Spring 2012 Events

16 April

Symposium III: Cybersecurity

Public Lecture by Brian Krebs, followed by a panel discussion

“The eMob”

In this talk, Krebs will discuss his research into the underground economy, detailing the many asymmetries and seeming contradictions in the cybercrime community — which depends upon the honor of thieves to thrive. The Underweb marketplace is expanding by leaps and bounds, introducing new innovative criminal goods and services and lowering the barrier to entry for novices. At the same time, a relatively small and interconnected group of experienced hackers appears to provide the glue and resources for most of the major cyber crime communities and enterprises. Meanwhile, the entire world is spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year to fight the attacks that, in the end, make even the most skilled cyber crooks comparatively meager riches.


Brian Krebs is editor of krebsonsecurity.com,; a daily blog dedicated to in–depth Internet security news and investigation. From 1995 to 2009, Krebs was a reporter for The Washington Post, where he covered Internet security, cybercrime and privacy issues for the newspaper and the Web site. Krebs's blog has won numerous awards, including the honor of “Blog That Best Represents the Security Industry” two years in row at the RSA Security Conference. A frequent speaker on cybercrime topics, Krebs holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from George Mason University, and lives with his wife just outside of Washington, D.C.


Giovanni Vigna is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research interests include malware analysis, web security, vulnerability analysis, and the study of the underground cyber–economy. He is known for organizing and running an inter–university Capture The Flag hacking contest, called iCTF, that every year involves dozens of institutions and hundreds of students around the world.

Richard A. Kemmerer is the Computer Science Leadership Professor and a past Department Chair of the Department of Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Kemmerer received his B.S. degree in Mathematics from Pennsylvania State University in 1966, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1976 and 1979, respectively. His research interests include formal specification and verification of systems, computer system security and reliability, programming and specification language design, and software engineering.

Brett Stone–Gross is a computer security researcher at Dell SecureWorks. Brett received his B.S. in computer engineering, M.S. in computer science, and Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His current research interests involve studying the underground Internet economy including botnets, spam, click–fraud, and fake antivirus operations. Brett has previously worked for NeuStar, Lastline, Citrix Online, and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

This Speculative Futures Symposium is co–sponsored by The Orfalea Center for International & Global Studies, the Center for Information Technology & Society, and is a part of Critical Issues In America, a program administered by the College of Letters & Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara.

20 April

Lecture: Balancing Acts and National Security – Risk, Embodiment, Affect

Kathleen Woodward (University of Washington)

A hyper–keyword in contemporary American culture, risk pervades the discourse of entrepreneurial culture and finance capitalism on the one hand (risk–taking to reap off–scale financial reward is applauded) as well as the discourse of avoiding hazards of all kinds on the level of everyday life on the other (risk–taking in relation to one's health in particular is condemned). At base is the notion of risk as a calculation, as quantifiable, as belonging to the realm of the probabilistic, as a kind of balancing act, with risk being understood in relation to another term (risk–benefit and risk–cost). In this talk I consider different kinds of balancing acts where the discourse of risk seems altogether banal and beside the point, although the body is definitively in danger: Philippe Petit's To Reach the Clouds: My High–Wire Walk Between the Twin Towers (2002), an account of his wire–walking between the Manhattan twin trade towers in 1974 when he was twenty–three, and Joan Didion's Blue Nights (2011), her meditation on the life and death of her daughter, their intertwined lives and feelings, and her own frailty at the age of seventy–five. How might we imagine risk in relation not to benefit or to cost but to trust?

Kathleen Woodward, Professor of English, is Director of the Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington and Chair of the National Advisory Board of Imagining America, a broad–based network of scholars and leaders of cultural institutions devoted to fostering the development of campus–community partnerships. The author of Aging and Its Discontents: Freud and Other Fictions (1991) and At Last, the Real Distinguished Thing: The Late Poems of Eliot, Pound, Stevens, and Williams (1980), Woodward is completing a book on the cultural politics of the emotions entitled Statistical Panic and Other New Feelings. She has published essays in the broad cross–disciplinary domains of technology and culture, aging and the emotions in many journals, including New Literary History, Discourse, differences, and Cultural Critique, and is the editor of Figuring Age: Women–Bodies–Generations (1999) and The Myths of Information: Technology and Postindustrial Culture (1980).

10 May

Contagion ⁄ Control: Speculative Futures Graduate Colloquium

This colloquium is part of UCSB's Speculative Futures series. Please send abstracts and a short bio to: speculativefutures@gmail.com no later than March 10, 2012.

