press, 2014) and what got her interested in thinking about extinction in the first place. We talk about whether human existence has more than simply parochial value, our attachments to life, why recognition of the anthropocene should be more of a game changer, and how thinking about end times can also make us consider what is really worth saving. Claire explains why she feels the way we live ethics today can be an indulgent practice and why tough ethical decisions are becoming more urgent. We turn from there to how figures of “the caring human,” indigenous culture, and nature are mobilized in reckonings with the anthropocene. She tells us why Deleuze is not a vitalist and takes on popular readings of Deleuze as a “philosopher of becoming” including the lines that are being woven in the blogosphere between Deleuze, accelerationism and, gulp, Steve Bannon. We cover philosophical concepts of life, the roots of contemporary climate skepticism, the everyday violence of affluent western lifestyles, and the possibility of low carbon philosophy. We discover why Claire thinks that the “Trumpocene” has now trumped the anthropocene. And we close by discussing her current project on fragility. Wondering which of Claire’s collies has a better grasp of the anthropocene condition? Listen on and find out!
6/8/20171 hour, 1 minute, 33 seconds
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Ep. #74 - Amelia Moore

Cymene and Dominic process today’s news about the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement as well as yesterday's ExxonMobil shareholder insurrection, which will force the company to start measuring the size of its carbon bubble. Then (18:03) we turn to sunnier places and faces and welcome Amelia Moore from the University of Rhode Island to the pod. With Amelia we talk about the Caribbean as a foundational experimental space—increasingly for energy transition—and the illusions of smallness and boundedness that accompany today’s experimental projects. We focus in on her research in the Bahamas, and discuss the islands’ reliance on fossil fuels, the massive carbon footprint of island tourism, the small island as an iconic anthropocene space, and the solar core of paradise. We talk about the politics and publics surrounding sea level rise in the Caribbean, the ethical quandaries of the tourist industry, and how colonial legacies matter. We turn from there to Amelia’s current work on coral, that wondrous combination of animal, vegetable and mineral. We talk acidification and bleaching and how coral has joined polar bears and glaciers as sentinel beings of the anthropocene. Amelia explains how anthropocene disaster tourism is beginning to become a thing and describes her latest research on new corporate social responsibility initiatives underway in the Caribbean and Indonesia that are designed to help people learn how to care for and help rehabilitate coral communities. We close with a teaser for her latest project on social acceptance of the U.S.’s first offshore wind park project near Block Island. Listen on!
6/1/20171 hour, 7 minutes, 9 seconds
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Ep. #73 - Jennifer Wenzel

Dominic and Cymene talk about the carbon footprint of war, the best paper airplane design and map out an adventure to the center of climate change. Then (15:13) Jennifer Wenzel from Columbia University’s Department of English and Comparative Literature joins us to talk about her long and varied career in energy humanities. We start off with the ties between ecofeminism and energy humanities and her interest in oil’s place in society, bodies and literature. We talk about how to disenchant petromagic, the unrepeatable feat of cheap and easy energy, what Jennifer calls the “politics of the pedestrian,” how the Fueling Culture volume came together, and the importance of short form public writing for the humanities. Jennifer explains why she thinks we need to start popularizing “energy transition” as a concept alongside “climate change” and “global warming” to counteract public fatalism that there is no alternative to the status quo. Then we circle back to how Jennifer first became interested in energy through her work on West African novels and her frustration that literary criticism didn’t give her adequate tools to analyze what was happening in place like the Niger Delta. Jennifer emphasizes the need to think critically and comparatively about sites of extraction and our attachments to energy. And she shares her sense that an “energy unconscious” haunts cultural production in many parts of the world. Can energy humanities be a revitalizing engine for the humanities as a whole? Listen on!
5/25/20171 hour, 46 seconds
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Ep. #72 - Alexei Yurchak

To help us sort through a week dominated by spiraling Russo-American political intrigue, we welcome (13:01) to the podcast Berkeley anthropologist, Alexei Yurchak, analyst extraordinaire of all things late Soviet and post Soviet, and author of the award-winning Everything was Forever Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (Princeton, 2005). We trace the connections between that project’s exploration of culture and politics at the end of state socialism and Alexei’s current research on the scientists who have been working to preserve Lenin’s body since 1924. We talk about the fascinating intersection of biopolitics and necropolitics involved in the effort to maintain Lenin’s body in a lifelike state for almost a century, how discursive hegemony of form in the late Soviet period also informed corporeal hegemony of form, the results of this science that you can find in your own pharmacy, and the network of political leaders’ bodies across the world that Soviet and now Russian scientists have worked to preserve. Alexei dispels the idea that cloning was ever on the table in this project; but explains that his interlocutors do believe that they can now keep Lenin’s body in a near-life state in perpetuity. We return from there to the contemporary political chaos and what Alexei makes of the Trump-Putin entanglement stories currently dominating the headlines. Alexei shares his concerns about the powerful return of Russophobia to the United States, about what popular characterizations of Russia get wrong, and about how anti-Russian sentiment may provide a convenient excuse to defer a serious examination of the root causes of Trumpism. Ready to take a break from the political hysteria? Then listen on!
5/17/20171 hour, 7 minutes, 29 seconds
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Ep. #71 - Mike Hulme

Dominic and Cymene hide in the bushes to talk existential terror and low carbon pleasure. We then (10:23) chat with famed geographer Mike Hulme, author of Can Science Fix Climate Change? and Why We Disagree About Climate Change, about his 35 years of research on climate. We talk about the many meanings of the term “climate” and its ancient roots as a concept. Then we turn to the early days of research on human-induced climate change in the 1980s and Mike's work on global rainfall trends that later caught the attention of the IPCC. We discuss his most recent book, Weathered: Cultures of Climate (Sage, 2016) and the entanglements of weather, place and meaning. We talk about different ways of measuring climate across time and culture, why we need to embrace a multiplicity of knowledge forms of climate, the danger of paternalist thinking about climate change, different narratives of blame and responsibility, and why Mike thinks that moral and religious accounts of climate change need to be foregrounded. Mike also shares why he is skeptical about humans trying to take over the atmosphere, and his thoughts about the appropriate role for technology to play in addressing climate change and the tragedy of the human condition. We close on why climate change has been so psychologically disturbing and why Mike finds the cultural politics of climate in the United States so fascinating. Mike may not believe that we will “solve” climate change but he does see in our efforts at remediation profound opportunities for addressing inequality. Listen on!
5/11/20171 hour, 2 minutes, 18 seconds
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Ep. #70 - Kairn Klieman

Cymene and Dominic discuss possible raccoon attacks that may have occurred near Marfa, the cuteness and moxie of javelinas, and the worst table service in Texas. Then (14:13) we welcome long time CENHS co-conspirator Kairn Klieman, from the University of Houston’s History Department, to the podcast. Kairn talks about her dissertation research, which challenged western and Bantu assumptions about the primordialism of pygmies. Then she shares how living in Houston as an Africanist inspired her current research on the history of oil in Africa. We talk about the straight line between slave economies and extractive economies, the challenges of doing critical pedagogy of fossil fuels in a town dominated by oilmen and whether there is glamour to be found in the oil & gas industry. We cover the relationship between oil, Africa and the Middle East, as well as what “following the oil” reveals about international politics. We interrogate the “resource curse” argument in light of African modernity but also explore what that curse looks like in Houston, Texas and the United States. Kairn talks about her current efforts to educate young people going into the energy industry as to oil’s complex ethics and impacts in the hopes of sparking culture change toward better self-analysis and self-criticism. Are attitudes inside the fossil fuel industry regarding climate change beginning to shift? Listen on and find out!
5/4/20171 hour, 10 minutes, 45 seconds
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Ep. #69 - Joe Dumit

Cymene and Dominic talk globalist cucks and S-Town and then (16:58) we sit down to a lovely cup of coffee with the multitalented Joe Dumit, author of Drugs for Life: How Pharmaceutical Companies Define Our Health (Duke University Press). We talk to Joe about the amazing game about fracking he and his students at UC-Davis are developing and how they managed to capture the spirit of the game we are already playing. Joe shares his thoughts about game design as a mode of critical research and pedagogy and how games can help us to understand the logic of complex social issues. We move from there to discuss Joe’s current research on fascia, the web of connective tissue that holds the parts of our bodies together. We learn about the constant rebalancing that fascia allows the body to perform complex motions. Joe explains ideokinesis to us and how it refutes body/mind separation and tells us about his fieldwork with choreographers, movement practitioners and bodyworkers. Joe explains why he’s come to think about fascia as a kind of helpful alien creature with peripheral intelligence. Finally we talk substance as method and ecosexuality, in which nature becomes lover rather than mother.
4/26/20171 hour, 16 minutes, 28 seconds
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Ep. #68 - Matthew Taylor

Dominic and Cymene talk diet soda, dementia and the art of titling books and then (13:40) we welcome to the pod UNC English professor Matthew Taylor, author of Universes without Us: Posthuman Cosmologies in American Literature (U Minnesota Press, 2013), to talk about, among other things, the ethics and politics of posthumanism. Matt shares thoughts about how posthumanism can veer into superhumanism and on how both ecophobia and ecophilia are entwined in our thinking about the Anthropocene. We touch on Edgar Allan Poe’s dark ecology, race and imperialism, Christianity, growth metaphysics and whether there has been a distinctively American contribution to Anthropocene philosophy. We turn from there to questions of ethics and agency and Matt’s current work on the problems of equating politics with action. Matt argues that doing less may be precisely what we need to move forward. We talk about narrative as experimentation, the narrative beats of Anthropocene discourse and the promises and perils of speciesism. Matt shares with us what he finds exciting in science fiction and we close on his thoughts on teaching critical thinking at a public university in an age of alternative facts.
4/21/20171 hour, 4 minutes, 36 seconds
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Ep. #67 - Cultures of Energy 6

A special bonus podcast this week offers a mosaic of keywords and reflections from participants in CENHS’s annual energy humanities extravaganza. Cymene and Dominic lead things off with a discussion of Margaret Thatcher’s own private restroom and what it takes to be identified as an artist these days. Then (14:25) Leah Stokes (UC Santa Barbara) talks “Republicans” and why we need them to make progress on climate change; (18:05) Timothy Moss (Humboldt U Berlin) engages the complexities of “municipalization” when it comes to energy; (21:20) our own postdoctoral fellow Abby Spinak explains why “craft” has become so meaningful to her of late; (25:39) Jón Gnarr returns to the pod to muse on “cycles” of energy addiction; (31:20) Conor Harrison (U South Carolina) discusses “islands” as sites of experimentation with renewable energy and finally (34:22) artist and engineer Natalie Jeremijenko (Environmental Health Clinic and Lab) talks “taxidermy” in the context of her Museum of Natural Futures project. Thanks for all your support and kind wishes, dear listeners. Get ready for Cultures of Energy 7 coming your way in April 2018!!
4/19/201746 minutes, 42 seconds
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Ep. #66 - Daniel Barber

