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Victor Seow – “Fossil-Fueled Developmentalism: Carbon Technocracy in Modern East Asia”

October 27, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

How might we make sense of the origins of the fossil fuel turn, and how might our understanding of this past inform our present, as we confront the ongoing crisis of climate change? In this talk, Victor Seow will draw upon his recently published Carbon Technocracy: Energy Regimes in Modern East Asia (University of Chicago Press, 2022) to discuss how modern states of different stripes, from imperial Japan to communist China, came to embrace strikingly similar forms of science-driven, coal-fired developmentalism amid an international order that was being reshaped by the carbon energy transition. What is revealed in this connected and comparative account is the extent to which interstate competition and statist preoccupations around economic growth, national security, and resource autarky have driven the intensification of fossil fuel production and use across political modalities, at great human and environmental cost.



University of Southern California Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture
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Social Sciences Building (SOS), 250
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