Dr Adam Bobbette
- Lecturer (School of Geographical & Earth Sciences)
I grew up in rural Ontario and have since lived in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, and the UK. I studied the history of philosophy and cultural studies at Trent University and McGill, followed by architecture and landscape at the University of Toronto. I undertook my PhD in geography at Cambridge.
Prior to shifting into geography, I taught the history and theory of architecture and landscape at the University of Toronto and the University of Hong Kong. I have contributed research, installations, or art works to exhibitions across the world, including the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Asia Art Archive, Para Site, The Storefront for Art and Architecture, Victoria & Albert Museum, Eyebeam Art + Technology Centre, and Transmediale.
I have been writing for a diversity of platforms for more than a decade. I’m not only interested in conventional scholarly publication venues but also in exploring new (and ancient) narrative forms for geographical thought. I’ve written for magazines, broadsheets, photocopied leaflets, exhibition catalogues, edited collections, scholarly monographs, newspapers, and literary journals. This diversity ranges across from Times Literary Supplement, Cabinet, N+1, contributing to five edited collections, and co-making the journal Scapegoat: Architecture, Landscape, Political Economy in 2010.
In 2019, I co-produced Kebun Lithos (Lithic Garden), a research platform on the slope of Mount Merapi, an active volcano in central Java. Broadly, we’re fascinated by the relationship between society and geology, the politics of volcanism, living with uncertain nature, the unpredictability of the future, and the politics of sand. We collaborate with artists and activists and are interested in exploring a diversity of research methods and publishing avenues, including the production of experimental film. We are currently reviving the Bulletin Gunung Berapi, a scientific bulletin published immediately after the Indonesian national revolution that linked volcano science with post-colonial nationalism and the enthusiasm of a new vision of the earth.
My research interests span historical geography, cultural geography, geopolitics, and the history of science. I am particularly interested in the intersections of politics with the geological, earth, and environmental sciences.
My current monograph is a political history of volcano science in Indonesia since the late nineteenth century. The project examines the role of Javanese Islam in shaping the modern understanding of the earth, including the theory of plate tectonics. The book decentres well-rehearsed narratives about the west in the formation of the geological sciences and follows volcano scientists as they engaged with and were transformed by Javanese spiritual traditions, geographies, and cosmologies.
I am working on a new project about the history and geography of fossil fuel prospecting in the twentieth century. It seeks to understand how fossil fuel prospectors transformed earth materials into a resource and also remade our concepts of soul and self. The project grapples with how thoroughly a fossil fuel-based culture has transformed even what it means to be a self.
I currently collaborate with priests in the Solomon Islands creating environment observatories in churches. This work is based on thinking about churches as infrastructure networks for monitoring climate change from the ground up. The purpose is to operate in areas in need of observatory infrastructures but without access to large scale, wealthy scientific infrastructures from the global north. We are re-thinking churches as scientific infrastructures and re-imagining the intersections of climate science and theology.
My research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, The British Academy, Selwyn College, Melanesia Mission UK, University of New South Wales. My PhD was funded by a Cambridge International Trust scholarship and SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship.