Smoke’s screens: Media, fire, and the politics of apprehension

Daniel Fisher


This article analyzes the relationship between media, fire ecology, and Indigenous fire management in the context of Australia’s catastrophic fire events of 2020. How might ethnographic attention to fire’s mediatization allow us to apprehend the distinctive sociality of fire’s qualia? What kind of witness might fire offer in a moment when its capacities as a medium underwrite the science, politics, and aesthetics of its apprehension? As fire is produced, scaled, and animated for screens, social media platforms, and the columns of the daily press, as well as for the ledgers, satellite maps, and fiscal calculus of carbon exchange, it has also acquired distinctive properties that trouble its capacity to bear witness to a climate in transition.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/716556