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

The Lena Is Worthy of Baikal: Defining Remoteness Across the North and the East

What is remoteness? What kinds of narratives drive its representation, creating a violent topology of the distant and disconnected? Inspired by her experience of travelling to an abandoned “non-place” during a research trip to the Lena River Delta in northern Siberia, historian of science and technology Ksenia Tatarchenko reflects on filmic dramatizations of far-off and inaccessible places, capturing the fleeting role Soviet modernity had in establishing interconnection in isolation.
Remoteness is a relative concept. Distance is its first and most obvious association—distance between locations and people. It is also a characteristic that the North and the East share when viewed from Europe—they are faraway places. Getting there is a journey, remoteness being as much an obstacle as it is an attraction, an elsewhere that we long for. There aren’t many places in the North and in the East that fit this notion better than Tiksi, one of the main ports of the Russian Arctic, situated near the delta of the Lena River on the shore of the Laptev Sea. Flying is the main means of traveling to the town, which was created as part of the infrastructure for the Soviet Northern Sea Route in the 1930s. My own experience of traveling to Tiksi supports the widely acknowledged fact that while technologies can shrink distances, they also partake in recreating sites of remoteness. To get a few Swiss students studying climate change on a Tiksi-bound plane is to experience remoteness as aloof and unfriendly. Crossing the Russian Border Security Zone involves additional paperwork, scientific instruments require special permissions, and even booking plane tickets is a challenge, as the banks block the online transactions of small Russian aviation companies. In the summer of 2017, I spent one month at the research station on the island of Samoylov in the Lena River Delta (72°22’ N, 126°29’ E), some 100 kilometers west of Tiksi, heading the group of students from the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne who took part in the international research expedition.For a description of the station by its operator, Trofimuk Institute of Petroleum-Gas Geology and Geophysics, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, see http://samoylov-island.ru/en.
My experience of remoteness in the two senses mentioned above, as obstacle and attraction, provides a stepping stone to reflect on two other aspects of the concept:
remoteness as a “probability” and as a process of breaking connections.
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The limits of the Arctic according to various definitions. Source: Arctic Council, CAFFs Arctic Flora & Fauna, Arctic Portal Library, 2001

