Labour, Environment, & Neoliberalism (with Erik Loomis)

This podcast conversation with Erik Loomis marks the end of the “Bedtime Stories” series. I’d like to revisit this and work up some more podcasts in the future—I enjoyed these conversations and interactions tremendously. I hope that individually and cumulatively they are informative and provoke responses to thinking about the past through a catastrophic lens.

This catastrophic conversation revisited class through a labour perspective. It is worth comparing Loomis’s discussion here with Malm’s reflections on capitalism. Loomis and Mizelle also overlap in their comments on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. Loomis is an historian at the University of Rhode Island. He is the author of Empire of Timber: Labor Unions and the Pacific Northwest Forests
(Cambridge University Press) and Out of Sight: The Long and Disturbing Story of Corporations Outsourcing Catastrophe (The New Press). He is currently finishing up a new book, American History in Ten Strikes, which will also be published by the New Press (2018).


5 September: “Dysfunctional Relationships: Love Songs for Pesticides” (with Michelle Mart)

12 September: “Catastrophic Environmentalism: Histories of the Cold War” (with Jacob Hamblin)

19 September: “Disaster Narratives: Predictions, Preparedness, & Lessons” (with Scott Knowles)

26 September: “Catastrophe in the Age of Revolutions” (with Cindy Ermus)

3 October: “Histories of the Future & the Anthropocene” (with Libby Robin)

10 October: “Günther Anders and the Catastrophic Imagination” (with Jason Dawsey)

17 October: “Convergence: Capitalism, Climate, Catastrophe” (with Andreas Malm)

24 October: “Catastrophic Meanings: Consuming the Great Flood of 1927” (with Susan Scott Parrish)

31 October: “Disaster, Race, & Diaspora” (with Richard Mizelle, Jr.)

Catastrophe: The Decay of Intellect

Happy Monday!

Here’s a little audio clip from Walter Benjamin’s One-Way Street and Other Writings (as quoted in Andreas Malm’s Fossil Capital). Just to start the week on a positive note.

I’m thinking about Benjamin’s work more and more as I prep new ideas for a course on Catastrophic History (HIST 3CH3). I’m fascinated with his obsession with catastrophe, but also how it was prominent throughout many of the writings of other thinkers of the same kind of time. Hannah Arendt and Günther Anders, for example. More anon, but this serves as the backdrop for much of the preparation for the course. Which isn’t to say that this will be a course heavily driven by intellectual history (from the students’ perspective: probably not), but I’m interested to see if we can revisit some of these older ideas, and brush them off for the twenty-first century. I suspect we think (or should think, or need to think) about catastrophe rather differently. We should investigate that. And consider how it shapes our histories.

Catastrophic History

A little audio plug for HIST 3CH3 (Catastrophic History), a new course on offer at McMaster University in January 2017. I’m excited about this new venture—and imagining new conduits for student discovery throughout the course. For McMaster students: there are still some spots available.