book

Spring Course | UCSC FDM 225: Software Studies

This coming spring term at UCSC, Science & Justice affiliate Warren Sack, Professor of Film & Digital Media and Digital Arts & New Media, will offer FDM 225: Software Studies, predominantly a history and theory graduate seminar. The course will meet in the Communications Building, Room 139 on Wednesdays from 3pm-6pm.
FDM 225 will incorporate a fairly extensive, hands-on project that deals with the artificial intelligence software used to generate stories automatically (akin to the engine in the Sims game that propels the characters).
The syllabus from my last offering of the course which is different from the coming spring offering in four respects:
  1. A number of new texts have been published on the topic since my last offering (spring of 2014), so several of those will be integrated into the readings (e.g., Federica Frabetti, Software Theory: A Cultural and Philosophical Study (2014)).
  2. I have a book manuscript for the MIT Press “Software Studies” book series that will be integrated into the readings.
  3. The hands-on, maker project described above involves modifying, extending and/or analyzing some software I have written.  You can get a preview of that software, a story generator, here (narrated by FDM PhD student Fabiola Hanna): http://fdm.ucsc.edu/~wsack/DecodingDemocracy/index.html
  4. On the first day of class (April 5th), I have two luminaries in the world of software studies and software art coming to speak.  They will both come to class to speak with us, but also be giving separate talks on campus:
    1. Matthew Fuller (Goldsmiths College, University of London) will speak at the Cultural Studies Colloquium on April 5th at noon in Humanities Room 210.
    2. Olga Goriunova (Royal Holloway, University of London) will speak at our Visual and Media Cultures Colloquium in Porter 245 at 4:00pm on April 5th(http://havc.ucsc.edu/news_events/2016/11/08/visual-media-cultures-colloquium-olga-goriunova)

March 1 | Telling the Truth: Objectivity and Justice

Illustration of the world melting4:00-6:00 PM
SJRC Common Room, Oakes 231

The terms “post-fact”, “post-truth”, and “post-reality” are now being used to label the new era we have entered. We are already seeing the erasure of climate data from servers and websites, and purveyors of the truth, including climate scientists, journalists, and academics are being put on warning. (The Climate Scientists witch-hunt and the Professor Watchlist are just two of many indicators). Data refuge efforts are underway amid concerns that the incoming administration will wage a war on scientific expertise.

At the same time that it is of upmost importance that facts, truth, and reality be asserted to counter the normalization of lies and fake news used to obscure the truth and manipulate the public, there is a large body of scholarship showing the non-innocent and often times harmful use of these terms in ways that collude with the forces of power, including colonialism, racism, militarism, etc.

We are creating this cluster to help us think through these issues during these extraordinary times.

Convened by Karen Barad, our first two meetings on Objectivity & Justice proved to be generative. During our first meeting we talked about what the terms ‘fact’, ‘truth’, and ‘reality’ signal to each of us. At our second meeting we had a wonderful discussion of the last chapter of Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism and we came up with some different approaches we might useful take in moving forward. Science & Justice invites you to our third meeting Wednesday March 1st 4-6pm. We will begin with a discussion of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. Even if you don’t have time to do the reading you are welcome to join us.

Here is a pdf of the novel, which is also available for less than a dollar on Kindle.

April 5 | Post Conflict Battlefield Landscape Recovery – or Not?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
4:00-6:00 PMLIDAR Digital Elevation Model of Fort Douamont and Surrounding Landscape
Engineering 2, room 599

 

The multiple forms of disturbances rendered by conflict upon landscapes around the world demonstrate that this anthropogenic agent is an incredible force that is capable of exerting an influence on the environment in a wide variety of ways, yet the bridge between geomorphology and environmental histories of battlefields is rarely made. This research associated with this presentation examines two case study battlefields, and how post-conflict land-use patterns are tied into what we see on the contemporary landscape of today. Also emphasized in the presentation are how various geospatial data collection tools and methods can be utilized with geospatial software to model the changes rendered to landscapes due to conflict, and to link these disturbances with modern land-use patterns.

