© 2016 - IMPRINT
Dossiers
Authors
  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan
  • Babak Afrassiabi
    • Babak Afrassiabi is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, he has collaborated with Nasrin Tabatabai on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
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      published contributions
  • S. Ayesha Hameed
    • Dr. S. Ayesha Hameed is a Lecturer in Visual Cultures and the Joint Programme Leader in Fine Art and History of Art Research Fellow in Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, London. She received her PhD in Social and Political Thought at York University, Canada in 2008
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Sammy Baloji
  • On Barak
    • On Barak is a social and cultural historian of science and technology in non-Western settings. He has been a senior lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University since 2012. Prior to this, he was a member of the Princeton Society of Fellows. In 2009, Barak received a joint PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from New York University. His most recent book is On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt (University of California Press, 2013), and his current publication project, Coalonialism: Energy and Empire before the Age of Oil, is funded by a European Union Marie Curie Award and an Israel Science Foundation Grant.
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      published contributions
  • Anil Bawa-Cavia
    • Anil Bawa-Cavia is a computer scientist with a background in machine learning. He runs STDIO, a speculative software studio. His practice engages with algorithms, protocols, encodings, and other software artifacts and his doctoral research at the Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at University College London was on complex networks in urbanism. He is a founding member of Call & Response, a sonic arts collective and gallery space in London, and a member of the New Centre for Research & Practice.
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      published contributions
  • Etienne Benson
  • Josh Berson
  • Jeremy Bolen
  • Axel Braun
    • Axel Braun studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, and fine arts at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris. His artistic research deals with controversial infrastructure projects, tautology as an attempt to understand reality, and failed utopias in art and architecture. Currently, he is pursuing the long-term project Towards an Understanding of Anthropocene Landscapes. Recently exhibited works include Some Kind of Opposition (2016) at Galeria Centralis, Budapest, and Dragonflies drift downstream on a river (2015) at Kunstmuseum Bochum.
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      published contributions
  • Keith Breckenridge
  • François Bucher
    • s, focusing on ethical and aesthetic problems of cinema and television, and more recently on the image as an interdimensional field. His work has been exhibited at
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Lino Camprubí
  • Zachary Caple
  • Ele Carpenter
    • Dr. Ele Carpenter is a senior lecturer in curating at Goldsmiths, London. Her curatorial practice responds to interdisciplinary socio-political contexts such as the nuclear economy and the relationship between craft and code.
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      published contributions
  • Andrew Chubb
    • Andrew Chubb is a PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia conducting research on the relationship between Chinese public opinion and government policy in the South China Sea. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Contemporary China, Pacific Affairs, East Asia Forum, and Information, Communication & Society. His blog, South Sea Conversations (southseaconversations.wordpress.com), provides translations and analysis of Chinese discourse on the South and East China Sea issues.
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      published contributions
  • Louis Chude-Sokei
    • Louis Chude-Sokei is a writer and scholar currently teaching in the English Department at the University of Washington, Seattle. His academic interests range from West African, Caribbean, and American literary and cultural studies to a particular focus on sound, technology, and performance. His literary and public work focuses on immigration and black-on-black cultural contacts, conflicts, and exchanges. Chude-Sokei is the author of the award-winning book The Last “Darky”: Bert Williams, Black-on-Black Minstrelsy, and the African Diaspora (2006) and The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics (2016).
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      published contributions
  • Claire Colebrook
    • Claire Colebrook is a professor of English at Penn State University. Her areas of specialization are contemporary literature, visual culture, and theory and cultural studies. She has written articles on poetry, literary theory, queer theory, and contemporary culture. Colebrook is the co-editor of the series Critical Climate Change, published by Open Humanities Press, and a member of the advisory board of the Institute for Critical Climate Change. She recently completed two books on extinction for Open Humanities Press, Death of the PostHuman and Sex after Life (both 2014), and with Tom Cohen and J. Hillis Miller co-authored Twilight of the Anthropocene Idols (2016).
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      published contributions
  • Rana Dasgupta
  • Filip De Boeck
    • Filip De Boeck is actively involved in teaching, promoting, coordinating and supervising research in and on Africa at the Institute for Anthropological research in Africa at the U
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Seth Denizen
    • Seth Denizen is a researcher and design practitioner trained in landscape architecture and evolutionary biology. Since completing research on the sexual behavior and evolutionary ecology of small Trinidadian fish, his work has focused on the aesthetics of scientific representation, madness, and public parks, the design of t
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      published contributions
  • Jonathan Donges
    • Jonathan Donges is a postdoctoral researcher who holds a joint position at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (as Stordalen Scholar) and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. He studies planetary boundaries and social dynamics in the Earth system from a complex dynamical system perspective. At Potsdam, he is Co-head of the flagship COPAN (Coevolutionary Pathways) project (www.pik-potsdam.de/copan). His published research includes work on complex network theory, dynamical systems theory, and time series analysis, with a focus on their application to our understanding of past and present climate variability and its interactions with humankind on planet Earth.
