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  • 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–).
    • published contributions
  • Malin Ah-King
  • Memo Akten
    • . He is currently a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is researching artificial intelligence, machine learning, and expressive human-ma
    • published contributions
  • Jamie Allen
  • 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
    • published contributions
  • Sammy Baloji
  • Subhankar Banerjee
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Etienne Benson
  • Josh Berson
  • Jeremy Bolen
  • Paul Boshears
  • Benjamin Bratton
    • for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow. Bratton is also Professor of Digital Design at the Eur
    • published contributions
  • 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.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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).
    • published contributions
  • Amy Cimini
  • 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).
    • published contributions
  • Flavio D'Abramo
  • Ana Dana Beroš
    • chitect and curator focused on creating uncertain, fragile environments that catalyze social chan
    • published contributions
  • Pietro Daniel Omodeo
  • 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
    • 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
    • published contributions
  • Rohini Devasher
  • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Design Earth
    • ollaborative architectural practice led by El Hadi Jazairy
    • published contributions
  • Keller Easterling
  • Anna Echterhölter
  • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Technosphere Editorial
  • Sasha Engelmann
  • Lois Epstein
    • stein is Arctic Program Director at the Wilderness Society an American land conservation non-profit. A licensed engineer, she has served on a number of federal advisory committees, including a National Academy of Sciences committee studying oil and gas regulations, and, for twelve years, a committee focusing on oil pipeline safety. Epstein holds a Master of Civil Engineering with a specialization in environme
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  • 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).
    • published contributions
  • Elaine Gan
  • Oliver Gantner
  • Beate Geissler and Oliver Sann
  • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Mark Graham
  • Jacques Grinevald
  • Johan Gärdebo
    • Johan Gärdebo is a PhD candidate at the Royal Institute of Technology affiliated to the Environmental Humanities Laboratory (EHL). H
    • 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
    • published contributions
  • Eva Hayward
  • Gabrielle Hecht
  • Gerda Heck
  • Florian Hecker
    • dio 3 as the broadcaster’s first ever live binaural broadcast. Recent major exhibitions
    • 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).
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Sabine Höhler
  • Erich Hörl
  • Timothy Johnson
  • Peter K. Haff
  • Bernd Kasparek
  • Nikos Katsikis
  • Laleh Khalili
  • Axel Kleidon
  • 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).
    • 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.
    • 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).
    • published contributions
  • Matija Kralj
  • Kei Kreutler
  • 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.
    • 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).
    • published contributions
  • Hannah Landecker
  • Brian Larkin
  • Bruno Latour
  • Manfred Laubichler
  • 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
    • published contributions
  • Yoneda Lemma
    • ents from one fiction to another. She has exhibited her work at V4ULT, Berlin; Le Cube, Par
    • published contributions
  • Esther Leslie
    • t theories of aesthetics and culture, with a particular focus on the work of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. It deals with the poetics of science, European literary and visual modern
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  • George Lewis
    • my of Arts and Letters, New York. He has been a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Chicago, since 1971. Lewis’s work as composer, electronic performer, installa
    • published contributions
  • S. Løchlann Jain
  • Donald MacKenzie
  • Stefan Maier
  • Chowra Makaremi
  • Annapurna Mamidipudi
  • 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.
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Paul N. Edwards
  • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Huiying Ng
  • Daniel Niles
    • terial, millenary and momentary—that their knowledge takes, and, finally, the significance of this experience to our understanding of t
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Lisa Parks
  • Matteo Pasquinelli
  • Karen Pinkus
    • w York. She is also a faculty fellow of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Ithaca. Author of numerous publications in literary studies, Italian studies, critical theory, and environmental humanities, Pinkus is also Editor of the journal Diacritics. In her latest book, Fuel (2016), Pinkus thinks about issues crucial to climate ch
    • published contributions
  • Giulia Rispoli
  • Sophia Roosth
    • t when researchers are building new biological systems in order to investigate how biology works. She holds a PhD from the Massachuse
    • published contributions
  • Arno Rosemarin
  • Rafico Ruiz
    • afico Ruiz is Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. He studies the relationships between mediation and social space, particularly in the Arctic and subarctic; the cultural geographies of natural resource engagements; and
    • published contributions
  • Kim Rygiel
    • f International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada. Her research focuses on border security, migration, and citizenship in North America and Europe. She investigates how citizens and non-citizens engage in citizenship practices and challenge notions
    • published contributions
  • Dorion Sagan
  • Isabelle Saint-Saëns
  • Birgit Schneider
  • Sever
    • SEVER was developed as a speculative design project by Francesco Sebregondi, Alexey Platonov, Inna Pokazanyeva, and Ildar Iakubov during the New Normal postgraduate program at Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, Moscow. SEVER seeks to intervene into current Arctic debates by disturbing the landscape of the region’s possible futures
    • published contributions
  • Jens Soentgen
  • C Spencer Yeh
  • Nick Srnicek
  • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Carolyn Steel
  • Benjamin Steininger
  • 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
    • published contributions
  • Kaushik Sunder Rajan
    • echnology studies, and postcolonial studies, holding a special interest in the global political economy of biomedicine, with a comparative focus on the Un
    • 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.
