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Imagine Otherwise: Hunter Vaughan on the Ecological Impact of Media Technologies

Imagine Otherwise: Hunter Vaughan on the Ecological Impact of Media Technologies

April 16, 2020
Hunter Vaughan wearing a white and blue flowered shirt

Among the many effects of the recent pandemic and social distancing practices is that most of us find ourselves spending more and more time with screens and smart devices as our daily lives move even further online. The stories we consume through these screens and the material production of our devices have complex, interwoven histories that reveal the limits of global capitalism as well as the ethical, ecological, and political importance of thinking critically about media technologies. If the relationship between media, science, and tech ever seemed abstract, our current moment has revealed how deeply corporeal and concrete it really is.

In episode 109 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast, I interview environmental media scholar Hunter Vaughan about the role the Hollywood film industry has played in climate change and environmental degradation, the vital importance of interdisciplinary science communication in an era of uncertainty, and why building a media industry with more transparency, accountability, and intersectionality is how Hunter imagines otherwise.

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You can also read the transcript and show notes on the Ideas on Fire website, which have links to Hunter’s work and all the concepts, people, and events we discuss on the show (great for teaching!).

Guest: Hunter Vaughan

Hunter Vaughan’s research, service, and teaching focus on the relationship between media, social power, and the environment.

Hunter’s most recent book, Hollywood’s Dirtiest Secret: The Hidden Environmental Costs of the Movies (Columbia University Press, 2019), is an ecocritical and materialist counter-narrative to Hollywood history, merging industry and archive study, production culture studies, textual analysis, sociological approaches to epistemology and power, and environmental studies to analyze the environmental ramifications of film practices.

With Pietari Kääpä, Hunter is building the Global Green Media Production Network, which facilitates green film production initiatives in conjunction with local media professionals, policy makers, and environmental experts.

Hunter is the author of Where Film Meets Philosophy (Columbia University Press, 2013), founding editor of the Journal of Environmental Media, and co-editor of the Anthem Handbook of Screen Theory (Anthem Press, 2018).

Hunter’s current work focuses on bridges between environmental humanities, media studies, and social sciences, including a study of digital media in heritage sites and cultural institutions, a reception study of the efficacy of short-form environmental messaging, and a research and outreach project on interactive media, storytelling, and visions of climate futures in education.

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