The Same River Twice

The Same River Twice: Nature, Media and Philosophy in the Anthropocene 

Dr. Etienne Turpin

Carleton University 

132 Azrieli Pavilion

April 12, 2017 


Carleton Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences 

Carleton Climate Commons 

What do contemporary urban ecologies teach human residents about ethics, epistemology, and media? First attributed to Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 BC – 475 BC) by Plato, the remark that we cannot step in the same river twice is at once a statement about the nature of perpetual change and an acknowledgement of a tension between sensation and abstraction in human understandings of nature. Over twenty-five centuries later, the Indonesian island of Java is now inhabited by more residents than lived on Earth during Heraclitus’s time, with many living in densely arranged megacities. In fact, the greater metropolitan area of the capital, Jakarta, has over 30 million people residing alongside thirteen rivers that the run from the mountains of the Sunda Arc to the Java Sea. What can we learn from the residential knowledges and itinerant practices that characterize this megacity? This lecture will consider the ethical and epistemic consequences of residential life in the city—including dispositions toward nonhuman entities, mediations that enable collaboration and contestation, and contributions to postnatural ecologies—to help explicate the concepts emerging from this torrential formation. 

Dr. Etienne Turpin is a philosopher and Founding Director of anexact office in Jakarta, Indonesia. He studies and designs knowledge infrastructure and produces platforms, exhibitions, and publications by combining design, archival research, documentary, and ethnography. Etienne also works as a Research Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he coordinates the Humanitarian Infrastructures Group and co-directs the disaster mapping project for the Urban Risk Lab. With Anna-Sophie Springer, he is Co-Principal Investigator of the exhibition-led inquiry Reassembling the Natural and the intercalations: paginated exhibition series for the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. He is also editor of Architecture in the Anthropocene (Open Humanities Press, 2013) and co-editor of Fantasies of the Library (MIT Press, 2016), Art in the Anthropocene(Open Humanities Press, 2015), and Jakarta: Architecture + Adaptation (Universitas Indonesia Press, 2013).

For more information please contact Chris Russill (

The Same River Twice Poster (7)

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