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Gregory T. Cushman
    • Gregory T. Cushman is Associate Professor of International Environmental History at the University of Kansas.
    • 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–).
    • published contributions
  • Ksenia Tatarchenko
    • dies Institute, Geneva University, specializing in the history of Russian science and technology. She has held positions as a visiting Assistant Professor of History at NYU Shanghai and a post-doctoral fellow at the Harriman Institute, Columbia. Most broadly, she studies questions of knowledge circulation to situate Soviet developments in the global context. She is currently writing a book on science and innovation cultures in Siberia provisionally
    • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Terre Thaemlitz
  • 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
    • 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).
    • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Vladimir Vernadsky
  • Ben Vida
    • Korea, Australia ,and Europe at such institutions as the Guggenheim, New York; Centro Pecci, Prato, Italy; STUK Arts Center, Leuven
    • published contributions
  • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Kalindi Vora
  • Jennifer Walshe
    • porary Arts, New York; DAAD Berliner Künstle
    • 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
    • published contributions
  • Elvia Wilk
  • 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).
    • 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.
    • published contributions
  • Anna Zett
  • Sander van der Leeuw
    • ionships, and complex systems theory. He investigates the preconditions for and the practices and role of invention, sustainability, and innovation in societies. He has done
    • published contributions
  • 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.
    • published contributions
Source: Wiki Commons
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma of the small intestine.

Anthropocene in the Cell

What does it take for the life sciences to reflect on themselves and their conceptual models in the era of the technosphere? In this conversation, sociologist Hannah Landecker and historian of science Flavio D’Abramo discuss the drastic shifts in our understandings of body-environment dynamics made visible by recent insights within the fields of epidemiology and epigenetics. They point to the necessity of reflecting on the limits of the organism itself, given the ways in which the social, ecological, and multi-species environments are intertwined with the biological one.
A Conversation between Hannah Landecker and Flavio D'Abramo on Body-Environment Dynamics in Anthropogenic Times
Flavio D'Abramo: I would like to open this conversation about social science and contemporary biology by discussing studies made in open ecological contexts that show the continuity between organisms and their environments. These studies show the necessity of bridging the nature/culture dichotomy. In some species belonging to the goby, wrasse, and bass groups of fishes, for instance, the meeting of counterparts can change sex determination, a process that is mediated by the fish’s senses, which in turn control hormones, which in turn regulate the expression of genes, which in a few hours coordinate the transformation of sexual physiology. In these fishes, environmental and social factors trigger a change of the body itself. In animal and plant kingdoms, there are plenty of examples that reveal the high plasticity of organisms as shown in developmental biology and epigenetics.Mary Jane West-Eberhard, Developmental Plasticity and Evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003; Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb, Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005; Scott F. Gilbert and David Epel, Ecological Developmental Biology: Integrating Epigenetics, Medicine, and Evolution. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2008.
For instance, there are butterflies whose coloring and size depend on the season in which they are born. Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, classified two of these butterflies into two different species (Papilio levana and Papilio prorsa). Some decades later, the entomologist Jacob Hübner recognized that these two butterflies that Linnaeus had sorted out into two species are just one species that develops different colors and sizes. Linnaeus thought of nature as a quite fixed expression of dynamics, and he ignored the key role of many environmental factors.
Hannah Landecker: He was thinking of a stable environment.
