Faculty Working Group
Environmental anthropology, urban anthropology, political ecology, infrastructure, postcolonial urbanism, citizenship, state formation, water, the politics of environmental knowledge; South Asia
Nikhil's research focuses on the political ecology of urban infrastructures, and the social and material relations that they entail. Through ethnographic research, he studies how natures, technologies, and specific gatherings of experts and publics are mobilized to effect environmental projects and relations of difference in postcolonial cities. His first book, Hydraulic City (Duke University Press, 2017), explores how cities and citizens are made through the everyday maintenance of water infrastructures in Mumbai.
Daniel is an architectural historian with a research interest in the relationship between the design fields and the emergence of global environmental culture across the 20th century. His first book, A House in the Sun: Modern Architecture and Solar Energy in the Cold War, will be published by Oxford University Press in October 2016. It documents a number of experiments in solar house heating in American architectural, engineering, political, economic, and corporate contexts from the beginning of World War II until the late 1950s. His second book, Climatic Effects: Architecture, Media, and the Globalization of the International Style, will be published by Princeton University Press in 2018, and explores climate-focused architectural design methods from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Key Words: History of technology, environmental history, history of ecology and environmental sciences, posthumanism
Etienne Benson is an assistant professor in the Department of the History and Sociology of Science, where he teaches courses on the history of technology, environmental history, and posthumanism. His research focuses on the history of the environmental sciences, environmentalism, and human-animal relationships in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In Wired Wilderness: Technologies of Tracking and the Making of Modern Wildlife (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), he explored the relationship between the use of electronic surveillance technologies to study and manage wildlife and changing understandings of wildness and wilderness in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. He has also published shorter studies of urban squirrels, national parks, environmental satellites, electric power transmission, animal history, endangered species protection, movement ecology, ecological simulation, and other subjects at the intersection of the histories of science, technology, and environment. His current book project concerns the history of environmental ideas and environmentalisms since the late eighteenth century. He has been the co-convener of the Faculty Working Group on Environmental Humanities since 2016 and is the PPEH Topic Director for 2017-2018 on the theme of "How Did We Get Here?"
Key Words: Earth Science, Remote Sensing, Education, Sustainability, Earth Processes
Jane’s interests in earth science research concerns the study of vegetation’s response to climate change using remote sensing imagery. She began teaching at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006 and became the Assistant Director of the Earth and Environmental Science undergraduate programs in 2008. She helped to start the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) in 2012, has served as a freshmen advisor since 2008, is a co-chair of the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee’s (ESAC) Academic Subcommittee, helped to develop and run the Integrated Sustainability Across the Curriculum (ISAC) program, and currently is Teaching Faculty in the Earth and Environmental Science Department. She’s taught Math and Physics at the high school level in California and New Jersey and college classes in Earth Science, Environmental Chemistry, Oceanography, Environmental Case Studies, Research Methods, and Remote Sensing.
Ian Fleishman is an Assistant Professor of German and the newest member of the standing faculty of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. In May 2013 he completed his doctorate in French and German Literature at Harvard University, having previously studied at the Freie Universität in Berlin, the Sorbonne Nouvelle and the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and at Middlebury College in Vermont. He has published in German Quarterly, French Studies, The Germanic Review, Essays in Romanticism, Mosaic, The Journal of Austrian Studies and elsewhere on subjects ranging from the Baroque to contemporary cinema.
His work focuses largely on sex and violence in order to trace the evolution of narrative form and its underlying epistemological shift from modernism to the postmodern. His first book manuscript, An Aesthetics of Injury: The Narrative Wound from Baudelaire to Tarantino, was the 2015 winner of the Northeast Modern Language Association Book Award and is forthcoming with Northwestern University Press. Examining representations of the open wound, his monograph exposes injury to be an essential aesthetic prinicple of twentieth-century narrative in the works of ten exemplary authors and filmmakers: Charles Baudelaire, Franz Kafka, Georges Bataille, Jean Genet, Hélène Cixous, Ingeborg Bachmann, Elfriede Jelinek, Werner Schroeter, Michael Haneke and Quentin Tarantino.
Key words: Ethnomusicology, music performance, sociology, place and environment, social psychology and interaction, sociology of culture, urban studies and planning
David teaches courses on popular culture, mass media and the arts; cities and urban sociology; social interaction and public behavior; and ethnographic methods. In his research he employs a variety of ethnographic and other qualitative methods to study the production and consumption of commercial entertainment in the urban milieu. He is the author of four books: Blue Chicago: The Search for Authenticity in Urban Blues Clubs(Univ. Chicago Press, 2003), On the Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife(Univ. Chicago Press, 2008), Mix It Up: Popular Culture, Mass Media, and Society (W.W. Norton, 2010), and American Zoo: A Sociological Safari (Princeton Univ. Press, 2015).