Your co-hosts chat about the return of Veep and a new indie film under production by the rogue AI of the American Anthropological Association’s panel submissions system, Being Chris Kelty. Then we welcome architectural historian Daniel Barber from Penn Design to the podcast to talk about the history of solar homes and what past ventures in solar design can teach us about our solar futures. Starting with his recent book, A House in the Sun: Modern Architecture and Solar Energy in the Cold War (Oxford UP, 2016), we discuss how the Second World War and early worries about peak oil spurred solar thermal home designs in the 1940s and 1950s. We explore the relationship of modernism to solar energy and how modernism’s experimental capacity was harnessed and focused on homes to solve social problems. We also examine the role suburbanization played in this story and what we’ve forgotten about the environmental and cultural utopias that were once associated with suburban communities. Daniel explains how energy experimentation in the 1950s can be seen as alternative origin story for contemporary environmentalism, how the solar homes of the past have influenced solar homes today and how solar suburb projects in the U.S. were eventually redirected toward solar development projects in the Global South. We turn from there to Daniel’s current book project, Climatic Effects, which explores climate-focused architectural design methods from the 1930s to the 1960s and how architects contributed to the emergent science of climatology. We close on Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife, the true story behind the “arcology” and the amazing plan to move all of New Jersey into one building.
4/13/20171 hour, 11 minutes, 38 seconds
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Ep. #65 - Saskia Sassen

Your co-hosts chat about hyperloops, hydrarails and that time Newt Gingrich flirted with Cymene. Then (16:54) renowned sociologist Saskia Sassen joins us to share her thinking about our contemporary environmental predicament. We talk about finance as the steam engine of our era, the reasons for its recent rise, and whether Saskia feels that finance can contribute to reversing environmental degradation. We then turn to her most recent book Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy (Harvard UP, 2014), in particular to her discussion of the impacts of mining, and explore her argument that we need new concepts to replace the American-centric categories of mid 20th century social science. Saskia shares her thoughts on the Anthropocene and the Chthulucene and why she is interested in the problem of the “systemic edge” where our categories of analysis cease to capture the intensity of contemporary social and environmental conditions. We turn from there to the current crises of liberalism, water, and immigration and Saskia explains why she thinks that political classes across the world seem so checked out now. She details the unremarkable instruments that have scaled to produce planet-wide environmental destruction and asks whether it’s possible to imagine equally simple instruments for doing good in the world, perhaps by thinking and acting more like the biosphere itself. Finally we return to one of Saskia’s favorite topics—cities—and how urban space contains our future frontiers of politics and life. What are the ethics of the city? What’s it like to walk the city with Saskia Sassen? Listen on and find out!
4/6/20171 hour, 23 minutes, 3 seconds
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Ep. #64 - Hannah Appel

Dominic and Cymene discuss this week's rollback of the Clean Power Plan and Cymene’s 1980s close encounter with Adam Ant. Then (14:55) we are delighted to welcome UCLA anthropologist Hannah Appel to the podcast. We grade Rex Tillerson’s performance as an oil exec and transition from there to Hannah’s research on the oil industry in Equatorial Guinea. She explains the problems with considering oil only in terms of money and rents and how oil companies have been instrumental in statecraft across the world for a very long time. We learn how the discovery of offshore oil led to what is now the world’s longest running political regime in Equatorial Guinea. Hannah dissects and challenges the assumptions of the “oil curse” argument for us and discusses why Nigeria is the model failure everyone wants to avoid. Then we talk about the places where the licit life of capitalism is made and all the work that goes into making it seem as though capitalism is disembedded from social life. That brings us to expatriate enclave life, what happens when oil does become money, and the limits of liberalism. Finally Hannah shares her thoughts on our contemporary political moment and what she finds new and old about it.
3/31/20171 hour, 14 minutes, 51 seconds
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Ep. #63 - TheGreatClimatePodSummit2017 (feat. Kate Aronoff and Daniel Aldana Cohen)

On this week’s special bonus episode, ClimateKitten45 and CarbonYeti27 kick things off by scheming on how to get a million YouTube subscribers. Then we expand to become a fantastic foursome of climate podcasters when we welcome (10:23) writer Kate Aronoff (In These Times) and writer/sociologist Daniel Aldana Cohen (U Penn), co-hosts of the Hot & Bothered pod (hosted by Dissent Magazine). We talk about why we all got started podcasting and how it helps us to seem generally less like killjoys and maybe save a few friendships. Daniel and Kate explain how H&B got started, how they bridge climate and labor politics through their work and we ruminate about what we do and don’t know about our respective audiences. We cover the challenges of communicating expertise in an alternative facts moment, the current government vendetta against the environment, greentech fantasies, the prospects for low carbon populism and a green New Deal, catastrophe porn, the problem with non-unionized green jobs, and how to frame climate change as potentially also bringing positive change to our world. We ask who are the people of climate and how can they be better mobilized and then decide that low carbon hedonism could probably sell itself. We close on dense affordable housing and rural electric cooperatives as important sites of political action to address climate change. Stay hot, stay bothered, dear listeners, and catch up on back episodes of Hot & Bothered at https://www.dissentmagazine.org/tag/hot-bothered, on iTunes or at the low carbon (hedonist) audio provider of your choice!
3/27/20171 hour, 7 minutes, 49 seconds
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Ep. #62 - Stephen Gardiner

Cymene and Dominic honor the new river citizens of Aotearoa-New Zealand and India and try to give certain politicians credit where credit is due. Then (13:53) we welcome to the pod University of Washington philosopher Stephen Gardiner to talk about his philosophical work on climate change. We discuss his background in virtue ethics and how one might conceive living an ethical life given the fundamental moral challenges of climate change. Then we turn to his book A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (Oxford University Press, 2011) wherein Stephen talks back against arguments that it is technologically or economically infeasible at present to seriously address the causes of climate change. We discuss temptations to act badly both at a global and a personal level, the ethical and institutional dimensions of intergenerational and interspecies relations, the tyranny of the contemporary, and why he doesn’t think concepts like “wicked problem,” “prisoners’ dilemma” and “tragedy of the commons” are inadequate to understand a phenomenon like climate change. Stephen explains his proposal to form a Global Constitutional Convention on Future Generations and why he feels a policy approach to climate change that does not involve a discussion of values will not succeed. We discuss his concerns about geoengineering and about emphasizing renewable energy development’s capacity to generate wealth. We close then on the question of ordinary ethics and how to stave off moral corruption. Can current governments effectively represent the interests of future generations? Do we need an Integenerational Supreme Court? Listen on and find out!
3/24/201755 minutes, 44 seconds
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Ep. #61 - Geoffrey Bowker

On this week’s spring break edition of the Cultures of Energy podcast, Cymene and Dominic talk about the dangers of hiking and Trump’s budget. Then [10:37] we welcome to the podcast the ever delightful Geof Bowker. With Geof we talk about why infrastructure studies has become such a lively area of research in the human sciences and muse over some the possible explanations for its rise. Has infrastructure become too broad a category? Is it a nostalgic one? Geof asks not only what is an infrastructure but also when is an infrastructure. And he weighs in on Trump’s infrastructure plan as well. We turn from there to another charismatic topic—data—as Geof reflects on his work on data ethics and how theory gets built into data. We talk algorithms, racist artificial intelligence, the internet of things and the impact of cybernetics on social theory. We then move on to biodiversity, matters of concern and the relationship between science studies and climate skepticism. Geof shares with us the secret behind how he gained access to energy titan Schlumberger’s archives for his pathbreaking book, Science on the Run (MIT, 1994), and talks about how oil companies work to shift senses of time and space in the interests of empire. Finally, Cymene and Geof talk through the graphic novel project, Unda, they are working on with Laura Watts and how media like comic books can offer scholars new opportunities to reach wider audiences.
3/16/20171 hour, 5 minutes, 39 seconds
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Ep. #60 - David Hughes

Cymene and Dominic read their spam and ruminate on the evolving alien intelligence of the interweb. Then (14:40) our old friend David Hughes from Rutgers joins the conversation. We consider the carbon footprint of academic life and then turn to his excellent and brand spanking new book, Energy Without Conscience: Oil, Climate Change, and Complicity (Duke UP, 2017), which explores the moral shallowness surrounding petrocapitalism and how oil evolved from being a moral issue into a technical one. David talks about his fieldwork with petroleum geologists in the world’s first petrostate, Trinidad and Tobago, and how they think about oil and complicity. David also shares his historical research on Caribbean plantation labor and how slavery helped create the ideological basis for the later fuel economy. We talk about biophysical engagements with different energy forms and whether the materialist turn in the human sciences has had anything to do with the vibrancy of oil. We cover the ethics of combustion, individual vs collective responsibility, and that time David asked Joe Biden what he was going to do about climate change. Finally, we turn to David’s current and (more hopeful!) research on a new energy landscape, the wind farms of Andalucia, Spain. David argues that as we move toward a green energy system we need to confront the fact that there will be less labor and thus we need to learn to build a modern life independent of the wage form. To order Energy Without Conscience at a 30% discount (!) please visit http://dukeupress.edu/energy-without-conscience and enter coupon code E17ENRGY during checkout. Special thanks to Mark Vardy and the Princeton Environmental Institute for helping to make this week’s podcast happen!
3/9/20171 hour, 6 minutes, 26 seconds
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Ep. #59 - Lisa Messeri

Dominic and Cymene marvel at the rise of transplanetary anthropology on this week’s podcast, as well as outer space films (and sexed up goblins). Then (16:08) we welcome the University of Virginia’s celestial Lisa Messeri to the conversation. A lively chat about her research with exoplanetary scientists follows. Lisa reminds us of the extraterrestrial roots of much climate science and explains why she thinks we now need to “un-earth” the Anthropocene. We talk through the connections between our terran conditions of environmental precarity and our renewed interest in other planets. We compare news coverage of the Standing Rock clearance and the Trappist-1 exoplanets and discuss why the latter seemed to get so much more press. We talk geos vs. bios in the imagination of outer space, Elon Musk and the New Space community, what it means for a planet to be habitable, and how the logic of settler colonialism infiltrates the idea of space frontiers. Lisa shares her hot takes on The Martian, why she thinks we’re seeing so many outer space movies right now, and why the future of humanity obviously depends on Matt Damon. We close on her book, Placing Outer Space: An Earthly Ethnography of Other Worlds (Duke UP, 2016) and why she thinks place-making is so important in the human engagement with outer space. Why do planets have to be round? Who was the star surprise guest at Lisa’s dissertation defense? Listen on and find out! PS Shouts out to Abby Spinak and the Rice Space Institute for making Lisa’s visit to Rice possible!
3/2/20171 hour, 12 minutes, 15 seconds
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Ep. #58 - Standing Rock Forever (feat. Jaskiran Dhillon)

On this week’s episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast, Cymene processes the news of the clearance of the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock with the help of Jaskiran Dhillon (New School). They talk about the origins of the #NoDAPL resistance, what it achieved, the new front lines of the struggle and what will come next. At the podcast we are standing with Standing Rock, now and forever, dear listeners! PS Remember that the work to defund the Dakota Access Pipeline continues! DefundDAPL offers an incredible list of resources that allows you to follow the divestment trail and add your money to the $65,136,498.17 already divested from the project. See http://www.defunddapl.org for more information.
2/24/201743 minutes, 32 seconds
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Ep. #57 - Timothy Mitchell

