Planetary Resistance: Climate, Computation, and Contingency

Description of activities, leadership, contact information

Description of Activity

This working group will explore the intersections of computational practices, their history, and the history of the environment in the longue durée of the modern age -- at least since the Industrial Revolution.

Our basic questions revolve around the ways that climate change is understood via computation:

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 modeling to ecology, our conceptual and practical engagements with the environment are profoundly mediated by computational logics. These logics, however, were not only invented with the advent of the digital computer; they dovetail with longer histories of quantification that extend into the histories of science and of capitalism. Our conceptions of the planetary, then, are predicated on a thorough datafication of the environment. In many ways, however, the stubbornly contingent material world resists or complicates smooth translation into data or binary code.

  • What are the sites where irremediable and irreducible contingency arises at the planetary scale?
  • How are we make sense of computation’s role itself in producing climate change both as a conceptual object and a physical process?
  • How do histories of the planetary, the climate, and computation intersect?


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


Faculty, University of Toronto

  • Stan Doyle-Wood, New College Equity Studies program and Transitional Year Program
  • Sam Tecle, New College Equity Studies program

 Faculty outside University of Toronto

  • Rai Reese, Criminology, Ryerson University

Graduate Students, University of Toronto

  • Andrea Roman Alfaro, Sociology
  • A.J. Bedward, OISE SJE
  • Elaine Cagulota, OISE SJE
  • Mariba Douglas, Geography & Planning
  • Roxana Escobar Ñañez, Geography & Planning
  • Ntombi Nkiwane, Health Promotion, Della Lana School of Public Health