Research Forum: Carbon

October 16: Carbon

Petroleum has both lain the structure for our society and carries with it the potential to destroy it. Architectural historian Ateya Khorakiwala examines the lasting social and political effects of bitumen, a carbon-based biproduct of petroleum distillation, in 1960s India. In turn, anthropologist Gökçe Günel takes up the concerns of the post-industrial world, examining the Masdar City project in Abu Dhabi, an urban zone that seeks to create a renewable and clean infrastructure.

Gökçe Günel (link is external)is Assistant Professor in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona. Her current book, Spaceship in the Desert: Energy, Climate Change and Urban Design in Abu Dhabi (Forthcoming 2018, Duke University Press), focuses on the construction of renewable energy and clean technology infrastructures in the United Arab Emirates, more specifically concentrating on the Masdar City project.  Following her doctoral work, she was a Cultures of Energy Mellon-Sawyer Postdoctoral Fellow at Rice University and an ACLS New Faculty Fellow and Lecturer at Columbia University. Her articles have been published in EphemeraAnthropology NewsPublic CultureAnthropological QuarterlyThe Yearbook of Comparative LiteratureThe ARPA JournalAvery Review, and PoLAR.

Ateya Khorakiwala (Princeton Mellon Fellow) is an architectural historian who researches the aesthetic, social, and material aspects of post-colonial India’s modernization and decolonization project as well as its attendant efforts to build the Global South. Her doctoral dissertation, which she recently completed at Harvard University, examines the urban and infrastructural transformation of India’s northwest—the Punjab-Delhi region—in the aftermath of the devastating Bengal Famine of 1943 to investigate how technocrats engaged developmental discourse to produce new and transnational expertise around architectural materials like concrete, puzzolana, and steel, and basic commodities like water, wheat, and fertilizer, in the drive to secure the Indian body from starvation.  

Discussant: Chad Monfreda, Princeton Mellon Fellow

Co-sponsored by the Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies.