Cultures of Energy Digital Archive

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Cultures of Energy brings writers, artists and scholars together to talk, think and feel their way into the Anthropocene. We cover serious issues like climate change, species extinction and energy transition. But we also try to confront seemingly huge and insurmountable problems with insight, creativity and laughter. We believe in the possibility of personal and cultural change. And we believe that the arts and humanities can help guide us toward a more sustainable future. Cultures of Energy is a Mingomena Media production. Co-hosts are @DominicBoyer and @CymeneHowe.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 205
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    Ep. #205 - Intersectional Ecologies
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2017-12-14) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Guarasci, Bridget; Moore, Amelia; Vaughn, Sarah
    Cymene and Dominic talk war, sunglasses and unexpected colors and then (10:27) we pivot to the main event, a discussion of intersectional ecologies featuring three brilliant minds: Bridget Guarasci (, Amelia Moore ( and Sarah Vaughn ( We start with their 2021 Annual Review of Anthropology article, “Intersectional Ecologies: Reimagining Anthropology and Environment” and talk about how their reading group became a writing group. We discuss how environmental anthropology has evolved over time and its need to diversify its citational practices. What are the environmental stories that need to be told in our troubled times? Turning toward their individual research projects, we talk about how those projects have been influenced by their intersectional ecologies collaboration. We hear about alternative histories of Block Island, mining and trans-Mediterranean mobility, and the role of Bermudian insurance companies in place creation and in shaping knowledge of climate change. We close talking about collaboration, how it has become a part of their practice, and how audit culture needs to accept collaboration as a new standard.
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    Ep. #204 - Elizabeth Povinelli Returns
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2022-02-23) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Povinelli, Elizabeth
    A potpourri of hot topix leads off this week’s episode: ASMR, Super Twosday, Ukraine, Bitcoin, and the correct pronunciation of Lindsey Lohan’s name. Then (17:36) we are so very thrilled to welcome Beth Povinelli back to the pod to discuss her latest book, The Inheritance (Duke UP 2021), a graphic memoir that plumbs the messy relationships among nationality, ethnicity, kinship, religion, and belonging. We talk about the dual origin stories of the project, both on a beach in Belyuen and in response to the recent rise of heritage (DNA) capitalism and surging white supremacism in the United States. We discuss the challenge of finding one’s way back to childhood and the fracturing that lies at the core of all identity claims. Beth explains how her experiences in Belyuen made her reconsider everything about her own home. We talk about how no two dispossessions are the same, the absorptive politics of whiteness for European immigrants, structures of care and disregard, and the cunning of the law of the father in families and settler society. At the end, we talk about how The Inheritance relates to her work with the Karrabing Film Collective, which work to intervene in settler narratives without being tied to settler literacy. Watch out for the film version of The Inheritance and check out Karrabing Film Collective works at and Outro music courtesy of Beth’s talented sister, Sharon. Thanks, Sharon!
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    Ep. #203 - David Farrier
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2017-12-14) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Farrier, David
    Cymene and Dominic discuss extraterrestrial lavatology, evil corporate accounting software, skyfarms and chinchillas on this week’s intro. Then (14:15) we are so delighted to welcome David Farrier (U Edinburgh) to the podcast to discuss his justly acclaimed latest book, Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils (FSG, 2020). David talks about how the Anthropocene has distorted our sense of time and new relations with deep time inspired him to wonder about what humanity’s material legacy will look like far in the future. Whose material legacy is that exactly? Who might discover our future fossils? How do we decenter the human without indulging in extinction fantasies? What could story and myth do to protect future beings against some of the more toxic colonial legacies that are being left behind? What are the implications of the current colonization of the future and how can we become better ancestors? Finally, we talk about walking in the forest as a literary practice. Enjoy!
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    Ep. #202 - Shannon Mattern
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2022-02-10) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Mattern, Shannon
    Cymene and Dominic talk about the vine that’s taking over their house and then (12:30) we welcome the New School’s magnificent Shannon Mattern to the podcast We discuss her new book A City is Not a Computer: Other Urban Intelligences (Princeton UP, 2021) which explores the limits of computational models for understanding knowledge in urban contexts. We begin with the deep history of urban intelligence and the role of cybernetics in offering computation as a universal analogy. We talk about other venerable tropes too, like the city as graft and the city as tree. We cover the limits of datafication to understand urban life. Does Shannon have a perfect urban dashboard model in mind? How much is big tech driving dashboardization and how much the charisma of universal representations? We talk failure and function, access as a tech panacea, smart cities, the politics of shade, libraries and kindred examples of “other urban intelligences.” Finally, we turn to the magic of Shannon’s Twitter work and how it informs her teaching. Enjoy!
