Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Final Reading List, Fall 2014 [Rd]

Things You Read this Semester: 

Week 1
  • Miller, Sarah. 'Prestige TV in the time of ClimateChange'. The New Yorker: June 25,2014
  • “weird, v.” Oxford English Dictionary. Online Edition.
  • Sloterdijk, Peter. 2013. ‘The Wandering Star’, ‘Return to Earth’, 'Globe Time, World Picture Time'. In the World Interior of Capital. Polity Press:  pp. 15-32

Week 2
  • Liao, S. Matthew, Anders Sandberg, and Rebecca Roache. "Human engineering and climate change." Ethics, Policy & Environment 15.2 (2012): 206-221.
  • Ferguson, Frances. 2014. ‘Climate Change and Us’. Diacritics, Vol. 41, No. 3: 33-37

Week 3
  • Hippocrates, 'Airs, Waters, Places'.
  • Montesquieu (1748) Book XIV. Of Laws in Relation to the Nature of the Climate
  • Siegel, James. 1981. ‘Academic Work: The View from Cornell. Diacritics, Vol. 11, No. 1: 58-83
  • Ingold, Tim. 2007. Earth, Sky, Wind, and Weather. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 13, Wind, Life, Health: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives (2007), pp. S19-S38

Week 4
  • Hong, Cathy Park. 2012. 'The World Cloud'. Engine, Empire. W & W Norton and Company. pp. 65-93
  • Irvine, Richard. 2014. Deep Time: An Anthropological Problem. Social Anthropology. 22(2): 157-172
  • Kolbert, Elizabeth. 2014. ‘Welcome to the Anthropocene’. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Henry Holt and Co: pp. 92-110 
  • Ialenti, Vincent. 2014. When Deep Time Becomes Shallow: Knowing Nuclear Waste Risk Ethnographically. Discard Studies.
  • Latour, Bruno. 2012. 'Love your Monsters'. Breakthrough Journal. Winter 2012

Week 5
  • Disruption. 2014. Directed by Kelly Nyks & Jared P. Scott
  • Ruidak-Gould, Peter. 2014. 'Climate Change and Accusation: Global Warming and Local Blame in a Small Island State.' Current Anthropology. 55(4): 365-385
  • Oreskes, Naomi and Erik M. Conway. 2013. The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. Daedalus. 142(1)

Week 6
  • Douglas, Mary. 'Secular Defilement'. Purity and Ritual. Routledge Press.
  • Nagle, John. (2013). Good Pollution, 79 The University of Chicago Law Review Dialogue.
  • Mass v. EPA. 2007. 'Opinion of the Court'.
  • Obama, Barack. 2013. 'Remarks by the President on Climate Change'.

Week 7
  • Žižek, Slavoj. 2007. 'Introduction', 'Empty Gestures and Performatives', 'The Interpassive Subject'. How to Read Lacan. W.W. Norton and Company Press
  • Sloterdijk, Peter. 2013. 'Mutations in the Pampering Space'. In the World Interior of Capital. Polity Press
  • Berry, Wendell. 'Faustian Economics'. Harper's Magazine. May 2008
  • Princen, T. et al. 2013. 'Keep Them in the Ground: Ending the Fossil Fuel Era. State of the world 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible?'. World watch Institute.
  • Chouinard, Yvon. 'The Education of a Reluctant Businessman'. University of California Santa Barbara Lecture.

Week 8
  • Department of Defense 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap
  • Cornell University's Climate Change Action Plan Update & Roadmap 2014-2015

Week 9
  • Beck, Ulrich. 'World Risk Society and Manufactured Uncertainties'. Iris. 2009
  • Evans-Pritchard, E. 'The Notion of Witchcraft Explains Unfortunate Events'. Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande. Oxford Clarendon Press
  • Whorf, Benjamin Lee. Blazing Icicles. The Hartford Agent. 1941
  • Powers, Michael. 'False Choices and Black Boxes'. Ruminations on Risk and Insurance. 2012
  • ACE. Public/Educational Entity Pollution Liability Insurance

Week  10-11
  • Rich, Nathaniel. 2013. Odds Against Tomorrow. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.

Week 12-13

  • Morton, Timothy. 2013. Hyperobjects. University of Minnesota Press. 

