347 episodes

Interviews with Environmental Scientists about their New Books
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New Books in Environmental Studies New Books Network

    • Natural Sciences

Interviews with Environmental Scientists about their New Books
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    R. Armstrong and R. Hughes "The Art of Experiment: Post-Pandemic Knowledge Practices for 21st-Century Architecture and Design" (Routledge, 2020)

    R. Armstrong and R. Hughes "The Art of Experiment: Post-Pandemic Knowledge Practices for 21st-Century Architecture and Design" (Routledge, 2020)

    The Art of Experiment: Post-Pandemic Knowledge Practices for 21st-Century Architecture and Design (Routledge, 2020) is a handbook for navigating our troubled and precarious times. In search of new knowledge practices that can help us make the world livable again, this book takes the reader on a journey across time—from the deep past to the unfolding future. Hughes and Armstrong search beyond human knowledge to establish negotiated partnerships with forms of knowledge within the planet itself, examining how we have manipulated these historically through an anthropocentric focus.
    Rachel Armstrong and Rolf Hughes speak with Pierre d'Alancaisez about their approach to knowledge-making and organa paradoxa as an apparatus for incorporating the unexpected into research and practices. They also talk about sending cockroaches into space, living Shakespearean bricks, and about the value of experimentation in establishing productive cross-disciplinary collaborations.

    Some of the works discussed in the interview are described and illustrated in a Nature article.

    Caustic Ophelia from Brick Dialogues is on Bandcamp.


    The Hanging Gardens of Medusa can be seen here.

    They were also a subject of a study by the British Interplanetary Society.

    Hughes' and Armstrong's earlier collaboration with Espen Gangvik The Handbook of the Unknowable is available in full here.

    Pierre d’Alancaisez is a contemporary art curator, cultural strategist, researcher. Sometime scientist, financial services professional.
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    • 1 hr 16 min
    James Beattie, "Gardens at the Frontier: New Methodological Perspectives on Garden History and Designed Landscapes" (Routledge, 2019)

    James Beattie, "Gardens at the Frontier: New Methodological Perspectives on Garden History and Designed Landscapes" (Routledge, 2019)

    Gardens at the Frontier: New Methodological Perspectives on Garden History and Designed Landscapes (Routledge, 2019) addresses broad issues of interest to architectural historians, environmental historians, garden writers, geographers, and other scholars. It uses different disciplinary perspectives to explore garden history’s thematic, geographical, and methodological frontiers through a focus on gardens as sites of cultural contact. The contributors address the extent to which gardens inhibit or further cultural contact; the cultural translation of garden concepts, practices and plants from one place to another; the role of non-written sources in cultural transfer; and which disciplines study gardens and designed landscapes, and how and why their approaches vary.
    Chapters cover a range of designed landscapes and locations, periods and approaches: medieval Japanese roji (tea gardens); a seventeenth-century garden of southern China; post-war Australian ‘natural gardens’; iconic twentieth-century American modernist gardens; ‘international’ willow-pattern design; geology and designed landscapes; gnomes; and landscape authorship of a public garden. Each chapter examines transfers of cultural ideas and their physical denouement. This book was originally published as a special issue of Studies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes.
    Bryan Toepfer, AIA, NCARB, CAPM is the Principal Architect for TOEPFER Architecture, PLLC, an Architecture firm specializing in Residential Architecture and Virtual Reality. He has authored two books, “Contractors CANNOT Build Your House,” and “Six Months Now, ARCHITECT for Life.” He is an Adjunct Professor at Alfred State College and the Director of Education for the AIA Rochester Board of Directors. Always eager to help anyone understand the world of Architecture, he can be reached by sending an email to btoepfer@toepferarchitecture.
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    • 31 min
    Timothy Beatley, "The Bird-Friendly City: Creating Safe Urban Habitats" (Island Press, 2020)

    Timothy Beatley, "The Bird-Friendly City: Creating Safe Urban Habitats" (Island Press, 2020)

    Timothy Beatley is the Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities at the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, where he has taught for over twenty-five years. His primary teaching and research interests are in environmental planning and policy, with a special emphasis on coastal and natural hazards planning, environmental values and ethics, and biodiversity conservation. He has published extensively in these areas, including the following books: Ethical Land Use; Habitat Conservation Planning: Endangered Species and Urban Growth; Natural Hazard Mitigation; and An Introduction to Coastal Zone Management. 
    In recent years much of his research and writing has been focused on the subject of sustainable communities and creative strategies by which cities and towns can reduce their ecological footprints, while at the same time becoming more livable and equitable places. His books that explore these issues include Biophilic Cities, Resilient Cities, and Blue Urbanism (Island Press).
    In The Bird-Friendly City: Creating Safe Urban Habitats (Island Press, 2020), Timothy Beatley, a longtime advocate for intertwining the built and natural environments, takes readers on a global tour of cities that are reinventing the status quo with birds in mind. Efforts span a fascinating breadth of approaches: public education, urban planning and design, habitat restoration, architecture, art, civil disobedience, and more. Beatley shares empowering examples, including: advocates for “catios,” enclosed outdoor spaces that allow cats to enjoy backyards without being able to catch birds; a public relations campaign for vultures; and innovations in building design that balance aesthetics with preventing bird strikes. 
    Through these changes and the others Beatley describes, it is possible to make our urban environments more welcoming to many bird species.
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    • 56 min
    Lucas Bessire, "Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains" (Princeton UP, 2021)

