"Climate Denialism and Culture: From Structures of Finance to Structures of Feeling"
Climate denialism is a difficult phenomenon to explain. Most studies of the topic emphasize the structural weight of funding from fossil capital, presuming in turn that skeptics and denialists have either been duped by bad ideology or otherwise lack the rational faculties to properly interpret environmental science. Cultural studies, by contrast, offers an opposite set of methods and politics for the study of interpretive communities, positioning audiences as active, evolving, and deeply social in their negotiations with discourses of both the powerful and the weak. This sensibility, however, is rarely extended to reactionary political subjects working to uphold existing social relations. This talk asks what gains might be made in such an attempt, focusing on how and why a particular section of the climate denialist community engages with the science and poetics of the carbon cycle to their own ends. Extending curiosity to the cultural worlds of our political opponents, it argues, helps suggest different modes of building more capacious political coalitions, while further underscoring the salience of feminist, queer, and critical race studies in the work of climate politics.
Anne Pasek is an Assistant Professor in the Trent School of the Environment and the Trent Department of Cultural Studies, as well as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Media, Culture, and the Environment. Her research focuses on how carbon becomes meaningful to different communities and through different media forms. She serves as the Reviews Editor of The Journal of Environmental Media and the convener of the Low-Carbon Methods Group, an interdisciplinary collective of scholars exploring how climate change stands to alter not only what we study, but how we do so.