I am convinced that considering these different aspects of remoteness is helpful for conceptualizing a distinct Soviet version of modernity. Neither the task of grasping Russia’s Arctic ambitions today nor a truly global environmental history can do away with the Soviet legacy in these regions. The reasons are many. The geographical arguments based on the sheer size of the Russian Arctic and the genealogical connections between past and present Arctic infrastructures, such as the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) and the Northern Sea Route, are certainly crucial, but they are out of the scope of this essay.For an overview, see Peter Schweitzer, Olga Povoroznyuk, and Sigrid Schiesser, “Beyond Wilderness: Towards an Anthropology of Infrastructure and the Built Environment in the Russian North,” Polar Journal 7, no. 1 (2017): 58–85.
A less obvious but no less powerful argument goes beyond regional logic and rests instead on the very questions that we ask today about the politics of human-nature relations. The Soviet past takes on a new significance when reconsidered in dialogue with recent polar scholarship that argues against Arctic and Antarctic exceptionalism under the banners of the “post-polar” and the “New Arctic.Ronald E. Doel, Urban Wråkberg, and Suzanne Zeller, “Science, Environment, and the New Arctic,” Journal of Historical Geography, no. 44 (2014): 2–14.
The two films that I focus on below, By the Lake (1969) and Sannikov Land (1973), are particularly remarkable for how they dramatize remoteness in a way that diverges both from today’s media construction of the North as a wilderness and from the received narratives of Soviet environmental history as that of an irrational abuse by the state. These representations disturb communist obsessions with the conquest of nature and the Stalinist system of forced labor to raise the question of what it means to establish a non-capitalist relationship between human and nature by offering their own version of the remote North and the East as homelands, frontiers, and non-places. The politicization of the Soviet depictions of these regions is no longer to be dismissed as propaganda but rather interrogated as historical resources on environmental politics. Deborah R. Coen, “Big Is a Thing of the Past: Climate Change and Methodology in the History of Ideas,” Journal of the History of Ideas 77, no. 2 (2016): 305–21.
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Lake Baikal is the most obvious site for peering into the checkered relationships between the technological, epistemic, and natural orders of late Soviet remoteness. Among Lake Baikal’s many superlatives—the deepest, cleanest, and oldest lake in the world—is also a historiographic one. The public campaign to prevent the construction of two pulp plants near the lake, which took place in the late 1950s and early 1960s, is the best-known episode of Soviet environmental history.For further references, see Douglas R. Weiner, A Little Corner of Freedom: Russian Nature Protection from Stalin to Gorbachev (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), especially chapter 16, “Storm over Baikal.”
The terms and chronology of the debate deserve a supplementary reflection.
Arguing against the construction of the plants, the Siberian geologist Gennadii Pospelov depicted Baikal as a natural laboratory, key for accomplishing the long-term and global political project of communism:
We are a society actively creating the future of humanity, and for that reason we must place on the scales of benefit and harm to the state the interests of our descendants as well.G. L. Pospelov, “Razmyshleniia o sud’be Baikala,” quoted in Weiner, A Little Corner of Freedom, 362.
The campaign failed. Less famously, the defenders of the construction sites of the pulp plants, which were relying on Lake Baikal’s pure, silicon-free water included several defense ministries responsible for developing novel, super-light, and resilient materials that incorporated the organic products of the pulp plants as part of the Cold War technological race. A legal compromise came about when the state kept issuing decrees setting out measures for preserving the lake and the plants kept on polluting. Of limited practical efficiency, the legal framework nonetheless justified broadening the terms of the conversation into a debate about the promises and failures of a socialist modernity. In fact, taking the failure of the campaigns as an endpoint and the opening of the plants as an illustration of the absurdity of the centralized planned economy recognized by Soviet intellectuals and the public is as straightforward as it is misleading. For Soviet contemporaries, the “Baikal problem”— the way it is typically referred to in Russian—was never resolved. Discussing the fate of the two plants and the industrial communities that grew around them but also for an ongoing reflection on the values animating the socialist project. Rather, the lake became a site not only for discussing the fate of the two plants and the industrial communities that grew around them but also for an ongoing reflection on the values animating the socialist project.

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Still from By the Lake, 1969, directed by Sergei Gerasimov

In the 1969 movie By the Lake, the notorious Soviet director Sergei Gerasimov depicts science and technology as belonging to a larger set of relationships: the Baikal landscape and library, laboratory, and shop floors are represented as interconnected spaces.Sergei Gerasimov, director, By the Lake (Soviet Union: Kinostudiya imeni M. Gorkogo, 1969). The film is available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/TB8zaRRrhHo.
Expertise appears on both sides of the Baikal debate as an argument for conservation and the power to propose a solution. One of the most popular titles of 1970, the feature film won mainstream and critical acclaim by presenting the issue not as a battle of technology against nature but as a perennial drama of human choices. Baikal is represented not as a charismatic natural object and symbol of the future of humanity—the emphasis of many expert and popular accounts of the 1960s—but as a habitat paced by genealogical and seasonal times and already, not potentially, belonging to humanity’s cultural patrimony.
The movie, shot on site in the town of Baikalsk, was part of the director’s trilogy devoted to identifying “heroes” of the 1960s, a motivation that explains the film’s merging of feature and documentary aspects. The images of the main building of the plant constantly reoccur in the film, as the message of the letters decorating its facade, which spell out the slogan “Communism is our goal,” is questioned and debated. The tension between the two key protagonists—Lena Barmina, the daughter of the biologist arguing for preserving the lake, and Vasilii Chernykh, the director of the factory under construction—is amplified at the intersection of the personal and the political. The lake is a site where their conflicting visions of communism—beauty versus work—are confronted and where their adulterous love affair burgeons.
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Still from By the Lake, 1969, directed by Sergei Gerasimov