Monday, December 8, 2014


B46, McGraw Hall 

  • Monday --  2pm - 6 pm
  • Tuesday -- 11am - 2pm, or after by appointment (email me!)
  • Wednesday --  11am - 2pm, or after by appointment (email me!)


Thursday -- DUE by 11 am. 

Bring a printed copy of your final essay to my office in McGraw Hall before 11am on Thursday. I will be there from 8am to 11am. Late papers will not be accepted. 

If I lent you a book at some point over the semester, please kindly return it.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014


The Ceataceocene is an informal geological term for the proposed epoch that began when whale activities had a significant global impact on Earth's ecosystems. 

Etymology:  modern Latin, <  cētus , < Greek κῆτος whale; see -acea suffix.

  With pl. concord. The order of marine Mammalia containing the whales and their congeners.

1830    C. Lyell Princ. Geol. I. 151   The bones of whales and other cetacea.
1833    C. Bell Hand (ed. 3) 110   In the Cetacea..we have mammalia unprovided with hind feet.
1865    P. H. Gosse Land & Sea (1874) 168   [Foraminifers and Diatoms] constitute the principal sustenance of the giant Cetacea.

Source: OED 20014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Final Essay Breakdown

Below you will find a short breakdown of the final term paper. Think of this outline as a set of loose morphological cues, not a series of adjoined prison cells for "holding" your ideas. By approaching the final essay in terms of its constitutive parts, the process of writing it will feel less onerous and more manageable. However, don't lose sight of the essay as a whole --to this end, remember to explain how the various parts fit into the larger structure of your argument.   

Introduction               1 page (260 words)
Literature Review*    2 pages (700 words)
Historical Context      2 pages (450 words)
Findings                     7-10 pages (2,000+ words)
Discussion                  3 pages (1,000 words)
Total                           15-20 pages

* The literature review section must engage with scholarly work either written by anthropologists or some other adjacent discipline in the humanities or social sciences. If for whatever reason you're having a difficult time locating appropriate texts, please email me for help.

I am happy to provide feedback on any draft versions of your final paper. I will have extended office hours next week and during study week. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Monday, November 17, 2014

You will receive extra credit if you (1) attend Elizabeth Povinelli's lecture today a 4:30 pm in Myron Taylor Hall and (2) post a short response discussing the implications of a theoretical claim raised in the lecture for the topic you've decided to write about in your final essay.

Location Details
Myron Taylor Hall is in the Law School. If you haven't already been to the Law University's reading room, go early and try studying in the gothic atmosphere beneath its vaulted ceiling. 


Elizabeth Povinelli
Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology
Columbia University

Monday, November 17 
4:30 PM

184 Myron Taylor Hall (Law School)
Reception to Follow

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Winter Manifesto

I came across this pretty brilliant manifesto titled, KEEP IT DIRTY. It's written by two English professors, Samuel Jacobson and Eileen Joy. 

While there's no drought in upstate New York, I think the message is still appropriate as we enter that special time of the year when the streets and paths of Ithaca become a smutty mixture of sodium chloride, greasy soil, and snowmelt. 

Some highlights below. 
"KEEP IT DIRTY is asking everyone to stop washing their cars. As in, right now. Just don’t do it. It’s easy because you don’t have to do anything. It’s also dirty. It’s a new dirty geo-politics. Droughts are dusty, but you’re not dusty enough yet. And neither is your car."
KEEP IT DIRTY says you can do nothing, and it’s fabulous.
KEEP IT DIRTY embraces a practical negativity and inhumanism that refuses resignation.
KEEP IT DIRTY recognizes, with Mary Douglas, that purity is indeed next to danger, but we need to get closer to that danger. By getting dirtier. Fuck cleanliness boundaries.
KEEP IT DIRTY uses your laziness in the interest of a better California, a better world, and a better tomorrow.
KEEP IT DIRTY is not necessarily theirs, because it is yours, mine, and ours. KEEP IT DIRTY is an act of landscape architecture.
KEEP IT DIRTY writes a blank check for tomorrow. Scrawled in mud.
KEEP IT DIRTY says “you know what I mean.” And you say, “yeah, I won’t move a finger, then.”
KEEP IT DIRTY is inaction in action. 
KEEP IT DIRTY heard you mumble “ahhh … fuck it” and said coyly: “OK.” 
KEEP IT DIRTY answers the question: how can networks scale and retain utility, through aesthetics? 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Climate Change Bunkers

Ever wondered what global warming has to do with "pet" care?