Joe Hupy (Associate Professor of Geography, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire)
Joseph Hupy earned his PhD in geography from Michigan State University using soils as a proxy indicator for landscape stability following disturbances rendered by explosive munitions in World War One. Out of that research he coined the term ‘bombturbation’, which describes how soils are disturbed from explosive munitions, one of many forms of anthropogeomorphology where humans shape the landscape. The research surrounding World War One bombturbation led towards examination of other battlefields around the world, including research forays on the Viet Nam battlefield of Khe Sanh in 2007 and 2009. Research on all these battlefields relied upon a myriad of geospatial equipment and Geographic Information System modeling techniques. Out of that research and most recently, Joe has begun to use Unmanned Aerial Systems as a tool to gather data, and hopes to revisit other world battlefields in collaboration with other researchers in different disciplines using this technology as a tool.

In discussion with Science & Justice Graduate Fellow Jeff Sherman (Politics).
Co-Sponsored by the Anthropology department and the Center for Creative Ecologies.

Feb 7 | TELLING THE TRUTH: OBJECTIVITY & JUSTICE

Illustration of the world meltingFeb 7 | 4:00-6:00 PM | SJRC Common Room, Oakes 231

 

The terms “post-fact”, “post-truth”, and “post-reality” are now being used to label the new era we have entered. We are already seeing the erasure of climate data from servers and websites, and purveyors of the truth, including climate scientists, journalists, and academics are being put on warning. (The Climate Scientists witch-hunt and the Professor Watchlist are just two of many indicators). Data refuge efforts are underway amid concerns that the incoming administration will wage a war on scientific expertise.

At the same time that it is of upmost importance that facts, truth, and reality be asserted to counter the normalization of lies and fake news used to obscure the truth and manipulate the public, there is a large body of scholarship showing the non-innocent and often times harmful use of these terms in ways that collude with the forces of power, including colonialism, racism, militarism, etc.

We are creating this cluster to help us think through these issues during these extraordinary times.

Convened by Karen Barad, our first meeting on Objectivity & Justice provided to be a generative conversation on what the terms ‘fact’, ‘truth’, and ‘reality’ signal to each of us in relations to our own research. Science & Justice invites you to our second meeting Tuesday Feb 7th 4-6pm. Our second meeting will be dedicated forming different task groups while continuing to work together as a research cluster. Come get involved and come learn more about the structuring of our cluster at our meeting. We will begin with a discussion of Ch.13 of Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism (pp. 460-479). Even if you don’t have time to do the reading you are welcome to join us.

Food provided. Please join us.

 

Feb 1 | Cleo Woelfle-Erskine on Fish Culture

4:00-5:30 PM | SJRC Common Room, Oakes 231

Science & Justice visiting scholar Cleo Woelfle-Erskine, a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Feminist Studies Department will present new work on fish culture – considered broadly as human interventions into fish reproduction – as practiced in indigenous and settler communities in California and the Pacific Northwest. Beginning from archival photographs and texts from the first US salmon hatchery on Winnemem Wintu territory near Mt. Shasta, he traces indigenous roots of western fisheries science and explores how different ethics of human-salmon relation persist in contemporary tribal and settler salmon science.

Fish hatcheries became a central part of western river engineering during the 20th century, based on fisheries scientists’ belief that they could improve on natural fish production by intervening in fishes’ reproductive lives and genetic makeup. Hatcheries were one manifestation of Manifest Destiny, the settler philosophies that asserted settler logics’ and technologies’ superiority over indigenous philosophies and sciences. Eventually, salmon ecologists questioned hatcheries’ efficacy as salmon populations crashed. Yet hatcheries continue to be a powerful site of encounter between scientists, fish technicians, fishers, and the public, where relations between fish, people, and rivers are made and remade. In conversations with key interlocutors in indigenous, queer, transgender, settler colonial, and critical animal studies, Cleo explored three inter-related questions:

  1. How has ecological science been brought inside indigenous ontologies, and transformed through tribal science and fisheries management in the Pacific Northwest?
  2. Where are indigenous theories of relation transforming (non-indigenous) ecological science?
  3. How might queer notions of kinship and more-than-human affective entanglements provide a different challenge to normative logics of control and productivity in contemporary settler salmon recovery projects?