Cymene and Dominic take a break from the political chaos and happily nostalgize the 1970s. Then (13:57) to help us better understand what kind of carbon autocracy democracy we’re living in these days, we welcome to podcast political theorist, historian and zen master of all things carbon, Timothy Mitchell from Columbia University. Tim explains that autocracy and populism have always been part of carbon politics but that what really strikes him about our current situation is how visible those politics are becoming. He notes that while the contemporary threat of illiberalism is real, liberalism itself has not done nearly enough to save the planet from catastrophic climate change. We talk pipelines and the material and political relations they make visible, what the term “energy” elides, and we hear about how his magnificent Carbon Democracy project (Verso, 2013) originated. Tim explains why the 1970s were such a pivotal moment in both energy and politics, how growth is a petroknowledge, and why petronostalgia seems all the rage these days. We then turn toward his current work on contemporary capitalism and talk about how it is designed to make us pay taxes on the future through the capitalization of future value. And, a special shoutout to the band Overcoats whose single Hold Me Close is our outro music on this episode. Catch them at SXSW next month!
2/16/20171 hour, 15 minutes, 39 seconds
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Ep. #56 - Jessica Barnes

Cymene and Dominic talk acupuncture, evil clone henchmen, environmentally questionable NYT recipes, and the interpretation of dreams. Then (15:30) we are joined by Jessica Barnes, author of Cultivating the Nile: The Everyday Politics of Water in Egypt (Duke UP 2014), from the Department of Geography at the University of South Carolina. We talk about how water is not just a given resource but also how it is made through everyday practices of use and management. We compare the politics of water rights in the U.S. and Egypt and discuss how those politics extend into the realms of subsurface instrastructure like drainage systems. We talk salt and poverty, hydraulic citizenship, drought and crises of scarcity and abundance. We cover desalination schemes and the spread of desert agriculture. And then we turn to her current research on the social life of wheat and bread in Egypt. Finally we talk gluten, why it has fallen into such disrepute, and how it could be taken to epitomize the Anthropocene. What’s up with all this water/fire/earth/air elemental research these days? Listen on and find out!
2/10/20171 hour, 1 minute, 32 seconds
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Ep. #55 - Gabrielle Hecht

In a fittingly bizarre intro for these political times, Cymene and Dominic share weird fantasies and actual plans for resistance. We then (11:57) welcome to the podcast renowned historian and ethnographer of nuclear energy, Gabrielle Hecht from the University of Michigan, author of Being Nuclear and The Radiance of France (MIT Press). Gabrielle tells us why she first became interested in nuclear power growing up in Reagan’s Cold War. We compare fears of nuclear war then and now and explore different historical constructions of “the nuclear” more generally. We talk about her concept of “toxic infrastructure” and how it can apply to places like Flint, Michigan. Gabrielle then explains how France became the country in the world most reliant upon nuclear energy for its electricity and why the French nuclear industry is in now in such a state of panic. We talk about why nuclear energy hasn’t lost its utopianism—including as a climate change fix—but why we think the nuclear solution to global warming is a red herring. We turn to Fukushima and Gabrielle reminds us that it’s also important to pay attention to the less spectacular but more common environmental and human impacts of using nuclear fuel, including the fate of people who clean reactors under normal and catastrophic conditions. We discuss uranium mining in Africa and the struggles miners have fought to have their “biological citizenship” recognized by their governments. That leads us to talk about the real costs of nuclear energy. And we close on Gabrielle’s latest work on toxicity and what she calls the African Anthropocene. Hang in there, everyone, be kind to yourselves and stay strong for the long run of resistance.
2/2/20171 hour, 10 minutes, 37 seconds
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Ep. #54 - Saving Environmental Data (feat. Michelle Murphy & Nick Shapiro)

Dominic and Cymene briefly review The Disaster (week 1) and remind themselves that the best way to resist the schemes of evil rich men is to make full use of our strengths as a diverse majority. Turning to concrete projects that we should all be getting excited about and involved in, we happily welcome (8:51) Michelle Murphy (U Toronto) and Nick Shapiro (Chemical Heritage Foundation) to the podcast, two brilliant and courageous scholars who are founding members of the Environmental Data Governance Initiative (EDGI, pronounced “edgey”). Together with partners like DataRefuge and the Internet Archive, EDGI is working nonstop to preserve critical environmental data from agencies like the EPA, NOAA, NASA, DOE among others, data we fear may be lost or tampered with by an incoming administration that is blatantly opposed to both science and responsible environmental stewardship. Michelle and Nick talk to us about EDGI got started and how it has accomplished so much in just a few months time. Michelle mentions her experience with the similarly pro-oil anti-science Harper administration in Canada but how she and her colleagues were able to make evidence-based governance a “charismatic object.” Nick reminds us also of the efforts of the George W. Bush administration to destroy environmental archives and programs. They talk about how data rescue actually works, what version tracking is, and the secrets of the hackathon trade. We learn about how the norms of feminist scientific practice and organization have informed EDGI, how they are planning on getting news out to the public, and how we can take back the politics of evidence and build a better world of environmental data together. In closing we hear a bit about their own research interests and how they are hoping we can reexamine the ontology of chemicals less as objects and more as relations that could prompt new kind of solidarities. EDGI would love to have you involved, dear listeners, if you are inspired to join. Find more EDGI info at http://envirodatagov.org and if you want to help or have resources to offer please email the group at their end-to-end encrypted account, [email protected]
1/26/20171 hour, 4 minutes, 17 seconds
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Ep. #53 - Jón Gnarr

Cymene and Dominic talk about, what else, the future tomorrow will bring. To sprinkle a little comedy on our tragedy, [12:37] Dominic has a chance to catch up with old friend Jón “Houstonsson” Gnarr, famed Icelandic writer, actor, comedian, former mayor of Reykjavík, co-founder of The Best Party, and now part-time Texan. Jón explains why the situation in America right now seems like a surrealist play to him (or maybe an episode from the Twilight Zone). He shares some tips on how to handle demanding angry alpha males in politics. We plan Trump and Putin’s perfect day in Reykjavík and then talk about the TV series he just completed, The Mayor, in which he played a more corrupt and soulless version of his former self. We talk about the paradoxes of cars and coal in Iceland and why he wishes Iceland could be more of a role model on environmental issues. Then we turn to his new project, Elves, which tackles environmental issues and multispecies relations in Iceland in a unique and amazing way and we contemplate how trolls might be infiltrating Icelandic politics. We briefly touch on the TV series Jón is helping us to develop on climate change and Houston and, finally, talk about his idea for a #fuckclimatechange campaign. Jón finds the phrase appealing because of its multiple possible meanings that help to express both a sense of anger and hopelessness and resignation. It’s a provocative and darkly comic take on individual and governmental accountability, perfect for a time when the Icelandic government is buying more coal and 80% of Icelandic youth say they are not interested in climate change. What would Jón would ask Putin and Trump if he were President of Iceland? Listen on to find out! PS Sending everyone out there especially big hugs this week. Be kind to your people who are probably having as hard a time as all of us are. And please don't stop marching and protesting and filling the world with enough good to turn the tide.
1/19/20171 hour, 24 minutes, 19 seconds
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Ep. #52 - Arlie Russell Hochshild

Cymene and Dominic talk secret information, anxious white masculinity, emotional labor and neoliberal America’s bus to nowhere. Then (17:48) Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild joins us to talk about her five year long foray among Louisiana Tea Party supporters that led to her marvelous book, Strangers in their own Land (New Press), a National Book Award Finalist in 2016. We focus in on the deteriorating environmental conditions and widespread environmental pollution in the communities where she did her research, which have become some of the most toxic in the United States. We discuss the apparent paradox of attachment to nature and resistance to environmental protection. Arlie shares her thoughts about how people can live in different truths, the need for empathy bridges and her take on the great political divide in the United States now. She explains why government is so often positioned as the cause of environmental ills rather than as their remedy by the far right and we discuss how environmentalist movements' use of guilt and shame tactics may actually be counterproductive to environmental defense in this part of Louisiana. We talk about the roles religion and media play in shaping environmental ideas and Arlie shares her strong conviction that environmental justice can become a crossover issue for the right and the left. Looking for common ground? Or just a better understanding of the divide? Then listen on!
1/12/20171 hour, 3 minutes, 4 seconds
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Ep. #51 - Nicholas Kawa

Dominic and Cymene talk about the past, plans for the future, and socks. Then (12:35) Ohio State environmental anthropologist Nick Kawa joins us on the podcast to talk about his research in Amazonia and his new book, Amazonia in the Anthropocene (University of Texas Press, 2016). We talk about deforestation, stereotypes and realities of Amazonian rural life, and the politics of indigeneity in the region. We learn about the history of Amazonian agriculture and “dark earth” and why Nick feels it’s as compelling evidence for the Anthropocene as the steam engine. We discuss Amazonian biochar and recent proposals that seek to cultivate more dark earth as a carbon sequestration technique. Nick shares his skepticism about industrial agriculture trying to solve its own problems. And we move from there to talking weedy species, the planthropocene, and how some plants may be benefitting from anthropogenic change. We touch briefly on how Amazonians and Floridians are adapting to climate change even as urban planning struggles to understand amphibious ways of living. Turning to Nick’s current research on the use of human waste in agriculture (“nightsoil”!) we discuss how the urban metabolic rift is linked to when people stopped using their own shit in agriculture. Nick explains how nightsoil is making a comeback—now euphemized as “biosolids”—but also how the shit that gets into shit is making it toxic. Is it time for a nightsoil manifesto? Is it possible that 2017 being a shit year could be a good thing? Listen in and find out!
1/6/20171 hour, 13 minutes, 54 seconds
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Ep. #50 - Annise Parker

Cymene and Dominic ring out 2016 by sharing a few energy and environment stories you might have missed. Then (22:11) we welcome to the podcast Annise Parker, three term mayor of Houston (2010-2016), now a fellow at Rice University’s Doerr Institute for New Leaders. As Houston’s greenest mayor, we reflect on the major environmental accomplishments of her administration including making Houston—let’s face it, a city not often associated in the public imagination with sustainability—the largest municipal purchaser of renewable electricity in the country with much improved mass transit and a greatly expanded network of hike and bike trails along the city’s bayou system. Annise talks to us about the important role cities are playing in the fight against climate change, including making markets for renewable energy and pursuing their own “para-diplomacy” with other cities to advance initiatives stalled at other levels of government. She explains why making the economic argument for renewables has been so important in Houston and why she doesn’t view Houston’s oil and gas industry as an impediment to forward progress. She also shares her thoughts on bike programs, automated vehicles, public transportation, migration, and hurricanes. Finally (1:09:46) Annise shares her frank reactions to the election, predicts many broken promises to come, and expresses her faith in the republic. Can she imagine being Senator Parker or Governor Parker down the road? Listen in to find out. Wishing all our listeners peace and love and a happy, fighty new year. Let’s make 2017 better in every respect.
12/29/20161 hour, 19 minutes, 55 seconds
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Ep. #49 - Cindy Isenhour