The resolution of this conflict is impossible: the film ends with Chernykh tormented by the need to increase the factory’s production, and consequently, its pollution, as well as the impossibility of finding individual happiness; Barmina escapes from the impossible infatuation and leaves her home and Baikal behind. The message of the film is neither linear nor negative, however. Improbable and impossible, the union of the protagonists is consummated as a commitment to patriotic feelings. The scene featuring their exchange of lines from the Silver Age poet Aleksandr Blok at a public poetry reading is one of strongest in the film.Bromina reads Blok’s “The Skyphians” (1918), and Chernykh answers with lines from “On the Field of Kulikovo” (1908).
In their devotion to the motherland, social conventions and temporary conflicts make room for eternal values.
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The factory director—incarnated by the Altai-born actor, director, and writer Vasilii Shukshin—comes across as a living Skyph, and the young woman as the Rus of Blok’s poetry. The tension of the public reading scene engulfs the film’s audience and simultaneously rehearses a possible role of the Soviet public sphere as a space where individuals are to make sense of the meaning of communism as a global and a personal project.
“Placeness” is central to the film’s unresolved dialectics in aspects ranging from its title to its composition. Opening with shots through the windowpane of a moving train, the film ends with the main protagonist leaving her home and watching Baikal from the bus. Her destination is in the North: Lena goes to the Lena. According to one of the movie’s scenes, “the Lena is worthy of Baikal”; it is not just a river, but a sea that flows. That the two sites are designated as “homelands” is not accidental but a fulfillment of the film’s key statement, stipulating that “one cannot spend all her life by the lake.” Remarkable here is not only how the interconnecting of two remote locations as a trajectory of personal growth subverted the discourse of Baikal exceptionalism that dominated earlier environmental conversations. The obvious implication and argument of the film was that the debate about humankind’s place in nature is not bound to Baikal, or the Arctic, for that matter. At the same time, while making clear the destination of the protagonist, Gerasimov leaves the audience with a greater uncertainty. The future of both the human and the natural, Lena and the Lena, appear disquieting and open-ended.
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Still from By the Lake, 1969, directed by Sergei Gerasimov

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The concluding scenes of Gerasimov’s movie are about the remote prospects of human-generated climate change in the North, and specifically the northeast, through the construction of a dam across the Bering Strait. Despite the film’s emphasis on uncertain outcomes, the subject of the final lines of dialogue is neither fictional nor fantastical. It echoes the projects being discussed in the press at the time that suggested various geoengineering options to render the Soviet Arctic more hospitable. Such were the aspirations of P. M. Borisov, who calculated how lowering the level of the Chukchi Sea would bring the warm waters of the Gulf Stream farther along the coasts of the Soviet Arctic.See I. I. Adabashev, Chelovek ispravliaet planetu (Moscow: Molodaia Gvardiia, 1959,); and P. M. Borisov, Mozhet li chelovek izmenit’ klimat (Moscow: Nauka, 1970). [Can Man Change the Climate?]
A dam powered by atomic energy would regulate the flow of water and serve as a transport link between Europe and North America. Remoteness as uncertain probability gave license to imagination, and futuristic bridge-cities proliferated in the illustrations of popular science magazines such as Tekhnika Molodezhi.K. Lucheskoi, “Gorod-plotina,” Tekhnika-Molodezhi, no. 1 (1974): 20–21. [ “Dam City”, Technology for the Youth]
The underlying geopolitical assumption for the magazine’s futuristic projection situating the city in the year 2000 was obvious to all Soviet viewers—the year of the global triumph of labor and creativity over capital. This late Soviet version of the post-polar as post-capitalist does not sit easily with us. Yet the overlap between the semantic domains of the remoteness and utopian imaginaries points to the utopia’s dystopian double: the apocalyptic narrative model we are most accustomed to. And in fact, Soviet popular culture did not fail to supply a particularly vivid example, where an Arctic catastrophe actually became the setting for substituting assumptions of global communism with a quest for interpersonal loyalty.
Placelessness characterizes the most popular representation of the Arctic in the same period. Loosely based on the fantastic novel of the Soviet paleontologist Vladimir Obruchev, the 1973 silver screen version of Sannikov Land, directed by Albert Mkrtchyan and Leonid Popov, did not win its status in pop culture memory for its abortive plot line but rather for its remarkable cast and soundtrack.Albert Mkrtchyan and Leonid Popov, directors, Sannikov Land (Soviet Union: Mosilm, 1973). The film is available on YouTube at https://youtu.be/pYENPwgfJqE.
The film amounts to the adventures of a group of explorers searching for Sannikov Land, the phantom island allegedly seen in the Laptev Sea. The group finds the island, only to contribute to a natural cataclysm that destroys the land and with it the inhabitants, the Indigenous people of the Onkilons. The half-century gap between the 1926 novel and the 1973 film is the main explanation for the subversion of the novel’s key messages, both educational and inspirational, for the conventions of the adventure genre. In the 1920s, phantom lands still appeared on maps, as sea access to the area north of the New Siberian Islands was notoriously difficult. Obruchev concluded his novel with a call for further research; the real-life mystery was finally resolved in the 1930s with the development of polar aviation.V. A. Obruchev, Zemlia Sannikova ili Poslednie onkilony: Nauhno-fantastiheskii roman (Moscow: Puchina, 1926). [Sannikov Land, or the Last Onkilons]
The 1973 film presented itself as entertainment. Unlike Gerasimov’s aesthetics of purity codified in black and white, Sannikov Land is rife with B-movie visuals.
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Still from Sannikov Land, 1973, directed by Albert Mkrtchyan and Leonid Popov

