Dipesh Chakrabarty on Beyond Capital: The climate crisis as a challenge to social thought

I was at this talk last week and it is quite interesting. Chakrabarty sets out three propositions to help us start thinking about the climate crisis without the typical sets of assumptions about the workings of capitalism or imaginations of what is “planetary”. Click here to go to the page where you can view the video.

Stuart Elden on being Outside Territory

Witches, psychiatrists and evangelicals: discussion with Tanya Luhrmann

Tanya Luhrmann gave an interesting talk on placebo and prayer here yesterday. It was based on her book, When God Talks Back. It was videoed, so I’ll put it up when available. This one is also quite interesting:

Kysar, Jasanoff, Sinden, and Adler on Kysar’s “Regulating from nowhere”

Doug Kysar’s book, Regulating from nowhere: environmental law and the search for objectivity, is one of the best I’ve ever read on the topic. It goes into ontological and ethical issues in law – a very good book.

Here is a very interesting talk on it, and a wide ranging set of issues in environmental policy with Kysar, moderated by Sheila Jasanoff, and discussed by Amy Sinden and Jonathan Adler

Wildlife in the Anthropocene: conservation without nature

An interesting talk by Jamie Lorimer (Oxford), who has a new book coming out on the same:

Water wired on the hydrosocial cycle

Michael Campana has some interesting thoughts on my paper on the hydrosocial cycle, including a great diagram, over at his blog Water Wired.

Tim Mitchell: The effect of the state

Erik Swyngedouw: The post-political city or the insurgent polis

The hydrosocial cycle & why to rethink some versions of it

I’ve mentioned my comings and goings with the concept of the hydrosocial cycle before. And I mentioned last week that a new paper of mine would be out soon. It’s here. Well, technically it is here [pdf]. It is an open-access article from Water Alternatives (which is currently transitioning its website to a new server so if it isn’t a smooth link, it should be soon). The special selection of papers on informal water spaces also looks really interesting in this issue of the journal.

My essay makes an argument about some of the current ideas popular in the literature that suggest a key feature of modernity was that water (and nature in general) was understood as a passive and inactive thing. From this premise, there is often an attempt to re-read history with contemporary understandings of water (and nature in general) as a more active player. In this paper I suggest the former view is wrong. Water was understood as an active planetary agent in precisely some of the cases theorized as exhibiting the modern society/nature divide. Because of this, the attempt to re-read history needs to be rethought with these earlier understandings of water in mind. All comments welcome. Here is the abstract:

Historicising the hydrosocial cycle

This paper examines the historical claims made in support of the hydrosocial cycle. In particular, it considers how arguments advancing the hydrosocial cycle make historical claims regarding modernist conceptions of what water is (i.e. H2O) and its fit with society. The paper gives special emphasis to the society/nature dualism and to the notion of agency as key sites of contest in arguments regarding the hydrosocial cycle. It finds that, while several versions of the hydrosocial cycle seek to advance a political ecology more sensitive to non-human actions, these same accounts often do not address the robust account of non-human agency in the historical record. Evidence is presented regarding water’s agency amongst late 19th and early 20th century architects of key water management norms in the United States. This evidence troubles accounts of the hydrosocial cycle that critique the US experience and suggests new directions for rethinking the role of historical and institutional norms in water policy.

Ian Hacking on Kuhn and paradigm