Genomics, Bioinformatics and the Climate Crisis

Genomics, Bioinformatics and the Climate Crisis

Since the 1970s, governments and industry have promoted the coding and manipulation of DNA as an avenue to fuel, feed and heal the world. The mapping of the human genome in 2003 stimulated the development of other large-scale DNA-sequencing projects for bacteria, plants, and mammals. With the assistance of computer technology and bioinformatics, large scale genomic consortium produce DNA data at impressive rates, making promissory claims about the benefits of this data to inform and improve environment, health and industry. Critics of these applications raise concerns about the unfulfilled promises, unacknowledged uncertainties and unacceptable risks of such ‘techno-fixes’. Public resistance to genetic and genomic applications for environmental issues- voiced through terms such as Frankenforests – can lead to undone and possibly even forbidden science. In many regards, scientific experimentation, industry application and civil society commentary have run ahead of analysis in the environmental humanities. This leaves gaps in our understanding of the social, ethical and legal implications of biotechnology applications for environmental issues.

The group will meet monthly from September 2017 to March 2018 to discuss published research, present work in progress and host guest speakers. Key themes for organizing discussions and readings include: critical studies of climate change; the social history of DNA; reimagining diversity and kinship in a genomics age; and critical analysis of bioinformatics (DNA as data). This working group will identify and explore gaps in existing literature to provide a platform for developing a SSHRC Insight Development Grant on environmental humanities approaches to genomic applications for climate change.


Dr. Gwendolyn Blue, Associate Professor, Department of Geography
Dr. Mél Hogan, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Media & Film
Dr. Morgan Vanek, Assistant Professor, Department of English
Dr. Martin Wagner, Assistant Professor, School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures & Cultures

IMAGINATIONS: Introducing Location and Dislocation: Global Geographies of Digital Data (with Alix Johnson)




Alix Johnson | UCSC

Mél Hogan | University of Calgary


The contributions to this issue of Imaginations address the relationship between digital data and physical place. How is the economy of data storage organized in and across communities, regions, nations, and states? How does the industry reprise old relationships and forge new ones? How are boundaries and borders inscribed and encountered by users and creators along the way? How is information technology (IT) infrastructure built into environments, shifting social and natural terrain? By foregrounding spatial relations and infrastructures, these essays draw connections between globalized geographies of media distribution and localized impacts of IT on the ground.

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Keynote “Living Together in the Data Center Industrial Complex” – Bergen (Norway) Aug, 2017

My talk is called “Living Together in the Data Center Industrial Complex” and brings together technology and biology…

TBLR and ESSCS Announcement:

“Living Together”

PhD-researcher training course in literary, aesthetic and cultural-study disciplines, Bergen (Norway), 14th–18th August 2017

The TBLR and the ESSCS

are happy to announce our unique joint-venture PhD researcher-training summer course 2017 in Bergen.

The TBLR and the ESSCS

are happy to announce our unique joint-venture PhD researcher-training summer course 2017 in Bergen.

Barthes, with Agamben and Derrida: ”Living Together” is the tandem venture of the European Summer School in Cultural Studies (ESSCS) and the Norwegian nationwide researcher-training school TBLR (Tekst Bilde Lyd Rom = Text Image Sound Space), in Bergen, August 2017. While not an organiser, yet pivotal as an advisory and cooperative space for thought, the Living Together Research Group at the University of Oslo (UiO) is also an event contributor, whose inventiveness, scholarly generosity, input, and productive feedback the TBLR/ESSCS could not have done without. (See also ”Background” and “LT-Group-UiO” in red topbar.)

Under the heading ”Living Together”, the summer course is anchored in Roland Barthes’ 1976-1977 lecture series “Comment vivre ensemble? – Sur l’idiorrythmie”, held at Collège de France. The Comment vivre ensemble manuscripts (Paris: Seuil, 2002) were published in English in 2013 as How To Live Together: Novelistic Simulations of Some Everyday Spaces. Here, ‘Barthes focuses on the concept of “idiorrhythmy”, a productive form of living together in which one recognizes and respects the individual rhythms of the other. He explores this phenomenon through five texts that represent different living spaces and their associated ways of life: Émile Zola’s Pot-Bouille, set in a Parisian apartment building [l’immeuble bourgeois]; Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, which takes place in a sanatorium [le grand hôtel]; André Gide’s “La Séquestrée de Poitiers” [“The Confined Woman of Poitiers”], based on the true story of a woman confined to her bedroom [la chambre solitaire]; Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, about a castaway on a remote island [le repaire; lair; den; hideout], and Pallidius’s Lausiac History, detailing the ascetic lives of the desert fathers [le désert]’ (Columbia UP; brackets added).

For its purposes, and shared for the event with TBLR/ESSCS, the UiO’s Living Together Research Group has developed and transformed Barthes’ five spaces into topoi and/or perspectives that call for closer investigation in many specific directions, as the proposed list of related issues and extrapolated concepts in the Call for Papers shows. These five topoi are the desert, the island, the sanatorium, the city, and the home. They will function as part of the scholarly framework for organising the activities of the TBLR and the ESSCS in Bergen. Hopefully, they will prove to be suggestive and inspirational both for PhD students and keynotes in their studies of literature, film, the arts, and culture, as well as in critical thought.

At the same time, Barthes’ idiorrhythmic mappings reverberate productively with thinking and analyses in some of Giorgio Agamben’s works, as well as with a series of texts stemming from the late period of the work of Jacques Derrida. Including also these as another part of the scholarly framework for the summer course, will hopefully prepare the stage for a variegated plethora of options and possibilities for PhD students and faculty to reflect upon their own work and on that of others, and to think, work out and productively share – in keynote lectures and PhD-student papers – their own takes on aspects of living together.

