Speaker Series - Laura Ogden, Dartmouth
Friday, December 08, 2017, 03:15pm - 04:15pm
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Title: Trace Impressions of Being: Loss, Change, and Wonder in the Fuegian Archipelago
Traces of the modern world’s emergence can be found in the stratigraphy of the Earth. These traces include radioactive residues from nuclear testing, layers of concrete and plastic, as well as the fertilizer-enriched soils and seas that now characterize much of the planet. For environmental scientists, these petrochemical traces are evidence of the unprecedented impacts of industrial and capitalist economies on assemblages of life, most notably animal and plant extinctions and widespread patterns of ecological simplification. In this accounting (the “Anthropocene”), petrochemical traces signal presence and absence simultaneously. Yet, this way of understanding the relationship of presence to absence neglects other forms of profound loss equally foundational to the making of the modern world. In this paper, I present a fuller accounting of “global environmental change” that incorporates traces of loss that includes humans. This paper stems from an ongoing ethnographic research project exploring loss and wonder in the Fuegian Archipelago. As anthropologists, we understand that losses associated with “imperial globality,” in Arturo Escobar’s formulation, include losses of life, territory, and multispecies ways of being, particularly in the context of settler colonialism. The traces of these losses are less visible in the Earth’s strata, and instead can be found in other archives (oral history, colonial and postcolonial documents, archaeological evidence). Research for this project stems from a collaborative archival project conducted with representatives of the Yagán indigenous community and the Martin Gusinde Anthropological Museum on Navarino Island, Chile.
Laura Ogden is an associate professor of anthropology at Dartmouth College. Her research primarily explores the politics of environmental change and conservation. Her research contributes to theoretical discussions in political ecology, environmental anthropology, as well as post-humanist philosophy. Laura has conducted ethnographic research in the Florida Everglades, with urban communities in the United States, and currently, she is working on a long-term project in Tierra del Fuego, Chile. Her research in Tierra del Fuego explores the ways introduced species are remaking the landscape and the ethics of living and dying in a changing world.
All talks are followed by an informal get-together at Pino's in Highland Park, unless otherwise noted.