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Hope in Emergent Ecological Assemblages

NYAS - Anthropology Lecture Series
March 28, 2016

Oil palm forest in Costa Rica

This upcoming Monday, March 28th, at 7PM, the Wenner-Gren Foundation will host another great New York Academy of Sciences lecture, with Princeton University’s Eben Kirksey sharing his work on the political dimensions of imagination and the interplay of natural and cultural history.

New generations are learning how to care for emergent ecological assemblages by seeding them, nurturing them, protecting them, and ultimately letting go. This lecture will explore a series of interrelated questions: How do certain weedy plants, prolific animals, and adaptable fungi move among worlds, navigate shifting circumstances, and find emergent opportunities? When do new species add value to ecological associations, and when do they become irredeemably destructive? When should we let unruly forms of life run wild, and when should we intervene?

Rather than remain anxiously focused on possible losses, the talk will explore the imaginative horizons of organic intellectuals who are sifting through the wreckage of catastrophic disasters, searching for hope within landscapes that have been blasted by capitalism and militarism. Focusing on a reforestation project in the highlands of Costa Rica, the talk will consider one mans' efforts to recreate a forest in collaboration with a multitude of plants, animals, and students on eleven hectares of derelict pasture near the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Rather than focus efforts on preserving rare species, this initiative involves cultivating alliances with weedy trees that are helping generate convivial assemblages. Using found objects and organisms—gleanings from the detritus of industrial food production and the litter of leaves in the forest—this project involves fostering an ecosystem that will endure many possible futures.


There will be a dinner at 6PM (free for students, $20 for others) with the lecture to follow at 7PM. Please note: 
YOU MUST REGISTER PRIOR TO THE EVENT in order to be admitted to the building.

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