Sponsored by the College of Letters & Sciences.

Co–sponsored by: UCSB Arts & Lectures, The Center for Nanotechnology in Society, The Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, The Center for Information, Technology and Society, The Carsey–Wolf Center, The American Cultures and Global Contexts Center (Department of English), The Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, Transcriptions (Department of English), Department of English Department of Film and Media Studies, The Media Arts and Technology Program, Department of Computer Science.

11 May

Symposium IV: Speculative Media

Speakers: Helen Nissenbaum (NYU), Thomas Streeter (University of Vermont)

Obfuscation: Sacrilege in the data–driven society, Helen Nissenbaum

As the epistemology of evidence gathers strength, it drives the inexorable pursuit of personal information, everywhere, and all the time. In limited domains, data obfuscation promises relief against powerful machinations of aggregation, mining, and profiling but whether it can withstand countervailing data analytics remains an open question of great practical concern. Equally important, however, is whether it can withstand moral challenge from those who laud “big data” and suggest that data obfuscation is unethical or, at best, ungenerous. My talk addresses these moral and political challenges, locating their sources, and exploring the extent of our obligations to provide information about ourselves to others, even for the common good.

The Net Effect, or Why, Really, Do We Love Steve Jobs?, Thomas Streeter

Accurate or not, claims about the future, about the new and the different, have functions in the present. The outpouring of media attention and hagiography about Steve Jobs in the fall of 2011 confirmed my argument in The Net Effect that there has emerged, within the legitimatory apparatus of capitalism, a romantic individualist alternative to the original utilitarian construction of the idealized capitalist individual. Technological romanticism encourages us to narrate stories of technological development, not in terms of rational progress, but through tales of colorful individuals who ignore convention and then triumph because they follow their dreams instead of the norm. The celebration of Steve Jobs is evidence of the institutionalization of that narrative. Like the frontier metaphor, it articulates macroeconomic policies with everyday life, albeit in problematic ways. The appeal of this story is in part that it presents a vision of capitalist life with the possibility of integrity. If progressive change is going to come, we need to take the desires expressed in that narrative seriously, while at the same time providing a more practical analysis of how to address them.

Helen Nissenbaum is Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, and Computer Science at New York University, where she is also Senior Faculty Fellow of the Information Law Institute. Her areas of expertise span social, ethical, and political implications of information technology and digital media. She has written and edited four books, including Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life, which was published in 2010 by Stanford University Press. The National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Ford Foundation, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator have supported her work on privacy, trust online, and security, as well as several studies of values embodied in computer system design, including search engines, digital games, facial recognition technology, and health information systems.

Thomas Streeter is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Vermont. He is author of The Net Effect: Romanticism, Capitalism, and the Internet (NYU Press, 2010), a study of the role of culture in the social construction of internet technology. His award–winning Selling the Air (University of Chicago Press), a study of the cultural underpinnings of the creation of the U.S. broadcast industry and its regulatory apparatus, was published in 1996.


Winter 2012 Events


13 Jan

Symposium II: Security and Catastrophe

Catastrophic events produce radical uncertainty. The temporality of such events varies: they could be sudden, unexpected, but ever–possible (e.g. natural disasters or terrorist attacks) or protracted events whose long duration escapes the human imagination (e.g. radiation toxicity). Speculative projections of disaster, catastrophe, and crisis trigger endless efforts at securing a collective future against various forms of macroscalar destruction. This symposium hosts two distinguished speakers, Professor Peter van Wyck (Professor of Communications Studies, Concordia University, Montréal) and Professor Andrew Lakoff (Professor of Anthropology, University of Southern California), who have variously addressed speculations of catastrophe in their work. Professor van Wyck has written extensively on nuclear threats (Signs of Danger: Waste, Trauma, and Nuclear Threat, 2005) and Professor Lakoff on public health and biosecurity (Disaster and the Politics of Intervention, ed., 2010).

Speakers: Professor Peter Van Wyck (Concordia University) and Professor Andrew Lakoff (USC)

An Archive of Threat, Peter Van Wyck

I will be presenting a text in development that attempts to follow an itinerary of images from Signs of Danger, and Highway of the Atom. In this text I trace a route from Canada's far north, to Japan, Finland and New Mexico. A history written not with lightening, but close; a history written with the energy of restless, recalcitrant matter. I want to convey some small piece of this story of the nuclear, at least as I have been following it. For this, to paraphrase Isabelle Stengers, is not simply a matter of power, but an affair of a process, or processes that one must follow. Here, as elsewhere, my concern is about the constellation of effects wrought by atomic and nuclear threats and disaster. In particular I am interested in aspects of memory in relation to traumatic transformations of place, of landscape.

