Ambient Thickness: Atmospheres of the Climate Emergency
Prof. Gastón R. Gordillo, University of British Columbia
In this presentation, Prof. Gordillo argues that the concept of “ambient thickness” can help us analyze the atmospheric intensities that in the form of heatwaves, droughts, dust storms, forest fires, or toxic smells are defining contemporary experiences of global warming and environmental ruination. Engaging with literatures on materiality, the nonhuman, affect, weather/climate, and atmospheres, Gordillo's argument builds from campesino experiences of deforestation, wind, fumigation, and heatwaves in northern Argentina and from a comparative phenomenology of atmospheric disruptions elsewhere in the world. Gordillo shows that the atmosphere can “thicken” in very different ways and that this density is experienced unevenly depending on class, racial, gender, and cultural backgrounds.Gordillo also highlight that the unsettling thickening of the air created by events such as heatwaves or forest fires brings to light the nonhuman materiality of the planet’s terrain and the urgency of radical change to confront the climate emergency.
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