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Fragments of the Forest: Infrastructures of Extraction and Endangerment in the Making of a West African Hotspot

Mount Nimba - cloud forests. Photo: Wiki Commons

Welcome to join an interesting seminar with Gregg Mitman, Guest Professor at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU Munich, & Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History, Medical History, and Environmental Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Time: Tue 2023-11-21 10.15 - 12.00

Location: Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, seminar room Teknikringen 74 D

Language: English

Participating: Gregg Mitman

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Abstract

The hotspot. In an age of anxiety about global warming, outbreaks, and extinctions, it is an iconic word. Its genealogies are many, and span biogeography, conservation science, disease ecology, and their economies of knowledge production. In a fragment of Zaire Ebola virus, found in a Nimba long-fingered bat in a fragment of the Guinean Forests of West Africa, the multiple scales and histories of the hotspot converge. Situated on the Liberia-Guinea-Côte d’Ivoire border, the Mount Nimba region is at once a UNESCO biosphere reserve, emerging infectious disease threat, contested site of iron ore extraction, magnet for researchers, and incipient ecotourist attraction. In this talk, we draw upon history and ethnography of the Mount Nimba region to ask how “hotspots” mobilize framings, new and old, of ecological fragmentation, multispecies interactions, and biological threats. What are the different strategies of containment and care at play, as hotspots attract global actors — foreign governments, NGOs, multinational corporations, scientists — seeking knowledge, intervention, and profit yet to be made? Thinking with the virus, in the words of Elizabeth Povinelli, as “an active antagonistic agent,” we explore the geosocial assemblages of Mount Nimba and their changing valuations, with consequences for how health is conceived of and nurtured.

Gregg Mitman is Guest Professor at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU Munich, & Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History, Medical History, and Environmental Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Emmanuelle Roth (not present) is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU Munich.

Organizer: SPHERE – Study of the Planetary Human-Environment Relationship www.spheregovernance.org/

Page responsible:history@abe.kth.se
Belongs to: Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment
Last changed: Oct 31, 2023