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EVENT: ANTHROPOLOGY / SOCIOLOGY SEMINAR SERIES

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Today's date is Monday, October 26, 2020
ANTHROPOLOGY / SOCIOLOGY SEMINAR SERIES : Planetary (and post-planetary) futures in the ‘shit soup’ of Antarctica Other events...
The Antarctic Treaty System – which came into force in 1959 – has relatively little to say about sewage. It states only that (to paraphrase): effluent from any Antarctic research station with 30 or more occupants must be macerated before disposal, and discharged at sea in a location in which it is likely to be rapidly dispersed. However, over the past 20 years, many Antarctic research stations – beginning with New Zealand’s Scott Base, and the USA’s McMurdo Station – have built sophisticated sewage treatment facilities, and have in other ways as well vastly expanded their infrastructures and procedures for storing, managing, and disposing of, human waste. Based on ethnographic fieldwork on the continent during the summer research season of 2016-17, this paper argues that the development of these new sewage regimes – and of the wider discard regimes of which they are part – could be read as an expansionary form of biopower – as yet another example of the ways in which Antarctica’s technocratic-managerial elites use increasing regulation as a means for governing the bodies of all those who live and work on the continent. However, to stop there would be to miss the ways in which these new infrastructures of sewage are also living systems, in which the products of human bodies are brought into relationship with all manner of microorganisms, and with Antarctic ecosystems, in ways that – as with all forms of life – are inherently unstable. In so doing, they also engender a domain in which possible future interactions among people, fauna and environments can be not only imagined, but can be actively experimented upon. Associate Professor Richard Vokes is Associate Professor in the Anthropology of Development at the University of Western Australia, and an elected Research Associate of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oxford. His research focuses primarily on the African Great Lakes region, especially on the societies of South-western Uganda, where he has been conducting ethnographic fieldwork since 2000. He has published extensively, including on: development (governance, education, and natural resource management), the HIV/AIDS epidemic, new religious movements, and the history of photography, media and social change. He also works with African-Australians, in the digital humanities, and on the Anthropology of Antarctica. He has secured competitive research funding from: the Australian Research Council, the British Institute in East Africa, the British Library, the Economic and Social Research Council (UK), the Marsden Fund (NZ), and the Wenner-Gren Foundation (USA). He has also carried out a wide range of consultancy and external advisory work, including for the UK and NZ governments, UNICEF, Oxford Analytica, IHS Markit, the Willis Group, and for a number of major transnational companies. His research has been used by the Office of the Secretary General of the UN. He is Editor of the Journal of Eastern African Studies, a Member of the Organizing Committee for the Australia Social Sciences Week, and President of the Australian Anthropological Society.
Speaker(s) Associate Professor Richard Vokes
Location Social Sciences Building Room 2203
Contact Farida Fozdar <[email protected]>
Start Fri, 29 Mar 2019 14:30
End Fri, 29 Mar 2019 15:30
Submitted by Karen Eichorn <[email protected]>
Last Updated Tue, 26 Mar 2019 09:33
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