    Lucas Bessire, "Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains" (Princeton UP, 2021)

    The Ogallala aquifer has nourished life on the American Great Plains for millennia. But less than a century of unsustainable irrigation farming has taxed much of the aquifer beyond repair. The imminent depletion of the Ogallala and other aquifers around the world is a defining planetary crisis of our times. Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains (Princeton University Press, 2021) offers a uniquely personal account of aquifer depletion and the deeper layers through which it gains meaning and force.
    Anthropologist Lucas Bessire journeyed back to western Kansas, where five generations of his family lived as irrigation farmers and ranchers, to try to make sense of this vital resource and its loss. His search for water across the drying High Plains brings the reader face to face with the stark realities of industrial agriculture, eroding democratic norms, and surreal interpretations of a looming disaster. Yet the destination is far from predictable, as the book seeks to move beyond the words and genres through which destruction is often known. Instead, this journey into the morass of eradication offers a series of unexpected discoveries about what it means to inherit the troubled legacies of the past and how we can take responsibility for a more inclusive, sustainable future.
    An urgent and unsettling meditation on environmental change, Running Out is a revelatory account of family, complicity, loss, and what it means to find your way back home.
    Marshall Poe is the editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at marshallpoe@newbooksnetwork.com.
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    • 48 min
    Katherine E. Standefer, "Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life" (Little, Brown Spark, 2020)

    Katherine E. Standefer, "Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life" (Little, Brown Spark, 2020)

    As the push for a Universal Healthcare system in the United States becomes more and more popular among the American people, we’re beginning to have more public conversations about access to and affordability of medical care. While many of us may not consider our health insurance until we need it, for those with chronic conditions, the American medical system can be a nightmare of insurance claims bureaucracy and that prevents patients from getting the care they need at a cost they can afford. Worse, the rising prices of drugs and treatments developed in this for-profit system mean that some patients receive more medical care than they want or need, sometimes at the expense of their quality of life.
    When a young Katherine E. Standefer was suddenly diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome—the same congenital heart condition as her younger sister—she was faced with what felt like an impossible choice: implant a cardiac defibrillator and be forever tied to the American Medical System, or take a chance with death. In her stunning debut, Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life (Little, Brown, Spark, 2020) Standefer explores this system as both a patient and a consumer, visiting factories in California as well as mining communities in Rwanda and Madagascar where the metals in her defibrillator were sourced to learn more about the true human cost of the device that was meant to save her life. Throughout, Standefer wonders whether her life is worth this price, and asks us to reimagine approaches to care—both in medical and environmental.
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    • 40 min
    Juno Salazar Parreñas, "Decolonizing Extinction: The Work of Care in Orangutan Rehabilitation" (Duke University Press, 2018)

    Juno Salazar Parreñas, "Decolonizing Extinction: The Work of Care in Orangutan Rehabilitation" (Duke University Press, 2018)

    Decolonizing Extinction: The Work of Care in Orangutan Rehabilitation (Duke University Press, 2018) presents a multi-species ethnography of orangutans and humans that probes the shared susceptibilities of both species in the face of future extinction. In a series of provocative chapters, the book interweaves intimate entanglements in the workings of an orangutan rehabilitation centre with reflection on the work of care that draws on queer theory and feminist conceptions of welfare. By centralizing such rehabilitation efforts, the book reveals the contradictions inherent in such a system. The practice of rehabilitation, it shows, is underpinned by violence. Parreñas demonstrates the colonial origins of such an approach to conservation biology and how care within enclosures traps both humans and endangered primates alike. As such, we should urgently question how we could divest ourselves from the need for security that is dependent on cruelty and seek instead a decolonial era of co-existence which welcomes and finds joy in our moments of brief, mutual vulnerability.
    In this conversation, we discuss models of orangutan care, coerced copulations, the concept of “arrested autonomy” and how we as a species could love better.
    Juno Salazar Parreñas is an assistant professor at the Department of Science & Technology Studies at Cornell University. Her research interests centre on human-animal relations and the institution of environmental justice. This book received the 2019 Michelle Z. Rosaldo Prize, biennially awarded by the Association for Feminist Anthropology for a first book as well as honourable mentions for the 2019 New Millennium Prize, the 2019 Diana Forsythe Prize and the 2020 Harry Benda Prize from the Association for Asian Studies.
    For more on orangutans in Borneo, check out the following:
    SSEAC Interview with conservation scholar Dr. June Rubis here.
    NBN Interview with historian Prof. Robert Cribb here.
    Faizah Zakaria is an assistant professor of Southeast Asian history at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. You can find her website at www.faizahzak.com or Twitter @laurelinarien.
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    • 45 min

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