Three words: Underground Dog Parks

When trying to determine a research topic allow yourself to be drawn into a story that leaves you wanting to know more. The best papers are always motivated by a sense of compulsion to choose between knowing and not-knowing.

Source: WSJ

Additional Links:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Length: 15-20 pages
First Draft: November 23, before Midnight (at least 6 pages)
Final Draft: December 11, before 11 am

Today we know the Earth's atmosphere --a thin envelope of gas that separates all known life from the abyssal emptiness of space-- is warming. As we've read and discussed over the semester, for much of human history, the basic presumption that humans exist in a state of natural rapport with their endemic "lifeworld" has meant that climatic conditions have only recently been called into question. Of course, even when the atmospheric situation finally became the object of serious philosophical concern, from Hippocrates and beyond, being-in-the-air has generally been accepted to be a static given, albeit one with disputed cultural implications. However, with the discovery of climate change in the 19th century, and more recently, the anthropogenic greenhouse effect, the naive certitude that Nature's aerial vault is somehow beyond direct human modification has once and for all been overturned. 

Today we know the Earth's atmosphere is warming. Two weeks ago the IPCC released its most definitive report to date; in it the authors once again reaffirmed that, indeed, anthropogenic drivers are “extremely likely” to be the dominant cause of observed planetary warming. As the report went on to note, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gasses have now reached levels that have not been breached in at least 800,000 years. To put this in context of our species's history: the last time carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide were present in the atmosphere at current levels it was 600,000 years before the first anatomical human took her first imaginary upright steps.

Today we know the Earth's atmosphere is warming. However, as we've seen again and again over the course of this semester, what exactly this secondary warming means for the future is neither a straightforward problem nor a disinterested fact. 

Option A. Research Paper

For your final essay your assignment is to explore the problem of climate change through a topic of your own choosing. 

I should like you to investigate something that pleases and disturbs you with special attention to its weird and surprising details. I insist that you enjoy this assignment. I also insist that you develop an original claim, observation, or concept that's adequately supported with evidence, reflection, and well-timed affirmation. 

Write a paper that you'd actually want to read; a paper that will be submitted to a skeptical, bullshit weary superior. Be unique. Be curious. Be unsatisfied and impatient with arguments and observations that offend your sense of intellectual rigor or humanity. Call into question things that aren't normally called into question. Oppose mindlessness. 

Option B. Can Climate Change Speak?

In a mute world where hurricanes, carbon dioxide, and glacial ice are in themselves silent, what does it take to make "climate change" speak? 

For your final essay, I want you to answer this question by way of a detailed interview. In other words, you're job will be to speak to someone who speaks for the climate! 

Write a paper that incorporates narrative, dialogue, and description with an original meditation on what it means to establish climate change as a scientific, political, and cultural reality. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Week 12 & 13. Hyperobjects [Hw]

Your homework and in class exercise over the next two weeks entails three inter-related tasks. 

Part I

Create something that unpacks the philosophical positions presented in your assigned chapter. This might take any number of forms. For example, you might produce a series of images, construct a complex chart or table, curate a gallery of gifs, create a short video, or invent a game. The only requirement is that your creation earnestly engages with the text and invites active contemplation beyond it. In this way, your goal is to create a kind of companion piece to the chapter. This will ultimately end up on the course website. 

Part II

Unveil and present your creation and the chapter to the class. 

Part III

Lead class discussion. 


Below you will find the chapter and team assignments. I have also included everyone's netIDs. Plan on getting together in person.  

As you read the chapter and begin to envision some way to imaginatively unpack it, if you encounter a reference or idea you don't "get" then figure out a way to get it. Don't preemptively excuse yourself from understanding. 

Your education will always be your responsibility. 

Also, don't forget, you have access to a digital archive of nearly every academic journal ever published, vast troves of visual media, and roughly 8 million printed books. 

Feel free to email me if you have any further questions. 