Woelfle-Erskine is an ecologist, hydrologist, writer, and scholar of water, working with mentor Karen Barad to explore queer, transgender, and decolonial possibilities for ecological science. Cleo will join the faculty of the School of Marie and Environmental Affairs at the University of Washington, Seattle as an Assistant Professor of Equity and Environmental Justice.

A small farm in the Andean-Amazonian foothills of Colombia. Photo by Kristina Lyons.

The Anthropology and Environment Society has awarded its Junior Scholar Prize to Kristina Lyons

Congratulations to Science & Justice Professor Kristina Lyons!

Lyons, Assistant Professor of Feminist Science Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz was awarded the 2016 AES Junior Scholar award for the article “Decomposition as Life Politics: Soils, Selva, and Small Farmers under the Gun of the U.S.- Colombia War on Drugs” is published in Cultural Anthropology (Volume 31, Number 1: 55-80) and accompanied in an interview.

The award is given annually to early-career scholars for an exemplary article in the area of environmental anthropology.

Abstract: How is life in a criminalized ecology in the Andean-Amazonian foothills of south- western Colombia? In what way does antinarcotics policy that aims to eradicate la mata que mata (the plant that kills) pursue peace through poison? Relatedly, how do people keep on cultivating a garden, caring for forest, or growing food when at any moment a crop-duster plane may pass overhead, indiscriminately spraying herbicides over entire landscapes? Since 2000, the U.S.–Colombian War on Drugs has relied on the militarized aerial fumigation of coca plants, coupled with alternative development interventions that aim to forcibly eradicate illicit livelihoods. Through ethnographic engagement with small farmers in the frontier department of Putumayo, the gateway to the country’s Amazon and a region that has been the focus of counternarcotic operations, this article explores the different possibilities and foreclosures for life and death that emerge in a tropical forest ecology under military duress. By following farmers, their material practices, and their life philosophies, I trace the ways in which human-soil relations come to potentiate forms of resistance to the violence and criminalization produced by militarized, growth-oriented development. Rather than productivity—one of the central elements of modern capitalist growth— the regenerative capacity of these ecologies relies on organic decay, impermanence, decomposition, and even fragility that complicates modernist bifurcations of living and dying, allowing, I argue, for ecological imaginaries and life processes that do not rely on productivity or growth to strive into existence.

(Image note: A small farm in the Andean-Amazonian foothills of Colombia. Photo by Kristina Lyons.)

Feb 17/18 | Democratizing the Green City: Sustainability and the Affordable Housing Crisis

 

democratizing-green-city

This two day conference examines a paradox: urban sustainability initiatives that are so vital in countering climate change can, through their improvements, contribute to driving up rents and driving out residents, and in the process, exacerbate sprawl, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change itself. Our speakers examine this growing link between environmental improvement and social displacement and ask: How is it possible to break this link? What would it mean to include affordable housing and equity within sustainability efforts? And what are the consequences—socially and ecologically—if we don’t?

 

February 17, 2017 5:00pm-7pm | Digital Arts Research Center 108
February 18, 2017 9:30am-6pm | Red Room, Rachel Carson College

We begin with a focus on the housing crisis that is transforming our own state and region. Renowned for greening and sustainability initiatives—from transit-oriented development to locavore food sheds to green building—California is also home to the most unaffordable housing markets in the country, including Santa Cruz. Thus greening interacts with gentrification and increased consumption, declining diversity and rising inequality, displacement and longer commutes, and multiple environmental health and ecosystem impacts, including habitat fragmentation, loss of groundwater, and increased carbon footprints. Our region, however, is not alone. We bring together a new generation of scholars, planners, and activists addressing ‘the housing question’ and green affordability crises across the Americas —in Mexico City and New York, Seattle and Medellin, Sao Paulo and Oakland— as well as emerging strategies for democratizing the green city.

