365 episodes

Interviews with Environmental Scientists about their New Books
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    • Science
    • 4.7 • 9 Ratings

Interviews with Environmental Scientists about their New Books
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    Ecological Civilization: Chinese Dream or Global Strategy?

    Ecological Civilization: Chinese Dream or Global Strategy?

    How seriously should take the Chinese government’s discourse about ‘ecological civilization’? Mette Hansen argues that whatever the shortcomings of this rather grandiose notion, it offers an invaluable means of engaging China in important global debates about the future of the planet – and should not simply be glibly dismissed as an exercise in green-washing. She finds particular hope in pop-up local environmental initiatives that deploy the official discourse creatively to advance a green agenda.
    Mette Halskov Hansen is professor of China studies at the University of Oslo
    Her latest book is the The Great Smog of China (Association for Asian Studies, 2020, co-authored with Anna L. Ahlers and Rune Svarverud).
    This podcast is one of a series recorded with the keynote speakers from the Fourteenth Annual Nordic NIAS Council Conference ‘China’s Rise/Asia’s Responses’ held on 10–11 June 2021, in collaboration with the Nordic Association for China Studies and the University of Helsinki.
    The Nordic Asia Podcast is a collaboration sharing expertise on Asia across the Nordic region, brought to you by the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) based at the University of Copenhagen, along with our academic partners: the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, Asianettverket at the University of Oslo, and the Stockholm Centre for Global Asia at Stockholm University.
    We aim to produce timely, topical and well-edited discussions of new research and developments about Asia.
    Transcripts of the Nordic Asia Podcasts: http://www.nias.ku.dk/nordic-asia-podcast
    About NIAS: www.nias.ku.dk
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    • 25 min
    Clarence Jefferson Hall Jr, "A Prison in the Woods: Environment and Incarceration in New York’s North Country" (U Massachusetts Press, 2020)

    Clarence Jefferson Hall Jr, "A Prison in the Woods: Environment and Incarceration in New York’s North Country" (U Massachusetts Press, 2020)

    Since the mid-nineteenth century, Americans have known the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York as a site of industrial production, a place to heal from disease, and a sprawling outdoor playground that must be preserved in its wild state. Less well known, however, has been the area's role in hosting a network of state and federal prisons. A Prison in the Woods traces the planning, construction, and operation of penitentiaries in five Adirondack Park communities from the 1840s through the early 2000s to demonstrate that the histories of mass incarceration and environmental consciousness are interconnected. 
    In A Prison in the Woods: Environment and Incarceration in New York’s North Country (U Massachusetts Press, 2020), Clarence Jefferson Hall Jr. reveals that the introduction of correctional facilities—especially in the last three decades of the twentieth century—unearthed long-standing conflicts over the proper uses of Adirondack nature, particularly since these sites have contributed to deforestation, pollution, and habitat decline, even as they've provided jobs and spurred economic growth. Additionally, prison plans have challenged individuals' commitment to environmental protection, tested the strength of environmental regulations, endangered environmental and public health, and exposed tensions around race, class, place, and belonging in the isolated prison towns of America's largest state park.
    Clarence Jefferson Hall, Jr. is an assistant professor of history at Queensborough Community College.
    Brian Hamilton is Chair of the Department of History and Social Science at Deerfield Academy and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Twitter. Website.
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    • 50 min
    Gavin Van Horn and John Hausdoerffer, "Wildness: Relations of People and Place" (U Chicago Press, 2017)

    Gavin Van Horn and John Hausdoerffer, "Wildness: Relations of People and Place" (U Chicago Press, 2017)

    Whether referring to a place, a nonhuman animal or plant, or a state of mind, wild indicates autonomy and agency, a unique expression of life. Yet two contrasting ideas about wild nature permeate contemporary discussions: either that nature is most wild in the absence of a defiling human presence, or that nature is completely humanized and nothing is truly wild.
    Wildness: Relations of People and Place (University of Chicago Press, 2017) charts a different path. Exploring how people can become attuned to the wild community of life and also contribute to the well-being of the wild places in which we live, work, and play, Wildness brings together esteemed authors from a variety of landscapes, cultures, and backgrounds to share their stories about the interdependence of everyday human lifeways and wildness.
    With this book, we gain insight into what wildness is and could be, as well as how it might be recovered in our lives—and with it, how we might unearth a more profound, wilder understanding of what it means to be human.
    Gavin Van Horn is the Director of Cultures of Conservation at the Center for Humans and Nature.
    John Hausdoerffer is Professor of Environment, Sustainability, and Philosophy at Western State Colorado University.
    Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He can be reached at: Yakir1212englander@gmail.com
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    • 54 min
    Ryanne Pilgeram, "Pushed Out: Contested Development and Rural Gentrification in the US West" (U Washington Press, 2021)

    Ryanne Pilgeram, "Pushed Out: Contested Development and Rural Gentrification in the US West" (U Washington Press, 2021)