Biopolitics in Real Time: The Actuary and the Sentinel in Global Health, Andrew Lakoff

Focusing on recent developments in biosecurity and global health, this talk contrasts two ways of understanding and managing catastrophic disease threats. Whereas an actuarial approach projects the past into the future, a sentinel–based approach assumes that the future cannot be known and that one must remain vigilantly prepared for surprise.

26 January

The Republican Brain on Science: Understanding Conservatives' Denial of Research Based Reality

Many experts today say that liberals and conservatives live in separate and often incompatible realities. One significant area of disagreement is their respective views on major scientific issues such as evolution and climate change. Tonight's lecture draws from Chris Mooney's examination of the “science of why we don't believe science.” He reviews cutting–edge research suggesting liberals and conservatives are, in aggregate, fundamentally different people — differing in personalities, psychological needs, even brain structures. He considers the effects these differences have on processing information, especially information about science that has political implications. Mooney's talk goes beyond standard explanations of ignorance to discover reasons why many Republicans often reject widely accepted findings of mainstream science and explains why understanding cognitive differences between liberals and conservatives is essential to building a civil society with policies grounded in reality and reason.

3rd Annual Lawrence Badash Memorial Lecture

24–25 February

The Santa Barbara Global Studies Conference: “Crisis”

The University of California, Santa Barbara is holding an interdisciplinary global studies conference on a wide range of topics for scholars, both established and in the graduate stage, from the West Coast and beyond, under the general theme of crisis as salient feature of current global conditions. Crisis may thus be understood at every level, from the economic and financial to the environmental to problems of legitimacy and human security, to name a few.

Keynotes and other presentations by: Saskia Sassen, Bill Robinson, Craig Calhoun, Manfred Steger, Roland Robertson, Chris Chase-Dunn, Richard Falk, Jan Nederveen Pieterse, Alison Brysk, Mark Juergensmeyer and others.

Hosted by The Orfalea Center for International & Global Studies and the faculty of the Global & International Studies Program

27 Feb

Lecture: Future–Tense Trauma Cinema [with reference to Cuarón's Children of Men (2006)]

E. Ann Kaplan, Visiting Scholar in the Film & Media Studies Department

This paper, part of an ongoing book project, builds on Kaplan's 2005 Trauma Culture to argue that along with theorizing memories of past atrocities, we need also to explore a select form of dystopian futurist imaginaries that have proliferated in the wake of 9/11. As authors of a recent volume put it, it's essential to consider “the influence of the future–as imagined and desired by individuals and groups–on how the past is remembered, interpreted and dealt with, and vice versa.” Limiting herself to film, Kaplan first defines a new dystopian genre, Future–Tense Trauma Cinema, distinct from age–old Science Fiction and Film, and from the related Nuclear Disaster cinema. Using Children of Men as a case–study, Kaplan then theorizes the cultural (subjective and collective) work that futurist fantasies perform, using trauma theory (and psychoanalysis more generally), political theory, Utopian/dystopian discourse, and sociology. As far as time allows, Kaplan will also interrogate concepts (e.g. “trauma,” “dystopia”) on which her argument relies.

9 March

Lecture: Speculative Security: The Politics of Pursuing Terrorist Monies

Marieke de Goede, University of Amsterdam

Since the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, finance and security have become joined in new ways to produce particular targets fo state surveillance. In Speculative Security, Marieke de Goede describes how previously unscrutinized practices such as donations and remittances have been affected by security measures that include datamining, asset freezing, and trans–national regulation. These “precrime” measures focus on transactions that are perfectly legal but are thought to hold a specific potential to support terrorism. Ultimately, de Goede reveals how the idea of creating “security” appeals to multiple imaginable—and unimaginable—futures in order to enable action in the present.


Fall 2011 Events


14 October

Symposium I: Perspectives on Risk

Serving as an introduction to programs on “Speculative Futures” (the Critical Issues in America theme for 2011–2012), the talks offer both history and post–mortem: the pasts of contemporary risk discourse and the implications of obsessively thinking futures on present concerns.