Under the heading ”Living Together”, then, the summer course’s Call for Papers is oriented towards some of the work of Roland Barthes, Giorgio Agamben and Jacques Derrida. – We encourage you to reflect upon the CfP and to relate it to your own work, and we invite you to apply for a participant’s spot in Bergen in August. (Application deadline has been extended to May 26th; see all details below and in the Call for Papers.)

–> Call for Papers

COURSE LAYOUT: We start the summer course with luncheon at 13:00 on Monday 14th Aug., then go on with a half-day (afternoon and early evening) programme that day; and then continue with full-day programmes both Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 17th Aug. Festive dinner offered on Thursday evening (on the organisers). Good-byes and departures after breakfast and before noon on Friday 18th.

PROGRAMME: “Living Together” is a combined keynote topic/plenary-discussion event, and a PhD paper-discussion course. There will be five Scandinavian/international keynotes on the programme, whose names and topics will be disseminated on the webiste as confirmations are in. Now, though, we are happy to announce three of the keynotes, Knut Stene-Johansen (Comparative Literature, University of Oslo), with whom the scholarly idea about “Living Together” originated, and who – with his Oslo-based research group – has already published a first project anthology: Knut Stene-Johansen et al. (eds.): Å leve sammen. Roland Barthes, individet og fellesskapet. Oslo: Spartacus, 2016 (to be transl. into and publ. also in English). Further: Mél Hogan (Communication, Media and Film, University of Calgary, Canada). Moreover: Henrik Gustafsson, and here (Film, Visual Culture, Critical Aesthetics, “Nomadikon”, Fine Arts, Cultural Memory, Border Poetics). – For the PhD paper-discussion sessions, the participants will be organised into relevant thematic groups, composed of PhD students as well as of TBLR/ESSCS-faculty and keynotes. – The course’s working language will be English. The detailed programme will be posted and disseminated when fully confirmed.

TIME FRAMES/DURATION/LENGTH: Keynotes are set up with 45-minute lectures, and the same amount of time allotted to the ensuing discussion. – PhD student-paper discussions are set up with a total time frame of 1 to 1,5 hours for each single one, in the course of which time up to 20 introductory minutes are allotted to the PhD student’s oral presentation/contextualisation of her/his paper, and the remaining time to a rich discussion between the PhD-student author, student peers, TBLR/ESSCS faculty, and keynotes, with comments, questions, further suggestions, etc. This structure – while all student papers are mandatory, beforehand reading for all participants, thus leaving ample time for discussion of the papers.

PhD STUDENT-PAPER TOPICS: (1) a paper bearing a relation to some aspect or problem detailed or suggested in the ”Living Together” Call for Papers (Barthes; Agamben; and/or Derrida); (2) a paper stemming from the PhD student’s ongoing dissertation work, like a chapter, a section, an excerpt, a focus on a special problem, theoretical or other, lifted out of the dissertation-writing process for particular, critical attention, etc. – all of which with or without a relation to the CfP; (3) a paper presenting and critically discussing one or more of the works on the course’s reading list. – Bear in mind that inter-aesthetic and comparative as well as disciplinary papers are welcome. – Max length of paper: about 15 pp, 1,5 line spacing, Word: Times New Roman.

CREDITS – ECTS points for PhD students: 5 ECTS with a paper; 2 ECTS without.

VENUE: Venue for the course as well as for all participants’ hotel rooms 14th-18th Aug. will beHotel Scandic Neptun, downtown Bergen, one street removed from the historic wharf and the quayside. The hotel rooms (covered by the organisers throughout the duration of the summer-course), will be spacious double rooms, housing two PhD students in each (summer-school room-mate system, which also creates an extra and contact-facilitating atmosphere).

TRAVEL COSTS; MEALS: Travel costs will have to be covered by the PhD students themselves or through the PhD-trajectory means that they themselves have at their disposal. Other than that, hotel rooms and full board (three meals a day) from Monday 14th at noon through Friday 18th Aug. at noon will be covered by the TBLR/ESSCS (the dinner on Wednesday is the exception: Wed’s dinner is open for each and every one to find another restaurant in the city, and on that particular evening pay their dinner themselves). Participants from Bergen are expected to remain accommodated privately, yet take part in all meals on a par with the other participants.

APPLICATION DEADLINE (extended till late May) will be 26th May 2017 (to, with max. 300 words paper abstract submitted at the same time. In your application, please state whether you require vegetarian or vegan meals. –– Paper-submission deadline: 1st August 2017 (as attachment, to

EXTENDED STAYS: There is the option for visitors to Bergen to stay longer than the duration of the summer course (Monday till Friday), yet then, expressly, at their own personal expense. This might e.g. be during the week-end prior to, or during the week-end immediately following the “Living Together”-event. In case you might wish to extend your stay at our venue hotel, (the Scandic Neptun), queries should be directed to, who has been asked to handle them vis-à-vis the Scandic Neptun. – Private or tourist sojourns before and/or after the summer course with other accommodation than the Scandic Neptun, should be both arranged and paid for by the individual course participant her/himself.



5 Designing Media Ecology, issue 6 – The Anthropocene and Our Post-natural Futures

Rather than a consilient concept, the Anthropocene is a well debated set of narratives that speaks to myriad views about the growing tensions between Human and Nature. Scholars, activists, and artists alike are decrying the abuses of our current geological era that are leaving the planet in an increasingly disturbed state. The dual question of perpetration and perpetuation is at the heart of where we currently find ourselves in the Anthropocene: Who or what exactly is to blame for it? What are its origin stories? What roles do capitalism and imperialism play in climate change and global warming? Whose voices matter in environmental and economic policy? What, if anything, is to be salvaged of our ever expanding media ecologies? And finally, how does risk become the currency of progress?