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    Ep. #201 - Arturo Escobar
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2017-12-14) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Escobar, Arturo
    Aaaaand we’re back! Cymene and Dominic start off with their usual nonsense, which culminates in a lively discussion of the missile silo now listed on the real estate site Zillow (we were wrong on some of the specs btw, it’s in Abilene, Kansas and only $380,000, survivalist bargain hunters can find all the deets here:  Then (15:31) we welcome our marvelous guest, Arturo Escobar. We start by discussing Arturo’s latest book Pluriversal Politics (Duke UP, 2020) and how the concept of pluriverse—a world where many worlds fit—emerged from an effort to understand emergence in a time of emergency. We talk about how the contemporary crisis is a crisis of a particular civilizational model and about the need to re/turn to an awareness of radical interdependence and possibility. Can Left politics overcome its reliance on the figure of “the enemy” and deal with its fear of the end of modernity so as to make its politics more pluriversal? What is radical social change? Why have the pathologies of isolation have proven to be worse than the pathologies of connection? We discuss Arturo’s interest in design alongside philosophy and anthropology and what it would mean to shift from an ontology of development to one of care. Arturo closes by gifting us an everyday exercise to help foster greater relational awareness. See you next week!
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    Ep. #200 - Laura Nader
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2019-10-24) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Nader, Laura
    Wow, we made it to 200 episodes and 250k downloads this week. Thank you everyone for listening for the past nearly four years.  It also seems like a good milestone for a change of pace. Your tireless cohosts need to take an extended break from weekly podcasting in order to commit ourselves more fully to a couple of other creative opportunities that have emerged during our time away from Rice. But please know that Cultures of Energy has been a project that brought us much joy (and helped us to meet so many amazing people!) It also helped to keep us sane through some dark times. And the kind words many of you have sent our way over the years have meant the world to us. Go you!! The channel will stay active for the foreseeable future in case you’d like to access the back catalog for listening or teaching purposes. And it's very likely that we’ll upload new episodes and content from time to time connected with special events. But for now please just enjoy our conversation with someone who has long been on our wish list, Laura Nader, a founding mother of the field of energy humanities. We speak to her about how her scholarship and activism became entangled with energy over the years, starting with her experience as the only anthropologist (and only woman!) on the US Committee on Nuclear and Alternative Energy Systems during the Carter presidency. Super big thanks to Daena Funahashi for her work behind the scenes to make this episode possible!
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    Ep. #199 - Bathsheba Demuth
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2017-12-14) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Demuth, Bathsheba
    Your co-hosts talk clonal trees and dispense important advice about relationships, breakups, and having “the conversation” with your children on this week’s podcast. Then (17:16) we talk to Brown University’s Bathsheba Demuth ( about her new book Floating Coast ( a beautifully conceived and written environmental history of the Bering Strait from the 18ththrough the 20thcenturies. We start with how American and Soviet modernist projects differentially impacted Beringia during the 20thcentury and why the oceanic productivity of the Arctic attuned her to the energy transformations that then became a powerful red thread throughout the book. We turn from there to the temporality of whales, baleen as infrastructure and path dependency, Soviet vs. American conceptualizations of progress, the place of indigenous memories and knowledge in her historical methodology, and much much more.
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    Ep. #198 - The Mississippi (an Anthropocene River)
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2019-10-10) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Rosol, Christoph; Turnbull, Tom
    Dominic and Cymene discuss Swiss silence and whether soup can be a meal on this week’s podcast. Then (13:53) we sit down with Christoph Rosol and Tom Turnbull, two of the organizers of the baroque and fascinating project of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt ( and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (, Mississippi: An Anthropocene River. Christoph and Tom talk with us about this project evolved out of the celebrated Anthropocene Curriculum and Anthropocene Campus series. We discuss what the research and artistic activities are that are associated with the project’s five field stations, exploring themes such as deindustrialization, land restoration, indigenous-settler politics, invasive species, and ecocide. We talk about issues of scale and the search for the most apt critical zones through which to engage Anthropocene processes, the Mississippi as canal instead of river, and close with the little known history of the Mississippi Valley Committee and the idea that watersheds could form the basis of new kind of democracy. Find out more information on the Mississippi project at
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    Ep. #197 - Climate Book Club Special!