Lucas (lvw24) / Sam (sm959)

- Nonlocality 
Erika (ena7) / Jeanette (jp644) 


- Temporal Undulation 
Scott (sk963) / Christina (cmy43)

- Phasing 
Karalyn (knp25) /  Kevin (kg339)


- Interobjectivity
JT (jt95) / Brendan (bd287)

- The End of the World
Melody (mjs585) / Justin (jhg776) / Ryan (rs257)


- Hypocrisies 
Su (ssc269) / Albert (ajc423) 

- The Age of Asymmetry 
Ibrahym (ias38) / Brian (bly22) / Jeff (jsd252)

Week 12 & 13. Hyperobjects [Rd]

  • A Quake in Being, Viscosity, Nonlocality: pp. 1-54 

  • Temporal Undulation, Phasing, Interobjectivity: pp. 55-95

  • The End of the World, Hypocrisies: pp. 99-158

11/ 20. 
  • The Age of Asymmetry: pp. 159-201

Monday, November 3, 2014

Evangelical Climatology

Example A 

“Climate change alarmists and those who are pushing population control… promote homosexuality... They deny it but the evidence is there; it’s footnoted in my book.” 
“I remember a few years ago, it might have been Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, made a reference to a hurricane or a storm being an act of God — it’s interesting that’s how we refer to some of these things in our insurance policies — they were ridiculed, saying ‘how dumb can you be?’ Well, there’s more to back that up than to say what’s happening in our environment, our climate, is because of people driving Suburbans or coal-fired power plants.” 
-- Tony Perkins of Family Research Council (Christian Conservative lobby group)

Example B

The following commercial was produced by the Evangelical Environmental Network. The group claims that there's a Biblical mandate to act on "carbon pollution". 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cornell & Fossil Fuel Divestment

As I continue to grade your last papers, I'm a bit surprised no one ended up examining anything related to fossil fuel divestment. There's an article in the NYTimes today on the topic that actually mentions Cornell (not in the most positive light), check it out: 'The Missing Campus Climate Debate
"Climate Change is our era’s defining challenge, but most of America’s universities are planning to sit this one out. Though students and faculty members at more than 400 colleges have called for administrators to divest from fossil-fuel energy companies, fewer than 20 have committed to doing so. Stanford recently divested from coal, but none of the other schools had endowments within the 150 largest in 2013. 
"The principal justification schools offer is that endowments should be reserved to advance an academic mission. As Cornell’s president, David J. Skorton, put it, “We must resist, in almost all cases, the temptation to manage these precious funds to further social or political causes, no matter how worthy.” Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s president, said, “The endowment is a resource, not an instrument to impel social or political change.”
This could be an interesting topic to explore in a final paper! 

Week 11. Odds Against Tomorrow [Hw]

Part I. 

Compare and contrast the representation of weather and the use of meteorological language in Odds Against Tomorrow, the Genesis version of the flood, and the PBS documentary Inside the Megastorm

Is it possible to separate scientific anticipation from religious and prophetic dramatization? Refer to the texts in your response.  

Part II.

Propose at least two questions for class discussion. 

Week 11. Odds Against Tomorrow (part 2) [Rd]

10/4. Psycho Canoe and the Ark

10/6. Catastrophe and the Camp

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Week 10. Odds Against Tomorrow [Rd]

9/28. FutureWorld
  • Odds Against Tomorrow. pp: 3-60

9/29. Assured Anxiety
  • Odds Against Tomorrow. pp: 61-118 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Peer Review Guidelines

Essay #3
Due: 10/21 (bring 2 printed copies)
  1. What parts of the essay do you find most convincing and why?
  2. What parts are still unclear or feel incomplete? 
  3. Identify and rephrase the central claim of the paper. 
  4. Does it say something not obvious and significant about the "artifact"? 
  5. List and comment on the major points and evidence used to support the central claim. 
  6. How and when have potential counter-arguments been addressed? Suggest some of your own. 
  7. Indicate sentences or paragraphs that seem out of order, or in need of revision.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Essay #3

Below you will find a revised timeline for your upcoming writing assignment. 
Draft 1, Due: 10/19 (before midnight)

Peer Review, Due: 10/21 (before class)

Final, Due: 10/26 (before midnight)

I will be holding regular office hours tomorrow from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. If you'd like to drop by and discuss your plans for essay #3 this would be the time. Also, for those of you who were unable to pick up your graded essays last Thursday, I have them. 

Our own opinions

Friedrich Nietzsche. Human, All Too Human (1878)

Our own opinions. -- The first opinion that occurs to us when we are suddenly asked about something is usually not our own but only the customary one pertaining to our caste, station, origin; our own opinions rarely swim to the top. 

Enemies of Truth. -- Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. 

Advocates of truth. -- Not when it is dangerous to tell the truth does truth lack advocates, but when it is boring to do so. 