Two variations of Araschnia levana exhibiting pronounced differences in appearance due to the differences in light and temperature in the respective seasons of their breeding. Sources: The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London, CC0-1.0

Flavio D'Abramo: Exactly. Similarly, the lower jaw dimension of humans is determined by the solidity of the food chewed during the first years of life. The mechanical action of jaw muscles activates a feedback loop involving genes that coordinate bone growth. But the most striking case that shows the dynamicity of the biological world is that of bacteria and the relationship between them and us. We each host a microbiome, and this ecosystem shapes both physiology and function.Thomas C. Bosch and David J. Miller, The Holobiont Imperative. Perspectives from Early Emerging Animals. Wien: Springer, 2016.
This fact is true for most of animals and plants, and in mice, for instance, there is a bacterium that lives in the gut and coordinates the formation of intestinal vessels by regulating gene expression. In humans, other bacteria coordinate the formation of lymphocytes called helper T cells, a fundamental part of our immune system.
Hannah Landecker: I think in each of these cases, it is instructive to ask: Why am I surprised by that explanation? Why is it surprising that resident bacteria are essential to determining intestinal physiology? Why is it surprising that seasonality can be so integrated into development that it produces a body form that looks like two different species? Why do these cases push up against the structures of expectation that we have? Epigenetics and microbiome science are interesting in and of themselves, but they are also a useful reflexivity tool for delimiting the structure of thought. These new forms of scientific explanation are like a biological stain—you put it on a cell, and it reveals the structures in the cell. Thinking through epigenetics stains the conceptual apparatus, and all of a sudden, it shows quite sharply how things are categorized, such as expectations about what’s inside and what’s outside an organism. Although researchers often use epigenetics and the microbiome to try to understand disease, these sciences show us that all development and ongoing life are in a constant process of transduction, incorporation, and adjustment of what we’ve traditionally thought of as being “outside” of organisms. In fact, if “environmental” input didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be a being at all.
Have you seen the recent paper led by Yun Teng from Huang-Ge Zhang’s lab that shows that exosomes containing microRNAs in foods such as ginger are preferentially taken up by certain species of gut bacteria, where they participate in bacterial gene regulation?Yun Teng, Yi Ren, Mohammed Sayed, Xin Hu, Chao Lei, Anil Kumar, Elizabeth Hutchins et al., “Plant-derived Exosomal MicroRNAs Shape the Gut Microbiota,” Cell Host & Microbe, vol. 24, no. 5 (2018), pp. 637–52.
In modulating bacterial life, they also affect the gut-barrier function of the host animal. This is exactly what I mean by “a surprising result” that shows how we have thought—in this case, about the inertness of the matter we ingest. Now we see that plant matter informs (not just feeds) bacteria, which in turn inform animal cells that shape the very physiology of the barrier between the gut lumen and the body. It is a bit hard even to say what we will ultimately consider to be “the environment” in this scene. The plants? The bacteria? But the body is the environment for the bacteria and the interface between body tissues and gut microbes is clearly dynamic; they are embedded in one another.
Flavio D'Abramo: It seems today we are experiencing a welcome disruption of expectations we have about the dynamicity of organisms. Our thought has been molded by cases of disease or situations in which developmental trajectories of animal growth have been altered by chemical substances that mimic hormones (also known as endocrine disruptors) released in the environment or by other environmental conditions. Some plastics used for food packaging, herbicides, and the increasing salinity of drinkable water exacerbated by higher sea levels deviate the development of the organs of animals, humans included. Aneire Khan and Paolo Vineis, epidemiologists with whom I’ve been working in London, have shown that the salinity of drinkable water caused by climate change determines the onset of salt-related pathological conditions such as hypertension, eclampsia in pregnancy, and cholera outbreaks.Paolo Vineis, Aneire Khan, and Flavio D’Abramo, “Epistemological Issues Raised by Research on Climate Change,” in Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo, and Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 493–501.
Disciplines such as ecological developmental biology, established recently by Scott F. Gilbert, show us that most of the characteristics of organisms, human health included, originate and are preserved within the encounters with other forms of life such as bacteria. Think, for instance, of the biological history of mitochondria described by Lynn Margulis or horizontal gene transfer studied by Carl Woese and W. Ford Doolittle.
