With Dr. Rick Standiford
I am co-organizer of the spring colloquium series in our department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC-Berkeley
. See the file below for a complete list of speakers. Broadly speaking, Rick has invited speakers who focus their research and professional work on the intersection of science and natural resource management policy in California and beyond. The speakers I have invited tend to cross into the field of Science and Technology Studies, especially as related to environment, and including "animal studies." Some of them also do research that falls into the field of Native American and Indigenous Studies. Several of our speakers will highlight the role of collaborative research among natural and social scientists/humanists and the role of communities in participatory research.
The colloquium always happens on Mondays (holidays and spring break excepted) at 4 p.m. (4:10 Berkeley time actually) in Mulford Hall, room 159 on the north side of the UC Berkeley campus. We finish about 5:15.
Jeff Mount, UC Davis
On Monday, April 18
we heard from Professor Jeff Mount
of UC Davis Department of Geology. Mount's talk was entitled "Managing California's Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation." Mount is also the Founding Director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences
. From the UC Davis Web site
, I poached the following explanation of Jeff Mount's work: As the Roy Shlemon Chair in Applied Geosciences, I am engaged in the issues facing the management of California’s water and the rivers that carry it, both now and into the future. My job is to use my background in geology to think about water over the long-term and at very large scales, and to impart this approach to students here at UC Davis. My goal is to identify and help minimize future water and river management crises in California, whether from scarcity or flood. It does no good to simply identify problems; solutions need to be crafted and offered in order to be effective. I am lucky enough to be at UC Davis, one of the best universities in the world when it comes to water. Many of us here are committed to the same goal of helping California manage an inevitable, but uncertain future. We also realize the great value in providing a neutral voice in the tempestuous debates over water, and educating the next generation of water problem solvers. If not us, then whom?
At left: the Birth of Ka'ahupahau, guardian shark of Pearl Harbor (photo: J. Goldberg-Hiller)
On Monday, April 11, we heard from Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller and Noenoe Silva, both of the University of Hawaii's Political Science department. Their talk, "Sharks and Pigs: Animating Hawaiian Sovereignty Against the Anthropological Machine," explored Native Hawaiian cosmology as it informs relations with such nonhumans. Are there lessons to be learned for imagining alternative "natural resource management" regimes from cosmologies in which nonhumans are in fact relations to humans, and not only biolgoically but socially? Silva and Goldberg-Hiller also contextualized their work in relation to recent "posthumanist" strands of scholarship that seek to disrupt the division between human and animal. They made the link between such dualisms and the relegation of certain humans within colonial history to the realm of the less human, to the realm of the animal. Violence towards animals (e.g. the State of Hawaii's spectacular massacre of sharks historically as part of its demonstration of its sovereignty) is linked to violence towards those humans (e.g. indigenous peoples) who have been historically linked to animality. The speakers argued that there are real implications for who and what gets to live and die, for whom and what is made killlable in the human/animal split. Furthermore, their work asked us, the audience, to consider what other kinds of regulatory and scientific regimes might be possible when we consider that such a split is not "natural," but political and cultural?
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On Monday, April 4, we heard from Shirley Laska (Professor Emerita of Sociology) and Kristina Peterson (Ph.D. candidate) both of the University of New Orleans. Their talk was entitled "The Role of Participatory Action Research (PAR) in Support of the Response to a Multi-Hazard Convergence: Coastal Louisiana and the Engaged Citizen." Laska is the founding past director of the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology at the University of New Orleans (UNO-CHART). For 25 years, she has conducted applied research on the social/environmental interface, natural & technological hazards, and disaster response, especially long-term recovery and risk reduction. Since Hurricane Katrina, her work has been focused specifically on lessons to be learned from the event, especially in the realm of community recovery and hazard resiliency both in the urban and non-urban setting. This work emphasizes Participatory Action Research in both slow onset – coastal land loss and sea level rise --and abrupt major disaster events – hurricane Katrina and the BP oil leak. She is the 2008 recipient of the American Sociological Association’s Public Understanding of Sociology Award.