The film not only cuts across the novel’s plot and purpose, but it also subverts the main temporal axes of the novel. For Obruchev, the mystery of Sannikov Land made it possible to combine spatial and chronological remoteness, where overlapping temporalities offered a reflection on natural evolution paired with a discussion on succeeding social orders. In striking opposition, the 1973 film version forewent both spatiality and temporality: the film operationalizes remoteness to subvert the expected connections. Instead of Hegelian progression, it glorifies the most human-centered category of here-and-now—the fleeting instant. The film’s theme song became one of the greatest hits of the late Soviet era. The song is integrated into the plot, appearing to belong to and thereby define one of the key protagonists, the daredevil officer and bard Evgeniy Krestovskiy. This role was initially written for Vladimir Vysotsky, the iconic Soviet poet, singer, and actor of the 1970s. Even though a different actor eventually played the role, the iconography of Krestovskiy’s self-sacrifice in the extreme Arctic conditions is a reference to Vysotsky’s “Song of a Friend.” The human scale of the film, signaled by the instantaneous, does not deny all responsibility of the individual but rather emphasizes individual choice: the poet perishes to save his friend. Krestovskiy’s refrain, “there is only an instance, between the past and the present, there is but a single instance, and this instance is called life,” became disassociated from its Arctic context as it acquired the status of a generational statement.For recollections of the song and the film, see Svetlana Samodelova, “Tainye kadry sovetskogo Avatara,” Moskovskii Komsomolets, September 8 2011. [The Secret Frames of the Soviet Avatar]
Although the film is devoid of the ethical and aesthetic ambitions of Gerasimov’s By the Lake, the light adventure genre in which Sannikov Land peddles does not prevent it from depicting its own version of scientific expertise in a clearly declinist mode. The protagonist, driven by the search for knowledge about the mysterious land, performs the characteristic activities of field work and can grasp Sannikov Land’s geological secrets. While he is the only one to return from the expedition, he is nonetheless unable to prevent the environmental cataclysm that finally destroys the land. The explorer is saved by Indigenous people, who have the last word in the film, asking:
Man, why are you marching on the Earth?
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Still from Sannikov Land, 1973, directed by Albert Mkrtchyan and Leonid Popov