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2019-10-01) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Stokes, Leah; Venkataraman, Bina
    In this week's special guest episode, Leah Stokes (UC Santa Barbara) and Bina Venkataraman take over the Cultures of Energy podcast to discuss Bina's new book, The Optimist's Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age ( This interview is part of the Twitter discussion, #climatebookclub, which is an informal group that Leah runs to get people to talk about climate books on Twitter. We will be discussing the book on Twitter on Wednesday Oct 2 at 5:30 EST / 2:30 PST so feel free to look up the #climatebookclub hashtag and join in the conversation! To learn more about Bina's writing: To learn more about Leah's research:
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    Ep. #196 - Energy Democracy
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2017-12-14) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Endres, Danielle; Feldpausch-Parker, Andrea; Peterson, Tarla
    Cymene and Dominic wonder whether Brexit or Impeachment will make for better political theater in the months ahead. Then (14:22) we talk to three wonderful folks who are in the process of assembling the Routledge Handbook of Energy Democracy, an interdisciplinary gathering of contributions spanning scholarly and activist engagements. Our three guests are Danielle Endres (, Andrea Feldpausch-Parker ( and Tarla Peterson  ( We talk about the distinctive forms that the energy democracy movement is taking both inside and outside the academy, some of the projects that inspire them, strategies for making energy systems more visible and open to citizen intervention, whether renewable energy can renew democracy, the danger of participation fatigue, and much much more!
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    Ep. #195 - Laura Watts Returns
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2019-09-19) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Watts, Laura
    Cymene and Dominic tease a family revelation and describe a museum full of caricatures of East Germany (a regime that tbh itself kinda caricatured socialism). Then (17:03) we welcome back to the podcast the one and only Laura Watts (, now at Edinburgh, who has a marvelous new book out with MIT Press, Energy at the End of the World: An Orkney Islands Saga. We start there and talk about how the remains of a Neolithic city first brought her Orkney and inspired her with its archaeology of the future. Inverting traditional conceptions of center and periphery, future and past, seemingly remote Orkney has now become the center of a marine energy future. We chat about her use of the Saga form as a structuring principle in the book, why she finds hope in the relational character of the “Orkney electron,” and the European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) as a global beacon of renewable energy science and industry. We talk about the troubles of harvesting energy from dangerous water, the ambivalence of life in a “living lab” and the intertwined futures of Orcadian humans, marine wildlife and marine energy. We close on writing, and how the choice of words can make some worlds more or less possible. Finally, folks, just a reminder to drop whatever you are doing and go out and strike for climate action this Friday, September 20. To find the nearest march to you check out, https://globalclimatestrike.netSee you on the streets!
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    Ep. #194 - Christine Folch
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2017-12-14) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Folch, Christine
    Dominic and Cymene take a trip down MTV memory lane to the romantic 1990s on this week’s podcast. Then (16:00) we welcome the brilliant Christine Folch from Duke U to the pod to talk about her brand new book, Hydropolitics: The Itaipú Dam, Sovereignty, and the Engineering of Modern South America (Princeton U Press, 2019 - We start with the dam itself; Itaipú is both the largest dam in the world and the world’s largest power plant. Christine explains how it came to be that South America is the lone continent where renewable energy is the dominant source of electricity and what the political consequences of hydropower have been. We talk through how different energy materialities influence politics and economies, the differences between modes of sovereignty defined by land, water and electricity, and frequency patriotism. We turn from there to the politics of debt and hydrodollars, the necessity of studying up, and what fieldwork among technocrats and engineers is like. We close on what the world might learn from the Brazil-Paraguay partnership in renewable energy generation as it contemplates even larger scale coordinations of decarbonized energy.
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    Ep. #193 - Sea Level Rise (feat. Orrin Pilkey Jr)
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2019-09-06) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Pilkey, Orrin Jr.
