152 – Adriana Petryna

Posted by on Nov 15, 2018
152 – Adriana Petryna

California is burning again. So, in solidarity, Cymene and Dominic try to do an intro segment with N95 masks on and quickly realize this isn’t a good way to have to live. To learn more about the evolving field of wildfire management we then (13:40) chat with the amazing Adriana Petryna from U Penn. First we ask how a nice anthropologist like her became famous for studying disasters like Chernobyl. We discuss how she came to her concept of “biological citizenship” and her thinking about risk. That gets us back to wildfires and Adriana’s interest in scientific responses to our unpredictable climate. We get into how current models of fire suppression and prevention are deteriorating as fires become more unpredictable and as firefighters resist the idea that they become a military force tasked with fighting nature. Adriana describes the situation of responding to a changing climate as though it is not changing as “diligent insanity.” We then talk about how denialism is often linked to the idea that we’re protected (by a cult of first responders); about fire as a non-linear process; and about the need to update models of fire behavior to take “new fire” and new fuels into account. Finally. Adriana shares her thoughts on “retreat” as analytic and possible new mode of biopolitics in the Anthropocene. Want to read more? Check out Adriana’s brand new article on wildfires in Cultural Anthropology:https://culanth.org/articles/977-wildfires-at-the-edges-of-science-horizoning-work