Life Above Earth: An Introduction: Supplemental Material

This post builds on the research article “Life Above Earth: An Introduction,” which was published in the May 2015 issue of the Society’s peer-reviewed journal, Cultural Anthropology.

Editorial Footnotes

Cultural Anthropology has published a number of articles that examine environmental questions, including Ananthakrishnan Aiyer’s “The Allure of the Transnational: Notes on Some Aspects of the Political Economy of Water in India” (2007); Pearson Thomas’s “On the Trail of Living Modified Organisms: Environmentalism Within and Against Neoliberal Order” (2009); and David Bond’s “Governing Disaster: The Political Life of the Environment during the BP Oil Spill” (2013).

Cultural Anthropology has published a number of articles that examine human–nonhuman relations, including Alex Nading’s “Dengue Mosquitos Are Single Mothers: Biopolitics Meets Ecological Aesthetics in Nicaraguan Community Health Work” (2012); Dave Naisargi’s “Witness: Humans, Animals, and the Politics of Becoming” (2014); and Larisa Jasarevic’s “The Thing in a Jar: Mushrooms and Ontological Speculations in Post-Yugoslavia” (2015).

About the Author

Cymene Howe is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rice University and a member of the Cultural Anthropology editorial collective. Her field research centers on understanding shared and shifting ethical commitments, from human rights to the climatological challenges of the present. She is the author of Intimate Activism: The Struggle for Sexual Rights in Postrevolutionary Nicaragua (Duke University Press, 2013), and, in collaboration with Dominic Boyer, is currently writing Ecologics, a book about renewable energy projects on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico.

“Planet Earth Seen from Space,” time lapse video of the earth’s surface taken from the International Space Station.
“NASA: A Year in the Life of Earth’s CO2,” a video of an ultra-high-resolution NASA computer simulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, produced by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
“Cities of Smog: The History of Air Pollution, An Excerpt,” directed by Jakob Gottshau.
“Anthropocene Cartography: Mapping Human Influence on Planet Earth,” created by Felix Pharand.

Additional Resources

Accounting for Atmosphere: The Anthropology of Climate Change,” a blog by Jerome Whitington.

China Air Daily, a website with a series of webcams that seeks to visually record the air quality in several cities in China and the United States.

Carbon Visuals, the website of a communications firm that focuses on the representation of invisible climate processes, such as carbon emissions. See especially “Mapping Local Air Pollution in New York.”

Resonant Readings

Descola, Philippe. 2014. Beyond Nature and Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ingold, Tim. 2010. “Footprints through the Weather-World: Walking, Breathing, Knowing.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 16, Issue Supplement S1: S121–39.

Ingold, Tim. 2000. The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. New York: Routledge.

Kohn, Eduardo. 2013. How Forests Think: Towards an Anthropology Beyond the Human. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Wark, McKenzie. 2015. Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene. New York: Verso.

Classroom Questions

How can ethnographic and anthropological methods open up alternate understandings of atmospheric conditions?

What does it mean for air and atmosphere to become subject of ethical determination?

What is the place and relevance of anthropology in the anthropocene?

What new areas of study does the anthropocene present to ethnographic methods?

How can anthropology contribute to a political ecology/economy of atmosphere?