Truth. -- No one now dies of fatal truths: there are too many antidotes to them. 

Fundamental insight. -- There is no pre-established harmony between the furtherance of truth and the well-being of mankind.

The life of one’s enemy. -- He who lives for the sake of combating an enemy has an interest in seeing that his enemy stays alive. 

Value of tasteless opponents. -- Sometimes one stays faithful to a cause only because its opponents are unfailingly tasteless.

What is dangerous in independent opinions
. -- Occasional indulgence in independent opinions is stimulating, like a kind of itch; if we proceed further in them we begin to scratch the spot; until in the end we produce an open wound, that is to say until our independent opinions begin to disturb and harass us in our situation in life and our human relationships.

Trick of the prophet. -- To divine in advance how ordinary people will act one has to assume that, when they are in an unpleasant situation, they always seek to get out of it with the smallest expenditure of intelligence. 

Bad memory. -- The advantage of a bad memory is that one can enjoy the same good things for the first time several times.  

Half-knowledge. -- He who speaks little of a foreign language gets more pleasure from it than he who speaks it well. Enjoyment is with the half knowers. 

Dangerous readiness to help. -- There are people who want to make other people’s life harder for no other reason than to be able afterwards to offer them their recipe for alleviating life (for example their Christianity). 

Miraculous vanity. -- He who has boldly foretold the weather three times and each time successfully believes a little in the depths of his soul that he is prophetically gifted. We accept the existence of the miraculous and irrational when it flatters our self-esteem. 

Opinions and fish. -- One possesses one’s opinions in the way one possesses fish -insofar, that is, that one possesses a fishpond. One has to go fishing and be lucky -then one one has one’s own fish, one’s own opinions. I am speaking here of living opinions, of living fish. Others are content to possess a cabinet of fossils - and, in their heads, ‘convictions’.

Self-satisfaction. -- The golden fleece of self-satisfaction protects against blows but not against pinpricks. 

Self-observation. -- Man is very well defended against himself, against being reconnoitered and besieged by himself, he is usually able to perceive of himself only his outer walls. The actual fortress is inaccessible, even invisible to him, unless his friends and enemies play the traitor and conduct him in by a secret path. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 8. Weird Bureaucracy

10/16. A Tale of Two Roadmaps

In preparation for Thursday's class please examine the following two documents (see below). Instead of getting caught up in the small details of their content, as practice for your upcoming essay, I want you to read them with an eye to distinguishing their compositional structure. In other words, try to think about how the documents were shaped by the pull of the larger 'genre' in which they were articulated (i.e. the 'climate change roadmap').

Document #1. Department of Defense 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap
This document was released a few hours ago in conjunction with a speech delivered Monday by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who is currently participating in the 'Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas' in Arequipa, Peru.

Document #2. Cornell University's Climate Change Action Plan Update & Roadmap 2014-2015
This document is the third iteration of Cornell University's original 2009 Cornell Climate Action Plan. The first update was conducted in 2011.

* For Thursday, please bring a copy/image/simulacrum of the artifact that you'll be working with for the upcoming essay and a tentative outline of your paper.

** In the upcoming essay you are required to use at least one additional article from an anthropology journal. To help you with your research, I've created a page of links to relevant scholarly journals (see Library of Weirding). For this essay, you should focus on the links under the 'Anthropology' heading. The other subfields are there to assist you with your final term paper.

Document #1. Department of Defense 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap

Document #2. Cornell University's Climate Change Action Plan Update & Roadmap 2014-2015

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I couldn't resist...

Patagonia's original 'DON'T BUY THIS JACKET' campaign appeared in the New York Times on November 25, 2011, see here. 

These campaigns invariably generate a bunch of snarky headlines, many written by frivolous 'boredom' experts (also known as "business journalists") who see wastefulness as their first civic duty.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Mathilde Fallot

Week 7. Sustainability in the Hothouse [Hw]

Part I

  • Identify and post a link to the artifact or document that you'll be working with for essay #3.
  • Provide a brief description of the artifact, this should include: what in particular about the artifact's form or content drew you to it, and what at this early stage puzzles you about it. Think of this description not as passively recording "facts" but as a way of selecting and emphasizing certain features for further inspection. 

Part II

  • Select and post at least two passages from any of this week's readings that confused or inspired you and which you'd like to discuss further in class. Include specific questions that we might discuss or use as a spring board for class debate.