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Dr. Damien Bright

Research Associate

Damien Bright joined RIFS as a research associate with the Planetary Geopolitics and Geoengineering research group in July 2022. A cultural anthropologist, he investigates the styles of reasoning and ways of acting at issue when technoscience encounters the unknown. His major research interests include: epistemic, political and moral drift; the governability of planetary crisis; the psychopolitical dynamics of human/more-than-human relations in underwater worlds. At RIFS, Damien is investigating the design and testing of "ocean-based negative emissions technologies" (OceanNETs) across multiple geographies, along with the altered global connections that result. He is eager to understand the two-way traffic between the hypothetical and the happening at this research frontier, and to develop anthropological methods for analyzing how different OceanNETs subject the global oceans to remediation. Damien received his PhD from the University of Chicago for a dissertation titled "Whither the Reef?" that examines why coral reefs, especially Australia's Great Barrier Reef, have come to broadcast the cumulative perils of human industry and, at the same time, serve as the testbed for 21st-century planetary-scale engineering. He received his MA from SciencesPo Paris, where he researched the politics of auditing within the European Union Emissions Trading System.

Publications prior to joining the RIFS

  • 2022. Bright, Damien. "Coral" in The Neglected Lives of Micromatter: A Microbium, edited by Joela Jacobs and Agnes Malinowska. Santa Barbara, CA: Punctum Books.

  • 2021. Bright, Damien & Roy Kimmey. "Does anything dive? Beyond diving as metaphor." Techniques & Culture 75 (2021).

  • 2020. Bright, Damien & Diégo Antolinos-Basso "Writing on writing is a method of encounter. Correspondences with Ursula K. Le Guin and the world [Redux]." Diseña 16 (2020): 88-123.

  • "How to Watch Corals Die in 90 Minutes" 2021, Panel: How-to Read The How-to. Annual Meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science, Oct 4-9

  • "On buying time. New corals at the edge of 'The Reef.'" 2019, Panel: On Coral Ethnographic Research: Thinking concepts, inheritance, and speculative gestures. Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Nov 20-24

  • "Depressed Weather. Remarks on an Unthinking Climate," 2019, Invited lecture, Prairie State University, Chicago, IL

  • "Does Anything Dive? Up/Against diving as method for the Anthropocene" (with Roy Kimmey, Department of History, University of Chicago) 2018, Conference of the Australian Anthropological Society, Dec 4-7

  • "Speaking Ill of the Living. Mass Extinction, Mass Mediation and the 2016/2017 Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef" 2017, ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions 2017 Collaboratory, Sept 4-6

  • "Figuring the Milieu," 2016, Invited lecture: School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

  • 2021, Distinguished Graduate Lectureship, "The Social Afterlives of Loss," Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago

  • 2020, Dissertation Fellow, Center for International Social Scientific Research (CISSR), University of Chicago

  • 2019, Orin Williams Travel Fellowship, Division of the Social Sciences, University of Chicago