Engineered Worlds II: On Resolution and Resolve

Friday, May 12 - Saturday, May 13

Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society
5701 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60637

One of the key challenges of our moment is to locate oneself (physically, psychically, and politically) within the global environment. The shifting nature of earth systems today rides on specific forms of industrial economy, on historic practices of dispossession and war, and enduring colonial-settler violences.  Thus, people are always already inside a set of conditions and aftermaths, but unequally so. This makes the key question of our age one of attunement: How do individuals come to understand both their historical embeddedness in an industrial condition and imagine alternative futures? How do we collectively create a politics that responds to these ongoing aftermaths? This conference interrogates the optics and affects of self-conscious world-making today in light of the mounting effects of industrial toxicity, financial insecurity, and permanent war. In confronting such complex and interlocking problems, we ask: what kinds and degrees of resolution are needed to both identify and locate oneself within conditions that are simultaneously local and planetary? What forms of political resolve can enable the modification of a life that is already altered by the interplay of toxicity, capitalism, and militarism?


Day One

Panel one:  The Politics of Roots
Jake Kosek (Department of Geography, University of California, Berkeley) – Rootstocks and Scions: Towards Arboreal Histories of Modern Racisms
Amy McLachlan (Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago) – Buinaima’s Tobacco and the Guerrillero’s Cigarette: Sensing the War in Uitoto Territory.

Panel Two: Impossible Conditions
Michelle Murphy (Department of History and Women and Gender Studies, University of Toronto) – Undoing and Unknowing Chemical Violence
Shannon Cram (Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington Bothell) – Nuclear Cleanup and the Politics of Impossibility

Panel Three:  Phase Change
Kathryn Yusoff (School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London) – Indeterminate Subjects, Irreducible Worlds; or, How to find your Love in the Dark
Jerry Zee (Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz) – Earthly Interphases: China Across Aerosol Thresholds

Day Two

Panel I: Recalibrating Toxicity
Nerea Calvillo (Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick) – Air Infrastructures for the Commons
Stefanie Graeter (Department of Science in Human Culture, Northwestern University) – Life with Minerals: Politics without Resolution at Peru’s National Seaport

Panel II — Drawing Futures
Tim Choy (Science and Technology Studies and the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis) – Drawing a Lung
Kai Wood Mah and Patrick Lyn Rivers (Co-Directors, Afield ( – Surviving a Massive Refugee Situation: A Guide to Designers

Panel III — Blocked Views
Joe Masco (Department of Anthropology, The University of Chicago) – The View from Planet Nine
Eric Cazdyn (Department of East Asia Studies and Centre for Comparative Literature, The University of Toronto) – The Blindspot Machine

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