Orfalea Center Thematic Research Cluster

Future Infrastructures: Water, Energy and Justice

Dr. Charmaine Chua

Charmaine Chua is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research, writing and organizing focus on the politics of racial capitalism, the logistics and infrastructure sector in the US and Asia-Pacific, and the relationship between labor, commercial capital, and collective action globally. She is currently writing a book on the trans-Pacific political economy of logistics, and its counterrevolutionary effects on terrains of internationalist struggle against empire. She is the review and open site editor for Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, editor of the Society and Space special issue “Turbulent Circulation: Building a Critical Engagement with Logistics," and her work has been published in Theory and Event, Political Geography, Historical Materialism, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, and Routledge, among other venues. She also engages in public education and organizing with Amazonians United, Cooperation Santa Barbara, and the Abolition Journal collective.

Dr. Mona Damluji

Mona Damluji is Assistant Professor of Film & Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Peabody and Emmy Award-nominated producer of the short documentary series The Secret Life of Muslims. Her teaching, research and creative work engages underrepresented media histories and cultural studies of oil, urban space and infrastructure with a focus on the Middle East and its diasporas.

Mona’s current book project Pipeline Cinema is a history of how multinational petroleum companies shaped local cultural norms and global popular imaginaries of oil and the Middle East through film and media sponsorship in the twentieth century.
Mona is a co-curator of the traveling exhibition Arab Comics: 90 Years of Popular Visual Culture and Multitudes: An Art Exhibit after #muslimban. Her publications appear in Urban History, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Subterranean Estates: the Life Worlds of Oil and Gas, Ars Orientalis, MEI Insights and Jadaliyya.
Mona is a co-convener of the IHC Research Focus Group on Re-centering Energy Justice for AY 2019/2020. She was a co-PI of the UCSB Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Energy Justice in Global Perspective for AY 2018/2019.

Dr. Melody Jue

Melody Jue is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and works across the fields of ocean humanities, science fiction, STS, and media theory. Drawing on the experience of becoming a scuba diver, her book Wild Blue Media: Thinking Through Seawater (Duke University Press, 2020) develops a theory of mediation specific to the ocean environment. She is the co-editor with Rafico Ruiz of Saturation (Duke Press, 2021) and co-editor with Zach Blas and Jennifer Rhee of Informatics of Domination (Duke Press, under contract), and has published articles in journals including Grey Room, Configurations, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Resilience, and Animations: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Her new work explores the mediations of seaweeds in relation to photography, experimentation, and ecological infrastructure.

Dr. Stephan Miescher

Stephan Miescher is a Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research interests include gender, masculinities, oral history, environmental history, and the history of development and technology in West Africa. Miescher is the author of Making Men in Ghana (2005) and co-editor of six collections, among them Gender, Imperialism, and Global Exchanges (with Michele Mitchell and Naoko Shibusawa, 2015), Modernization as Spectacle in Africa (with Peter J. Bloom and Takyiwaa Manuh, 2014), and Africa After Gender? (with Catherine M. Cole and Takyiwaa Manuh, 2007). His book A Dam for Africa: Akosombo Stories from Ghana will be published by Indiana University Press in 2021; the book will be accompanied by the documentary film Ghana’s Electric Dreams, a collaboration with filmmaker R. Lane Clark. In addition, Miescher co-edited Ghana Studies (with Akosua Adomako Ampofo, 2008-2013), co-directed the UC African Studies Multi-Campus Research Group (with Peter J. Bloom, 2008-2012), and served as co-convener of the UCSB Mellon Sawyer Seminar “Energy Justice in Global Perspective” (with Javeria Barandiarán, Mona Damluji, David Pellow, and Janet Walker, 2017-2019).

Dr. Satyajit Singh

Satyajit Singh is Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Department of Global Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His research interests are governance & institutional reforms, development and environmental issues – from a perspective of decentralized governance structures, public sector reforms, capacity building, micro institutions and micro politics – focusing on water, forestry, drinking water & sanitation, large dams, displacement and resettlement. His publications include The Local in Governance: Politics, Decentralization & Environment (OUP 2016); Taming the Waters: The Political Economy of Large Dams in India (OUP 1997); (co-ed) The Dam and the Nation: Displacement and Resettlement in the Narmada Valley (OUP, 1997); (co-ed) Decentralisation: Institutions and Politics in Rural India (OUP, 2007). He has also published in Asian Survey, Policy & Society, Economic and Political Weekly among other places. He was previously a Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Delhi; Founding Dean & Professor at School of Development Studies, at Ambedkar University, Delhi; India Chair at Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan; Visiting Fellow at IDS, Sussex; Leverhulme Fellow at the University of Sussex; and Asia Fellow at the Philippine Institute of Development Studies, Manila. Outside the academia he has worked in The World Bank and been Advisor to UNDP.

Stephen N. Borunda

Stephen N. Borunda (he/him) is a Chancellor’s Fellow and PhD candidate in Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara. He holds a BA in political science and history and an MS in education from the Johns Hopkins University. His research focuses on deserts as “laboratories” across the Americas for modernity’s media and energy infrastructures. His broader interests include Latinx/Latin American cinema and media studies, media and the environment, political culture, revolutionary imagination, and the intersection of media infrastructures and coloniality. His work has been published with Media+Environment, global-e, Film Matters, The Santiago Times, and Media Fields (upcoming).