On this week’s episode of the podcast, Dominic and Cymene relate their fave holiday traditions and identify the one thing that any gift-giving culture should absolutely avoid giving. Then (14:51) to help process our season of hyperconsumption, we welcome to the pod Cindy Isenhour from the University of Maine, co-author of Sustainability in the Global City, (http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=1107076285), to talk about her recent research on displaced emissions from the Global North to the Global South. We discuss how the quest to green energy production often neglects the problem of rising commodity consumption and Cindy tells us her thoughts on whether it is possible to decouple economic growth from ecological harm. We talk about Sweden, the first country to officially recognize their displaced emissions, and how Swedish corporatism and cosmopolitanism contributed to that move. We cover Sweden’s efforts to improve China’s carbon efficiency, and how its new tax incentives to encourage reuse and repair of existing commodities are in tension with the government’s hesitation to restrict choice and consumer freedom. Then we turn to her new research on secondary consumption and the vibrant reuse culture of Maine. We reflect on how cheap fossil fuels make it easy to replace instead of reuse and what we in the North might be able to learn from the repair cultures of the South. And we debate whether cities can be the leading edge of climate progress given their own metabolic rift with respect to where their food and energy comes from. Finally, Cindy shares her own gift giving tips. Wishing all of our listeners a peaceful and beautiful holiday week. PS Here’s a photo of the Cultures of Energy rainbow xmas tree!
12/22/20161 hour, 16 minutes, 56 seconds
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Ep. #48 - Douglas Rogers

All this Russia hacking talk has Cymene and Dominic thinking about Boris, Natasha, Rocky & Bullwinkle. To set matters straight (12:02) Yale anthropologist Doug Rogers joins us to talk about the intersections of energy, power and culture in Russia. We cover the Russian hacking story and what the American news media gets right and wrong about Putin. We dissect the key factions of capital that operate in a petrostate—finance, oil, real estate, military—and their different temporalities and interests. Doug talks about why low oil prices are such a concern Russia today and why Putin might be interested in steering a geopolitics that manages the prices of fossil fuels more tightly. Then we turn to Doug’s recent book, The Depths of Russia: Oil, Power, and Culture After Socialism (Cornell U Press, 2015) and explore the history of world’s first “socialist oil.” We talk about the differences between petrosocialism and petrocaptalism, and why mining and factory work always had higher social status than oil production in the Soviet Union. We cover Soviet era ecological degradation, the role of environmental movements in the perestroika period and their relative disappearance subsequently. We discuss how the Soviet experience of oil challenges Mitchell’s model of carbon democracy and learn how fear of socialist petrobarter led to the kinds of tax incentives and tolerance for cartelism that western oil producers continue to enjoy to this day. We also touch on the introduction of corporate social responsibility in the Russian oil industry, Lukoil’s recycling of petrowealth into cultural sponsorship, and state-sponsored discourse today about how good climate change will be for Russia. Whether you’re feeling petronostalgia or petrophobia this pod is for you! PS And so you don’t have to Google it, here’s shirtless Putin on a horse. You’re welcome.
12/15/20161 hour, 12 minutes, 21 seconds
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Ep. #47 - Naomi Oreskes

Cymene and Dominic talk fake news and our alleged 'post-truth' condition and then (19:13) we are fortunate enough to welcome to the podcast distinguished Harvard historian of science Naomi Oreskes who—together with her collaborator Erik Conway—has been drawing attention to disinformation campaigns for decades. We talk about their legendary book Merchants of Doubt (http://www.merchantsofdoubt.org) and Naomi shares her opinions about the current manipulation of public opinion and what impact social media and the Internet have had. We talk about journalism’s reliance on “two sides” reporting and how that has contributed to exaggerating the facticity of climate denial. We discuss how her collaboration with Erik originated and how their most recent book The Collapse of Western Civilization (Columbia U Press, 2014) began as something of an accident. Then Naomi shares her thoughts on how to persuade people that climate change matters, especially when they are convinced that climate discourse is being used as a pretext to expand governance. She explains why she thinks satire and science fiction can help the cause and we reflect on why partnership between the human sciences and the natural sciences is so important right now even though we still need to work to balance realism and relativism. Finally, we talk about why scientists need to talk about climate change in the present tense and why we all need to articulate the stakes of climate change in an economic register that people seem to be willing to listen to. Ready to become a citizen journalist? We need you, listen on!
12/8/20161 hour, 10 minutes, 57 seconds
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Ep. #46 - Paige West & J.C. Salyer

Dominic and Cymene talk Trumpism vs. Reaganism and whether we are somehow cycling back to the "culture wars" on race, gender and sexuality from the 1980s. We drop a (conspiracy?) theory about climate denial and then (16:15) share our recent conversation with J.C. Salyer and Paige West about their work in Papua New Guinea (PNG). J.C. is a lawyer and anthropologist who works as the Staff Attorney for the Arab-American Family Support Center and as an Assistant Professor of Practice at Barnard College, Columbia University. His legal practice focuses on immigration and his research focuses on migration and human rights. Paige is the Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University, she has conducted research in Papua New Guinea for twenty years and is the co-founder of the Papua New Guinea Institute for Biological Research. Paige talks to us about her latest book, Dispossession and the Environment: Rhetoric and Inequality in Papua New Guinea (https://cup.columbia.edu/book/dispossession-and-the-environment/9780231541923), in which she explores how rhetoric of the PNG's alleged "savagery" operates as a mode of dispossession in domains like tourism, conservation and resource extraction. We discuss how racism and imperialism impacted PNG historically and how some of these ideas filtered into classic anthropological theory. Paige explains how the arrival of the natural gas industry in PNG helped prompt her to write the book and how gas has helped transform PNG's capital, Port Moresby, into one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Then we turn to their current collaborative research focused on Australia’s (insane) plan to divert asylum seekers to the Manus Regional Processing Centre in PNG. They explain how this plan activated the long history of colonial relations between Australia and PNG but also miscalculated the extent of PNG’s contemporary connectivity to the rest of the world. We talk about the blurring distinction between different causes of migration (war, economy, climate change) and they argue that the Manus plan should be viewed as an experimental venture that reveals how states like Australia intend to handle increasing refugeeism in the future. J.C. & Paige discuss their sense of why it’s important to develop new categories and ways of thinking for engaging the Anthropocene and the teaching projects they've developed to accomplish that goal. We close on the networks and projects needed to move climate action forward in the Trump era even as we grapple with the genealogies of dispossession and racism that have formed white working class America. One silver lining? Our prediction that punk music is going to come back stronger than ever :) Listen on!
12/1/20161 hour, 17 minutes, 59 seconds
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Ep. #45 - Standing Rock 2 (feat. Nick Estes & Kristen Simmons)

We’re offering some food for thought on Standing Rock this Thanksgiving week. Our guests are the brilliant scholar-activists Nick Estes and Kristen Simmons who help us to better understand what has happened with the water protectors over the past two months and especially during dramatic recent events at the camp. Nick Estes is Kul Wicasa from the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. He is a doctoral candidate in American Studies at the University of New Mexico, an Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Fellow, and a co-founder of activist organization, The Red Nation. Kristen Simmons is a member of the Moapa Band of Southern Paiutes (NV). She is a doctoral student at the University of Chicago in the Department of Anthropology. Her work engages toxicity and settler colonialism in the American West. In the conversation (9:40), they explain to us the evolving carceral geography of the camp and how it is functioning as an experimental space for military suppression of native people and social movements. We talk about the recent intensification of violence with the arrival of private security forces, mainstream media blackouts and the importance of social media and drones for both sides of the conflict. Nick emphasizes the intersectionality of the struggle and Kristen reminds us that the Obama administration’s current position to “let it play out” is an ancient strategy of American empire. We find out what Nick and Kristen think will happen next and whether they believe a peaceful resolution is still possible. As they put it, “For our nations to live, this pipeline has to die.” You can find out more information about Standing Rock at the following websites (where donations are also being accepted!): ocetisakowincamp.org, standingrock.org, sacredstone.org . And please check out the excellent Standing Rock syllabus page too at: https://nycstandswithstandingrock.wordpress.com/standingrocksyllabus/ And if we may add a plea from CENHS and the podcast to all our listeners: The situation at Standing Rock is incredibly urgent and a powerful reminder of how our colonial past is entangled with our energy future. Please talk about Standing Rock this Thanksgiving weekend with your families, please do something to support the water protectors, please work to counteract blackouts and misinformation, and please help to keep pressure on the political establishment to reach a peaceful solution that respects native rights and sovereignty.
11/24/20161 hour, 3 minutes, 13 seconds
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Ep. #44 - Stefan Helmreich

On this week’s podcast, Dominic and Cymene continue to process election aftermath and offer thoughts on how to escape the dungeon. Then (14:20) things get wavy when Stefan Helmreich from MIT—author of Alien Ocean (U California Press, 2009) and Sounding the Limits of Life (Princeton U Press, 2016)—joins the conversation and we talk about his recent work on waves and water. We start with the submarine trip that got him interested in the sound of fieldwork underwater and these strange entities known as “waves.” He then introduces us to the world of wave science and explains how it can be viewed as anthropology by other means given its constant attention to social concerns like coastal infrastructure, shipping, recreation, and insurance. Stefan discusses why the problem of the 21st century is the problem of the waterline—rising sea level, changing sea surface, and wavy dynamics that modulate sea level. He also explains that even though current models of wave action are based on northern ocean data, it looks increasingly likely that the future will belong to southern ocean dynamics. We visit the largest tsunami simulation basin in the world, learn what “rogue waves” are, and come to understand how, with the coming of wave energy, waves are being reimagined not as enemies but rather as allies whose labor can be harnessed in the struggle against climate change. Stefan offers some reflections on “blue humanities,” the shipwreckocene and Haraway’s Chthulucene. Finally, we turn toward his current research in the Netherlands with its long and complex relationship to water. And, yes, Cymene asks him about surfing and his answer is the best. Listen on!
11/17/20161 hour, 11 minutes, 6 seconds
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Ep. #43 - Elizabeth Povinelli