Bacterial toxin in the intestine of a child infected with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. After being invested via contaminated food or water, the E. coli bacteria colonize the gut and produce the toxin, which then crosses the gastrointestinal barrier to enter systemic circulation and reach the kidney and other target organs. Source: S. Schuller, Cell Image Library: 38952, Homo sapiens, Escherichia coli, endothelial cell, 2012, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

I’d like to turn now to the implications of the new organism-environment thinking in the context of the Anthropocene. In fields that involve massive interventions toward humans or animals—for instance, biomedicine and food production—substances are produced, intentionally and unintentionally, and then put on the market. In recent studies, I have shown how the disruptive use of chemicals and disruptive behaviours have an impact on both human biology and our way of thinking and planning, as well as on scientific research.Flavio D’Abramo and Danya F. Vears, “Health, Wealth and Behavioural Change: An Exploration of Role Responsibilities in the Wake of Epigenetics,” Journal of Community Genetics, vol. 9, no. 2 (2018), pp. 153–67.
Some by-products of mining such as arsenic have been put on the market as antiparasitics, which have allowed intensive livestock growth and the flourishing of some billions of humans. But out of these processes, antibiotic resistance and a severe deterioration of the environment have also arisen. In your own research, Hannah, you have shown how a capitalist ecology is created out of these processes.See Hannah Landecker, “Antibiotic Resistance and the Biology of History,” Body & Society, vol. 22, no. 4 (2016), pp. 19–52; and Hannah Landecker, “Trace Amounts at Industrial Scale: Arsenicals, Medicated Feed, and the ‘Western Diet,’” in Angela Creager and Jean-Paul Gaudillière (eds.), Risk at the Table,forthcoming.
Industrial processes have grown in scope and beyond the frame of intentionality. So it’s like our societies have lost the capacity to control what’s happening on a larger scale, even as we realize the importance of the environmental scale.
Hannah Landecker: Well, that is, if societies ever had such control. For me, the concept of the biology of history in my work on antibiotic resistance really came from realizing that in one timescale, you can have control—for instance, in the immediate present, you can control infectious disease quite well.See Landecker, “Antibiotic Resistance and the Biology of History.”
Antibiotics were very effective in this regard. Yet at the very same time, through the very same actions—but in a different timescale—you’re losing control in the form of rising resistance. It’s just that the first trajectory is located in a scale of immediacy, of treating this patient in front of you right now. The other is unfolding on a longer timeframe and at a different scale. Thus you can simultaneously successfully treat the patient in front of you and drive the dynamics of antibiotic resistance. We tend to think of things as working or not working, having control or not having control, but maybe it’s not so clear-cut. Thinking of those two outcomes as simultaneous and unfolding in the form of biological consequences—particularly in light of the sciences we discussed just now—is quite helpful. What kind of biology, or biologies, are forming now? There are a number of people thinking about the fact that we can’t say that our current situation, with its pervasiveness of anthropogenic chemicals, is an aberration that if corrected would simply return us to a prior state of purity. Take, for example, Alexis Shotwell’s work Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times or Michelle Murphy’s idea of “alterlife”; both point to anthropogenic change, chemicals included, as integrated into kinship and development, as now part of us and human reproduction.Alexis Shotwell, Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016; Michelle Murphy, “Alterlife and Decolonial Chemical Relations,” Cultural Anthropology, vol. 32, no. 4 (2017), pp. 494–503.
If we’re going to think with the inextricability of organisms and environments at mind, then it seems clear to me that the Anthropocene isn’t just about climate change that affects organisms downstream. Rather, there is a historically unfolding biology of this world at this time—an Anthropocene in the cell, if you will, right down there in the topography of epigenetic chromatin modifications and microRNAs. So this may be a depressing thought, I guess, but it also seems more realistic as a way to think about anthropogenic influence in terms of biology and society today. The social environment has a physicality to it when things such as crowding and stress play such a central role in disease and development. Likewise, the physical environment is also socially formatted, in terms of the distribution of chemical, nutrient, and polluting matter. It is in these terms that we might need to discuss control, or lack thereof.
Flavio D'Abramo: I hear what you are saying, but at the same time, in scientific studies focusing on epigenetics of trauma and stress, there are some models for returning to a normal epigenome: re-establishing the equilibrium after trauma, intoxication, violence, a forced migration, an experience of war or famine. Often, these are molecular therapeutics designed on the principles of chemical characteristics of histone proteins, for instance, and they assume that the system can be reset back to its previous, pristine state. This seems to be exactly the opposite of conceiving nature as an interrelated network of organisms. So this is what puzzles me: How are older models that assume control of bodies or diseases by manipulating a few molecules important for gene expression still so powerful, even in the heart of a scientific framework that seems to speak against that possibility? Is it conceivable to shift knowledge production to activate more self-reflection? Is science capable of looking at itself and the models that have proven to be wrong?