Speakers: Professor Wolf Kittler (UCSB) and Professor Colin Milburn (UC Davis)

17 October

Screening of Michael Madsen's Into Eternity (2010), 75–minutes

Followed by a Q&A with the director

This mind–bending film explores the (im)possibility of storing nuclear waste for 100,000 years, the time estimated by scientists to render it safe. Especially relevant since the earthquake and crisis at the nuclear plants in Fukushima, Japan, Into Eternity is both a film about the Onkalo storage facility being constructed in Finland and a startlingly beautiful work of art. The screening of the film will be followed by a Q&A session with the director and conceptual artist, Michael Madsen, who has been involved in contemporary European debates on nuclear waste futures.

Co–sponsored with UCSB Arts & Lectures

18 October

A Conversation with Filmmaker Michael Madsen

Michael Madsen will talk about his own film Into Eternity and other media projects that engage questions of nuclear energy and security. This is an opportunity for an in–depth discussion of nuclear waste futures and media tactics.

22 October

Siddhartha Mukherjee, “Where we are on the War on Cancer”

Oncologist, researcher, and award–winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist's precision, a historian's perspective, and a biographer's passion.

Co–sponsored with UCSB Arts & Lectures.

Other Related Events

12 October

Daniel Yergin, “The Quest–Energy, Security, and the Making of the Modern World

Sponsored by UCSB Arts & Lectures.

28 October

Colloquium on Care and Vulnerability

Sponsored by the Literature and the Mind Specialization (Department of English)

18 November

Professor Rob Nixon, “Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor”

The violence wrought by climate changev toxic drift, deforestation, oil spills, and the environmental aftermath of war takes place gradually and often invisibly. Using the innovative concept of “slow violence” to describe these threats, Professor Rob Nixon focuses on the inattention we have paid to the attritional lethality of many environmental crises, in contrast with the sensational, spectacle–driven messaging that impels public activism today.

Sponsored by the Literature and Environment Specialization and The American Cultures and Global Contexts Center (Department of English)

30 April

Professor Ahmed Rashid, “Pakistan on the Brink – The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan”

FREE for UCSB students; $10 general admission.

Sponsored by UCSB Arts & Lectures, the Orfalea Foundation's support for Global and International Studies, the Harold & Hester Schoen Arts & Lectures Endowment.

Presented as part of the Critical Issues in the America series “Speculative Futures: Risk, Uncertainty, and Security.”

17 May

The Risk Doctrine: Modernism, Pessoa and Big Business

In her paper entitled “The Risk Doctrine: Modernism, Pessoa and Big Business”, Isabel Gil will study the ways in which risk and uncertainty narratives have been dislocated from the discourse of economics into the realm of culture and literature, thus framing the production of knowledge in modernity and its reflexive self–awareness. Moreover, risk and uncertainty have not only framed but also pervaded the very structure of artistic and literary creation, be it as symbol or narrative. Reading Ferdando Pessoa's The Anarchist Banker (1922) with Georg Simmel's Philosophie des Geldes, Gil will analyze the contentious relations between the risk and uncertainty narratives in literary discourse.

Isabel Capeloa Gil is Professor of Cultural Theory at the Catholic University of Portugal. Her main research areas include intermedia studies, gender studies as well as representations of war and conflict. She is the author of Mythographies (Lisbon, 2007), and Literacia visual: estudos sobre a inquietude das imagens (Visual Literacy: On the Disquiet of Images) (Lisbon, 2011) and co–editor of Landscapes of Memory Envisaging the Past/Remembering the Future (Lisbon, 2004); The Colour of Difference: On German Contemporary Culture (2005). She has edited Poéticas da Navegação (Lisbon, 2007) and Fleeting, Floating, Flowing: Water Writing and Modernity (Würzburg, 2008). She is the editor of the international peer–reviewed journal Comunicação e Cultura (Communication and Culture). Her current work reflects on representational strategies. She has been visiting Professor at the University of Wales (Lampeter), at the National University of Ireland (Galway), at the Universität des Saarlandes (Germany), at the University of Hamburg, as well as at the University of Pennsylvania, Western Michigan University (USA) and at the University of Venice, Ca’ Foscari (Italy). She is currently the Dean of the School of Human Sciences at the Catholic University of Portugal (Lisbon).

Sponsored by the French & Italian Department,

Co–sponsored by Speculative Futures: Critical Issues in the Americas (College of Letters & Science), The Center for Portuguese Studies, The Program in Comparative Literature, and the Series in Contemporary Literature.