Cymene and Dominic share honest thoughts from the morning after the morning after. Then, because we all need a new superhero right about now, (27:07) Beth Povinelli of Columbia anthropology fame joins us for a conversation that riotously veers between serious philosophical discussion and Scooby Doo. Our dreaming is Beth’s latest work, Geontologies: A Requiem for Late Liberalism (Duke U Press, 2016). She explains what she means by “geontopower,” how it challenges our common biontological distinction between life and non-life, and why she is not arguing for a new metaphysics of power or objects. We talk about how Anthropocene conditions may have made geontopower more visible to some, but how it has been felt for a long time in places on the fringes of settler colonialism like the aboriginal community of Belyuen where Beth has been doing fieldwork for decades. She explains the three figures of geontological discourse and governance—the desert (nonlife is encroaching into life), the animist (everything is life anyway) and the virus (the tactical use of both life and nonlife that yet has unexpected outcomes)—and how they connect to late liberalism more generally. Beth then shares her concerns about contemporary philosophical movements like speculative realism and object-oriented ontology and explains why her intervention isn’t part of any “ontological turn” but rather a contribution to the revelation that our northern metaphysics of being are deeply biontological and epidermal, part of a love affair with the concept of life and its difference from non-life. So Geontologies means to offer a monstrous twist to that tradition. Turning back to Belyuen, Beth explains how Karrabing analytics offer by comparison probative epistemics, a testing of the world, rather than a bounded “belief system” or “body of knowledge” as normally construed. Karrabing analytics say that all forms of existence have extimate material relations to one another and illuminate how settlers prize the tight integrity of their bodies and overdramatize their lives and deaths as absolute beginnings and ends. In the end Beth explains that she’s not saying, and we quote, “Screw life. Who gives a fuck. I like rocks”—but rather underscoring the point that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine other modes of existence becoming dominant.
11/10/20161 hour, 40 minutes, 34 seconds
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Ep. #42 - Andrew Mathews

It turns out that one of your co-hosts is a magical creature – feel free to guess which one. This week we are thrilled to welcome to the podcast (9:35) fellow Oaxacanist anthropologist Andrew Mathews who shares his thoughts on states and statecraft and how best to conceptualize and study what they do. We talk about his excellent book, Instituting Nature: Authority, Expertise and Power in Mexican Forests (MIT Press, 2011) and focus in specifically on the Mexican state and whether it is indeed as weak as is often claimed. Speaking of forest management, we discuss why states fear fire even as they frequently act to parasitize crises as opportunities for political intervention. We talk about how bureaucracies produce both knowledge and non-knowledge and about the gap between rhetorics of state power and the reality of disorder and transience within bureaucracies. We discuss the emotional landscape of patron-client relations and the political landscape of resource conservation. Then, we pivot toward Andrew’s new research on forest protection, biomass energy and climate change in Italy. He explains why modeling and “hypothetical futures” are becoming such key features of statecraft in the Anthropocene. Ever wonder what exactly constitutes “a forest”? That answer and much more on this week’s episode!
11/4/20161 hour, 17 minutes, 5 seconds
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Ep. #41 - Fred Stenson

On today’s special bonus Tuesday episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast, Cymene and Dominic share their election season nerves and then have the chance (9:05) to talk to novelist Fred Stenson (http://fredstenson.ca ) about his recent and moving work, Who by Fire (Doubleday Canada, 2014), which explores the history of oil and gas development in Canada through its impact on two generations of one family. Fred shares his own family’s history with sour gas plants, which helped shape certain events in the novel and we talk about the complex legacy of wealth, toxicity and precarity that oil and gas extraction has left in his native Alberta. Fred explains why he wanted the novel to be about trauma and how fossil fueled progress has often been bought at the expense of rural people. But he also explains why he needed to represent the situation in its full complexity, including the efforts and idealism of many engineers working in the oil and gas industry. We discuss the codependence of government and industry in energy development and compare the dynamics of early oil and gas production with today’s fracking and tar sands production. We touch on the history of indigenous peoples’ relationship to oil and gas in Canada and Fred concludes by explaining why publishers aren’t very supportive of novels about oil, which can be both depressing and technical. His point well-taken is that readers need to back up their concerns with curiosity.
11/1/20161 hour, 15 minutes, 3 seconds
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Ep. #40 - Amitav Ghosh

Cymene and Dominic define (finally!) professionalism and offer a brief review of Leonardo DiCaprio’s soon to be released climate change documentary, Before the Flood. Then (11:43) we are very pleased to welcome to the podcast acclaimed novelist, Amitav Ghosh, author of The Shadow Lines (1988), The Hungry Tide (2004) and The Ibis trilogy (2008-2015), among many other works. We talk about his latest work of non-fiction, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (University of Chicago Press, 2016) and why he thinks it has proven so difficult to bring climate change into literature. We discuss the worldview of the novel and how its emphasis on creating believable narratives has excluded precisely the kinds of unlikely anthropocenic encounters that are becoming increasingly frequent across the world. Amitav argues that before an alternate world can become a reality, it needs to become an imaginative reality and this is why the arts are so crucial to coming to terms with the Anthropocene. We also discuss “serious” art’s fear of being deemed merely “illustrative” and how this may be linked to a Cold War aversion to the aesthetics of socialist realism. Now, Amitav warns, the world has risen up as a protagonist even as our means of representation aren’t up to engaging it. He predicts that the mansions of serious fiction will suffer a similar fate to the mansions of Miami beach as our waters rise. We talk about what is really being denied in climate change denial and how the privileges and comforts of a carbon-fueled lifestyle is something which neither the West nor Asia is prepared to give up. We close with Amitav’s own next novel project and how climate change inspires him personally and artistically.
10/27/201658 minutes, 46 seconds
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Ep. #39 - Stacy Alaimo

Cymene and Dominic say hello from Copenhagen and muse about the humanities’ expanding color spectrum. We then welcome (12:12) to the podcast the fabulous Stacy Alaimo, Professor of English at the University of Texas-Arlington and author of the celebrated Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self (Indiana U, 2010). We discuss her new book, Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times (U Minnesota 2016), in light of her thinking about trans-corporeality and ethics in the Anthropocene. Stacy shares her concerns that an abstract sense of species identity and pride is too often smuggled into the Anthropocene concept and explains why she thinks material feminism and feminist science studies have become such important resources for understanding our present condition. We discuss why the turn toward materiality and material agency demands that we engage science in new ways. We talk about the unruly agency of xenobiotic chemicals, deep sea creatures, epigenetics, and how to remake human sprawl to take other creaturely interests into account. Stacy explains that she is not in the hope business but that she does support ecodelics—the mind altering exercise of trying to imagine and feel the Anthropocene from nonhuman perspectives. Stacy’s German Shepherd, Felix, kindly helps us grasp this last point and he shares his thoughts on squirrel metonymy and his unease when the postman cometh. The lesson of the Anthropocene? There is no someplace else. So be present for all the species in your ecology, dear friends!
10/21/20161 hour, 5 minutes, 51 seconds
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Ep. #38 - Katharine Hayhoe

Fresh off her #SXSL White House appearance with Barack Obama and Leonardo DiCaprio, we welcome (10:54) to the podcast this week atmospheric scientist extraordinaire, Katharine Hayhoe, Professor at Texas Tech, and one of the world’s most active and talented communicators about the dangers of climate change (http://katharinehayhoe.com). We discuss how climate change became such a highly polarizing political issue in the United States and what motivated her to become a climate scientist in the first place. Katharine explodes the myth that only a certain type of person cares about climate issues and she describes her work with evangelical communities in West Texas to counteract the misconception that climate science is somehow anti-Christian. We talk about climate change as a tragedy of the commons, her insights into the schizophrenic character of oil companies, and about corporate cultures that lose sight of our collective responsibility to each other and to the planet. We compare climate denialism and evolution denialism and Katharine tells us why, in her view, anyone who reads the Bible carefully would be at the front of the climate change movement. We close on her media projects like James Cameron’s Years of Living Dangerously (http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com) and her new Global Weirding web series in partnership with KTTZ (http://kttz.org/term/global-weirding). Enjoy!
10/13/20161 hour, 11 minutes, 55 seconds
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Ep. #37 - Everyday Ogres (feat. Tania Mouraud & Allison Myers)

We talk art and artistic superpowers on this week’s Cultures of Energy podcast. Our special guests (9:59) are the celebrated conceptual and multimedia artist Tania Mouraud (http://taniamouraud.com) and Allison Myers, the curator of Tania’s new exhibition, Everyday Ogres. The exhibition is composed of three videos, Once Upon a Time, Face to Face and Fata Morgana, which bring to life the immensity and intensity of industrial sites around the world. Fata Morgana, for example, was filmed at an oil refinery in Pasadena, TX, and captures the “invisible death” it sets into motion. We hear the stories behind the making of the videos and Tania explains why she seeks not a documentary process with her work but rather to forge an emotional and sensory connection through our bodies. We go on to cover Tania’s coming of age as an artist, why she burned all her paintings that one time, and why she loves to change mediums. Tania and Allison reflect on death and the Anthropocene as muses and we turn toward how the arts engage our environmental situation today. Tania explains why her view of ecology is not reductive; it is about finding new ways of being a citizen in the world. Everyday Ogres will be shown at the University of Texas-Austin Visual Arts Center until December 10th, http://utvac.org/exhibitions/tania-mouraud-everyday-ogres . Please check it out!
10/7/201656 minutes, 18 seconds
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Ep. #36 - Woody Clark

On this special bonus midweek episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast, we welcome (10:25) qualitative economist and green energy consultant Dr. Woody Clark (http://www.clarkstrategicpartners.net), author most recently of Smart Green Cities (Routledge, 2016) and The Green Industrial Revolution (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2014). Woody shares his long and varied experience in green technology beginning in the 1990s with his work as Manager of Strategic Planning for Technology Transfer Lawrence Livermore Lab, as a renewable energy and financial advisor to California Governor Gray Davis, and later as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. We talk about the United States’ missed opportunities in renewable energy development, the coming of a green industrial revolution, why agile energy systems may be more important than energy deregulation, the role of China in securing global energy transition, cap and trade vs. carbon tax, and whether what Woody calls “civic capitalism” could be an antidote to the invisible hand economic thinking of the past few decades. Are we looking at a post-grid future? Is the Chinese state really authoritarian when it comes to its energy planning? How sunny is the future of solar? These questions and more answered right here!
10/4/20161 hour, 3 minutes, 47 seconds
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Ep. #35 - Vanessa Agard-Jones

This week’s podcast dives into ‘the chemical turn’ in the human sciences. Dominic and Cymene talk intoxication and wonder whether there’s a drug that could cure patriarchy. Then (9:04) we welcome Prof. Vanessa Agard-Jones from Columbia University to the studio to learn about her fascinating research on toxicity and chemical kinship in Martinique. We hear the story about how the pesticide chlordecone/kepone—a chemical now banned by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants—was introduced to Martinique by the owners of its banana plantations. Widespread use of the pesticide for over a decade has left the island and its citizens living in a plume of toxic contamination even over two decades after the pesticide was finally banned. We discuss the North/South, racial and postcolonial dynamics of Martinique’s situation and how ambient toxicity undermines both the possibility of “eating local” and the idea of political independence. Then Vanessa explains her theoretical approach to chemicals, how she seeks to balance the concerns of old and new materialisms in concepts like “chemical kin/esthesia” and “molecular ethnography.” We talk about vectors and scales of exposure, why she wants to study the body memory of the Caribbean and why she is looking to geology to think about accretion and sedimentation. In closing Vanessa explains why the chemical turn is also a queer turn and why she thinks it should be queerer still. Enjoy! PS For more on the chemical turn and Vanessa’s work, see www.agardjones.org and www.toxicsymposium.org ; PPS “Kepone Factory” is a Dead Kennedys song. Indulge your punk souls here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0a41PUZ2oRc
9/29/20161 hour, 8 minutes, 36 seconds
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Ep. #34 - Bron Taylor

