Dr Bronislaw Szerszynski

Reader in Sociology

Research Interests

My research draws on the social sciences, humanities, arts and natural sciences to explore the changing relationship between humans, environment and technology. In recent years I have applied this interdisciplinary approach to various environment and technology issues, such as technological innovation (especially biotechnology) and political economy (Reynolds and Szerszynski 2011, 2012, 2014); and urban foodscapes seen in terms of socio-material practices and the moral economy (Psarikidou and Szerszynski 2012a, 2012b).

After editing a special double issue of Theory, Culture and Society in 2010 on ‘Changing Climates’ with John Urry, I developed a particular research focus on geoengineering – the proposed large-scale technological manipulation of the climate system in order to counteract anthropogenic climate change. I have explored geoengineering through a wide range of research approaches, including qualitative social science, public engagement, bibliometric analysis, humanities reflection and policy impact. Along with Maialen Galarraga I have developed analyses of geoengineering that combine philosophical and social scientific inquiry, drawing on biosemiotics and deconstruction (Szerszynski 2010), the philosophy of technology and fabrication (Galarraga and Szerszynski 2012) and the sociology of knowledge and interdisciplinarity (Szerszynski and Galarraga 2013). With Phil Macnaghten and others I have conducted social research using public engagement methods to explore the kinds of world that geoengineering techniques might bring into being, and to critically assumptions of the governability of geoengineering under various future scenarios (Macnaghten and Szerszynski 2013; Szerszynski et al. 2013). With Paul Oldham, Jack Stilgoe and others I am conducting bibliometric analyses of scientific research and patenting activity in geoengineering in order to make visible the often-hidden networks of collaboration, funding and problem-definition that are shaping this emergent field (Oldham, Szerszynski et al. 2014). More recently, with researchers in Brazil and Canada, I have started developing analyses of non-western understandings of climate- and weather-control, or ‘alter-geoengineering’. With Maialen Galarraga and Ruth McNally I am also conducting EPSRC-supported critical research on the practice of interdisciplinarity in practice in geoengineering and other technical domains, using a variant of the PROTEE methodology developed by Bruno Latour, McNally and others.

I have also become deeply engaged in ongoing debates about the Anthropocene – the proposed new geological epoch in which humans are seen as the determining force in the evolution of the Earth. This led to membership of the European Science Foundation/COST Task Force on ‘New Science Questions’ for the Forward Look Responses to Environmental and Societal Challenges for our Unstable Earth (RESCUE) (resulting in Palsson, Szerszynski, Sörlin et al. 2013); an invited contribution to the special issue of Oxford Literary Review on ‘Deconstruction in the Anthropocene’ (Szerszynski 2012); a sustained involvement with the two-year Anthropocene Project (2013-14) run by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (including The Anthropocene Project: An Opening; the 4-volume MIT collection Grain Vapor Ray: Textures of the Anthropocene; A Matter Theater, for which I wrote Szerszynski 2014); and the eight-day Anthropocene Campus); the devising and staging (in collaboration with Bruno Latour and Olivier Michelon) of Anthropocene Monument, a colloquium and exhibition at Les Abattoirs, Toulouse; and plenary papers at conferences in Paris (2013), Rio de Janeiro (2014), Berlin (2014), Edinburgh (2014), Munich (2015), Stockholm (2015).

I have a continuing interest in religion and its complex relations with the ideas and practices of science and technology. My 2005 monograph Nature, Technology and the Sacred argued that contemporary ideas and practices concerning nature and technology remain profoundly shaped by the religious history of the West. This book was chosen to be the subject of featured in a peer-reviewed ‘book symposium’ in the American journal Zygon: The Journal of Religion and Science, published later that year; three authors wrote articles engaging with the ideas in the book, and I responded with a 6,000-word reply. The book also resulted in invitations to give a number of public lectures and plenary addresses between 2006 and 2008, including the Elias Andrews Public Lecture 2007 at Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, the second van Riessen Memorial Lecture at the University of Delft, and keynote addresses in Copenhagen, Birmingham, Leiden and Deurne. My interest in this area continues: with Celia Deane-Drummond and Sigurd Bergmann I recently co-edited the book Technofutures: Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Nature and the Sacred, which will be published by Ashgate in 2015.

