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Spencer Adams

Spencer Adams


Spencer Adams is a rhetorician and science studies scholar, broadly interested in the social relations of contemporary knowledge work, the present and historical labors that underlie global climate science, and Marxist theorizations of scientific knowledge production. He's currently a Ph.D. candidate in Rhetoric, with designated emphases in Critical Theory and Science and Technology Studies, at UC-Berkeley, and is working on a dissertation project that examines the recent history of climate science in Antarctica, with particular attention to the production of space, subjectivity, and patterns of labor under exceptionally harsh environmental conditions. He holds an MA in Rhetoric from UC-Berkeley and a BA in Physics from Amherst College.

"At the Edges of Subsumption: Polar Futurism and the Labors of Knowledge Production"

My dissertation examines Antarctic life and science over the 20th and 21st century, tracing the subsumption of polar research under regimes of scientific professionalism and the subsumption of polar space under quotidian forms of social organization. In looking at interventions that engender a distinct Antarctic spatiality, sociality, and subjecthood, I locate a common polar futurist sensibility that links the problems of location that Antarctic research wrestles with to the extremities of remote imperial exploration, space travel, and more recently, Anthropocenic unworlding. I argue that concealed within a rhetoric of alterity, in which Antarctic life, space, and knowledge work are couched, are experiments in disciplining labor under extreme environmental conditions. Solutions to and examinations of the problem of the Antarctic environment range from architectural feats to literary production to scientific meta-studies of Antarctic inhabitants, each of which attends to and proposes mechanisms for facilitating familiar and disciplined rhythms of life amidst the deep unfamiliarity of sunless winters, bare landscapes, and intensive ongoing threats to human survival.

Reaching the People