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      published contributions
  • Keller Easterling
  • David Edgerton
    • David Edgerton is Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and a professor of modern British history at King’s College London. After teaching at the University of Manchester, he became the founding director of the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at Imperial College London (1993–2003), and moved along with the centre to King’s College London in August 2013. He is the author of many works, including The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900 (2007), which argues for and exemplifies new ways of thinking about the material constitution of modernity.
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      published contributions
  • Technosphere Editorial
  • Sasha Engelmann
  • Eberhard Faust
  • Jennifer Gabrys
    • Jennifer Gabrys is Reader in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Principal Investigator on the ERC-funded project, "Citizen Sense." Her publications include Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics (University of Michigan Press, 2011); and Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming).
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      published contributions
  • Oliver Gantner
  • Florian Goldmann
    • Florian Goldmann is a Berlin-based artist and a PhD candidate at the DFG Research Training Center Visibility and Visualisation – Hybrid Forms of Pictorial Knowledge as well as at the Brandenburg Center for Media Studies, both Potsdam University. His research focus is the utilization of models as a means of both commemorating and predicting catastrophe. In 2015, he took part in the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan. Goldmann is one of the founders of the research collective STRATAGRIDS and the author of Flexible Signposts to Coded Territories (2012), an analysis of football hooligan graffiti in Athens as a system of fluid signage.
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      published contributions
  • Johan Gärdebo
    • Johan Gärdebo is a PhD candidate at the Royal Institute of Technology affiliated to the Environmental Humanities Laboratory (EHL). H
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Orit Halpern
    • Orit Halpern is a Strategic Hire in Interactive Design and an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal. Her work bridges the histories of science, computing, and cybernetics with design and art practice. She is also a co-director of the Speculative Life Research Cluster, Montreal, a laboratory situated at the intersection of art and life sciences, architecture and design, and computational media (www.speculativelife.com). Her recent monograph, Beautiful Data (2015), is a history of interactivity, data visualization, and ubiquitous computing. www.orithalpern.net
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      published contributions
  • Carola Hein
    • Carola Hein is a professor of the history of architecture and urban planning in the Architecture Department at Delft University of Technology. She has published widely on topics in contemporary and historical architectural and urban planning, notably that of Europe and Japan. Her current research interests include transmission of architectural and urban ideas along international networks, focusing specifically on port cities, and the global architecture of oil. Her books include Port Cities: Dynamic Landscapes and Global Networks (2011), Cities, Autonomy, and Decentralization in Japan (2006), and The Capital of Europe: Architecture and Urban Planning for the European Union (2004).
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      published contributions
  • Julian Henriques
    • Julian Henriques is the convener of the MA in Script Writing and Director of the Topology Research Unit in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. Prior to this, he ran the film and television department at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. His credits as a writer and director include the reggae musical feature film Babymother (1998) and as a sound artist, Knots & Donuts, exhibited at Tate Modern in 2011. Henriques researches street cultures and technologies and his publications include Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation, and Subjectivity (1998), Sonic Bodies: Reggae Sound Systems, Performance Techniques, and Ways of Knowing (2011), and Sonic Media (forthcoming).
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      published contributions
  • Hanna Husberg
    • Hanna Husberg is a Stockholm-based artist. She graduated from ENSB-A in Paris in 2007 and is currently a PhD in Practice candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Erich Hörl
  • Timothy Johnson
  • Peter K. Haff
  • Laleh Khalili
  • Alexander Klose
    • Dr. Alexander Klose studied History, Law, Philosophy, Art, and Cultural Studies. From 2005-07 he held a scholarship at Bauhaus Universität Weimar for his PhD project on standardized containers used in transport as one of the leading material media in the 20th century. Between 2009 and 2014 he worked as a research associate and programme developer at Kulturstiftung des Bundes. In 2015 in the forefront of COP 21, he co-curated Blackmarket for Useful Knowledge and Non-Knowledge No. 18 – On Becoming Earthlings: 150 dialogues and exercises in shrinking and expanding the Human at Musée de l'Homme, Paris. His latest publication is: The Container Principle. How a box changes the way we think (2015).
