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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
    • published contributions
  • 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

Sitopia: The Power of Thinking Through Food

Food is the tissue of civilization, weaving cities and countries together. In her essay, architect and food thinker Carolyn Steel provides a powerful prompt for us to reconsider the geographic and societal interdependency of urban centers and food-providing ecosystems and to find a way to move beyond the perils of the modern industrial food complex.
Talking Breakfast
What did you eat for breakfast? This seemingly simple question—which most of us can answer without thinking—captures the unique quality of the greatest unseen process shaping our planet. Eating is as natural to us as breathing, so we rarely stop to wonder how the bread, milk, cereals, fruit, bacon, or eggs on our plates happened to get there. Yet, when you come to think of it, the fact that most of us in the industrialized world get to eat three meals a day with very little effort on our own parts is something of a miracle; the greatest achievement, one might say, of industrialization. What is increasingly clear, however, is that the “miracle” has been achieved at a heavy cost: climate change, deforestation, soil erosion, water depletion, pollution, mass extinction, slavery, and diet-related disease are just some of the side effects of the way we eat.
The “miracle,” it turns out, is nothing of the sort. Rather, it is the result of the systematic externalization of the true costs of food production and the obscuring of the effort that it really takes to feed us. However great the breakthroughs that have given us industrial food—mechanization, monocultural production, chemical fertilizers, factory farming, chill chains, “efficiencies of scale,” just-in-time logistics—they have all had negative corollaries whose true effects have been systematically ignored. In this way, the illusion of “cheap food” (something that can never exist) came into being, a fantasy upon which modern economies, political systems, and urban civilization itself have come to depend. As the statistician E. F. Schumacher notes at the start of his seminal 1973 book Small Is Beautiful,
One of the most fateful errors of our age is the belief that the problem of production has been solved.E. F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered. London: Vintage 1973, p. 2.
For a person living in a Western city, it would be easy to imagine that we’ve solved the problem of how to feed ourselves, and yet the very opposite is true: the way we eat is now the greatest threat to us and our planet.
How did we get here—and what are we going to do about it? To answer such questions, we need to return to the breakfast with which we started. Next time you sit down to eat, take a moment to stare at the food you are about to consume and try to imagine where it came from. Where were the oats in your cereal grown? Did they come from a vast monocultural field, or from a small, mixed-use farm? Were they grown chemically—that is, with large doses of artificial fertilizer or pesticides—or organically, in nutritionally rich, living soil? And what of the milk you poured on it? Did that come from grass-fed cows grazing in open fields, or from animals kept permanently indoors and fed on grain that we ourselves could have eaten? Or perhaps you used almond milk, in which case, did it come from the desertified plantations of California? And what of the sweetener you used? Was it honey from local hives, or sugar from vast refineries made from cane grown in the tropics? Do you know if the people who produced it were paid a living wage?
City and Country in perfect harmony. Lorenzetti’s 1338 Allegory of Good Government, Palazzo Pubblico, Siena. Source: Wiki Commons.

As such an exercise soon makes clear, there is nothing simple about food, even an innocent-looking bowl of porridge. Every bite has vast implications for the shaping of landscapes, ecologies, societies, economies, trading patterns, living standards, power structures, and cultural attitudes. We live in a world shaped by food: a place I have called sitopia (from the Greek sitos, meaning food, and topos, place). Yet by failing to value food—expecting it to be cheap—we have created a “bad” sitopia: one so bad that it threatens our very future.
The morsels of food on our plates are emissaries from other worlds, each bearing signs of the value we place on them. Did the production of the plate of food in front of us make the world better or worse? Eating is an inherently political act, as well as an ecological and ethical one; there is no such thing as amoral food, any more than there is a free lunch. Once we have realized this, eating becomes a very different activity, one that we can no longer do “without thinking.” This new awareness is one we can harness for good, since most of us choose how we eat. Food, we realize, represents power.
Food and Power
The fact that food and power are inextricably linked would not have been news to our ancestors. We humans evolved through our shared need to eat: everything from language, economics, trade, politics, and religion sprang from it. For those of us who live in modern cities, it can be hard to imagine what life was like when food was omnipresent in people’s minds. For our hunter-gatherer forebears, the tasks of gathering, hunting, cooking, and sharing food were woven into the everyday fabric of life. Yet it was the advent of farming that cast food production as a conceptual problem, catapulting it to the status of prime shaper of civilizations.
The Fertile Crescent, where farming and cities began © Drawn by the author.

