Residues of Harm

2018-19 Program for EJ/CJ Hub

This series of talks and events will address the lingering and compounding impacts of extractive activities, including uranium mining and processing, nuclear energy production, fossil fuel carbon maldevelopment and its associated emissions, and certain so-called natural disasters ranging from tsunamis to mudslides.


What special literary, aesthetic, semiotic, psychological, sociological, and otherwise ontological and epistemological concepts and approaches might the post-industrial twenty-first century accumulation of these RESIDUES OF HARM require of us as public intellectuals and scholars engaged in Environmental and Climate Justice Studies?

What changes, and what should change, when the economic, public, and political costs of these leftovers, unintended consequences and contaminants of globalization outgrow and overcome the accumulated benefits of their original projects?

This is a way of asking how, and to what extent, have we been valuing the systematic production of these REMNANTS of industrialization cum modernization cum globalization? – thus shifting the ground of discussion from mere technocratic, positivist, and otherwise discursively blindered and largely economic bases towards a yet undefined but more systemic, holistic, potentially Anthropocene ethics of public discourse.

This would be a DISCOURSE OF ENGAGEMENT with the evidence of gross maldistribution of the costs and benefits of the expansion of the neoliberal world economic culture system of globalization, now in a phase of trending toward authoritarian capitalism (over and against declining social democratic capitalism).

In this way, RESIDUES OF HARM, EJ/CJ’s program for 2018-2019, seeks to highlight questions of environmental and climate justice in the study of our changing cultural-economic life in 21st Century.

RESIDUES OF HARM will present globally diverse viewpoints on questions relating to the scientific and social visibility of environmental harm: Where do such residues tend to register and how should researchers and public intellectuals seek out and interpret their impacts on human bodies, the myriad species and their environments, and the manifold structural responses they engender, for example in emergent environmental and climate governance, policy, climate action plans, and social movements for environmental and climate justice?

LEFTOVERS FROM MYRIAD PRODUCTIVE HUMAN ACTIVITIES, contaminants are released into global environments at every tail pipe, cooling tower, tailing pile, effluent pond, industrial forest fire, drained and burned peat bog, chemical factory, and leaking natural gas well – not to mention releases from the positive feedbacks of global warming already visible in the melting Arctic ices and the dark, heat-absorbing seas they expose, the melting of methane clathrates and permafrosts, the depletion of carbon soils, etc. etc., unto the ends of the earth.

THE RESIDUES WHOSE TRACES WE SEEK OUT and interrogate in this series have dynamic political implications, not least because of the unpaid social and environmental costs they generate, but additionally and perhaps even more consequentially because of the incalculable (i.e., non-economically measurable) human suffering they produce, for example in child cancer clusters, climate refugees associated with shifting monsoons, weather patterns, and shifting or diminishing growing seasons.