Over the years I have organised or co-organised a number of events with a major arts component. In July 2000 I co-organised the four-day conference and art festival Between Nature: Explorations in Ecology and Performance (Lancaster, July 2000), which resulted in two edited collections, Nature Performed (Blackwell, 2003) and Performing Nature (2005). In 2009-10 I directed Experimentality, a year-long collaborative research programme on experimentation in the sciences, arts and wider society, consisting of five two-day interdisciplinary workshops, a three-day international conference, a strand of the FutureEverything festival in Manchester, two public debates (with FutureEverything and the Royal Society), three art exhibitions (at the Peter Scott Gallery and Storey Gallery, Lancaster), 15-cross branded local arts events, and an evening of experimental music, video and live art. In 2014 Anthropocene Monument, with Bruno Latour and Olivier Michelon used the idea of a monument to the Anthropocene to trigger debate about knowledge and aesthetics in an age of global environmental change. An exhibition of monument designs from thirty artists at Les Abattoirs Museum of Contemporary Art, Toulouse, and a three-day colloquium, chaired by myself and Bruno Latour, with 100 participants including natural scientists, social scientists, humanities scholars and artists. The event and exhibition were covered in the French national press, in Libération and Le Monde.

I have also devised my own novel, hybrid genre of performance as a method exploring and communicating complex issues concerning technological and cultural change. So far I have performed three such pieces, each devised in collaboration with other media artists. ‘The Twilight of the Machines’, ‘The Onomatophore of the Anthropocene’ and ‘The Martian Book of the Dead’, performed variously in Lancaster, Sigtuna (2013), Paris (2013), Berlin (2014 twice), Toulouse (2014), Edinburgh (2014) and Stockholm (2014), use ‘found’ textual genres, fictional future scenarios, video and soundscapes to create an imaginative space in which audiences can engage with possible post-planetary and post-human futures.

Gods of the Anthropocene: geo-spiritual formations in the earth’s new epoch
Szerszynski, B. 1/05/2017 In: Theory, Culture and Society. 34, 2-3, p. 253-275. 23 p.
Journal article

The Anthropocene monument: on relating geological and human time
Szerszynski, B. 1/02/2017 In: European Journal of Social Theory. 20, 1, p. 111-131. 21 p.
Journal article

Coloring climates: imagining a geoengineered world
Szerszynski, B. 12/01/2017 In: The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities. London : Routledge p. 82-90. 9 p. ISBN: 9781138786745.
Chapter

From the Anthropocene epoch to a new Axial Age: using theory fictions to explore geo-spiritual futures
Szerszynski, B. 2017 In: Religion in the Anthropocene. Wipf & Stock p. 35-52. 18 p.
Chapter

The Martian Book of the Dead
Szerszynski, B. 30/11/2016 In: Environmental Humanities. London : Rowman & Littlefield p. 325-330. 6 p. ISBN: 9781783489398.
Chapter

Praise be to you, earth-beings
Szerszynski, B. 11/2016 In: Environmental Humanities. 8, 2, p. 291-297. 7 p.
Journal article

Planetary mobilities: movement, memory and emergence in the body of the earth
Szerszynski, B. 31/10/2016 In: Mobilities. 11, 4, p. 614-628. 15 p.
Journal article

Viewing the technosphere in an interplanetary light
Szerszynski, B. 19/10/2016 In: The Anthropocene Review.
Journal article

Out of the Metazoic?: animals as a transitional form in planetary evolution
Szerszynski, B. 13/04/2016 In: Thinking about animals in the age of the anthropocene. Lexington, MA : Lexington Books p. 163–179. 17 p. ISBN: 9781498527965.
Chapter

The reformation of place: religion, space and power
Szerszynski, B. 5/01/2016 In: At Home in the Future. Berlin : Lit Verlag p. 169-183. 15 p. ISBN: 9783643906380.
Chapter

Mapping the landscape of climate engineering
Oldham, P., Szerszynski, B., Stilgoe, J., Brown, C., Eacott, B., Yuille, A. 02/2015 In: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A. 372, 2031, p. 1-20. 20 p.
Journal article

Why solar radiation management geoengineering and democracy won’t mix
Szerszynski, B., Kearnes, M., Macnaghten, P., Owen, R., Stilgoe, J. 12/2013 In: Environment and Planning A. 45, 12, p. 2809-2816. 8 p.
Journal article