Although hunter-gatherer societies revolved around food, tasks related to its production were so embedded as to be indistinguishable from the rest of life—which is one reason why the concept of “work” was virtually unknown in such communities. Urban-agrarian societies, on the other hand, required new structures and processes to deal with the complexities of farming and the seasonal tasks of sowing, growing, reaping, processing, and storing their new staple, grain. Writing and money were two crucial outcomes of this development, as were social hierarchies that distinguished for the first time between feeders and fed, farmers and consumers, rural and urban.
Although farming was far harder work than hunter-gathering, its one great advantage was the ability to produce a food surplus that could be stored through the year and so used to feed large non-food-producing populations.The archaeological evidence suggests that early farmers lived shorter lives than their hunter-gatherer counterparts, were shorter in stature, and suffered worse health. See Tom Standage, An Edible History of Humanity. London: Atlantic Books, 2009, pp.16–19.
Cities and agriculture coevolved for this reason, and the world’s first urban settlements—the Sumerian settlements of Ur, Uruk, Kish, and Nippur, situated on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates—were effectively city-states: compact urban centers surrounded by dedicated farmland. Although they grew rich by exporting grain, such cities remained small enough to feed themselves off their own supplies, forging an urban blueprint that, for many, remains the ideal.
City 1.0: Map of the City of Ur, circa 2000 BCE © Drawn by the author, from a map by Sir Leonard Woolley.

Most preindustrial settlements followed this basic pattern. Towns and cities were generally small and all roads led to the central market square, which was the heart of all commercial and public life. Most cities were built on rivers, which provided them with fresh water, fish, and a handy waste-disposal facility. Grain was grown out in the countryside, yet close enough to the city to make the transport of the relatively bulky, low-value food economical, while sheep and cattle, which could walk to market, were often grazed farther away. Most households kept pigs, chickens, or goats, which could be usefully fed on household scraps. Fruit and vegetables were grown on the city fringes, where they could benefit from “night soil” (animal and human waste) that was carefully conserved to be used as manure. Most cities, in short, had largely local, circular food economies.
The city that bucked the trend was, of course, ancient Rome. As the world’s first “consumer city,” its vastness—with some million citizens by the first century BCE—meant that it had to do things differently. At its height, Rome was importing grain, oil, wine, ham, salt, honey, and liquamen (a popular fermented fish sauce) from all over the Mediterranean, North Atlantic, and Black Sea. Rome, in short, fed itself via what we would now call “food miles,” a strategy made possible by its command of the sea, over which was far easier (and about forty times cheaper) to transport food than overland.See Neville Morley, Metropolis and Hinterland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, p. 65.
With such staples pouring in from abroad, local farmers were able to concentrate on producing luxury foods for the city: everything from fruit and vegetables, poultry and game to song birds, pond fish, and nut-stuffed dormice. This so-called pastio villatica (villa farming) made farmers a fortune, yet was ridiculed by Pliny the Elder and other philosophers, for whom it merely symbolized the capital’s decadence.
Ancient Food Miles: the food supply routes of Ancient Rome © Drawn by the author

