Last fall, I taught a graduate seminar in global environmental history. The focus for the course was the Anthropocene, which was beginning to dominate much of the recent environmental discourse (see my recent podcast conversation with Libby Robin on the Anthropocene here). I opened selected weeks to the larger environmental history community, which attracted an eclectic group of conversationalists for those weeks. None was more vibrant than the session on Andreas Malm’s Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming. It’s a terrific book, and it provoked some interesting discussion. Just as I was settling down to read Malm’s book, I came across this article in Jacobin, which I thought would inspire good debate about the term and its possible misdirections. I was delighted, then, when Malm was amenable to a chat about his book, his sequel, Fossil Empire, and the role of capitalism in the contemporary environmental crisis.
Andreas Malm is a human ecologist at Lund University in Sweden. His work examines the historical power relations of climate change. In addition to Fossil Capital, his next book is The Progress of this Storm: On Society and Nature in a Warming World, which will be published by Verso in early 2018.
Next week: 24 October: “Catastrophic Meanings: Consuming the Great Flood of 1927” (with Susan Scott Parrish)
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)