For more information on the schedule, locations and registrations visit: https://democratizing-the-green-city.sites.ucsc.edu/

Organizers: Miriam Greenberg and Hillary Angelo, UCSC Sociology, Urban Democracy Lab/Democratizing the Green City NYC (NYU), Critical Sustainabilities Project (UCSC)

Sponsors: Urban Democracy Lab, The UCSC Sustainability Office, Rachel Carson College, UCSC Sociology Department, The Science and Justice Research Center

Jan 25 | Against Purity

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
4:00-6:00 PM
Engineering 2, Room 599

Science and Justice Visiting Scholar and UCSC alum Alexis Shotwell, Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University, will be in conversation with Jess Neasbitt (History of Consciousness, UCSC) about politics, movements and ethics in her new book Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised TimesAgainst Purity proposes a powerful new conception of social movements as custodians for the past and incubators for liberated futures. Against Purity undertakes an analysis that draws on theories of race, disability, gender, and animal ethics as a foundation for an innovative approach to the politics and ethics of responding to systemic problems.

Jan 24 | TELLING THE TRUTH: OBJECTIVITY & JUSTICE

Illustration of the world meltingTuesday, January 24, 2017
4:00-6:00 PM
SJRC Common Room (Oakes 231)

 

The terms “post-fact”, “post-truth”, and “post-reality” are now being used to label the new era we have entered. We are already seeing the erasure of climate data from servers and websites [1], and purveyors of the truth, including climate scientists, journalists, and academics are being put on warning. (The Climate Scientists witch-hunt [2] and the Professor Watchlist are just two of many indicators). Data refuge efforts are underway [3] amid concerns that the incoming administration will wage a war on scientific expertise [4].

At the same time that it is of upmost importance that facts, truth, and reality be asserted to counter the normalization of lies and fake news used to obscure the truth and manipulate the public, there is a large body of scholarship showing the non-innocent and often times harmful use of these terms in ways that collude with the forces of power, including colonialism, racism, militarism, etc.

We are creating this cluster to help us think through these issues during these extraordinary times.

Convened by Karen Barad, our first meeting is Tuesday Jan 24 4-6pm. This first meeting will focus the question of what these terms (fact, truth, reality) signal to each of us in relationship to our own research. We anticipate that these terms will spark a variety of different associations depending on our fields of study. Please join us.

[1] “DNR purges climate change from web page,” by Lee Bergquist (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dec. 28, 2016) http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2016/12/28/dnr-purges-climate-change-on-web-page/95929564/

[2] “Trump Transition Ask Energy Dept. Which Employees Work on Climate Change,” by Christopher Dean Hopkins (NPR, Dec 9, 2016)
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/09/505041927/trump-transition-asks-energy-dept-which-employees-work-on-climate-change?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=2038

[3] Q&A: Michelle Murphy, the U of T professor who’s racing to preserve climate-change data before Donald Trump takes office,” by Steve Kupferman (Toronto Life, Dec 16, 2016)
http://torontolife.com/city/toronto-politics/qa-michelle-murphy-u-t-professor-whos-racing-preserve-climate-change-data-donald-trump-takes-office/

“Scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump,” by Brady Dennis (Washington Post, Dec 13, 2016)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/12/13/scientists-are-frantically-copying-u-s-climate-data-fearing-it-might-vanish-under-trump/?tid=sm_fb&utm_term=.401062d00845

“Scientists prepare to fight for their work during ‘the Trumpocene’” by Sarah Kaplan (Washington Post, Dec. 15, 2016)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/12/15/researchers-reckon-with-the-trumpocene-at-the-worlds-largest-earth-science-meeting/?utm_term=.1e2b399fde15

[4] “How Trump Could Wage a War on Scientific Expertise,” by Ed Yong (The Atlantic, Dec 2, 2016)
http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/12/how-trump-could-wage-a-war-on-scientific-expertise/509378/

 

Jan 24 Objectivity & Justice Notes