CineLab • Workshop

The Film-Phil Lisbon Seminars: Thomas Lamarre

Half Life: Radiation and Animation

The Film-Phil Lisbon Seminar (2023-2024) is promoting a workshop with Thomas Lamarre (University of Chicago) on “Half Life: Radiation and Animation”. The session will be held in-person on March 9, from 10 AM to 6 PM, at Colégio Almada Negreiros (room SE1).


This talk aims to offer a perspective on the nuclear ecology of Japan that does not begin or end with a divide between ecology and economy, nuclear energy and nuclear warfare, or national and global orders. Two propositions about animation and radiation are integral. The first is that radiation, that is, radioactivity, radionuclides, or ionizing radiation, is better thought on the model of microorganisms, bacteria, or viruses, than in the received manner of substantialist physics, in which radioactivity is treated as a toxic substance. The second is that animation techniques afford an especially useful set of procedures for taking on this task of thinking through this “radioanimacy.” Radioactivity does not need animation to bring it to life, however, for it is caught up in an ongoing coming-to-life. Animation situates that animacy. Consequently, the animation techniques of primary interest are those that participate in worlding radioanimacy. With reference to “Barefoot Gen”, “Akira”, and “New Godzilla”, I propose to discuss how approaching radioactivity in terms of worlding potentially brings to the fore connections across struggles, conflicts, and histories that have often been held apart in discussions of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima.


Thomas Lamarre teaches in the Departments of Cinema and Media Studies and East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization at the University of Chicago. Publications on media, thought, and material history include work on communication networks in 9th century Japan (“Uncovering Heian Japan”, 2000); silent cinema and the global imaginary (“Shadows on the Screen”, 2005); animation technologies (“The Anime Machine”, 2009) and infrastructure ecologies (“The Anime Ecology”, 2018). Major translations include Kawamata Chiaki’s “Death Sentences” (2012), Muriel Combes’s “Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual” (2012), David Lapoujade’s “William James, Empiricism, and Pragmatism” (2019), and Isabelle Stengers’s “Making Sense in Common” (2023).

Funded by the European Union (ERC, FILM AND DEATH, 101088956). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.