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Seen from today’s perspective, Sannikov Land’s hot and disintegrating Arctic is simultaneously familiar and exotic. The warming Arctic is what brings scientists to go out into the field in many remote locations. Melting permafrost is one of the major problems, both scientific and technical, as statistics show the increasing fragility of infrastructures built upon the frozen earth that spans almost half of the Russian territories. Moreover, it is a problem our climate models are poorly equipped to deal with. Firsthand experience shows there is little permanent about the permafrost that forms some two thousand islands of the Lena River Delta; the coastline threatens to collapse under one’s feet and eventually melt and drift away on the current. And one frozen earth is not equal to another: yedoma, the Pleistocene-age permafrost known for its high content of organic matter, has a distinct smell and leaves a somewhat sticky feeling on one’s fingers. Permafrost is not an exceptionally mutable Arctic entity, however. The Arctic itself offers little stability and changes its definitions where it is no longer circumscribed by the Arctic circle: for instance, the permafrost frontier stretches all the way along the Lena and southward beyond Baikal. As permafrost’s active layer freezes and unfreezes, new expeditions ready themselves to return to the field.
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Measuring the permafrost temperature profile, Kurungakh Island © Ksenia Tatarchenko, 2017

To a science and technology studies scholar, the isolated communities of researchers at the stations are reminiscent of tribes—summoning up a scholarship in which networks of scientists have repeatedly been likened to or studied as moneyless societies, wherein people are differentiated by experience and authority and where acceptance is a matter of rituals. This is also where the train of associations breaks apart. The time spent at a station is a time of active construction of new sets of relations, which is particularly intensive because these relations are temporary and oriented at maximizing the gathering of samples and data. As scientists come and go from a station, the staff remains, servicing its vital equipment, such as the diesel reactor that keeps it running through its yearlong operation. A permafrost observatory to scientists, it is a home to technicians. While chitchatting at the Samoylov station, I learned that one technician moved to Tiksi for job opportunities in the late 1970s. “Those were good times,” he likes to reminiscence. “Back in those days, we had all our things ‘made in Japan." One of the powers of remoteness is that it exposes improbable connections.
When Bruno Latour came back from the Amazon rainforest, he recreated his observations as a powerful analytical argument in the form of photo-philosophical montage, playfully subverting the conventions of epistemology and the history of art.Bruno Latour, “Circulating Reference: Sampling the Soil in the Amazon Forest,” in Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 24–79.
Neither rehearsing nor challenging the constructivist agenda, this essay is an illustration of the mechanisms of remoteness that are left out of Latour’s “Circulating Reference” essay. One is the transformation of the observer’s affect through a spatial reversal, a condition where home or the point of provenance becomes a marker of distance. The second point is connected to the first: attachment to a place comes with learning stories and making sense of the local history. For me, it became hard to separate the personal and professional in my experience of remoteness, which is the reason I turned to not an analytical but a methodological argument here.
Predicting the sensitivity of permafrost to a warming climate is the purpose of the Samoylov station, and thanks to science studies we are well equipped to understand this agenda and analyze the research activities. However, getting to Tiksi is a shock that no historiography can prepare one for. To land in Tiksi is to confront the end of Soviet history laid bare. The averted apocalypse of the Soviet collapse is a hypocrisy; Tiksi’s remoteness is a monument to the violence of abandonment. My turn to representation in this essay is a deliberate response to this shock. I put forward a case that today’s conversation can be opened up to include a larger sequence of mediators in order to recapture our changing relations with nature. Rethinking the modernization project is predicated on acknowledging its inheritance. If both “remoteness” and “modernity” are notoriously vague terms, then instances of their dramatization such as those discussed above matter even more. In any case, it is certain that neither the “post-polar” nor the “post-Soviet” category will have full analytical power without first making sense of Soviet presence in the Arctic, Antarctic, and Siberian regions and its public articulations.
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Lena River Delta and the Laptev Sea. European Space Agency, 2006. Source: Wiki Commons