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Breathing In: Air and Atmospheres Seminar

01 July 2024, 2:00 pm–3:00 pm

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'Atmospheres: Contestations and Configurations' - Professor Matthew Gandy, University of Cambridge. This seminar series is run jointly by the IAS and WiSER at Wits, and takes place fortnightly on Zoom.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students

Availability

Yes

Cost

Free

Organiser

Professor Megan Vaughan – Institute of Advanced Studies

Breathing In: Air and Atmospheres Seminar

This seminar series, run jointly by the IAS and WiSER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of the Witwatersrand) takes place fortnightly on Zoom.  It builds on ongoing and emergent academic attention to air and atmospheres and draws out suggestions for future research and for ways of acting upon the contemporary air and atmospheric crisis, with a leading focus on global South contexts.

Recent work on infrastructures, atmospheres and the biospheric shifts associated with conditions of the Anthropocene have relied on rendering newly vivid those aspects of the social which have long been treated as background. Sensory ecologies - affective or experienced space which compose environments, in Matthew Gandy’s terms, are synesthetic: like sounds, they reverberate within human and more-than-human subjects. Affective atmospheres are shared bodily situations, drawing also on renewed and shifting elemental understandings of air and refracted light. How can we come conceptually closer to the toxicities of both air pollution and rising authoritarianisms, to material and metaphoric atmospheres – and other less-than-visible carriers of damage? And to a better sense of the entanglements and relationalities that such modes of thought can produce? The growing non-transparency of air, in Sumana Roy’s terms, produces paranoid reading: suspicious, anticipatory theories of negative affect. This occurs in the context of the ‘disappearance of air’ in favour of mask filters, air purifiers and the AQI (Air Quality Index) for those who can afford it. Yet there may also be a reparative range to these questions: making air explicative might offer analytic opportunities for sustenance and responsiveness to what is to come.

About the Speaker

Professor Matthew Gandy

Professor of Cultural and Historical Geography and Fellow of King’s College at University of Cambridge

More about Professor Matthew Gandy

Other events in this series