Hannah Landecker: Maybe. Scientists themselves are quite good at understanding that if you identify hidden assumptions, you often produce innovation or a surprising finding. There’s a sort of auto-critique built into the competitiveness of science, in the form of looking for questions that other people haven’t asked. Nonetheless, the pressures of specialization and productivity in the sciences can make it hard for people to think about assumption structures or compare sub-disciplinary perspectives
—Gosh this is how it works in epidemiology, but this is how it’s working in evolutionary biology.
I could make a joke that we should be developing a “reflexivity pill.” Maybe we need to dose everybody with the “reflexivity molecule” so that they take that mode of thinking into their work every day. But seriously, it’s about more than just how people think. It’s also about what is happening out there in the world, to bring it back to the question of biology in the Anthropocene. The materiality of the world pushes on scientific and biomedical explanation as well. Explanations that really fail to account for phenomena or fail as interventions in the face of, say, metabolic disorders or antibiotic resistance will be easier to dislodge. Sometimes, once an alternative framework is visible, we see very quick change—as we’re seeing in the rise of the microbiome and its legitimacy as a form of explanation. It’s been kind of astonishing, the shift away from twentieth-century bacteriology—focused on pathogens, one species at a time, pure culture, Koch’s postulates, and all of that—toward a viewpoint that employs a much more ecological and multi-species framework. But science is noisy, and connected to all kinds of other forces, so you are never going to see just one approach at work when you are talking about developing molecular therapeutics.
Shenyang, China, photographed by an Expedition 10 crew member from the International Space Station. The city’s local economy is largely based on industries such as metal smelting, coal mining, and petrochemical processing. Several southeast-trending plumes from industrial facilities are visible in the image. The high density industrial land use in the Shenyang metropolitan area has led to significant air, water, and soil pollution in the region. Source: Wiki Commons

Flavio D'Abramo: There’s this idea that technology via industrial production shapes society because we live in a technosphere, a place in which technology modulates our lives. So there might be some inquiries into societies that could be understood through the lenses of interdisciplinary research, going through different levels of different phenomena. But this interdisciplinary approach is hindered by specialization. However, some disciplines, like genetics and epidemiology, help the meeting between different disciplines. This interdisciplinary take can mobilize a knowledge useful in understanding the scope of the interrelations among organisms, their individual and collective behaviours, as well as the historical clues within and outside organisms. In this case, history is one of the best disciplines to understand interrelations and interactions.
Hannah Landecker: In The Division of Labor in Society, Émile Durkheim comments that
general culture, once so highly extolled, appears to us [in the late nineteenth century] merely as a flabby, lax form of discipline.
By contrast, in societies in which the division of labor had become widespread by this time, such as France,
we perceive perfection in the specialist, one who seeks not to be complete but to be productive, one who has a well-defined job to which he devotes himself, and carries out his task, ploughing his single furrow.Emile Durkheim, The Division of Labor in Society, ed. Steven Lukes, trans. W.D. Halls. New York: Free Press, 2014 [1893], p. 35.
So in 1893, Durkheim was seeing the scientists around him in this way—each man ploughing his own furrow, going deeper and deeper while building higher and higher berms of earth on each side, making it ever more difficult to see into other furrows. It was an image that made sense at the beginnings of sociology, as well as during the formation of other disciplines such as biochemistry or genetics, or even agricultural chemistry, which was all about increasing the productivity of furrows! I’m afraid this is our intellectual legacy through our inheritance of disciplinarity—and it is really important to recognize how understandings of productivity come to us from a historically specific moment in Europe and the nineteenth century. I don’t mean by this that we need to abandon the idea of productivity and not have a discipline of sociology, or abandon endocrinology or any other way of designating a domain of expertise that came into being in that period. Yet it can be very powerful to understand the historical specificity of these knowledge formations. I think this is a very helpful way to conduct any inquiry, our own included. History as the “reflexivity pill.” Maybe it will help us digest the technosphere.