Latour week at Columbia

Last night, Prof. Latour spoke to an audience of 500 people on his recent work is on climate change, on global ecological crisis. You can see a video of the event here. Next up, his project “Gaia Global Circus” will be presented at The Kitchen in Chelsea. To help understand the disconnect between the scale of the problems we are facing and the set of “emotions, habits of thought and feelings” we need to respond to such crises, Prof. Latour has left traditional publishing and has created theatrical experiences. “Gaia Global Circus” explores how the language of theater might help us appreciate our situation in ways that the language of science alone has not.

Prof. Latour is a unique breed of academic and “Gaia Global Circus” is just one example. When creating his magnum opus, “An Inquiry into Modes of Existence” (AIME), summarizing 25 years of his work, he not only produced a printed book, but also designed a web platform that allows readers and co-authors to make additions and modify the text. It is a daring experiment in collective, digital scholarship.

Over the last decade, Prof. Latour has overseen theatrical projects, staged reenactments (a 1903 debate between Tarde and Durkheim), and art exhibitions (“Making things public” and “Iconoclash”), forging a new kind of “creative research.” These projects are not simply publicly accessible presentations of more complicated research, but instead constitute new modes of research in their own right. This is why the Brown Institute was eager to host Prof. Latour this week.

And we’re off to a great start!