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      published contributions
  • Karin Knorr Cetina
  • Scott Knowles
  • Nile Koetting
  • Nicole Koltick
    • Nicole Koltick is an assistant professor in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University, Philadelphia. She is Founding Director of the Design Futures Lab at Westphal College, which is currently pursuing design research to stimulate debate on the potential implications of emerging technological and scientific developments within society. Koltick’s practice spans art, science, technology, design, and philosophy, and current work focuses on the philosophical, material, and relational implications of aesthetics as they intersect with emerging developments in computational creativity, artificially intelligent autonomous systems, robotics, and synthetic biological hybrids.
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      published contributions
  • Nik Kosmas
  • Matthijs Kouw
    • Matthijs Kouw joined the Rathenau Instituut, The Hague, in March 2016. He holds an MA in Philosophy and an MSc in Science and Technology Studies from the University of Amsterdam as well as a PhD from Maastricht University. In his PhD thesis, Kouw describes how and to what extent reliance on models can introduce vulnerabilities through the assumptions, uncertainties, and blind spots concomitant with modeling practice. He was employed as a postdoctoral researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), during which time he acted as a member of the Dutch delegation for plenary sessions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
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      published contributions
  • Lars Kulik
    • Lars Kulik studied biology at the Humboldt University of Berlin. He received his doctorate on the development of social behavior of rhesus monkeys at the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. He lives with his family in Berlin.
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      published contributions
  • Richard L. Hindle
    • Richard L. Hindle is an assistant professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning at the University of California, Berkeley. His current research focuses on patent innovation in landscape related technologies, from large-scale mappings of riverine and coastal systems to detailed historical studies on the antecedents of vegetated architecture. His work explores the potential of new technological narratives and material processes to reframe theory, practice, and the production of landscape. Recent works include the articles “Levees That Might Have Been” (2015), and “Infrastructures of Innovation” in Scaling Infrastructure (MIT Center for Advanced Urbanism, 2016), and the exhibition Geographies of Innovation at UC Berkeley (2015).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Brian Larkin
  • John Law
    • hn Law was a professor of sociology at Keele University, Lancaster, and the Open University, Milton Keynes, and a co-director of the Economic and Social Researc
    • 1
      published contributions
  • S. Løchlann Jain
  • Donald MacKenzie
  • Laura McLean
    • Laura McLean is a curator, artist, and writer based in London. She is a graduate of Goldsmiths College and Sydney College of the Arts, where she later lectured. She has also studied at Alberta College of Art and Design, and the Universität der Künste Berlin.
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      published contributions
  • Eden Medina
    • Eden Medina is an associate professor of informatics and computing, affiliated associate professor of law, and adjunct associate professor of history at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research and teaching address the social, historical, and legal dimensions of our increasingly data-driven world, including the relationship of technology to human rights and free expression, the relationship between political innovation and technological innovation, and the ways that human and political values shape technological design. Medina’s writings also use science and technology as a way to broaden understandings of Latin American history and the geography of innovation. She is the author of Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile (2011) and the co-editor of Beyond Imported Magic: Essays on Science, Technology, and Society in Latin America (2014).
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      published contributions
  • Anne-Sophie Milon
    • Anne-Sophie Milon is an artist and a freelance illustrator and animator working and living in Bristol, UK. After completing two Masters in Art, she has recently concluded the program of experimentation in Art and Politics at SciencesPo (SPEAP) in Paris.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Gerald Nestler
    • Gerald Nestler is an artist and writer who combines theory and post-disciplinary conversation with video, installation, performance, text, code, graphics, sound, and speech. He explores what he calls the derivative condition of contemporary social relations and its paradigmatic financial models, operations, processes, narratives, and fictions. He is currently working on an “aesthetics of resolution” that maps counterfictions and counterimaginations for “renegade activism,” which revolves around the demonstration as a combined artistic, technological, social, and political practice. Nestler holds a practice-based PhD from the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London.
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      published contributions
  • James P. M. Syvitski
    • James P. M. Syvitski is Executive Director of the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS) at the University of Colorado Boulder. From 2011 to 2016, he chaired the International Council for Science’s International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), which provides essential scientific leadership and knowledge of the Earth system to help guide society toward a sustainable pathway during rapid global change. His specialty is the global flux of water and sediment (river and ocean borne) and its trends in the Anthropocene. He works at the forefront of computational geosciences, including sediment transport, land-ocean interactions, and Earth-surface dynamics.