He was the recipient of the 2022 Essay Award for the SCMS “Media and the Environment Scholarly Interest Group” for his writing on activist media in New Mexico in response to nuclear colonialism. His writing and research have been supported by UCSB’s Film and Media Studies Department and the Chicano Studies Institute. He has been the recipient of grants from the University of Bologna’s "Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory" and the University of Pretoria’s CHCI/Mellon "Global Humanities Institute on Climate Justice and Problems of Scale." He also named a 2022 honorable mention for the Ford Foundation’s Predoctoral Fellowship.

He is a member of the IHC’s "Re-centering Energy Justice" and a founding member of the "Theories of Media and Techniques in the Wake of Postcolonial and Environmental Studies" Research Focus Groups. His work as a graduate student researcher at the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies has allowed him to partner with activists and artists including the Tularosa Basin Downwinders in their efforts to collect testimonies by local downwinders about the world’s first atomic bomb and filmmaker Francisco Huichaqueo Pérez (Mapuche), director of the short film kuifi ül/ Sonido antiguo (Ancient Sounds of Water, 2020). His most recent short film, Boost: A Stop Motion Story (2019), screened at the Festival Internacional de Cine de Valdivia in Chile in 2019. He is the coordinating editor of the cutting-edge UC Press journal Media+Environment.

Tina Guirguis

Tina is currently pursuing her PhD in Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research examines the biopolitical and bioeconomic dimensions of contemporary sanitation infrastructure mega projects, hygiene campaigns, and excremental politics in China, India, and Egypt. She pays particular attention as to how gender, hygiene, and social norms are not only enforced through sanitation initiatives, but made into moral codes which take on new dimensions within speculative bioeconomies of excrement. Prior to joining UCSB, Tina completed her BA in Political Science at UC Irvine, and received her MA in Political Studies from the American University of Beirut.

Surojit Kayal

Surojit Kayal is a PhD student in the Department of English, University of California, Santa Barbara. He holds a BA and MA in English from the University of Calcutta and an M.Phil from Jadavpur University. His research interests include environmental and digital humanities and South Asian literature/culture with approaches from media theory, science and technology studies and critical infrastructure studies. He works as a graduate fellow for the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies. He has also been a research assistant at the digital humanities project What Everyone Says (WE1S) which studies public humanities at big data scale. During summer 2020 he was awarded the COVID-19 minigrant by UCSB for a collaborative project titled The Digital Pandemic.

Tina Cordova

Tina Cordova is a seventh generation native New Mexican born and raised in the small town of Tularosa in south central New Mexico. In 2005 Tina co-founded the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC) with the late Fred Tyler. The mission of the TBDC is to bring attention to the negative health effects suffered by the unknowing, unwilling, uncompensated, innocent victims of the first nuclear blast on earth that took place at the Trinity site in South Central New Mexico. Ultimately, the goal is the passage of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments to bring much needed health care coverage and compensation to the People of New Mexico who have suffered with the health effects of overexposure to radiation since 1945. Tina is a cancer survivor having been diagnosed with Thyroid cancer when she was 39 years old. In her role as an advocate on behalf of the TBDC she has testified before the US Senate judiciary Committee and the Committee on Indian Affairs. Tina has also been a guest lecturer at the University of New Mexico and at events all over the State of New Mexico communicating the history of the New Mexico Downwinders. Tina has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree from New Mexico Highlands University where she majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry. She is the Co-Owner and President of Queston Roofing and Construction that she founded in 1990 with her partner Russ Steward. Tina currently serves as the immediate past President of the New Mexico Roofing Contractors Association and as the immediate past Vice President of the New Mexico Highlands University Foundation, her Alma Mater. Tina enjoys spending her free time participating in outdoor recreation such as hiking, fishing, hunting and swimming.

Dhruba Dasgupta

Dhruba Das Gupta is a conservation worker with a focus on urban drainage and wastewater management. Her research and conservation work is in wetland ecosystems, especially in the East Kolkata Wetlands, the largest ensemble of wastewater wetlands in the world, which is also a Ramsar site and thus a protected area. Dhruba’s current research, conducted at IIEST Shibpur’s Department of Civil Engineering, focuses on revisiting the efficiency of the waste stabilisation pond system as a low-cost wastewater treatment option and its role in improving the lives of the community.
Dhruba’s work includes research in ecological history, especially how engineering interventions are received among the community for their livelihood pursuits, and she has published in national and international journals on this subject.
Additionally, with a background in rural development, anthropology and community management, her grassroots conservation work seeks to highlight the unheard voices of the marginalised wetland communities, to get them better recognition in the core conservation and management practices responsible for preservation of ecosystems.
Dhruba sits on the Board of Governors of the Rural Development Forum of the Institution of Engineers, Kolkata.

Francisco Huichaqueo Pérez

Francisco Huichaqueo Pérez was born in Valdivia in southern Chile in 1977. He is a visual artist, filmmaker, and professor at the School of Visual Arts at the University of Concepción. He currently leads the First Nations portion of the Festival Internacional de Cine de Valdivia. His video installations, film documentaries, and film essays focus on themes central to his Mapuche heritage. In his oeuvre, Huichaqueo addresses the social landscape, history, culture, and cosmovision of his people. His audiovisual work has been exhibited at various indigenous film festivals such as ImagineNATIVE, in Toronto; the Museo Arqueológico de Santiago; and the National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington, DC. He has also held residencies in film and art in Taiwan and France. His work has been exhibited in Chile, France, Canada, Germany, the United States, Spain, Italy, Argentina, and Bolivia.