Key words: Technological change, energy transitions, mobility, obsolesence; environmental and envirotechnical history, animal history
Key words: environmental health, environmental justice, cumulative impacts, environmental health literacy
Marilyn Howarth is an Occupational and Environmental Medicine physician who cares for patients with environmental exposures and works with communities and government agencies to investigate and tackle occupational and environmental problems. She works on environmental riskassessment and communicating environmental risk to people in a variety of settings. She is currently the Director of the Community Outreach and Engagement Core of the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Pennsylvania. In that role, she has worked with Environmental Justice communities such as Chester, PA and various communities along the Gulf of Mexico impacted by the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill, and communities in Philadelphia with common urban environmental health problems such as asthmaand lead poisoning among others. She is interested in novel approaches to engage people around the environment , how it impacts people’s health and how it is impacted by human activity
Key words: media infrastructures, environmental media, publics, risk and uncertainty, platforms
Rahul's academic preoccupations often meander into imaginings about media’s role with(in) alternative futures for/of politics and technology. Drawing on the conceptual lenses of cultural studies, media theory, and science studies, he has written on database management systems, advertising cultures of mobile telephony, Bollywood thrillers, development discourses, and translocal documentaries. He has been part of two collaborative projects related to mobile media practices: one concerned with the circulation of locally produced music videos in parts of India and the other exploring ICT usage in Zambia. He is working towards theorizing the materiality of technoscience publics by studying mediations of environmental debates related to media infrastructures and nuclear energy. At Penn, Rahul has been associated with the Latitudes reading group, the Humanities + Urbanities + Design colloquium group, and the Environmental Humanities and Digital Humanities Initiatives.
Adriana is dedicated to research and teaching in anthropological theory and methods, the social studies of science and technology, globalization and health, and medical anthropology. In her ethnographic studies, she has investigated the cultural and political dimensions of science and medicine in eastern Europe and in the United States (with a focus on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and on clinical research and pharmaceutical globalization). Her concerns center on public and private forms of scientific knowledge production, as well as on the role of science and technology in public policy (particularly in contexts of crisis, inequality, and political transition). She probes the social nature of scientific knowledge, how populations are enrolled in scientific experimentation, and what becomes of citizenship and ethics in that process. Her courses have drawn students from anthropology, the history of science, business, engineering, nursing, political science, and the biological sciences (pre-med). Integrating ethnographic insights into her teaching helps students to orient themselves and their intellectual energies toward a variety of social problems and challenges.
Key words: urban ecology, landscape infrastructure, renewable energy transition, energy landscape, urban design
Nicholas investigates infrastructural landscapes, energy landscapes, and urban ecological systems. His research focuses on the public and civic potential of infrastructure, on landscape performance, and on the integration of urban ecological systems and their metrics into design methodology. He is a full-time lecturer in the Department of Landscape Architecture at PennDesign, where he teaches core landscape and urban design studios, and co-teaches a course on the mechanisms and vocabulary of contemporary urban ecology. He is also Co-Editor-in-Chief of Scenario Journal, a digital open-access publication devoted to showcasing and facilitating the emerging interdisciplinary conversations between landscape architecture, urban design, engineering, and ecology. Prior to joining the PennDesign faculty, he was a senior designer at the landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates in New York.
Simon has embarked on three new research projects, as always, linked to his teaching. The first focuses on the cultural history of sustainability in Germany and northwestern Europe. In a recent course, Richter and his students attempted to answer the question: why do Germans more readily embrace the principles and practice of sustainability, even at a higher personal price? The second is concerned with the cultural history of Prussia, that other "modern" state created in the eighteenth century (the first being the United States). Richter's quixotic project is to unearth the subterranean Dutchness of Prussia. In 2009/2010 Richter won an ACLS Fellowship and a Wiler Fellowship to work on a book that will bear the title The Impropriety of Goethe: Case Studies in the Aesthetics of Adulation. In this book Richter sets out to explore our current fastidiousness about large claims made on behalf of aesthetics by focusing on cases of exorbitant response to Goethe’s person and works. Manifestations of such impropriety include the obsessive collection of Goethe “relics” by William Speck, the esoteric interpretation of Goethe by Rudolf Steiner, encounters with Goethe in Nazi concentration camps, and the cult of Goethe among German Jews around 1900, not to mention the extreme responses of Karl Philipp Moritz, Eckermann, and Bettina von Arnim. This research will take Richter to numerous archives and remote locations. Richter also speaks Dutch and has projects in the area of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia, a study of the author and Goethe aficionado Boudewijn Büch, and on the recently assassinated filmmaker Theo van Gogh. In his spare time, Richter hones his cooking skills and improves on an ever more elaborate rijsttafel (an extravagant Indonesian spread).