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      published contributions
  • Luciana Parisi
    • Luciana Parisi is Reader in Cultural Theory, Chair of the PhD program in Cultural Studies, and Co-director of the Digital Culture Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research focuses on cybernetics, information theory and computation, complexity and evolutionary theories, and the technocapitalist investment in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. Her books include Abstract Sex: Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire (2004) and Contagious Architecture: Computation, Aesthetics, and Space (2013). She is currently researching the history of automation and the philosophical consequences of logical thinking in machines.
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      published contributions
  • Lisa Parks
  • Matteo Pasquinelli
  • Arno Rosemarin
  • Dorion Sagan
  • Birgit Schneider
  • Lizzie Stark
    • Lizzie Stark is an author, journalist, and experience designer. She is the author of two books, Pandora’s DNA (2014), exploring so-called ‘breast cancer genes’ and her first book, Leaving Mundania (2012), which investigates the subculture of live action role play, or larp. Her journalism and essays have appeared in The Washington Post, the Daily Beast, The Today Show Website, io9, Fusion, the Philadelphia Inquirer and elsewhere. She holds an MS from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has organized numerous conventions and experiences across the US. Her most recent work is as a programming coordinator for Living Games Austin, and as co-editor and contributor for the #Feminism anthology, which collects 34 nano-games written by feminists from eleven countries.
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      published contributions
  • Lucy Suchman
    • ology of Science and Technology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Lancaster, UK. Her research interests within the field of feminist science and technology studies are focused on technological imaginaries and material practices
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Jenna Sutela
    • Jenna Sutela’s installations, texts, and sound performances seek to identify and react to precarious social and material moments, often in relation to technology. Most recently, she has been exploring exceedingly complex biological and computational systems, ultimately unknowable and always becoming something new. Her work has been presented, among other places, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo and her writing has been published by Fiktion, Harvard Design Magazine, and Sternberg Press.
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      published contributions
  • Bronislaw Szerszynski
    • Bronislaw Szerszynski is a Reader in Sociology at Lancaster University in the UK. Szerszynski’s work has developed across several themes, including the role of Western religious history in shaping contemporary understandings of technology and the environment—typified by his book Nature, Technology and the Sacred (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005).
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      published contributions
  • Elisa T. Bertuzzo
    • Elisa T. Bertuzzo studied comparative literature, sociology, communication, and media studies and holds a PhD in urban studies. She was a curator and project leader with Habitat Forum Berlin, including for the project Paradigmising Karail Basti (2010–16). Bridging discourses from the fields of cultural and urban studies, her research focuses on the everyday life facets of urbanization and settlement in South Asia. On that topic, she published Fragmented Dhaka: Analysing Everyday Life with Henri Lefebvre’s Theory of Production of Space (2009) and runs her multimedia project Archives of Movement (since 2012), which deals with the everyday life of temporary labor migrants in Bangladesh and India.
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      published contributions
  • Gregory T. Cushman
    • Gregory T. Cushman is Associate Professor of International Environmental History at the University of Kansas.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Nasrin Tabatabai
    • Nasrin Tabatabai is an artist who works both in Iran and the Netherlands. Since 2004, she has collaborated with Babak Afrassiabi on various joint projects and the publication of the bilingual magazine Pages (Farsi and English). Their work seeks to articulate the undecidable space between art and its historical conditions, including the recurring question of the place of the archive in defining the juncture between politics, history, and the practice of art. The artists’ work has been presented internationally in various solo and group exhibitions and they have been tutors at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht (2008–13), and Erg, école supérieure des arts, Brussels (2015–).
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Katerina Teaiwa
    • Dr. Katerina Teaiwa is Associate Professor at the Department of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History & Language and the president of the Australian Association for Pacific Studies. Her main area of research looks at the histories of phosphate mining in the central Pacific. Her work does not only span academic research, publications, and lectures, but also manifests itself in other formats within the arts and popular culture. Her work has inspired a permanent exhibition at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which tells the story of Pacific phosphate mining through Banaban dance. In 2015, she published „Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba“, Indiana University Press. She is currently working with visual artist Yuki Kihara on a multimedia exhibition for Carriageworks in Sydney.
