During the 2018-2019 academic year, EST will be held in Room 105 in the Yale University Department of Anthropology at 10 Sachem Street, New Haven.
September 17, 2018
Stefan Helmreich, Elting E. Morison Professor of Anthropology, MIT
“Wave Science and Its Forms, North and South”
Do ocean waves have a history? The question may sound odd: surely waves are simple facts of nature, matters of the substance of the sea. Waves may have diverse manifestations in marine and maritime lore, a variety of effects on economic and political enterprise, and a range of meanings for fishers, surfers, and swimmers. But as formal and material entities, the standard view might say, they are best known by a science arriving at ever-improving models of oscillation, undulation, and movement. Historians of oceanography have complicated such a view, documenting the changing systems through which scientists and seafarers have known waves. This presentation will go further, looking toward a future in which waves are not only known differently (though new kinds of computer modeling, for example) but also become differently composed material phenomena than once they were. Today’s wave scientists and modelers are predicting that climate change may not only transform the global distribution of significant wave heights, but also may also (though the claim is controversial) amplify the frequency of rogue waves, changing the world’s wavescape in novel ways. This presentation will deliver an anthropological account of ocean wave modeling to anchor an ethnographic report on how scientists think about whether waves (canonically imagined as not evolving, not decaying, but repeating, periodic — cyclical avatars of the ceaseless sea) may be transforming in synchrony with the political, economic, and social scene of the Anthropocene. The talk will also attend to how such dynamics may different across hemispheres, offering a possible wave theory from the South.
October 8, 2018
Michael Ralph, Associate Professor, New York University
“Before 13th: The Origin of Convict Leasing”
November 5, 2018
Zoe Todd, Visiting Assistant Professor, Yale University and Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Carleton University
“Fossil fuels and fossil kin: re-imagining Alberta’s ‘Energy Heritage’ through a Métis feminist lens”
Alberta, Canada is home to immense oil and gas deposits, which drive both the provincial and national economy. In 2017, the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta launched an exhibit titled ‘Grounds for Discovery’, which features fossil specimens uncovered by mining and other industrial activities in the province. One specimen is a ‘nodosaur’, Borealopelta markmitchelli, preserved such that it is referred to by Royal Tyrrell staff as a ‘3D fossil’. This specimen was discovered in a Suncor tar sands mine in northern Alberta. In this talk, I examine the relationships between fossil fuels and fossil kin in the Alberta public imaginary, and what these relationships mean for contemporary efforts to disrupt settler colonial logics of extraction that are impacting watersheds across Indigenous territories throughout the province.
December 4, 2018
Julia Elyachar, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University
“Neoliberalism, Rationality, and the Savage Slot”
In this paper, I upend usual discussions of neoliberal governmentality by focusing on the relation of neoliberalism to the irrational. The central task of neoliberalism in its early days was to resurrect a discredited liberalism. WWI and the problematic Treaty of Versailles in 1919 convinced many that irrationality lay at the core of the “civilized” European world. These debates drew in intellectuals and polemicists from the German speaking world we now read separately in anthropology, economics (of a particular kind), sociology, political science, and law. Putting this broader context into view can help us move beyond seminal readings of neoliberalism such as Foucault (1978), Harvey (2007), and Brown (2015) to take in mutations of neoliberalism during this centenary year of the Versailles Peace of 1919.Those who became neo-liberal (before the hyphen was eliminated) embraced that which was irrational while resolutely attacking all kinds of collectivism. Early neoliberals such as von Mises equated socialists with savages and put socialists in what Michel-Rolph Trouillot would call “The Savage Slot,” thanks to their willful overthrow of the free market price system, without which rationality itself could not exist. Hayek and the next generation of neoliberals shifted the source of irrationality into the physiology of individual humans. To make my arguments, I draw on ethnography and coeval projects of theory making in anthropology and neo-liberal economics.
February 11, 2018
Matthew Hull, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan
March 4, 2018
Amelia Moore, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Coastal Tourism and Recreation, University of Rhode Island
April 1, 2018
Sophia Roosth, Frederick S. Danziger Associate Professor in History of Science, Harvard University
April 22, 2018