ARCHIVING FOR THE
ANTHROPOCENE

Summer Semester 2021

MA Science and Technology Studies

Institute of Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology
Goethe University Frankfurt

Instructor

Tim Schütz, (tschuetz@uci.edu)
PhD Researcher, Anthropology
University of California, Irvine

TIME

Thursdays, 10–12pm (Berlin, GMT+1) on Zoom.

Registration

Write me an email that you would like to sign up for the course. Include your full name and student ID number.

Overview

The Anthropocene is planetary but also local, manifesting in different ways in different settings. The Anthropocene is also complex and data intensive: it can't be observed and dealt with without many kinds of data collection, sharing, analysis and visualization.

In this course, we will study the data and knowledge infrastructures needed to respond to the Anthropocene, including environmental right-to-know databases, community archives, museums and other cultural institutions.

We will focus on different anthropocenic issues, such as chemical manufacturing, radiation governance, routine air pollution, COVID-19 and more.

Analytics

The course will rotate around two analytic frameworks, drawing out the dynamics of quotidian anthropocenes and civic data capacity in different settings. You will also use a set of case study questions – focused on environmental injustice – to rapidly characterize and identify possible actions for addressing problems in each site.

Collaboration

You will also gain hands-on experience working with civic data infrastructure, the Disaster STS Research Network (DSTS), an instance of the Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography (PECE).

This infrastructure was built to support collaboration among researchers and with the communities they study. Working with this infrastructure will give you experience with archive ethnography, experimenting with new forms of data sharing, collaborative analysis and creative expression.  

ASSIGNMENTS & EXPECTATIONS

– Writing weekly annotations for the assigned course material (using the shared research questions on the Disaster STS Platform, due Tuesdays, 23:59pm Frankfurt time)

– Preparing one meeting (leading the discussion on the material and course members’ annotations, 10 minutes)

– Case Study research (in class, in groups of about five people)

– Final Presentation (10 minutes, in groups)

Syllabus

The syllabus is tentative and might change until the begin of instruction. 

*joint session with MA seminar Toxicity: Ethnographies of Late Industrialism by Dr. Asta Vonderau, Martin-Luther-University of Halle.

Introduction

April 15 – Disastrous Times

Petrochemicals

April 22 – Louisiana's Cancer Alley*

April 29 – Plastics, from Texas to Taiwan

May 6 – Reading Open Archives

RADIATION

May 13 – Safe Side of the Fence

May 20 – Monitoring Fukushima, with Ina Kim, UC Irvine

May 27 – Chernobyl's Blinkered Science

AIR POLLUTION

June 3 – Life, Breath, Infrastructure

June 10 – Bodies in the (School) System*, with Nadine Tanio, UC Los Angeles and Fred Ariel Hernandez, Waseda University, Tokyo

June 17 – Hacking Air Pollution, with Sanjana Paul, MIT Senseable City Lab

COVID-19

June 24 – Critical Data Design, with Youngrim Kim, University of Michigan

July 1 – Asparagus Assemblages, with Isabella Biermann

REVIEW

July 8 – Project Presentations* 

July 15 – PECE Party*

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