Wellcome Exhibition review in Science as Culture

Electric Eel film (1954) from ‘Electricity: The Spark of Life’ Wellcome exhibition

Another review is out! Originally, this was going to be a blog post, but Les Levidow from Science as Culture invited it as a review article (many thanks to him for his comments). The result is called ‘Making Nature, Making Energy, Making Humans: Two Exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection’ and can be downloaded here. I am reviewing Making Nature: How We See Animals and Electricity: The Spark of Life. There were quite a few exhibits that stuck with me in both exhibitions, in particular this one by by Allora & Calzadilla & Ted Chiang called ‘The Great Silence’, because it relates closely to the upcoming Mutable Matter workshop. It was a multi-screen exhibit in the Making Nature exhibition, but you can see a single screen version and read the text on vimeo and e-flux.

Allora & Calzadilla (in collaboration with Ted Chiang), The Great Silence from Artribune Tv on Vimeo.

The Wellcome Collection has now opened its follow-up exhibition to Making Nature. It is entitled A Museum of Modern Nature and is on until 8 October 2017.

CFP ISA 2017 Material and the Colonial Question

The following call for papers for the International Studies Association 2017 conference might be of interest to readers:

“Please consider this call for papers on the theme of ‘Material and the Colonial Question’ for ISA 2017 (Feb 22-25) in Baltimore. The ISA deadline for submissions is June 1st, so please send expressions of interest as soon as possible and full 200 word abstracts by May 20th to lisa.tilley@warwick.ac.uk. Many thanks!

Lisa Tilley, Olivia Rutazibwa, and Ajay Parasram.

Material and the Colonial Question

Divided cities, degraded resource frontiers, poisoned urban water supplies, violent commodity routes, oil pipelines, concrete settlements on colonised lands, toxic air, and contaminated biospheres – all of these may be understood as material substantiations of historically determined power relations in the present. A methodological shift to place material at the centre of analysis reveals the ways in which matter is implicated in politics and also provides a new means of expanding our debates around the colonial question.

This panel draws together papers which centre on the material realities of unequal political environments and thus adjust and enhance theorising both of the material and the (post)colonial. Panel contributions variously consider how material arrangements constitute subject/object, human/thing colonial power relations. These will also uncover means of overcoming the separation between the material and the representational in decolonial and postcolonial work by tracing lineages of Indigenous thought, or by recovering material questions from the work of anticolonial thinkers including Frantz Fanon.

Papers included range from a reading of the sociogenic material of the (post)colonial city through the work of Fanon and Sylvia Wynter, to an examination of the materialities of Black Power.

Panel contributors may relate to one or more of the following research questions:

In what ways is material politically implicated in the colonial present?
How are colonial social relations materialised in physical space?
What are the possibilities for engagement between posthumanism and post-/de-colonial thought?
What are the political implications of physiological changes in relation to material environments?
How does matter mediate political life?
How are material exclusions from the figure of the human produced?
How are dehumanising spaces such as refugee camps and urban ‘slums’ produced politically?
How can existing postcolonial and decolonial theory enhance new materialisms theorising?

Abourahme, Nasser (2014) Assembling and Spilling-Over: Towards an ‘Ethnography of Cement’ in a Palestinian Refugee Camp. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.
Jackson, Mark (Ed.) (Forthcoming) Postcolonialism, Posthumanism, and Political Ontology. Routledge.
Mitchell, Timothy (2011) Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. Verso.
Todd, Zoe (2016) An Indigenous Feminist’s Take on the Ontological Turn: ‘Ontology’ is Just Another Word for Colonialism. Journal of Historical Sociology.”