Cymene and Dominic compare their ecospirituality on this week’s episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast, appreciate the mystical connectivity among all Californians and then Dominic explains the two aspects of Nature that frighten him the most. After all that (10:44) we welcome to the podcast our true spirit guide, Bron Taylor, Professor of Religion and Nature, Environmental Ethics, and Environmental Studies, at the University of Florida (brontaylor.com). We talk about his landmark book Dark Green Religion (U California Press, 2010) and Bron explains the increase in naturalistic and Gaian spirituality across the world today. We discuss the struggle between biocentric and anthrocentric ethics, how collaborations between indigenous and environmentalist movements have helped create green countercultures and we debate Lynn White’s thesis that Christianity has helped to accelerate contemporary ecological crisis. We cover the mainstreaming of green spirituality in popular culture, science and media and whether the “dark” in “dark green” also has something to do with violence. Finally, we turn to Bron’s most recent book, Avatar and Nature Spirituality, (Wilfrid Laurier U Press, 2013) and discuss what role films like Avatar might play in spreading green spiritual ideas and feelings. Why have most humans been so slow to react to their environmental predicaments? How is Abrahamic spirituality connected to agriculture? Is surfing an aquatic nature religion? All these answers and more on this week’s episode!
9/22/20161 hour, 9 minutes, 22 seconds
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Ep. #33 - Standing Rock (feat. Jaskiran Dhillon & Nick Estes)

Until a few weeks ago, most of us hadn’t heard about the lawsuit and protest of the Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline project. Now the resistance is the subject of national and international media coverage. Still, there is much we do not understand about the history and stakes of what is happening at Standing Rock in terms of Indigenous rights and sovereignty, climate justice, and the struggle for energy transition. By way of comparison, Cymene and Dominic briefly discuss Indigenous resistance to energy projects in their fieldwork in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Then (11:08) we welcome to the podcast Jaskiran Dhillon and Nick Estes. Jaskiran is a first generation academic and advocate who grew up on Treaty Six Cree/Métis Territory in Saskatchewan. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Global Studies and Anthropology at The New School and author of the forthcoming Prairie Rising: Indigenous Youth, Decolonization, and the Politics of Intervention (U Toronto, 2017). Nick Estes is Kul Wicasa from the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. He is a doctoral candidate in American Studies at the University of New Mexico, an Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Fellow, and a co-founder of activist organization The Red Nation. A winner of a Native American Journalist Association award for his writing, Nick’s research focuses on the history and politics of the Oceti Sakowin (The Great Sioux Nation), border town violence, colonialism and decolonization, and Indigenous internationalism and human rights. Together we discuss what led to opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, the legacies of settler colonialism and empire in the region, and the impact Indigenous youth are having on the climate justice movement. Jaskiran and Nick explain to us why what is happening at Standing Rock is truly unprecedented and why it might give us hope despite how deeply pipeline politics remain invested in traditions of settler violence. Finally, we discuss what they think will happen next and how people wishing to support the resistance can help; for those with the resources to help, donations to the legal defense fund and to support the community can be made at standingrock.org PS special thanks to Audra Simpson for helping to make this episode possible!
9/16/20161 hour, 5 minutes, 39 seconds
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Ep. #32 - Greening Campus Life (feat. Richard R. Johnson)

It's our back to school episode this week! And to make some of us feel a little better about being back at school, we want to highlight all the good green work that goes on, often behind the scenes, on our college campuses. Dominic and Cymene share their views on the necessity of office space and then welcome (10:40) to the podcast Rice University’s chief sustainability officer, Richard R. Johnson, Director of ACSEM (sustainability.rice.edu) and Professor of the Practice of Environmental Studies in Sociology. Richard walks us through the history of the campus sustainability movement and explains why jobs like his these days are more about things like rethinking building design, improving power purchase agreements and getting students engaged in changing the carbon footprint of their campus than they are about recycling. Richard makes the case for the benefits of using less and explains how a shift to solar energy could revolutionize campus life. He shares his mixed feelings about divestment campaigns and discloses what “sustainability” means to him. We close on how to change the sprawl mindset in campus development and Dominic eventually agrees to give up his office in exchange for a coffee card. Does your campus have a frivolous building project that is driving you crazy? Do you want some good ideas for how to make your campus, academic or otherwise, greener? Then this episode is for you!
9/9/20161 hour, 17 minutes, 20 seconds
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Ep. #31 - Jan Zalasiewicz

Big news this week, friends, it turns out we’re living in the Anthropocene after all. The Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) of the International Union of Geological Sciences released its report at the International Geological Congress in Cape Town that we have left the Holocene behind. Cymene and Dominic find themselves more melancholy than they expected to be about this. But fortunately we’re able to talk it over (12:50) with Jan Zalasiewicz, Professor of Paleobiology at the University of Leicester, author of the marvelous The Planet in a Pebble (Oxford, 2010), and the Chair of the AWG. Jan walks us through the Working Group’s process of investigation, the forms of evidence that mattered to them and the ensuing debate over whether to make the Anthropocene a new geological time unit. We discuss the early history of climate science, the origin of the Anthropocene concept, what skeptics of the concept are thinking, and the study of deep time as a labor of love that may be able to help us all with the transition to a new sense of time. Is the Anthropocene an age or an epoch, when exactly did it begin, what are its key markers? What is the “golden spike” we are now hearing about? Even if we can’t make anyone feel better about the Anthropocene, we can at least answer some of your questions about it :)
9/2/201656 minutes, 4 seconds
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Ep. #30 - Thomas Hylland Eriksen

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.
8/26/20161 hour, 4 minutes, 7 seconds
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Ep. #29 - Shannon Lee Dawdy

This week’s episode takes a close look at New Orleans and shines some light on the legacies of Hurricane Katrina and the impacts of climate change as Louisiana suffers under another round of mass flooding. Our guest and guide (11:39) is the brilliant Shannon Lee Dawdy—Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, author of Building the Devil’s Empire: French Colonial New Orleans (U Chicago Press, 2008), and a 2010 MacArthur Fellow—who weaves together anthropological, archaeological and historical methods in her research and writing. We talk about her most recent book, Patina: A Profane Archaeology (U Chicago Press, 2016) and what it teaches us about the importance of materiality and narrative in the history of New Orleans. We talk about New Orleans’s distinctive critical nostalgia and how it challenges the temporality and utilitarianism of the fast capitalism that surrounds it. We talk about collective care of objects and responses to trauma. And we talk about contemporary ruins, living with ghosts, how Louisiana’s relationship to the oil industry and riverine commerce has undermined its environmental stability, and whether the levees will hold in the future. We agree on the revolutionary potential of everyday practices and small acts. We then (58:00) turn toward her current ethnographic research and film about contemporary American death practices, which Shannon convinces us is a happier topic than it sounds. We touch on popular ontologies of the afterlife, the rise in green burial practices, cremation and carbon footprint, and the beauty of cemeteries. The takeaway: death affirms life, but also reminds us that what we do with our finitude makes all the difference. So, dear listeners, please send energy and support to our brothers and sisters in Louisiana and tend to the people and places you love.
8/19/20161 hour, 14 minutes, 41 seconds
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Ep. #28 - Fredrik Albritton Jonsson

Your co-hosts wonder why coal seems so sinister and they’re pretty sure it has something to do with all those Santa-related threats. Then (8:51) we welcome University of Chicago environmental and intellectual historian Fredrik Albritton Jonsson to the podcast to discuss his two remarkable books, Enlightenment’s Frontier: The Scottish Highlands and the Origins of Environmentalism (Yale, 2013) and Green Victorians: The Simple Life in John Ruskin’s Lake District (co-authored with Vicky Albritton; U Chicago, 2016). Fredrik takes us back to mid 18th century Scotland and 19th century England to discuss the deep historical roots of contemporary concerns about fuel, growth and the natural limits of growth. We talk about competing energy and environmental visions in 18th and 19th century political economy and natural history. We touch on 18th century climatology, the nuances of Adam Smith’s value theory and how British imperialism contributed to undermining the importance of land and population in economic theory. We debate whether physiocratism is on the rise again and Fredrik let us eavesdrop on his conversations with Dipesh Chakrabarty about how to think about the Anthropocene. Finally (51:10) we turn to art historian and renegade political economist John Ruskin, whose concerns about anthropogenic climate change in the 1860s and 1870s led him to form an early “post-carbon” community in Britain’s Lake District. Yet, surprise surprise, his “simple life” turns out not to have been that simple after all :) Are fossil fuels really the edifice of modern notions of equality and freedom? Listen on! PS -- Special thanks go to Anthony Penta from UChicago Creative for producing this episode and to Elise Covic, Deputy Dean of the U of Chicago’s College for helping to set up the recording.
8/12/20161 hour, 7 minutes, 39 seconds
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Ep. #27 - Sunila Kale

Cymene and Dominic test out the identity of “semi-professional podcasters” by reeling off impressive sounding words like “load-shedding” and “blackout” and then (10:21) we welcome University of Washington political scientist Sunila Kale to the podcast. She indulges our twin fascinations with electricity and India by discussing her landmark book—wait for it—Electrifying India (Stanford, 2014). We discuss the colonial legacies that shaped the making of India’s power system and also the important regional differences that explain why in some states in India only 30% of homes have reliable access to electricity. We discuss the differential experiences of grid in India and how the middle-classes have adapted to an unstable electricity supply with inverters and generators. We touch on why the recent flood of international green energy investment has not been able to successfully address the complex social and political questions around electricity distribution. Indeed, Sunila’s new collaborative research focuses on how India is coping with a growing abundance of expensive green electricity, innovations in demand side management and a new political emphasis on increasing competition in the electricity market. We talk about Akhil Gupta’s argument that countries like India cannot repeat the mistakes made by the Global North as they increase their electricity usage and Sunila points out that India is already diverging from the northern model in terms of the supplementation of grid by batteries and rooftop solar. Sunila finally debunks the argument that more coal-powered electricity will be vital for India’s future social and economic development. What will it take to make energy a civil rights issue in India? Listen on!
8/5/20161 hour, 4 minutes, 51 seconds
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Ep. #26 - Dale Jamieson

It’s Dominic’s birthday and he’ll cry if he wants to. Your co-hosts first talk green virtue and anthropocenic temperance and Cymene’s childhood close encounter with a tiger. We then (9:02) welcome to the podcast a very distinguished guest, Dale Jamieson, Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy at New York University and author of Reason in a Dark Time (Oxford University Press, 2014). We talk at length about his moving collaborative project with novelist Bonnie Nadzam (author of Lamb and Lions) and their recently published collection, Love in the Anthropocene (http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/love-in-the-anthropocene-by-jamieson-and-nadzam/). Dale posits love as the antithesis of narcissism and describes why contact with the real is so much more important than enveloping ourselves in fantasy. We talk hierarchy and class and why the Anthropocene will be better for some than for others. Yet, Dale emphasizes the newness of our present situation and says we should spend more time thinking and trying to understand our problems and less time relying on familiar categories and chasing solutions. Tracking back to Dale’s earlier work, we touch on the virtues, our need to recover agency, why we should tax email, and the intergenerational ethics of climate change. Then we turn to his current research on how the Anthropocene has challenged the categories and practices of liberalism, eroding both our traditional agency presupposition and public/private distinctions. The point being that we really don’t know how to govern in the Anthropocene—and, maybe we didn’t in the Holocene either! But in any case we live in a time in need of a great deal of political experimentation. We close with how surfing brought Dale to Environmental Studies and why philosophy matters in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Do you think we have too much populism and not enough democracy? Listen on!
7/29/20161 hour, 6 minutes, 34 seconds
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Ep. #25 - Benedikt Erlingsson