Simon's research group is broadly interested in the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of populations that experience environmental heterogeneity over various spatial and temporal scales. The group seeks to understand mechanistically how natural selection works in heterogeneous environments, the context dependency and many constraints on this process, and how this ultimately produces an adaptive response. His research combines extensive sampling of natural populations and –omics level characterizations, laboratory-based classical and molecular genetics, and experimentation conducted in both the field and laboratory. Much of this work is centered on testing the functional significance of identified molecular polymorphism: establishing concrete links between allelic variation, physiologically mediated performance, and the differential fitness of genotypes among environments.
Tad is Professor in Anthropology, and a Consulting Curator in the Physical Anthropology and American Sections of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. He also directs the North American Regional Center of the Genographic Project, and Head of the Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology at the Penn. For the past twenty-five years, he has investigated the genetic prehistory of Asia and the Americas through studies of mtDNA, Y-chromosome and autosomal DNA variation in Asian, Siberian and Native American populations. His current projects include studies of genetic diversity in indigenous populations of Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. His research group is also investigating the population history of Georgia (Caucasus), Pakistan and Kazakhstan through collaborative genetic studies in those countries.
Key words: flows, water, vulnerability, environmental politics, international rivers, hazards, climate change
Kimberley conducts interdisciplinary research on the politics and governance of international rivers. Drawing on theories and methods in political ecology, critical geopolitics, and environmental history, her work interrogates the relationships between land use decisions and human vulnerability to environmental change at multiple scales. While Bangladesh is often framed as a victim of unfortunate geography and climate change, her 2015 dissertation, The River-Border Complex: Governing Flows in South Asia, identified contemporary conflicts along the Ganges River as networked artifacts of imperial capitalism, the violent rupture of the Indian subcontinent, under-development, and localized social vulnerability to environmental hazards. As a postdoctoral fellow, she will elaborate her conceptual framework, "the river-border complex," through comparative analyses of river systems in North America and Southeast Asia.
Key words: History and historiography of early modern and modern technology, the European Enlightenment, history of technocracy, philosophy and theory of technology and literature.
Heidi Voskuhl's research field comprises the history of technology from the early modern to the modern period. Her broader interests include the philosophy of technology, the history of the Enlightenment, and modern European intellectual and cultural history.
Slate: "They Had Robots in the Enlightenment?"
Naomi's work lies at the threshold between recent European philosophy and music and sound studies. She is interested in how sound and listening are implicated in politics of community and are paradigms for the ways we relate to others. Her work engages with French deconstruction, recent Italian thought on biopolitics and immaterial labor, eighteenth-century instrumental music, Italian radical design and neorealist cinema, Kafka, and casinos. Her first book project Music and Belonging Between Revolution and Restoration (under contract with Oxford University Press) explores how stylistic and formal aspects of the instrumental music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven enter into a politics of belonging. Understanding belonging as both inclusion and possession, it examines how listening participates in the production of community, private property, and self-possession. She is also writing a second book tentatively entitled The Biopolitics of Sound. This is a speculative study for a political philosophy series which explains why sound and listening have been appropriated in post-Heideggerian thought as a way to (re)think the common.
Tweet her @auralflaneur
Bethany's interests lie in the intersections between the early modern period and contemporary theoretical concerns, including global and transnational literature, translation and multilingualism, and the environmental humanities. While grounded in the cultural and political landscape of central Europe, her work increasingly charts global trajectories. Her first book—entitled Novel Translations: The European Novel and the German Book, 1680-1730 (2011)—explores the new worlds opened to the imagination when reading first became a form of entertainment. This long process first blossomed with the creation of a transnational (French, English, and German) novel in the decades around 1700, a popular genre born of a boom in literary commerce. A second monograph—Germanopolis: Utopia Found and Lost in Penn's Woods, 1683-1763 (under contract with Penn State UP)—investigates competing accounts of colonial Pennsylvania's past and future. A member of the core faculty in German where she is the Graduate Chair, she is also affiliated with the English department and the Program in Comparative Literature. She is the founding director of PPEH, and is the current director of the Penn Humanities Forum's year on Translation.
Tweet her @bwiggerson