The Undersea Network: An Interview

Nicole Starosielski’s new book brings an environmental and ecological consciousness to the study of digital media and digital systems, and it is a must-read. The Undersea Network (Duke University Press, 2015) looks carefully and imaginatively at the geography of undersea cable networks, paying special attention to the materiality of network infrastructure and its relationships with the histories of the Pacific. The book revises what we think we know … Continue reading The Undersea Network: An Interview

Empires of Coal: An Interview

Shellen Wu’s new book is a fascinating and timely contribution to the histories of China, science, technology, and the modern world. Empires of Coal: Fueling China’s Entry into the Modern World Order, 1860-1920 (Stanford University Press, 2015) brings readers into the nineteenth century industrialization of China, when coal became the “fuel of a ‘new’ imperialism.” Wu’s book asks how China came to matter in a new modern world … Continue reading Empires of Coal: An Interview

Biological Relatives: An Interview

Sarah Franklin’s new book is an exceptionally rich, focused yet wide-ranging, insightful account of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and the worlds that it creates and inhabits. Biological Relatives: IVF, Stem Cells, and the Future of Kinship (Duke University Press, 2013) treats IVF as a looking-glass in which can see not only ourselves, but also transformations in modern notions of biology, technology, and kinship. In addition to a … Continue reading Biological Relatives: An Interview

Wicked Intelligence: An Interview

The pages of Matthew C. Hunter’s wonderful new book are full of paper fish, comets, sleepy-eyed gazes, drunk ants, and a cast full of fascinating (and sometimes hilarious) members of the experimental community of Restoration London. Wicked Intelligence: Visual Art and the Science of Experiment in Restoration London (University of Chicago Press, 2013) maps the visual traces of drawing, collecting, and building practices between 1650 and 1720 to … Continue reading Wicked Intelligence: An Interview

Current Flow: An Interview

Ronen Shamir’s new book is a timely and thoughtful study of the electrification of Palestine in the early twentieth century. Current Flow: The Electrification of Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2013) makes use of Actor-Network Theory as a methodology to trace the processes involved in constructing a powerhouse and assembling an electric grid in 1920s Palestine. The book brilliantly shows how electrification “makes politics” rather than just transmitting … Continue reading Current Flow: An Interview

The Romantic Machine: An Interview

John Tresch’s beautiful new book charts a series of transformations that collectively ushered in a new cosmology in the Paris of the early-mid nineteenth century. The Romantic Machine: Utopian Science and Technology after Napoleon  (University of Chicago Press, 2012) narrates the emergence of a new image of the machine, a new concept of nature, a new theory of knowledge, and a new political orientation through a series … Continue reading The Romantic Machine: An Interview

The Emergence of Tropical Medicine in France: An Interview

In The Emergence of Tropical Medicine in France (University of Chicago Press, 2014), Michael Osborne offers a new way to think about and practice the history of colonial medicine. Eschewing pan-European or Anglo-centric models of the history of colonial medicine, Osborne’s book focuses on the centrality, transformations, and ultimate demise of naval medicine in France in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Motivating the central arguments and narrative of … Continue reading The Emergence of Tropical Medicine in France: An Interview

Gene Jockeys: An Interview

Nicolas Rasmussen’s new book maps the intersection of biotechnology and the business world in the last decades of the twentieth century. Gene Jockeys: Life Science and the Rise of Biotech Enterprise (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) takes readers into the fascinating world of entrepreneur-biologists as they developed five of the first products of genetic engineering. Based on a documentary archive that includes oral history interviews and corporate … Continue reading Gene Jockeys: An Interview

Seeing Like a Rover: An Interview

Janet Vertesi’s fascinating new book is an ethnography of the Mars Rover mission that takes readers into the practices involved in working with the two robotic explorers Spirit and Opportunity. Based on two years of immersive ethnography from 2006-2008, Seeing like a Rover: How Robots, Teams, and Images Craft Knowledge of Mars (University of Chicago Press, 2015) focuses on the visuality of the mission, exploring “how scientists and engineers on Earth … Continue reading Seeing Like a Rover: An Interview

What Did the Romans Know?: An Interview

Daryn Lehoux’s new book will forever change the way you think about garlic and magnets. What Did the Romans Know?: An Inquiry into Science and Worldmaking (University of Chicago Press, 2012) is a fascinating account of the co-production of facts and worlds, taking readers into the sciences of Rome from the first century BC to the second century AD. Masterfully blending approaches from the history and philosophy of … Continue reading What Did the Romans Know?: An Interview