    What happens to rural communities when their traditional economic base collapses? When new money comes in, who gets left behind? Pushed Out: Contested Development and Rural Gentrification in the US West (U Washington Press, 2021) offers a rich portrait of Dover, Idaho, whose transformation from "thriving timber mill town" to "economically depressed small town" to "trendy second-home location" over the past four decades embodies the story and challenges of many other rural communities. Sociologist Ryanne Pilgeram explores the structural forces driving rural gentrification and examines how social and environmental inequality are written onto these landscapes. Based on in-depth interviews and archival data, she grounds this highly readable ethnography in a long view of the region that takes account of geological history, settler colonialism, and histories of power and exploitation within capitalism. Pilgeram's analysis reveals the processes and mechanisms that make such communities vulnerable to gentrification and points the way to a radical justice that prioritizes the economic, social, and environmental sustainability necessary to restore these communities.
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    • 46 min
    Katrinell M. Davis, "Tainted Tap: Flint's Journey from Crisis to Recovery" (UNC Press, 2021)

    Katrinell M. Davis, "Tainted Tap: Flint's Journey from Crisis to Recovery" (UNC Press, 2021)

    After a cascade of failures left residents of Flint, Michigan, without a reliable and affordable supply of safe drinking water, citizens spent years demanding action from their city and state officials. Complaints from the city's predominantly African American residents were ignored until independent researchers confirmed dangerously elevated blood lead levels among Flint children and in the city's tap water. Despite a 2017 federal court ruling in favor of Flint residents who had demanded mitigation, those efforts have been incomplete at best.
    Assessing the challenges that community groups faced in their attempts to advocate for improved living conditions, Tainted Tap: Flint's Journey from Crisis to Recovery (UNC Press, 2021) offers a rich analysis of conditions and constraints that created the Flint water crisis. Katrinell Davis contextualizes the crisis in Flint's long and troubled history of delivering essential services, the consequences of regional water-management politics, and other forms of systemic neglect that impacted the working-class community's health and well-being. Using ethnographic and empirical evidence from a range of sources, Davis also sheds light on the forms of community action that have brought needed changes to this underserved community.
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    • 33 min
    Joel Alden Schlosser, "Herodotus in the Anthropocene" (U Chicago Press, 2020)

    Joel Alden Schlosser, "Herodotus in the Anthropocene" (U Chicago Press, 2020)

    Political Theorist Joel Alden Schlosser has turned his attention to Herodotus, an historian and political thinker from classical Greece, to learn how we might better think about and consider solutions to significant contemporary problems, especially those that contribute to global climate change. Schlosser explains that we are currently living in a new geologic and climatic age, the Anthropocene, which is defined as the current period where humans have had a direct effect on the geology and climate of the earth and the surrounding atmosphere. In finding ourselves in this new and potentially catastrophic period, we need to consider how to stop or solve this ongoing and evolving environmental crisis. Schlosser encourages us to turn out attention to Herodotus and his Histories, and he argues that these works, which dive into thinking about community and collective engagement, may provide guidance for contemporary politics and society. This is a fascinating structuring of reading Herodotus as an historian, examining his thinking and his critiques of Athens, of Persia, and of the political life and decisions that have been made by those in positions of power, and also in reading for guidance, to compel contemporary thinking in unanticipated ways. Schlosser centers his explication of Herodotus on the discussion of the nomoi, the informal cultures and traditions that make up our understanding of the fabric of political life, as well as the laws written by legislatures and that are more concrete. These nomoi are created by humans, to manage life. The nomoi contribute to the flourishing of society and should be designed to shift and adapt with time and circumstances. If the nomoi are not changed, they can become sclerotic, or corrupt and destructive of both humans and non-humans. This emphasis on fluidity is quite important to how we may want to craft our thinking in ways like Herodotus’s thinking.
    Herodotus, as Schlosser notes, is a storyteller, and in the way that he tells stories, instead of writing factual histories like Thucydides, or making logical arguments like so many philosophers, Herodotus is able to engage in complexities of examples and of thinking. This mode of storytelling comes from older Greek traditions of the oral tales like those that Homer sang, or that the playwrights of Athens produced to communicate comedy and tragedy. This approach allows Herodotus to integrate not just the human experience, but also the experience of the non-human, all of the systems of energy that also exist and are natural, like the weather, the geography of a place, animals and other wildlife, diseases and illnesses. This weaving together of the human and the natural and non-human lays out a complexity of thinking and understanding that Schlosser suggests can be quite important for us to learn as we face complex natural, human, and non-human systems of energy that we need to repair or work collaboratively with in order to try to solve some of the more significant problems of the Anthropocene.
    Herodotus in the Anthropocene (U Chicago Press, 2020) is an elegant argument that makes the case for Herodotus’s continued import, not just in the stories he tells, but in the way he grasps the world around him and how he discusses that world, of different systems of energy, and the complexities of these different entities. Herodotus, and Schlosser, compel us to broaden our ways of thinking and how we think, what we consider, and why.
    Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.ed

    • 53 min

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