Peterson is a PhD candidate in Urban and Regional Planning and a researcher with CHART. Her professional and academic work is based in citizen participation problem solving as it pertains to reducing vulnerability and increasing community resiliency especially following disasters. For the past six years, she has worked closely with traditional and indigenous coastal communities in Louisiana addressing issues directly related to Hurricanes Katrina/Rita, Gustav/Ike as well as the BP oil disaster. Peterson engages in a Freirian participatory action model of research, which emphasizes the trust relationships and mutual knowledge building between community members and academics. She served as the project manager for a recent research grant with a Louisiana coastal fishing community to develop indicators of community resilience. She is a fellow in the Society for Applied Anthropology and was the recent recipient of the William Gibson Environmental award. Peterson lives in Houma, Louisiana were she pastors Bayou Blue Presbyterian Church (PCUSA). One of her current projects is helping coastal communities form a Gulf coast regional citizens action council (RCAC).
Monday, March 28 we heard from preeminent feminist philosopher of science, Professor Sandra Harding
(UCLA), author of Sciences from Below: Feminisms, Postcolonialities, and Modernities
(2008) and Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women's Lives
(1991). Following is her talk abstract.Must All 'Real Sciences' Be Secular? Rethinking Secularism for Multicultural Democracies
For more than a decade, the surprising religious commitments of Western secularism have been documented from a variety of perspectives. Western secularism turns out to be grounded in distinctively Christian, Protestant assumptions. Yet the secularity of modern Western sciences is supposed to contrast them with other cultures' religious/spiritual systems of knowledge of nature and social relations. However, a multicultural democracy must not permit one of its subcultures to direct state policy against other subcultures. How are relations between supposedly secular modern Western sciences and religiously embedded indigenous knowledge systems implicated in this kind of analysis? How, if at all, is the reliability of modern Western sciences damaged by the discovery of their "religious unconscious"?
On Monday, March 14, we were joined by Rob Atwill, Professor and CE Specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine
and the Director of the Western Institute of Food Safety and Security
(WIFFS) at the University of California, Davis for a timely talk, "Interface of Environmental Quality and Food Safety: A Case Study of the Salinas Valley E. Coli Issue." (photo courtesy of UC Davis, http://annualreport.ucdavis.edu/2007/food_safety.html
). Dr. Atwill gave an interesting overview of the interactions between rangeland practices, wildlife habitat, and produce cultivation in the Salinas Valley and other areas of California. The majority of some forms of produce consumed across the U.S. are cultivated in this "tiny valley." Atwill contests charges of cow-calf operations contaminating spinach fields based on proximity (or lack of it) between cattle operations and leafy greens production, and based on weather patterns, and soil and plant monitoring results. Wildlife contamination of fields, he asserts, is a more likely hypothesis. He asks then, "How can we insure microbial food safely in this environment?" And why did we ever think that we could insure sterile growing conditions? While grazing operations, he explains, are trying hard to accommodate rules and practices of the produce industry but it's difficult due to a patchwork of operations in the California agricultural landscape. All of these problems are spurring a lot of interdisciplinary research in agricultural extension. He ended with a question about pursuing litigation continuously against the growing industry, what will end up is a landscape plowed over. One audience member wanted to shift the conversation to one of small-scale growing---that these pathogen outbreaks don't happen except in large-scale growing, in bagged products. Atwill pushed back a little bit, noting that small-scale growers could experience the occasional contamination and illness. They're not selling to thousands of consumers across the country, thus causing an "outbreak." This was a fascinating and challenging talk for a social scientist with absolutely no background in this area. I left this talk thinking about the difficulties of insuring a risk-free, precisely managed landscape with this large-scale level of production.
On Monday, March 7, we were joined by Jenny Reardon
, Associate Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz in Sociology
and in the Center for Biomolecular Sciences and Engineering
. Jenny is the primary organizer of the Science & Justice Working Group
at UCSC. Her talk, "Science and Justice: Experiments in Collaboration," will outline UCSC's Science & Justice initiative including their Science & Justice Training Program
, an effort to train graduate students from different programs to undertake together interdisciplinary research projects. In our department of ESPM the potential is great for interdisciplinary work, but simply inhabiting the same department is not necessarily sufficient to spur deep interdisciplinarity. Jenny focused on the nuts and bolts of the UCSC program, including the opportunities and challenges to crossing often difficult language and methodological barriers as well as physical barriers (i.e. space and who owns it) between disciplines and fields.