Cymene and Dominic briefly highlight the plight of refugee polar bears in Iceland and pitch PolarBearLand as a creative response. Then (9:34) we welcome to the podcast celebrated Icelandic actor and director, Benedikt Erlingsson. We talk about his first feature film, Of Horses and Men (Hross í Oss, 2013), Iceland’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, and what he finds fascinating about human-horse relationships. We discuss the differences between Icelandic and American horse cultures and what he thinks horses reveal about humans as dangerous animals. Then Benedikt gives us a glimpse of his current film project, A Woman at War, an “action-arthouse-ecological thriller.” It concerns a middle-aged musician who takes it upon herself to save the world by sabotaging the electricity to Iceland’s aluminum smelters. This leads us to a conversation about self-sacrifice, dangerous ideas, and what he views as an inevitable coming radicalization of politics. Benedikt discusses the struggle to change our environmental doomsday trajectory and why he finds the myth of Prometheus such an apt analogy for our present situation. He also shares his reaction to a remarkable meeting with the World Bank in which they asked filmmakers to do more to change popular attitudes about climate change. In closing we discuss his support for a landmark project to limit further development in the Icelandic highlands and how to find the stories that will inspire people to accept radical change. Our thanks again this week to Iceland’s national broadcasting service, RÚV, for graciously allowing us to use their studio space and to CENHS fellow Magnús Sigurðsson for engineering and editing the recording.
7/21/20161 hour, 8 minutes, 7 seconds
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Ep. #24 - Veronica Strang

Water, water everywhere. The human sciences have become animated by the politics, ethics and materiality of water of late and for good reason. Our guest (11:13) on this week’s Cultures of Energy podcast was one of the first to get this conversation started. Anthropologist Veronica Strang, currently Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Durham University, is the author of The Meaning of Water (Oxford, 2004) and Water: Culture and Nature (Reaktion, 2015) and a recipient of UNESCO’s International Water Prize. We talk about how the transgressive and transformative properties of water cut across cultures and how its material liquidity complicates our cultural and legal understandings of ownership and property. Veronica explains why we have to think water across scales, from its mediation of individual bodies to how its flows form communities. We talk about the infamous case of Bolivia’s water privatization, efforts to enclose water resources across the world and how contemporary politics of water are undermining democracy. Veronica also reminds us though that efforts to centralize control over water are ancient and that the movements that are now seeking to decentralize water resources also have hope. In closing we discuss cosmological and mythological water beings ranging from rainbow serpents to Chinese water dragons to the Lambton Worm, reputed to live in Durham’s own River Wear. Is our concern with hydration and floods these days informed by the moral economy and sacred vitality of water? Has urbanization caused us to lose touch with the hydrological cycle that so powerfully informed the cultural imaginations of our ancestors? Pour yourself a glass of water and listen on.
7/15/20161 hour, 4 minutes, 24 seconds
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Ep. #23 - Annemarie Mol

Dominic and Cymene may or may not enjoy an evening cocktail on a perfect Berlin evening on this week’s Cultures of Energy podcast. Then, we turn (4:05) to a lively and fascinating conversation with legendary anthropologist and philosopher, Annemarie Mol, author of The Body Multiple and The Logic of Care and recent winner of the Spinoza Prize. We talk with her about nature as process instead of object and knowledge as technique. She explains her interest in practices and why taking technologies seriously explodes “the human.” We talk about why “eating bodies” are good to think with and about why she wants to rethink embodiment via metabolics beyond older neuromuscular models of bodies. But she also wants to push metabolics beyond the legacy of 19th century energetics (think calories). From there we talk about the difference between logics of choice and logics of care and why she views her work as resolutely political. Why should we attend to ecology and care today? Listen on!! PS: Special thanks to Catherine Alexander for opening her home to us for the conversation!
7/8/20161 hour, 6 minutes, 1 second
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Ep. #22 - Iceland! (featuring Heiða Helgadóttir & Guðmundur Jónsson)

Coming to you straight outta Reykjavík, Cymene and Dominic chat about the many remarkable things happening in Iceland this summer, the Melt research project and what “cryohuman relations” look like in a country with 300 glaciers that are now losing 11 billion tons of ice each year. Then (13:59) we speak with Heiða Helgadóttir (former Member of Parliament and co-founder of Iceland’s Best Party and Bright Future Party) and with Guðmundur (Gummi) Jónsson, a Reykjavík based urban planner, about the energy and environmental challenges facing Iceland today. We talk about Iceland’s changing relationship to its natural environment in a time of climate change, skyrocketing tourism, and rapid urbanization. They give us insight into the politics and economics of geothermal energy and hydropower and the effort to create a national park in the Icelandic highlands, often known as Europe’s last wilderness. Can Iceland manage its tourism boom sustainably? Is it ethical for Iceland to supply aluminum smelters and server farms with green electricity? How can Reykjavík address its climatological and public health concerns through better policy, planning and infrastructure? Special thanks this week to Iceland’s national broadcasting service, RÚV, for graciously allowing us to use their studio space and to CENHS fellow Magnús Sigurðsson for arranging and engineering the recording. Áfram Ísland (Go Iceland)!!
6/30/20161 hour, 20 minutes, 35 seconds
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Ep. #21 - Jeff VanderMeer

Cymene and Dominic debate the merits of season 1 of Bloodline and quickly agree to disagree on this week’s Cultures of Energy podcast. Then (9:25) we get to the main event, our conversation with Nebula and Shirley Jackson Award winning writer Jeff VanderMeer, author of the NYT bestselling, Southern Reach Trilogy (FSG, 2014). Our friend Roy Scranton joins us on the line as well—since you last heard him, Roy has published his own novel War Porn (Soho Press, 2016) and become a Professor at Notre Dame: way to go, Roy!—and together we all get deep into Area X. We ask Jeff about the challenges of language and knowledge in the trilogy, whether Area X could be a metaphor for the Anthropocene, and what is going on with the doppelgangers. Jeff talks about his fascination with fungi and how they show we are always already contaminated. He discusses his use of dreams and how the speculative and uncanny elements of fiction can be a way of gaining new perspective on the world without lecturing the reader. He drops a terrific idea for a VR device that could make us see the invisible vectors in the world around us and we rashly promise to help him build it. There’s a film in the works for the first volume of the trilogy, Annihilation, and we talk about how not to let the Southern Reach be reduced to Hollywood formula. And, finally, we talk about Jeff’s upcoming projects including his novel about a Godzilla-sized psychotic flying bear, Borne. If you, like Jeff, are doing your best to contribute to a lack of bullshit in the world, then this episode is for you!
6/23/20161 hour, 5 minutes, 39 seconds
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Ep. #20 - Albert Pope

Cymene and Dominic talk about the future of low carbon city, Dominic learns about “subsidence” and then we welcome to the studio (10:55) our esteemed colleague and CENHS co-conspirator, Albert Pope, who is the Gus Sessions Wortham Professor of Architecture at Rice and author of the influential Ladders (Princeton Architectural Press). Along with his colleague Jesús Vassallo, Albert has formed Present Future, whose work is being featured right now at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale (http://news.rice.edu/2016/05/09/wood-would-suit-a-future-detroit/). We talk to Albert about his ideas for the renovation of Houston’s impoverished Fifth Ward and what it should look like fifty years from now. At the core of Albert’s project is figuring out how to adapt urban systems to natural systems in the era of climate change and he explains how we need to update our model of urban density to incorporate open spaces and the carbon cycle. Albert argues there is no technical fix for climate change and that we need to change our habits of energy use, which makes the future of the city ground zero for climate change remediation. Could Houston, epicenter of the fossil fuel industry, actually lead the way toward low energy dwelling? What would it be like to live in a high-rise tower made of wood? Listen to this week’s podcast and find out!
6/16/20161 hour, 3 minutes, 40 seconds
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Ep. #19 - Dipesh Chakrabarty

After the usual nonsense, we welcome to the podcast this week (5:11) Dipesh Chakrabarty, theorist and historian extraordinaire from the University of Chicago. Dipesh recounts an amusing encounter from his visit to Rice that helps prove that the 1950s dream of limitless plenitude is still very much alive (and not only in Houston). We then return to his seminal/ovular essay, “The Climate of History,” and Dipesh shares his thoughts on how he might augment his four theses with a discussion of humanity’s ecological overshoot and of the deep connection between geology and biology. Then we talk about why the recent polarization between Team Anthropocene and Team Capitalocene is a bit silly, how climate science originated out of interplanetary studies and what it means for our species being that we don’t have an effective species-level political apparatus. Dipesh explains why it’s important to think about capitalism in terms of geology and suggests that attaining an epochal consciousness could possibly restore content to the idea of the “common concern” of climate change. Finally, we ruminate on Cymene’s concept of the “betacene” and the necessarily experimental status of politics today. There’s much to provoke and digest in this week’s podcast: enjoy!
6/10/20161 hour, 1 minute, 2 seconds
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Ep. #18 - Platform London (feat. Anna Galkina)

Back home in Houston, Cymene and Dominic discuss their efforts to save small animals (with mixed results). Then, in London, (11:05) Dominic talks to Dr. Anna Galkina from the remarkable organization Platform London (http://platformlondon.org) who have woven together artistic, activist, environmentalist, human rights and social justice commitments over the past thirty years. Anna explains Platform’s concept of the “carbon web” and how it is seeking to sever the links between governments, oil companies, financial institutions and cultural institutions. We talk about finding unlikely allies, reinventing the arts of protest for the 21st century, and Platform’s collaborations with other artist-activist groups like Liberate Tate (@liberatetate). We talk about what a post-oil, post-neoliberal energy system might look like, municipal public energy projects, and their latest projects with unions seeking a just transition for workers in the oil and gas economy. Should BP and Shell start winding down in the next few years? Have a look at Platform’s recent energy manifesto here: (http://platformlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Manifesto_energy_beyond_neoliberalism.pdf) and, as always, enjoy the podcast!
6/3/20161 hour, 9 minutes, 32 seconds
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Ep. #17 - Karen Pinkus

