Planetary Resistance: Climate, Computation, and Contingency

JHI Working Group active in 2019-2020


This working group aims to explore the intersections of computational practices, their history, and the history of the environment in the longue durée of the modern age since the Industrial Revolution. Contemporary understandings of climate change are predicated on a profound quantification of the environment as a means to understand, and thus to manage, its contingency. From climate modelling to ecology, our conceptual and practical engagements with the environment are profoundly mediated by computational logics. But these logics were not invented along with the computer; they dovetail with longer histories of science and capitalism, and the contingent material world does not always translate into code. We will look at the sites where contingency arises at the planetary scale, at computation's role in producing climate change (both as conceptual object and physical process), and at histories of the planet, the climate, and of computation. Our meetings will include both discussion of published works and of pre-circulated works-in-progress, and our final session will bring in the work-in-progress of an artist or scholar who works at the intersection of these ideas, to be chosen by the group.


  • Scott Richmond, FAS Cinema Studies
  • Avery Slater, UTM English & Drama
  • Rebecca Woods, FAS History & Philosophy of Science & Technology

Faculty, University of Toronto

  • Tania Aguila-Way, FAS English
  • James Cahill, FAS Cinema Studies

Graduate Students, University of Toronto

  • Jeni Barton, History & Philosophy of Science & Technology
  • Austin Due, History & Philosophy of Science & Technology
  • Morgan Harper, Cinema Studies
  • Bree Loman, History & Philosophy of Science & Technology
  • Félix Veilleux, Cinema Studies