Sibyl Diver (photo: J Kamata)
On Monday, February 28, our own ESPM Ph.D. Candidate Sibyl Diver
(Stephanie Carlson lab
) spoke on co-management of Salmon Fisheries among tribes and the state in the Pacific Northwest. Her talk focused on issues of both cultural and ecological restoration and sustainability as well as the complex issues of governance and tribal sovereignty involved. Thanks to all of the students, faculty, and postdocs from ESPM and from across campus as well as interested community members who turned out for the talk. You were an engaged audience. We had a great Q&A session afterward. There is so much interesting research and applied work going on in this department. It is great to share it with people beyond our administrative structure. Sibyl is an example of how ESPM graduate students can lead the way down a path of rigorous interdisciplinary research.
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Tomorrow morning, Tuesday, Feb. 22 ESPM's own Professor Carolyn Merchant
, environmental historian and eco-feminist will give a guest lecture on scientific method historically and its aim to have dominion over "nature," often represented as woman. Merchant is a compelling and knowledgeable speaker. Class starts promptly at 9:40 in the Life Sciences Annex (LSA) 101. Please be on time. There are always a few extra seats for others (grad students, fellow faculty, other interested locals) who want to stop by.
ESPM Assistant Professor Carolyn Finney
will speak in my ESPM 151 class this morning@ 9:40 in LSA 101. "This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land: People and Public Lands Redux." Check out this funny video she shares in this lecture: "Black Hiker" http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/24b56caf3e/black-hiker-with-blair-underwood
. There are always a few extra seats for anyone local interested in coming by.
ESPM 151 students and interested others, please be sure to attend a guest lecture in my undergraduate class this coming Thursday. We meet from 9:40-11:00 in LSA 101 (be on time, no entrance after 9:45). Dr. David Edmunds, environmental director for the Pinoleville Pomo Nation
(Ukiah, CA) and Ryan Shelby
(UC Berkeley Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate) will discuss the conceptual framework and practical process of meaningfully co-designing tribal "green" housing. Edmunds and Shelby will highlight a (to date) three-year collaboration between UC-Berkeley architecture and engineering faculty and students, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Pinoleville Pomo Nation (PPN) citizens
to create culturally and environmentally sustainable housing on the PPN reservation in Mendocino County. Edmunds and Shelby are aware that our class has been working through feminist science studies frameworks such as Donna Haraway's concept of "situated knowledges" and Sandra Harding's "standpoint theory" and "strong objectivity." They/we will attempt to apply those frameworks to the PPN-UC-EPA collaboration in order to show how theory elucidates life.
The Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF)
is looking to hire up to three current undergraduate or graduate students for three interesting internships
, one for the spring semester 2011 and two for summer of 2011. All three positions will be held at ILTF's offices in Little Canada, Minnesota. The spring internship
is a part-time position of approximately 5-10 hours a week. Beginning and ending dates are negotiable. Salary will be $15.00 per hour. As temporary employees of the Foundation, the position is not eligible for employee benefits. This position provides the ideal candidate with an opportunity to learn more about Indian culture and land issues facing Indian nations throughout the United States. The summer internships
are full-time positions over the course of 10-12 weeks (400 hours). Beginning and ending dates are negotiable. Salary will be $15.00 per hour with potential additional funds for living and relocation expenses.
The SING Workshop
is now accepting applications
from Native American, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, or Canadian First Nation applicants (all expenses paid for those who are accepted). See http://www.igb.illinois.edu/conference/sing
for complete instructions as well as information on the curriculum, advisory board members
[I am one], and sponsors. According to the website, the goals of the program are as follows:
- facilitate discussion on indigenous cultural values and whether scientific methods can be beneficially incorporated with these values,
- provide awareness of how genomics is currently used as a tool to assist in projects focused on natural resources, history and biomedicine and
- to increase the number of Native Americans in science research, leadership and teaching careers at all levels.
This promises to be an interesting and hand-on program in genomics education with involvement from critical scholars in both the genome and social sciences who understand the difficult histories surrounding Native American encounters with genomics, yet the need for Native American communities to tackle this area of science in ways that are in line with their biomedical, research, and governance interests.