It’s not hard to recognize ourselves in the mirror of ancient Rome. While the city sucked up the nutrition from distant lands, rich citizens worried about eating too much, yet as their appetites expanded, the capital increasingly struggled to feed itself, eventually succumbing to collapse as the soils of its North African breadbasket failed. Rome ended up eating itself to death, as we are in danger of doing.
Goodbye Geography
Rome ruled supreme as Europe’s greatest city until the nineteenth-century advent of railways transformed the way cities were fed. By making it possible to transport food quickly and cheaply over long distances on land, railways emancipated cities from geography, allowing them to grow far larger and in remoter locations than before. As the metropolitan carpet started to roll out, a matching agricultural one began spreading in the “European colonies,” as previously inaccessible territories such as America’s Great West were opened up to grain production. When some US stockmen had the bright idea of feeding the excess grain to cows, the feedlot system was born, creating a previously unthinkable commodity: “cheap meat.” Chicago became the meatpacking center of the world, and when a packer by the name of Gustavus Swift worked out how to get his beef to the East Coast in an edible state (by using refrigerated railcars, the start of the modern “chill chain”), all the essentials of our current food system were in place. Henceforth, cities would be fed not by intricate networks of small producers but by a small number of powerful companies with the scale to take “vertical control” of the food chain and the logistical capacities to match.
Today, the global food system is more consolidated than ever, with a handful of companies such as Nestlé, Walmart, and Bayer Monsanto commanding profits bigger than many countries’ GDPs and just three such corporations controlling 60 percent of the world’s seeds and 70 percent of its fertilizers and pesticides. As such statistics suggest, the methods employed by such companies are overwhelmingly industrial, meaning that crops are grown monoculturally with the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, rather than organically on mixed farms. Our quest for cheap food has turned us against nature, with disastrous consequences for the natural ecosystems without which we couldn’t exist.
Sitopian Economics
The way we eat is killing us and our planet—so what can we do about it? The most obvious first step would be to acknowledge that cheap food doesn’t exist. Food, after all, consists of living things—plants and animals—that we kill in order to live. To treat it as cheap is thus to devalue life itself. If we were to value food properly again—which is to say, to internalize its true costs—it would transform our lives, landscapes, and societies. Industrial farming in its current form would immediately become unaffordable, which, in reality, it already is. The true cost of good food—which is to say, food produced in ethical, ecologically friendly ways—isn’t cheap; yet it is the only basis upon which good, lasting societies can be built. Great civilizations of the past, including Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, were based on slavery, and all ultimately exhausted the land on which they depended.See Carolyn Steel, Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives. London Chatto & Windus, 2008, pp. 270–73.
Since our modern urban lives depend just as much on the land that feeds us as ancient lives did, such examples suggest that valuing and protecting the land—as well as those who farm and look after it on our behalf—is fundamental to the hope of humanity thriving and surviving.
Ogilby Map of London in 1676, shaded to show food markets and supply routes. John Ogilby, A Large and Accurate Map of the City of London (1676). Facsimile published by the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (1894). Annotated by the author.

By paying more for our food, we would open up great opportunities for those who want to work in the food industry, which, as the millions already involved in the global food movement suggests, is plenty of people. In societies where food is valued, feeding people is a hugely rewarding way of life. This is a win-win scenario since, if we want to work with nature instead of against it in order to feed ourselves—as, indeed, we must—we’ll need far more farmers working and looking after the land, not fewer. Contrary to those who insist we can’t feed ourselves organically, the latest research suggests not only that we could, but that we could eventually do so without increasing the amount of farmland needed.A major 2017 study led by Dr. Adrian Müller of ETH Zurich’s Department of Environmental Systems Science found that, were we to halve our food waste and stop growing specialist animal feed, we could feed ourselves 80 percent organically using no more farmland than would be needed for “business as usual,” while another study by a team from the University of California pointed out that, if we invest in improving organic varieties and methods, the remaining “yield gap” will disappear. See Adrian Müller et al., “Strategies for Feeding the World More Sustainably with Organic Agriculture,” Nature Communications, vol. 8, art. 1290 (2017), http://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-01410-w; and Tom Bawden, “Organic Farming Can Feed the World if Done Right, Scientists Claim,” Independent (UK), December 10, 2014, https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/organic-farming-can-feed-the-world-if-done-right-scientists-claim-9913651.html.
To do that, however, we will need to eat rather differently—much less meat and dairy and wasting far less. Such aims are surely not beyond our grasp. We might adopt what the British farmer and journalist Simon Fairlie has called a “default livestock” approach, raising only the animals we could sustain on food waste, grass, and crop residues, much as they were raised in the past.Simon Fairlie, Meat: A Benign Extravagance. White River Junction, CT: Chelsea Green, 2010, pp. 35–43.
Although organic veganism is the most low-impact way we can eat, we do need animals in our food system if we are to farm organically, since, as the British “father of compost” Sir Albert Howard has pointed out, farm animals make a vital contribution to the circulation of nutrients and to soil fertility.
There are some who say that, in order to “save” nature, we should intensify agriculture and build vertical farms in cities to release as much countryside as possible back to wilderness. First proposed by the American epidemiologist Dickson Despommier in the early 2000s, vertical farms already exist in Singapore, New York, and London, doing a brisk trade in microgreens sold to high-end stores and restaurants.Dickson Despommier, The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century. New York: Picador 2010.
Yet, as vertical farmers themselves admit, such farms are not the answer to feeding cities in the future, since, apart from the vast amount of space needed to build them, the cost of growing staples like grain in towers simply doesn’t stack up. Vertical farms may be part of the solution, but they can’t escape the “urban paradox,” which states that, however much we imagine ourselves to be urban, our need for food means that, in a greater sense, we all still dwell in nature. Vertical farms are, in essence, the pastio villatica of our day.
Could lab-made alternatives to meat and dairy also be part of the answer? This latest trend from Silicon Valley is already big in the US, with start-ups like Just and Impossible Foods attracting billions in investment from the likes of Sergey Brin and Bill Gates. Impossible Burgers, vegan burger patties that mimic meat juices using a vegetable compound called heme (which also exists in animal blood and gives hemoglobin its name), are already popular in the US and went on sale in the UK in 2018. Google, meanwhile, is funding a Dutch initiative to “grow” meat protein in a lab, using bovine fetal serum to replicate muscle tissue to produce so-called cultured beef. Whatever your view of such projects, the question is whether we really want our future food to be made and owned by the likes of Google and Amazon. Control of food, as our ancestors knew, is power.

Perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn from our past is that big cities are hard to feed.For a fascinating discussion of the prerevolutionary Paris’s struggles to feed itself, see Steven Kaplan, Provisioning Paris: Merchants and Millers in the Grain and Flour Trade During the Eighteenth Century. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984.
Having witnessed Athens’s struggle to feed itself, both Plato and Aristotle concluded that the polis (Greek city-state) should stay small in order to remain self-sufficient.See Aristotle, The Politics, trans. T.A. Sinclair. London: Penguin, 1981, pp. 121–22; and Plato, Laws, V.738e, in The Collected Dialogues, ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntingdon Cairns. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987, p. 1323.
London’s later dominance from medieval times onwards led utopians such as Thomas More and Ebenezer Howard to seek alternative models of urban development that struck a balance between city and country. More’s 1516 novel Utopia, Howard’s 1902 handbook Garden Cities, and Patrick Abercrombie’s realized 1944 London green belt all share the same idea: that cities should be limited in size and surrounded by countryside, not just to limit urban growth but to provide for our human needs for the benefit of both society and nature.
Ebenzer Howard’s Garden City: an unrealised utopia. Ebenezer Howard, Garden Cities of Tomorrow, Sonnenschein publishing, 1902.

In a rapidly urbanizing world in which megacities such as Tokyo, Delhi, and Shanghai have populations upward of 24 million, such ideas arguably have more relevance than ever. Uncontrolled urban growth is predicated on the false premise that cities are easy to feed. The fact that we know this not to be true—that the hidden costs of industrial food systems are, in the words of one recent international study, leading to
a massive anthropogenic erosion of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services essential to civilizationGerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich, and Rodolfo Dirzo, “Biological Annihilation via the Ongoing Sixth Mass Extinction Signaled by Vertebrate Population Losses and Declines,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114, no. 30 ( 2017), http://www.pnas.org/content/114/30/E6089.
—should urge us to rethink how we intend to live in the future. Using the lens of food, we need to consider what a landscape for human flourishing might look like in the mid-twenty-first century, by which time life will necessarily be lived under something like a steady-state economy. Such a way of life would seem to require that we weave city and country closer together. Future cities should be planned with farming in mind, while existing ones could be retrofitted, as André Viljoen and Katrin Bohn have proposed with their Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes (CPULs). As the geographer and town planner Patrick Geddes once said, we should
make the field gain on the street, not merely the street gain on the field.Patrick Geddes, Cities in Evolution (1915), Routledge 1997, p. 96
How we eat means more than simply whether our food tastes nice and makes us healthy; it is critical to the way we shape our lives and those of the other living creatures with whom we share the planet. Food is the great connector: the substance that ties us directly to the world’s living ecosystems, as well as to one another. By thinking and acting through food, we can seek solutions to our core needs as humans—for sustenance and society—and navigate the many complexities of modern life in order to thrive in a crowded, overheating world. By valuing food (and interrogating our porridge), we can work together to build a better sitopia.