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      published contributions
  • Jol Thomson
  • Claire Tolan
  • John Tresch
  • Etienne Turpin
    • Etienne Turpin is a philosopher, Founding Director of anexact office, and a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, where he coordinates the Humanitarian Infrastructures Group and co-directs the PetaBencana.id disaster mapping project for the Urban Risk Lab. He is the editor of Architecture in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Design, Deep Tim
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      published contributions
  • Asonseh Ukah
    • Asonzeh Ukah is a sociologist and historian of religion. He joined the University of Cape Town in 2013 and previously taught at the University of Bayreuth (2005–13), where he also earned a doctorate and habilitation in history of religions. His research interests include religious urbanism, the sociology of Pentecostalism, and religion and media. He is Director of the Research Institute on Christianity and Society in Africa (RICSA), University of Cape Town, and Affiliated Senior Fellow of Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), University of Bayreuth. He is the author of A New Paradigm of Pentecostal Power (2008) and Bourdieu in Africa (edited with Magnus Echtler, 2016).
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      published contributions
  • Underworlds
  • Sebastian Vehlken
    • Sebastian Vehlken is a media theorist and cultural historian at Leuphana University Lüneburg and Permanent Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study on Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS). From 2013 to 2017, he worked as MECS Junior Director, and in 2015–16, he was a visiting professor at Humboldt-Universität Berlin, the University of Vienna, and Leuphana. His areas of interest include the theory and history of computer simulation and digital media, the media history of swarm intelligence, and the epistemology of think tanks. His current research project, Plutonium Worlds, explores the application of computer simulations in West German fast breeder reactor programs.
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      published contributions
  • Vladimir Vernadsky
  • Davor Vidas
    • Davor Vidas is a research professor in international law and Director of the Law of the Sea Programme at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Lysaker, Norway. He is Chair of the Committee on International Law and Sea Level Rise and a member of the Anthropocene Working Group. Vidas has been involved in international law research for over thirty years, focusing since 2009 on implications of the Anthropocene for the development of international law. Among his books are The World Ocean in Globalisation (2011) and Law, Technology and Science for Oceans in Globalisation (2010). He is the editor-in-chief of the book series Anthropocene (Skolska knjiga, Zagreb), launched in 2017.
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      published contributions
  • Hannes Wiedemann
    • Hannes Wiedemann is a Berlin-based photographer. He studied at the Ostkreuz School of Photography, Berlin. For his project Grinders (2015–16), he followed the American bodyhacking community, a small group of people across the United States working out of garages and basements to become real cyborgs. Recent exhibitions include NEW PHOTOGRAPHY II (2017) at Gallery ALAN, Istanbul, and HUMAN UPGRADE, with Susanna Hertrich (2016), at Schader-Stiftung Gallery, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt. www.hanneswiedemann.com
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      published contributions
  • Cary Wolfe
    • Cary Wolfe is Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English and Founding Director of 3CT: Center for Critical and Cultural Theory at Rice University, Houston. He is the author of What Is Posthumanism? (2010), a book that weaves together principal concerns of his work: animal studies, system theory, pragmatism, and post-structuralism. It is part of the series Posthumanities, for which he serves as Founding Editor at the University of Minnesota Press. His most recent publication is Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in Biopolitical Frame (2013) and earlier books and edited collections include Animal Rites: American Culture, The Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory (2003) and Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal (2003).
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      published contributions
  • Andrew Yang
  • Jan Zalasiewicz
    • Dr. Jan Zalasiewicz is Professor of Palaeobiology at the University of Leicester and Chair of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy. A field geologist, paleontologist, and stratigrapher, he teaches and publishes on geology and earth history, in particular on fossil ecosystems and environments that span over half a billion years of geological time.
    • 1
      published contributions
  • Anna Zett
  • Liv Østmo
    • Liv Østmo is one of the founders and current Dean of the Sámi University of Applied Sciences, Kautokeino, Norway, where she researches and lectures on the subject of multicultural understanding. For the last eight years, Østmo has worked with traditional Sámi knowledge and she is currently working on putting the finishing touches on a methodology book about the documentation of this knowledge.
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Günter Nest 2016

Creolized Technologies of Demoralization

While creolized technologies could be understood as reasserting the “human” in the technosphere, theorist and urbanist Elisa T. Bertuzzo argues that it is not necessarily humane. In parsing out the precarious and often informal archipelago-like social spaces in the Karail Basti neighborhood of Dhaka, she depicts the techniques of relation that emerge between residents, state actors, the economy, and natural degradation.
