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Social Anthropology: Events


Nature but not only. Stories from the anthropo-not-seen

Nature but not only. Stories from the anthropo-not-seen
Speaker: Professor Marisol de la Cadena # UC Davis
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Date and Time
4th Apr 2019 17:30 - 4th Apr 2019 18:30
Lecture Theatre 1, Appleton Tower


Accelerated consumption of minerals, oil and energy as well as the development of infrastructure to make them available for consumption, has led to an unprecedented destruction of what we know as nature. Joining protests in defense of the environment some indigenous collectives have made public that what is being destroyed is other-than-human entities, crucial participants in world-making practices that confuse the division between nature and humanity. Presenting the idea that nature is not only such, the talk discusses an emergent ‘politics across divergence,’ or the possibility for alliances that require becoming through what Isabelle Stengers has called “interests in common that that are not the same interests.” 


I was trained as an anthropologist in Peru, England France and the US. I locate my work at several interfaces: those between STS and non-STS, between major and minor politics (and what escapes both,) between history and the a-historical, and between world anthropologies and the anthropologies of worlds. In all these areas, her concern is the relationship between concepts and methods, and interfaces as analytical sites. Most specifically, I am interested in ethnographic concepts – those that blur the distinction between what we call theory and the empirical, and can indicate the limits of both opening them up to what they cannot grasp. Emerging at the crossroads of worlds, ethnographic concepts, I think, can work with their philosophical and theoretical counterparts to, recursively, indicate their limits and open up possibilities for a practice of anthropological ‘not knowing:’ an epistemic practice that does not want to conquer—and thus assimilate--the relation from which it works.

My recent book Earth Beings. Ecologies of Practice Across Andean Worlds (2015) is based on conversations with Mariano and Nazario Turpo. Father and son, these two Quechua speaking men lived in the surroundings of Ausangate, an earth being (and a mountain) that presides people’s lives and landscapes in Cuzco, Peru. Through our conversations we think together about their practices at the intriguing crossroads where modern politics (and history) and earth-beings (and the ahistorical) meet and diverge, thus exceeding each other. Performing what I call ono-epistemic openings, the book is an ethnography concerned with the concreteness of incommensurability and the eventfulness of the ahistorical.

Currently my field sites are cattle ranches, slaughter houses, breed-making genetic laboratories,  veterinary schools and homeopathic practices in Colombia. There I engage practices and relations between people, cows, and ‘things’ in general. Thinking at divergent bio/geo interfaces, I am interested in “the stuff” that makes life and death in conditions of dramatic ecological and political change as the country endures extreme droughts and floods and wants to transition between the violence of war to a condition of peace that might not be without violence. 

All welcome, no registration. The lecture will be followed by a free drinks reception.

Freshers 2013