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Speaker Series: Joseph P. Masco, University of Chicago

  • When: March 14, 2018, 12–1:30 pm
  • Where: ABF Woods Conference Room, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor, Lakeside, Chicago IL 60611

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The Radioactive Anthropocene: On Planetary Accountability

This talk examines recent debates in the earth sciences about the scale and scope of human impacts on the global environment. Specifically, it considers a leading scientific proposal to anchor a new geological epoch in the mid-20th century fallout from nuclear detonations, and asks what new kind of politics emerge from a scientific recognition of planetary scale contamination. The talk considers the temporal logics and spatial effects of technological revolution (from petrocapitalism to nuclear nationalism) and raises a set of questions about the asymmetry of sources, effects, and consequences across the global north and south. Ultimately, the talk theorizes the conditions of possibility for a new form of “planetary accountability” in the 21st century.

Courtesy of University of Chicago

Professor of Anthropology and of the Social Sciences in the College, Dr. Joseph Masco (PhD, UC San Diego 1999) writes and teaches courses on science and technology, U.S. national security culture, political ecology, mass media, and critical theory. He is the author of The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico (Princeton University Press, 2006), which won the 2008 Rachel Carson Prize from the Society for the Social Studies of Science and the 2006 Robert K. Merton Prize from the Section on Science, Knowledge and Technology of the American Sociology Association. His work as been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Wenner-Gren Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His current work examines the evolution of the national security state in the United States, with a particular focus on the interplay between affect, technology, and threat perception within a national public sphere.

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