Creolizations and the discourse on the technosphere: A rencontre with losses
About the notion of creolizations (preferably in plural), I like above all the ambiguity. Ambiguity that emanates from the processes the term describes, since if as Édouard Glissant put it, “métissage is determinism and creolization, in relation to métissage, is the producer of what is unpredictable,Compare Édouard Glissant, Introduction à une Poétique du Divers. Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1996, p. 89 (my translation). In Poetics of Relation (1996), Glissant explained: “[creolization] is not merely […] a métissage, but a new and original dimension allowing each person to be there and elsewhere, rooted and open, lost in the mountains and free beneath the sea, in harmony and in errantry […] Creolization diffracts, whereas certain forms of métissage can concentrate one more time […] Its most obvious symbol is in the Creole language, whose genius consists in always being open, that is, perhaps, never becoming fixed except according to systems of variables that we have to imagine as much as define. […] [T]he explosion of cultures does not mean they are scattered or mutually diluted. It is the violent sign of their consensual, not imposed, sharing.” See Glissant, Poetics of Relation, trans Betsy Wing. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1997, p. 34.
creolization processes cannot but engender sorts of action and of thought whose premises and modes elude classification. This much is certain: “creolization” isn’t reduced to cosmopolitanism or hybridization and doesn’t describe merely cultural appropriation – not even in the emancipatory sense once given to the term by anti-colonial authors.For example, Oswald de Andrade, “Manifesto Antropófago,” Revista de Antropofagia, vol. 1, no. 1 (1928); trans. Leslie Bary, “Cannibal Manifesto,” 1991.
Rather, at least going by Glissant, creolizations occur when the modes of naming, thus also thinking, both material and abstract “things” of our world become plural and this plurality creates echoes. Echoes, not cacophony, since in the expanded social space of creolized cultures and practices, respective traditions diffract in time instead of harshly overlapping each other, whereby the minuscule gap that separates emission and diffraction is filled with possibility. Accordingly, one way to conceive of creolizations is in terms of ongoing replacements of old “techniques of the absolute” through “techniques of relation” that bring forth an archipelago-like thought and social space.In the words of Glissant, Poetics of Relation, pp. 89 and 95 respectively: since “[w]e are not prompted solely by the defining of our identities but by their relation to everything possible as well – the mutual mutations generated by this interplay of relations” ‒ “[t]echniques of relation are gradually substituted for techniques of the absolute, which frequently were techniques of self-absolution. The arts of expanse relate (dilate) the arts of depth . . .”
Let’s now suppose that these techniques, operationalized in everyday practice, took the form of creolized technologies: what would the “additional possibility” imported by creolized technologies in the technosphere be? It seems to me that like every transfer, that of the concept of creolization from the field of linguistic and literary studies to the debate around the impact of technological progress on our “-sphere” and future, brings some friction and some loss with itself. Friction arises from the concept per se: shouldn’t technologies – devices and instruments programmed (literally and not) in order to fix, ease, and control production‒consumption‒reproduction – be totally resistant to creolization? On closer examination, it stands out that technologies are no less ambiguous than merely the delineated processes of creolization. Aside from the fact that their impact on our ways of thinking, though it might be well connoted by the archipelago metaphor, is to date unclear, also their practical implications are difficult to predict. Part of the reason is that their users, makers, agents are increasingly dispersed, variously entrenched, and progressively empowered, in a center-less scenario that indeed reminds of the creolization contexts. Here, the pertinence of the issue for an investigation of the “technosphere” stands out. If the latter is conceptualized as the cumulative interweaving of technologies and natural environments, creolized technologies could be regarded as technologies, which reassert “the human” in the technosphere, and make its already complex relations even more unpredictable, importing in it a whole lot of additional possibility. Note that in this definition, I subsume creolized cultures and practices under the “human” without any idealization. Dominant representations and modes of production forge and constrain everything human: cultures and practices, creolized or not.

So, while creolized technologies interfere in unexpected ways with other technologies and natural environments, that is, with the technosphere itself that merges them, the “human” interference should not pass for necessarily humane.

Creolized technologies can serve individuals and collectives entertaining dynamic relations in social space, but are as well at the disposal of regimes of power pursuing a limitation of these same dynamics. In other words, the “techniques of relation” that facilitating the encounter of various traditions, create intervals of unpredictability‒possibility, don’t operate in a power-less space and no one should expect creolizations to protect a technologically dominated planetary system, even the emergent archipelago-like social space, from conflict. This is the reason for which, above, I suggested that the adaptation of the literary theory of creolization to an analysis of the technosphere might imply some loss: the discourse, based as it is on the supposition of a consensual sharing, doesn’t take due account of the high probability of conflict, especially in and among collectives, and the potential risk represented by decidedly not pro-people “creolized state technologies.”