Live from Ithaca NY, we talk (8:35) to OG energy humanist (and sometimes rockstar) Karen Pinkus, Professor of Italian and Comparative Literature at Cornell, about what attracted her to writing about energy and fuel. She introduces us to her remarkable forthcoming book, Fuel: A Speculative Dictionary (https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/fuel) and its cornucopia of real and imagined fuel forms. We talk bad faith futurity, the need for expansive reading and radical thinking, and why "sustainability" is one of the most pernicious words circulating today. Karen explains to us why it’s so important to distinguish “energy” from “fuel” and how that move helps us to move past a discourse on energy conservation. We talk about Jules Verne as her greatest inspiration, her new research on geoengineering and why the future belongs to small people. Finally, she shares her reflections on COP 21. What does rock and roll have to say to climate change? Listen on!
5/27/20161 hour, 14 minutes, 5 seconds
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Ep. #16 - Giorgos Kallis

It’s a deep dive into “degrowth” this week on the Cultures of Energy podcast. We welcome (6:57) Giorgos Kallis, a political ecologist and ecological economist based at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, who has authored several influential papers on the theory and practice of degrowth as an antidote to contemporary notions of green economy and sustainability (http://www.degrowth.org/giorgos-kallis). Giorgos talks about the birth of the degrowth concept in the early 2000s and how it confronts the fetishism of growth in economic theory and political culture today. He explains why “green growth” is a fantasy and how attempts to provide technological solutions to social problems usually backfire, displacing and amplifying negative effects elsewhere. We get his take on Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything and hear why changing the nature of work and paying more attention to care have to be cornerstones of our way forward. Can there be prosperity without growth? Are we living through a second edition of the 1930s or the 1940s? Listen on!
5/20/201653 minutes, 2 seconds
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Ep. #15 - Michael Hathaway & Brit Ross Winthereik

Welcome to a special bonus double episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast! This week we offer new perspectives on two countries—China and Denmark—that have become touchstones for contemporary debates over energy futures. But before all that serious business, Cymene explains why it’s advisable to wear sunglasses underground. We then (7:57) talk to Michael Hathaway, an anthropologist from Simon Fraser University and author of Environmental Winds: Making the Global in Southwest China (University of California Press, 2013). Michael offers a different perspective on Chinese air pollution; we talk about wind as medium, metaphor and material force and about how the rise of environmental sensibility is changing politics and society in China today. What is China’s role as a global citizen? Then (56:15) we welcome Brit Ross Winthereik to the Houston studio. Brit is based at the IT-University of Copenhagen where she organizes the Alien Energy project (http://alienenergy.dk/). With Brit, we talk about the history, complexity and contradictions of “green energy” in Denmark and learn about the secret history of Danish energy powerhouse Vestas. Brit makes a case for thinking about the environment at different scales and then discusses the Land Art Generator Initiative (http://landartgenerator.org) a project that seeks to make renewable energy beautiful.
5/13/20161 hour, 46 minutes, 54 seconds
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Ep. #14 - Lawrence English

This week Cultures of Energy welcomes the brilliant (and fully certified) sound artist and composer Lawrence English (http://lawrenceenglish.com) to the podcast. Lawrence explains his relational approach to listening and how he became interested in the practice of field recording. We discuss the difference between hearing and listening, field recording as a political act, aesthetics of signal and noise, and how different ears have different horizons of listening. As a non-linear medium, Lawrence emphasizes the endlessness and promiscuousness of sound and how listening can help us reconnect to our immediate environments and to the world at large. Relish the incidental! In our final segment, (63:18) we mix for your audition and pleasure several clips from Lawrence’s 2012 field recording collection, Songs Of The Living And The Lived In (http://emporium.room40.org/categories/lawrence-english-editions). See if you can recognize the Antarctic fur seal sleeping, Amazonian howler monkeys, Cormorants flocking at dusk, Australian chiroptera, Adele penguin chicks, Antarctic fur seals very much awake, white-throated toucans’ dawn display and a trigona carbonaria hive invasion.
5/6/20161 hour, 24 minutes, 49 seconds
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Ep. #13 - Cultures of Energy 5

This week’s energy humanities podcast recaps and takes inspiration from CENHS’s fifth annual spring research symposium, otherwise known as Cultures of Energy 5 (http://culturesofenergy.com/cultures-of-energy-april-21-23-2016-poster-and-schedule/), which took place at Rice last week in the afterwash of Houston’s historic flooding. Cymene and Dominic share fond memories from the symposium and then, inspired by the Lexicon for an Anthropocene Yet Unseen project, (http://www.culanth.org/fieldsights/803-lexicon-for-an-anthropocene-yet-unseen), several of our distinguished visitors offer short takes and keywords for the Anthropocene. Cara Daggett (Johns Hopkins) goes to “work” (13:50), Andreas Malm (Lund) offers “resistance” (17:47), and Lynn Badia (Alberta) muses on “free” (22:50). Graeme Macdonald (Warwick) shows us his “passport” (24:58) and smudge studio (Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse, http://www.smudgestudio.org) walk us through “ippo” (30:00). Finally, Toronto-based poet Mathew Henderson reads (36:30) from his remarkable collection, The Lease (http://www.chbooks.com/catalogue/lease). All in all, we celebrate energy humanities as an alien intelligence in our petrocultural system. Get ready for Cultures of Energy 6 in 2017!
4/29/201640 minutes, 50 seconds
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Ep. #12 - Natasha Myers

It’s all about plants on this week’s Cultures of Energy podcast. Our guide is anthropologist Natasha Myers, director of the Plant Studies Collaboratory at York University (https://natashamyers.wordpress.com) and author of Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter (Duke University Press, 2015). We talk about Natasha’s work in savannah ecosystems millennia in the making, how to sniff out chemical atmospheres and queer environmental monitoring practices. Natasha explains how plants conduct inquiry in their worlds, their sense and sentience, how they both catalyze and epitomize ecological relations. We discuss how plants trouble human notions of subjectivity, the possibility a plant-based phenomenology, end-of-time botanical tourism in Singapore, and whether gardening can be a redemptive practice. Natasha envisions plants as photosynthetic world-makers and tells us that if we humans want to thrive, our plants needs to thrive too. It’s time to embrace the Planthropocene.
4/22/20161 hour, 5 minutes, 45 seconds
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Ep. #11 - Toby Jones

This week’s Cultures of Energy podcast turns toward the Middle East as Dominic and Cymene speak (8:35) with Rutgers historian Toby Jones, author of Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia (Harvard University Press, 2010) and Running Dry: Essays on Energy, Water and Environmental Crisis (Rutgers University Press, 2015). The conversation reveals the knotted history of energy, water, security and infrastructure that has led to a seemingly endless war machine in the region. We talk about how the politics of water in the making of the Saudi Arabian state, how American energy and military agendas became fused together in the Gulf, the relationship between sovereignty and shipping and how to use seawater as a theory machine. Toby encourages us all to acknowledge energy’s place in the war machine and to commit ourselves to ending war for energy.
4/15/20161 hour, 1 second
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Ep. #10 - Timothy Morton

Cymene and Dominic talk drug awareness to open this week’s episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast and then (6:10) share laughs and ecological thoughts with their marvelous and occasionally hallucinatory colleague, Tim Morton, author of Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence (Columbia University Press, 2016). Tim explains how his brain works, why object oriented ontology isn’t your granddaddy’s philosophy, how ambiguity is a signal of reality in the Anthropocene, and what we need to put into the drinking water to save the world. We talk about how comedy is the same as thinking, why Interstellar is ecological and sooo much more. In a dramatic last-minute reveal, we also learn Tim’s pick to direct Dark Ecology: The Movie.
4/8/20161 hour, 10 minutes, 31 seconds
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Ep. #9 - Laura Watts

This episode is our first recorded out of the studio and on the road in St. Andrews, Scotland. Dominic and Cymene appreciate all that St. Andrews has to offer by way of golf, gulls and edible money and then (7:11), in the comfort of lovely 5 Pilmour Place (http://www.5pilmourplace.com), speak with writer, poet and ethnographer Laura Watts (http://sand14.com) about her longstanding research in Orkney. We learn about an extraordinary place where the world’s renewable energy future has already been realized, where wind, wave and tidal power provide over 100% of the archipelago’s electricity, where people talk and think energy constantly. Laura reads from her new poetic primer on marine renewable energy, Ebban An’ Flowan, and introduces us to The Electric Nemesis, Victor Frankenstein’s Orcadian bride, born out of electricity and abandoned by hubris, a reminder of the importance of what is happening in the “energy islands.”
4/1/201656 minutes, 33 seconds
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Ep. #8 - Diane Nelson

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.
3/25/20161 hour, 21 seconds
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Ep. #7 - FotoFest 2016 (featuring Judy Natal & Marina Zurkow)

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?
3/11/20161 hour, 32 minutes, 44 seconds
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Ep. #6 - Imre Szeman

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.
3/4/201658 minutes, 47 seconds
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Ep. #5 - Stephanie LeMenager

Cymene and Dominic embrace amateurism as they have trouble pronouncing names on this week’s podcast. Then (8:28) they talk to Stephanie LeMenager, Professor of English and Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon, author of Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century (Oxford University Press, 2014) and founding co-editor of the journal, Resilience. The conversation explores how we live with oil and how oil lives in us, speculative fiction, teaching climate change, and how the arts and humanities can chart new ways of being together.
2/24/201657 minutes, 16 seconds
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Ep. #4 - John Hartigan

Dominic Boyer and former Lost Boys extra, Cymene Howe, banter easily on this week’s Cultures of Energy podcast. Cymene then (6:16) talks to anthropologist, multispecies ethnographer and national treasure, John Hartigan, about many things, including: the story behind the ‘stache, animal domestication, culture as medium, infrastructural racism and the Flint water crisis, and his newest project on the social life of horses. Want to know how dogs made humans fall in love with them? Worried about cancer bats in Austin? Listen on!
2/14/20161 hour, 2 minutes, 57 seconds
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Ep. #3 - Roy Scranton

On this week’s Cultures of Energy podcast, Cymene and Dominic share getting up close and personal with the Anthropocene in the form of Tropical Storm Jonas. Then (6:26) Dominic talks with Roy Scranton, the author of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene (City Lights, 2015) and our most recent postdoctoral fellow at CENHS. Dominic and Roy talk about how philosophy can help us come to terms intellectually and emotionally with the Anthropocene and about Roy’s recent cruise through the Northwest Passage.
2/8/20161 hour, 11 minutes, 25 seconds
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Ep. #2 - Anna Tsing

Cultures of Energy Podcast is now on iTunes! Stitcher soon! We celebrate Anna Tsing, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California Santa Cruz, one of the world’s greatest analysts of globalization and the environment and the author (most recently) of The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Then (6:16) Cymene and Anna talk about feminist legacies, more-than-human anthropology, capitalist ruins and how to think with weeds and mushrooms.
1/19/201647 minutes, 33 seconds
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Ep. #1 - Paolo Bacigalupi

Here's a little preview of the Cultures of Energy Podcast! Look for episodes on iTunes and Stitcher as soon as all the tubes get connected and all the magic podcast elves work through their holiday shopping. Cymene and Dominic answer the question ‘why do an energy humanities podcast?’ and confess their past radio sins. Then (9:14) Dominic interviews Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction writer Paolo Bacigalupi, author of the The Windup Girl and The Water Knife, about what science fiction can do in the era of climate change.
1/19/20161 hour, 7 minutes, 21 seconds