Geoengineering knowledge: interdisciplinarity and the shaping of climate engineering research
Szerszynski, B., Galarraga, M. 08/2013 In: Environment and Planning A. 45, 12, p. 2817–2824 . 8 p.
Journal article

Public engagement on solar radiation management and why it needs to happen now
Carr, W.A., Preston, C.J., Yung, L., Keith, D.W., Szerszynski, B., Mercer, A.M. 05/2013 In: Climatic Change. 121, 3, p. 567-577. 11 p.
Journal article

Living the global social experiment: an analysis of public discourse on geoengineering and its implications for governance
Macnaghten, P., Szerszynski, B. 04/2013 In: Global Environmental Change. 23, 2, p. 465-474. 10 p.
Journal article

Reconceptualizing the ‘Anthropos’ in the Anthropocene: Integrating the social sciences and humanities in global environmental change research
Palsson, G., Szerszynski, B., Sörlin, S., Marks, J., Avril, B., Crumley, C., Hackmann, H., Holm, P., Ingram, J., Pardo Buendía, M., Weehuizen, R. 04/2013 In: Environmental Science and Policy. 28, p. 3-13. 11 p.
Journal article

The end of the end of nature: the Anthropocene and the fate of the human
Szerszynski, B. 12/2012 In: Oxford Literary Review. 34, 2, p. 165-184. 20 p.
Journal article

Growing the social: alternative agro-food networks and social sustainability in the urban ethical foodscape
Psarikidou, K., Szerszynski, B. 21/02/2012 In: Sustainability : Science, Practice, and Policy. 8, 1, p. 30-39. 10 p.
Journal article

The moral economy of civic food networks in Manchester
Psarikidou, K., Szerszynski, B. 2012 In: International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food. 19, 3, p. 309-327. 19 p.
Journal article

Urban Agriculture as Community Engagement in Manchester
Levidow, L., Price, B., Psarikidou, K., Szerszynski, B., Wallace, H. 09/2010 In: Urban Agriculture Magazine. 24, p. 43-45. 3 p.
Journal article

Changing climates: introduction
Szerszynski, B., Urry, J. 03/2010 In: Theory, Culture and Society. 27, 2-3, p. 1-8. 8 p.
Journal article

Reading and writing the weather: climate technics and the moment of responsibility
Szerszynski, B. 03/2010 In: Theory, Culture and Society. 27, 2-3, p. 9-30. 22 p.
Journal article

Technology and monotheism: a dialogue with Neo-Calvinist philosophy
Szerszynski, B. 2010 In: Philosophia Reformata. 75, 1, p. 43–59. 17 p.
Journal article

The post-ecologist condition: irony as symptom and cure
Szerszynski, B. 2007 In: Environmental Politics. 16, 2, p. 337-355. 19 p.
Journal article

A reply to Anne Kull, Eduardo Cruz, and Michael DeLashmutt.
Szerszynski, B. 12/2006 In: Zygon. 41, 4, p. 811-824. 14 p.
Journal article

Techno-demonology: Naming, Understanding and Redeeming the A/Human Agencies with Which We Share Our World.
Szerszynski, B. 03/2006 In: Ecotheology. 11, 1, p. 57-75. 19 p.
Journal article

Visuality, mobility and the cosmopolitan: inhabiting the world from afar.
Szerszynski, B., Urry, J. 03/2006 In: British Journal of Sociology. 57, 1, p. 113-132. 20 p.
Journal article

Critical discourse analysis and citizenship.
Fairclough, N., Pardoe, S., Szerszynski, B. 2006 In: Analysing citizenship talk: social positioning in political and legal decision-making processes. Amsterdam : John Benjamins p. 98-123. 26 p. ISBN: 9027227098.
Chapter

The Spiritual Revolution: Why Religion is Giving Way to Spirituality.
Heelas, P., Woodhead, L., Seel, B., Tusting, K., Szerszynski, B. 2005 Oxford : Blackwell. 204 p. ISBN: 1405119586.
Book

Augustinian ecological democracy : postmodern nature and the city of God.
Szerszynski, B. 12/2004 In: Ecotheology. 9, 3, p. 338-358. 21 p.
Journal article

