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Thom van DoorenFlight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction

Columbia University Press, 2014

by Carla Nappi on April 17, 2015

Thom van Dooren

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Thom van Dooren’s new book is an absolute must-read. (I was going to qualify that with a “…for anyone who…” and realized that it really needs no qualification.) Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction (Columbia University Press, 2014) is a beautifully written and evocative meditation on extinction. The book offers (and implicates us in) stories about five groups of birds – albatrosses, vultures, Little Penguins, whooping cranes, and Hawaiian crows – that build upon one another and collectively enable us to explore and re-imagine what, where, and how extinction is, and why that matters. Van Dooren emphasizes the importance of storytelling to understanding and inhabiting the world, and the book’s five “extinction stories” each bring to life the entanglements of avian, human, and other beings to ask readers to consider a series of questions that can best be explored, understood, and engaged through attentiveness to these entanglements. “What is lost,” van Dooren asks, “when a species, an evolutionary lineage, a way of life, passes from the world?” How does this loss mean, and what does it mean, within the particular multispecies community formed and shaped by that way of life? And how might storytelling, conceived as an act of witnessing, help draw us into new relationships and accountabilities within our multispecies communities? Flight Ways is deeply concerned with the ethical questions that emerge – and that must be sustained – in the course of thinking through these crucial questions, and it is committed to moving us away from a position of human exceptionalism as we work with and inside of that ethical troubling. Deeply interdisciplinary, van Dooren’s book brings together approaches in animal studies and the environmental humanities, but it speaks to and from many more fields.

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Robert W. GehlReverse Engineering Social Media: Software, Culture, and Political Economy in New Media Capitalism

April 13, 2015

Reverse Engineering Social Media: Software, Culture, and Political Economy in New Media Capitalism (Temple University Press, 2014) by Robert Gehl (University of Utah, Department of Communication) explores the architecture and political economy of social media. Gehl analyzes the ideas of social media and software engineers, using these ideas to find contradictions and fissures beneath the surfaces […]

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Edmund RussellEvolutionary History: Uniting History and Biology to Understand Life on Earth

March 11, 2015

Evolution is among the most powerful ideas in the natural sciences. Indeed, the evolutionary theorist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously said nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. Yet despite its central place in the life sciences, relatively few geographers employ evolutionary theory in their work. In his new book Evolutionary History: Uniting History and Biology […]

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Orit HalpernBeautiful Data: A History of Vision and Reason since 1945

March 9, 2015

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Alexander R. GallowayLaruelle: Against the Digital

March 5, 2015

“The chief aim of [philosopher François Laruelle’s] life’s work is to consider philosophy without resorting to philosophy in order to do so.” What is non-philosophy, what would it look like to practice it, and what are the implications of doing so? Alexander R. Galloway introduces and explores these questions in a vibrant and thoughtful new […]

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Thomas LeitchWikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age

March 5, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Education] Wikipedia is one of the most popular resources on the web, with its massive collection of articles on an incredible number of topics. Yet, its user written and edited model makes it controversial in many circles. In Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age (Johns Hopkins […]

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[Cross-posted from New Books in World Affairs] Two Canadian socialist thinkers have published a new book on the successes and failures, the crises, contradictions and conflicts in present-day capitalism. In The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire (Verso, 2013) , Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin trace the evolution of the international capitalist system over the last century. (Panitch is a […]

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Steven ShaviroThe Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism

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