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Günter Nest 2016


On ephemeral collectives bringing up creolized technologies
What do creolized technologies reveal about the technosphere? My tentative answers, here, draw on observations of everyday-life practices adopted by the inhabitants of a neighborhood of Bangladesh’s capital city, Dhaka, and of recent measures taken by the state with regard to the same. When I call Karail Basti “neighborhood," I do so in an act of resistance against its far more common designation, “slum” – a designation imposed from the outside and from the top, i.e. via the English-speaking circles of international development cooperation and their innumerable “slum upgrading” programs. The inhabitants, on their part, have always spoken of basti, which in Bengali means settlement, simple as that. The competing names mirror deeper conflicts around rather nasty issues, such as the allocation of urban “prime land” for developers’ and politicians’ dreams of a “smart,” obviously slum-free capital city fitting the needs of twenty-first century life; the fact that the area, 400 × 500 meters of publicly owned land, is declared to be illegally encroached; and sure enough, class conflicts too: those who have built Karail literally from scratch are the poor. In particular, since the early 1990s this basti has become the home of nearly 120,000 people between urban poor evicted from other settlements or displaced in the aftermath of development projects, and rural poor escaped from natural disasters or sheer poverty in the countryside. Today, it is hard to imagine that until thirty years ago, Karail wasn’t but a swampy plot of land surrounded by the dead branches of a former canal and that its only occupants were scattered seasonal workers. Only with the stories of the earliest residents in mind can one read its multilayered space. Then, the grid of partly paved roads, contrasting with the labyrinth of tiny and invariably unsealed lanes to the north, hints at a fire, perhaps at a particularly severe flood, after which NGOs straightened the roads to create sort-of escape routes. Then, the whistling at night can’t be mistaken for playful signals of teenagers any longer, but speaks about the threat of robbery and neighbors organized against it. Then, the well-assorted vegetable market and the thousands of workshops, scrap recycling posts, eateries, cloth and garments shops, as well as the many cycle-rickshaw garages, tell the success stories of individuals who, hardly literate, managed to start thriving enterprises with the help of microcredit. With my ten years of relationships and stays, I can all the same claim I have been witness of one very important success story. Until 2013‒14, water used to reach Karail from the middle- and upper-middle-class apartment buildings of the surroundings via black pipes, which crossed the lake to the east and the boundary roads of Beltala and T&T to the west and north; for around fifteen minutes a day, every cluster – each à seven to fifteen or even twenty rooms ‒ i.e. households – would tap from one of these pipes the daily requirement of water and store it in buckets. The hardships of those days now belong to the past, thanks to the community-based leaders, or CBOs, who helped by an NGO, joined hands with CBOs from other bastis and advocated seven long years for a right to water.
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The provision of electricity, on the contrary, continues to be ensured via a “tap system,” whereby the self-organized, or creolized, supply chain means that those selling the facilities have a certain amount of maintenance work for which the end users bear the costs. Also the legalized water-management system contemplates creolized elements: instead of engineers from the water authority or public works department, the CBOs were acknowledged to be the most qualified to look after the needful construction works; to obviate the absence of registered addresses, a paperless payment system reliant on mobile phones has come into being. In the two latter instances, the implementation of creolized technologies relies on the capability to establish novel relations outside of Karail, since the owners or managers of “legal” houses in the surroundings as well as the local employees of respective suppliers must be addressed, convinced and at times, bribed.Concerning the relations with NGOs, the high professionalization and standardization of development cooperation makes it difficult to define the adopted approaches as “novel,” but it seems accurate to say that the intervention of NGOs fosters and requires “novel” relations insofar as it always reacts to specific local circumstances and actors.
Which relations do govern everyday life inside the basti? The examples provided above seem to substantiate my working definition of creolized technologies. Karail’s gross population, arrived from elsewhere in the capital city, are “peripheral” in the eyes of the elites (often, unfortunately, in their own eyes as well). The technologies they had to devise in order to survive in the basti oppose to the homogenizing city very peculiar modes of action, based on unpredictable relations and making the impossible – whether the provision of basic services or the largely peaceful coexistence of thousands under circumstances of extreme population density – possible. The effect is that Karail’s social space, in lived experience, is not “peripheral” but truly archipelagic. Let me repeat that these relations are “human,” and not automatically humane. Firstly, there’s less collective deliberation than tactics, sagacity, and power at play when cannier, wealthier, and/or politically backed residents organize water and electricity networks, monopolize the scarce public areas, or grab their neighbors’ land to build bigger compounds and exact rents.I described the mass production of housing more specifically in Elisa Bertuzzo, “On the Myth of Informal Urbanisation: Karail Basti, Dhaka,” in ARCH+ 223 (2016), pp. 110‒17.