Enchantment and its uses: religion and spirituality in environmental direct action.
Szerszynski, B., Tomalin, E. 2004 In: Changing anarchism : anarchist theory and practice in a global age. Manchester : Manchester University Press p. 199-212. 14 p. ISBN: 0719066948.
Chapter

Nature, Technology and the Sacred.
Szerszynski, B. 2004 Oxford : Blackwell. 222 p. ISBN: 0631236031.
Book

Nature, sustainablility and the postmodern sacred.
Szerszynski, B. 2004 In: Religion und Nachhaltigkeit. Multidisziplinäre Zugänge und Sicktweisen. Münster : Lit Verlag p. 247-268. 22 p. ISBN: 3825879631.
Chapter

At reasons end: the inoperative liturgy of risk society.
Szerszynski, B., Deane-Drummond, C. 2003 In: Re-ordering nature: theology, society and the new genetics. London : T & T Clark p. 202-220. 19 p. ISBN: 0567088960.
Chapter

Genetically modified theology: the religious dimentions of public concerns about agricultural biotechnology.
Deane-Drummond, C., Grove-White, R., Szerszynski, B. 2003 In: Re-ordering nature: theology, society and the new genetics. London : T & T Clark p. 17-38. 22 p. ISBN: 0567088960.
Chapter

Introduction to nature performed.
Szerszynski, B., Heim, W., Waterton, C.A. 2003 In: Nature performed: environment, culture and performance. Oxford : Blackwell p. 1-14. 14 p. ISBN: 1405114649.
Chapter

Marked bodies: environmental activism and political semiotics.
Szerszynski, B. 2003 In: Media and the resyling of politics: consumerism, celebrity and cynisism. London : Sage p. 190-206. 17 p.
Chapter

Nature performed: Environment, Culture and Performance.
Szerszynski, B., Heim, W., Waterton, C. 2003 Blackwell. 226 p. ISBN: 9781405114646.
Book

Public consultation through the internet : a guide to the issues involved in using the internet for public consultations.
Szerszynski, B., O'Donoghue, M. 2003 Lancaster : IEPPP. 16 p.
Book

Re-ordering nature: a postscript.
Szerszynski, B., Deane-Drummond, C. 2003 In: Re-ordering nature: theology, society and the new genetics. London : T & T Clark p. 312-324. 13 p. ISBN: 0567088960.
Chapter

That deep surface: the human genome project and the death of the human.
Szerszynski, B. 2003 In: Brave new world? : theology, ethics and the human genome. London : T & T Clark p. 145-163. 19 p. ISBN: 0567089355.
Chapter

Wild times and domesticated times: the temporalities of environmental lifestyles and politics
Szerszynski, B. 15/11/2002 In: Landscape and Urban Planning. 61, 2-4, p. 181-191. 11 p.
Journal article

Cultures of Cosmopolitan.
Szerszynski, B., Urry, J. 11/2002 In: The Sociological Review. 50, 4, p. 461-481. 21 p.
Journal article

Ecological Rites: Ritual Action in Environmental Protest Events.
Szerszynski, B. 06/2002 In: Theory, Culture and Society. 19, 3, p. 51-69. 19 p.
Journal article

Genetically modified theology : the religious dimensions of public concerns about agricultural biotechnology.
Deane-Drummond, C., Grove-White, R.B., Szerszynski, B. 01/2001 In: Studies in Christian Ethics. 14, 2, p. 23-41. 19 p.
Journal article

Visual citizenship
Szerszynski, B., Urry, J. 2001 In: Thinkglobal: Cityscape Landscape Symposium 2000. Carlisle : Cumbria College of Art and Design p. 110-115. 6 p. ISBN: 1858501822.
Chapter

Mediating global citizenship.
Szerszynski, B., Urry, J., Myers, G. 2000 In: The Daily Globe: environmental change, the public and the media. London : Earthscan p. 97-114. 18 p. ISBN: 1853836648.
Chapter

Risk and trust: the performative dimension.
Szerszynski, B. 1999 In: Environmental Values. 8, 2, p. 239-252. 14 p.
Journal article

The varieties of ecological piety.
Szerszynski, B. 1997 In: Worldviews. 1, 1, p. 37-55. 19 p.
Journal article

The metaphysics of environmental concern - a critique of ecotheological antidualism.
Szerszynski, B. 1993 In: Studies in Christian Ethics. 6, 2, p. 67-78. 12 p.
Journal article