    Your cohosts talk chihuahuas and squirrels on the verge on this week’s podcast. Then (14:56) we are delighted to welcome Orrin Pilkey Jr., Professor Emeritus at Duke University, to the podcast. Orrin is one of the world’s foremost experts on sea level rise and has just co-authored a new book with his son Keith Pilkey called Sea Level Rise: A Slow Tsunami on America’s Shores (Duke U Press, 2019; Orrin tells us how it was a hurricane that first prompted him to start studying coastal environments. We talk about how sea level rise is finally beginning to see some real political attention in threatened areas but about the limits of what can be done to hold the oceans at bay. Orrin explains how, for example, Miami and New Orleans are doomed, if for different reasons, and asks what will become of their millions of climate refugees. We talk about the need to take retreat seriously as the best option for dealing with sea level rise and how costly measures like seawalls and beach nourishment programs create their own environmental problems. We touch on subsidence, rebounding and other factors influencing coastal erosion, and then discuss the hundreds of critical infrastructure facilities that are sited no more than four feet above sea level. We close on the book’s recommendations to people already living on the coast about what to do now, including sample letters one could write to family members to get them thinking about the impacts of sea level rise.
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    Ep. #192 - Elizabeth DeLoughrey
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2017-12-14) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); DeLoughrey, Elizabeth
    Cymene and Dominic talk about Jakarta sinking and Greta rising in this week’s intro. Then (14:32) we are thrilled to welcome Elizabeth DeLoughrey ( to the conversation! We start with her latest book, Allegories of the Anthropocene (Duke UP 2019), and its effort to provincialize Anthropocene concept by taking more seriously the history of empire which produced some of its more problematic universalisms. Liz talks about the need to bring indigenous, feminist, decolonial and Global South perspectives more centrally into Anthropocene discourse and discusses her love-hate relationship with allegory. We turn from there to the relationality of islands, salvage environmentalism, settler apocalypticism, the militarization of the atmosphere, and allegory as a form for staging other worlds. That leads to a spirited discussion of encounters between human and nonhuman bodies and between geology and culture, and finally we turn to the critical potentials of ocean studies, blue humanities and her next project on extraterritorial spaces (atmosphere, ocean, poles). PS You can find an Open Access version of Allegories of the Anthropocene at But considering purchasing a copy since proceeds are going to support the important work of RAICES (, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.
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    Ep. #191 - Amanda Boetzkes
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2017-12-14) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Boetzkes, Amanda
    Dominic and Cymene compare denialist and evangelical hate mail on this week’s podcast and then share a few reflections on Sunday’s trip to the top of Ok mountain. Then (16:53) we welcome the marvelous Amanda Boetzkes ( to the conversation so we can talk about her terrific new book, Plastic Capitalism (MIT Press, 2019). What is “waste art,” when did it take shape and with what motivations? We talk about how waste relates to energy and how  “zero waste” sustainability discourse might paradoxically reinforce capitalist ideology and economy. We discuss how Bataille, Irigaray and Zizek inform an ethics of waste, the kinship of excess that exists between much art and waste itself, and the sado-masochism of plastic. From there we turn to the materialities, relationalities and temporalities that plastic creates, its refusal of degeneration and whether the looming shift from petroplastics to bioplastics makes any difference. We close on energy expenditure, the “carnal sun” and plastic as a condensed form of solarity.
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    Ep. #190 - Democrats on Climate (feat. Leah Stokes)
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2019-08-15) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Stokes, Leah
    Dominic and Cymene talk airbnb for flies, slime-mold residencies and close encounters with hypothermia to get things going. Then (11:36), hey, it’s primary debate season and if you’re like your co-hosts you probably find evaluating the sprawling field of Democratic candidates for the U.S. Presidency fairly bewildering. So in this week’s pod we drill down into climate policy among the Democrats. Where do the various candidates stand? Who is recognizing climate change as a political priority? Who has the best climate action plan? Who is stuck in the carbon pricing past and who is being imaginative or even realistic about what it will take to address today’s climate emergency? What are the important climate issues that are not even being talked about? Here to break it all down for us is climate policy expert Leah Stokes ( from the University of California Santa Barbara. In closing we talk about why leaning in to collective political action on climate is so much more important than policing individual consumption decisions. So in that spirit, join the movement, get ready to protest on September 20th (!!