Secondly, with the sheer numbers undermining the scope for direct representation, Karail’s cannot be defined a community – at least not in Tönnies’ understanding of homogeneous groups whose members have personal ties. Also in this regard, the choice of “neighborhood,” conveying the spatial proximity characteristic if not essential to most of the basti’s technologies, makes sense: it doesn’t promise grassroots democracy, but hints at the constant necessity to overcome conflicts in creative, if uncertain, instances of encounter.

When state technologies become creolized
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Günter Nest 2016

Throughout the past decades, the state has negated Karail’s inhabitants a right to stay and blatantly ignored their existence: so much so that in the official maps of Dhaka, the area is represented as vacant. On the other hand, it neglected to fund affordable housing in the growing city and left the delivery of delimited basic infrastructures, from schools to health services to microcredit, to the NGOs. Most recently, plans to build an IT-village on the site made their appearance in conferences as well as the Bengali and English-speaking media; more or less in parallel, representatives of urban and state government, city corporation, as well as political parties started to deploy the argument of “climate resilience” against the “environmentally vulnerable” settlement. Certainly, this could help lend legitimacy to an eviction. In such case, however, the authorities would have to abide by international laws, which foresee compensation and/or rehabilitation i.e. resettlement on alternative land, and given the number of people affected, this would require remarkable financial and institutional engagement.Bangladesh lacks, to date, a national law regulating the modalities of eviction, rehabilitation, and resettlement of the poor.
Moreover, Karail’s most radical groups are determined to stay put in the neighborhood – which they regard as the outcome of long-term individual as well as collective struggles – and have demanded a full transfer of the ownership titles. Thereby, they can count on city- and countrywide coalitions as well as on their basti’s meanwhile global fame, ensured through scientific and media exposure.

To respond to such, unexpected, resistance corroborated by novel relations, one needs similarly novel techniques and in fact, in the last six months the state has come up with its own creolized technologies of intimidation.

For one, the shock caused by a terrorist attack against foreigners in July 2016 has given the opportunity to implement demoralizing “security” measures in urban space. Because terrorists could easily find refuge in slums, the government ordered to block the means of transportation to and from Karail (and other bastis), i.e. the boats of a fully self-organized ferry system as well as a huge fleet of widely unregistered cycle rickshaws. The tragic ban cost a large number of the basti’s inhabitants their jobs and source of income, compelling some to move away; in early December, it revealed fatal also for the victims of a sudden fire that destroyed circa 600 dwellings, since in the absence of boats, rescuing any belongings was almost impossible. Although thanks to the prompt intervention of NGOs and civil society, all victims could avail of quick financial and technical help to rebuild and refurbish their huts, the fire has left many in Karail deeply concerned. They refuse to see in it an accident and suspect that the explosion, occurred nearby a mattresses workshop and cotton storage room, was staged by the local supporters of the government party. Yet the police didn’t start any investigation and at least for the outside world, the “rumor” reported by the media waned within days.
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Unheard, life-threatened, deprived of their jobs, and even suspected to protect terrorists: how much longer are the basti’s inhabitants going to bear the pressure? How long and how far can grassroots practices and creolized technologies protect against top-down spatial strategies availing of “creolized” technologies themselves? Karail’s story shows that self-organization can build up basic infrastructures and motivate the poor to struggle for their right to stay put, but that in regimes authoritarian or desperate enough, the ability to foster new relations can also mean the adoption of uncanny dispositifs of oppression on the part of the state. The uncanny is that, opposed to mass-eviction in the name of urban development or “soft” expulsion in the name of environmental regeneration, these dispositifs are unpredictable and difficult to backtrack.
For a temporary conclusion, I would stress that creolized technologies aren’t, and can’t be, less ambiguous than the relations that bring them about: they will comprise of a wealth of effects and counter-effects – positive and negative, spatial and temporal, at the local and at the macro-level. They remind in poignant manner that technologies are not the source, but the result of a long tradition of human efforts to dominate the natural environments. At the same time, as this will for domination, imposed on space, increases the risk of natural destruction (obviously aside that of social self-destruction), they push our urgent need for technologies of resistance forward. Here, Karail’s inhabitants are closer than one could expect to the inhabitants of neighborhoods suffocated by gentrification worldwide and also to the citizens of all those countries in which, right now, the threat of undemocratic and erratic action looms.

In the night between March 15 and 16, when this contribution had already been submitted, a fire plagued Karail Basti once again. Within less than five hours, it devastated its whole southern area, formerly thriving with shops, schools as well as homes, and leaving circa 17,000 people homeless.