Breathing Late Industrialism

Chloe Ahmann, Alison Kenner


Breakdown, trespass, seepage, degradation: this is late industrialism. Over the past decade, the term has become synonymous with collapse, describing everything from crumbling infrastructure to outmoded paradigms. But the “late” in “late industrial” carries radical potential, too. It points toward the possibility of another world taking shape within the wreckage as people retrofit broken systems, build flexible coalitions, and work creatively with time. In this collection, we train our eyes on these refashionings, asking how late industrial systems might be put to life-affirming work. Specifically, we track cases where breath, air, and atmosphere help inaugurate a “phase shift” (Choy and Zee 2015) from breakdown toward worlds otherwise. Breath has sentinel qualities: it can warn of trouble in the air. But it is also an animating force. Taking conceptual cues from this duality, contributors attend to late industrialism as it is sensed and transformed into something vital.


late industrialism; breath; air; atmosphere; toxicity; climate change; infrastructure; environmental governance

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