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    Ep. #189 - Sheena Wilson
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2019-08-09) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Wilson, Sheena
    Addled by cleaning products and dustballs, Cymene and Dominic imagine what a multispecies Ph.D. program might look like on this week’s podcast. Then (13:59) we welcome Queen of Feminist Petrocultural Studies™ Sheena Wilson to the podcast! We start with how growing up in Alberta helped attune her to the need for feminist and decolonial energy transitions and then turn to her critical take on petrofeminism and how feminist infrastructural theory can help to unmake the (petro) energy infrastructures and imaginaries which capture us today. From there we turn to petromobility and how the freedom of the few all too often depends on the confinement of the many, the tortured rhetorics and logics of Canada’s “ethical oil” campaign, and the world-making possibilities of feminist, decolonial, “glitchfrastructures.” We close with a breakdown of the Just Powers research initiative ( that Sheena is leading now in Alberta.
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    Ep. #188 - Andrew Revkin
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2019-08-01) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Revkin, Andrew
    Dominic and Cymene talk about the Democratic debates on this week’s podcast. Then (13:57) we are humbled and thrilled to have legendary journalist Andrew Revkin join the conversation. We chat with Andrew about the environment beat back in the 1980s and how he became one of the first American journalists to take on the topic of climate change. We talk about the struggle for both reality and nuance in climate coverage, how to get people to connect emotionally to climate issues, and Andrew shares experiences from the trenches of the “information wars” surrounding climate science and his thoughts about the dangers of “narrative capture” in climate coverage. From there, we turn to the challenges of broadcast vs. online journalism, the new Initiative on Communication and Sustainability that Andrew is leading at Columbia University and the unmet responsibility of universities to do more on climate. We close on climate change as a long-term intergenerational ethical problem in which we live with the carbon legacies of previous generations and where the fruits of decarbonization actions today will only benefit generations to come.
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    Ep. #187 - Mark Nuttall
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2019-07-25) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Nuttall, Mark
    Cymene and Dominic talk about Ok glacier’s 15 minutes of fame on this week’s podcast (e.g., ridiculous hate mail, and what it feels like being in the middle of the news maelstrom. And the first ever Cultures of Energy Everyday Climate Warrior™ award is bestowed upon Daisy Hernandez from Popular Mechanics. Then (15:52) we welcome the marvelous Mark Nuttall ( to the podcast to discuss all that is happening in the Greenland today. We start with his new book (co-authored with Klaus Dodds), The Arctic: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford U Press, 2019) and how Mark thinks about the Arctic as a paradoxical space. We talk about the discourse of the “New Arctic” and its geopolitical implications, the Inuit experience of climate change, self-government and the extractivist politics of the new Greenlandic resource frontier, and the sharpened global gaze resting on Greenland at the moment. Mark tells us about the adaptive resilience of indigenous lifeways in the face of climate change and advancing industrialization and urbanization in the parts of Greenland where he has done fieldwork for decades. We touch on the dramatic changes the Greenlandic capital Nuuk is now experiencing and the tensions between the aspirations to Greenlandic state sovereignty and the Inuit Circumpolar Council and then close with the fascinating stories of Camp Century and Project Iceworm.
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    Ep. #186 - Joanna Zylinska
    (Cultures of Energy, Rice University, 2019-07-18) Boyer, Dominic (podcast host); Howe, Cymene (podcast host); Zylinska, Joanna
    Cymene talks about her exciting new life as a contractor on this week’s podcast. Then (10:14) we welcome the brilliant theorist, artist and curator, Joanna Zylinska ( to the podcast to discuss her excellent new book, The End of Man: A Feminist Counterapocalypse (U Minnesota Press, 2018). We start with the central argument of the book that there is an intimate relationship between Silicon Valley technicism on the one hand and alt-right white supremacist populism on the other. We talk through genealogies of apocalyptic thinking and how they are interwoven with masculinist promises of salvation and Joanna explains why she thinks it is important to take seriously the sociopolitical precarity that is the norm for the vast majority of the world’s human population. We turn from there to her thoughts on breaking the “apocalypse habit,” why Isabelle Stengers’s Gaia concept might be a helpful alternative, and the importance of minimal ethics for her approach to the Anthropocene. We discover whether there is a place for play and laughter in the Counterapocalypse and then talk about the difficulties of representing the Anthropocene in art and her own short film  “Exit Man” ( which serves as a companion to The End of Man. Finally, we talk about the links she sees between Anthropocene stupidity and Artificial Intelligence.  PS Your co-hosts duograph on wind power in Southern Mexico is now available with Duke University Press. To receive a 30% discount on each volume use the code E19BOYER for “Energopolitics” ( and E19HOWE for “Ecologics” ( at checkout.