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Archive for the ‘Cultural politics’ Category

Some of the best art exhibitions today show that the socially engaged art world is undergoing two shifts that some of us in the environmental humanities have been advocating for some time: they ecologize and they decolonize. An excellent example of this is the second edition of the Toronto Biennale of Art, currently wrapping up […]

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I have been hesitant to follow up on my post of last summer on “Reindigenization and Allyship” because of the complications surrounding this issue, especially in my state of Vermont. The following can be considered part two in a series, as I continue to think through the politics of indigeneity, identity (including its malleability), territoriality […]

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Here are some thoughts on the humanitarian, historical, moral, and environmental implications of the crisis of refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They were prompted by questions asked of me by a public radio interviewer. I’m still working on the answers (and the interview has not aired, as far as I can tell). Comments […]

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Here’s a working thesis on the present global moment: 1. For many people around the world, life has always been precarious. But for a certain class — the global middle class (and up) — the world had felt more or less secure and comfortable, as long as one knew how to navigate it: play by […]

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I often “think out loud” on this blog. That’s been very useful as a way of getting feedback on work in progress; it also forces me to be both honest and careful with my words. The following is being shared in the same spirit: it’s related to teaching and writing in progress, but also to […]

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Of all the theories of what UFOs might be—optical illusions and misperceptions, hallucinations (solo and mass), hoaxes, et al—the one that raises the most epistemically troubling questions is not the Extraterrestrial Visitation Hypothesis (EVH) but the Inter-Dimensional Hypothesis (IDH), popularized by astronomer, computer scientist, and venture capitalist Jacques Vallée. Once you open up to the possibility that there are other dimensions that interpenetrate with ours, all epistemological hell breaks loose… Not only do all religious and folk beliefs become plausible, so do all manner of interaction between the imagined and the real: from human-experimenting reptilians and human-reptilian hybrids (like those Hollywood personalities and high-level Democrats that QAnons go on about) to time-traveling benevolent and malevolent forces, Pleiadians and other star people, and anything else that might pop out of anyone’s cognitive closet. All they need is the technology to “materialize” and “dematerialize” in and out of our reality. Lordy mama help us then.

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The following distills the essence of my responses to questions from a vaccine (and Covid) skeptical friend. I share it in case it’s useful for others (and because it updates a few things I’ve written before on the topic). I’m not an epidemiologist and the comments on the science of the pandemic are those of […]

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There’s a fairly straightforward narrative about media and cultural hegemony in the United States that most scholarly observers have come to largely agree on (with the usual spectrum of variations in emphasis), but that more of the public ought to be aware of. It accounts for how we got here, into this situation where media […]

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Two points of social media use call for more attention as we make sense of this week’s events at the U. S. Capitol. 1) Videos and selfies from Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rallies are circulating online and making it easier to identify those who participated in the attempted coup at the Capitol. Images created and […]

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Conspiracy movements like QAnon are a kind of cultural virus that spreads rapidly and widely in the new global media environment. Like invasive species, they spread into diverse cultural ecosystems, colonizing them even as they take on new forms that mimic each environment’s original inhabitants. To understand how they do this, we need to understand […]

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One of the things I study is spiritual practices – which I’ll define (for simplicity’s sake) as the things people do to enhance their capacity to live in accordance with chosen ideals. Those ideals can be defined in religious terms (for instance, as salvation, enlightenment, or unity with God) or in more secular and philosophical […]

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Last night’s presidential debate was, in many ways, superfluous: if a U.S. citizen had not already made up their mind who they will vote for (or not already voted), it’s because they haven’t been paying attention. But there is one factor pollsters and predictors of every stripe have not gotten good at accounting for, which […]

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