In a guest editorial in Anthropology Today
, UC Berkeley anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes describes her experience and that of other faculty from across UC Berkeley who expressed concerns this past May when we first learned about the College of Letters & Sciences (L&S) 2010-11 "On the Same Page" (OTSP) program. Instead of the usual freshman experience centered around reading and discussing an important book (we all know how hard it is to get students to read . . .), the Deans in L&S plus Professor of Genetics Jasper Rine arranged to send DNA testing kits to 5500 incoming freshman for genetic markers related to ability to metabolize alcohol, lactose, and folic acid. The idea was that a more hands-on educational experience would gain more student involvement. I've tweeted every article I've come across on this topic so interested readers can review the archives of NDN_DNANotes
for links to many articles in the press. As such, I won't recap the program and the full array of critiques. Scheper-Hughes provides a quick overview in her editorial of concerned faculty's collective worries: inadequate informed consent of less powerful subjects, i.e. of students studied by professors, unclear biological samples management practices, possible breaches of privacy, lack of sufficient genetic counseling to understand test outcomes, the ultimate medical uselessness of the tests, and more. I'll add that a less than optimal educational experience and ill-informed consent was guaranteed when "ethics" discussions were added after scientific aspects of the program were designed and implemented.
I just want to note a couple of aspects of Sheper-Hughes's editorial in sending readers its way: 1) she calls attention to the expedited review by Berkeley's Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (CPHS) of the DNA testing program while CPHS seems diligent in reviewing the field research of anthropology faculty and grad students to the point of delaying it; 2) Jasper Rine's response to the editorial characterizes Sheper-Hughes's response as inaccurate "opinions." Funny, since she documents the informed critiques of expert ethics and science policy faculty from across campus. Professor Rine also notes that "the few critics of this programme declined repeated invitations to participate by contributing their views through lectures or through participation in panel discussions that were part of the programme." Not quite right. Many of us did decline to participate in panels and a program that was already scripted according to premises with which we disagreed. However, others did take part in panels. I did a guest lecture for Dean Schlissel's (a major proponent of the program) freshman seminar and engaged in lengthy email correspondences with him to suggest productive changes to the program (none of which seemed to be taken up). Scheper-Hughes taught a freshman seminar related to the program. Not going along with the prescribed script is in fact a much more engaged and productive form of involvement, one--it can be argued--that enhanced the educational quality of the project. On a related note, James Clifford, Professor Emeritus of History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz, recently spoke at UC Berkeley about the state and role of the humanities in the university today. Clifford's talk--while not addressing OTSP in any way--helps shed light on the difficult conversations we had around the Berkeley program. Clifford addresses the divide between the better funded and more powerful natural sciences and the humanities in the university. He explains that
"real dialogue can only take place between equals. And we [the hard sciences and the social sciences/humanities] are not equals in the contemporary university. This is a fact and a growing trend, driven by material, political and economic forces. . .The so-called STEM Fields (Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics) enjoy an unprecedented hegemony in the University. Their epistemological and methodological opposition to the 'liberal arts' grows ever more extreme, and more intolerant." With the
interpretive, and not positivist turn in the humanities that Clifford describes--the turn towards explanations of phenomena and the world that are always contingent, partial, and located in specific standpoints--the different camps in the university have a difficult time conversing. We too in the humanities and social sciences do not always work hard enough to bridge conceptual divides. We can do better. But ironically, better understanding "hard" science disciplines and histories and the power they wield over and effect in the world is in fact what motivates many of the scholars who critiqued OTSP. We are alternately critical and very interested in technoscientific fields, but we were not a group that is science phobic. We were collectively bioethicists, science studies scholars, historians and anthropologists of science. Yet conversation did not work in the case of OTSP. We were simply not equals in terms of our power within the university. And the program proceeded with very little change. At least this is my well-informed "opinion."
There have been sensationalist claims in the press during the last week following the publication in The American Journal of Physical Anthropology of Ebeneserdottir et al's A New Subclade of mtDNA Haplogroup C1 Found in Icelanders: Evidence of Pre-Columbian Contact?
Following the press, I was prepared to read an article that way over-reached the evidence in its concluding claims about the presence of a "Native American mtDNA lineage" in Iceland. However, the authors are fairly circumspect in their hypothesis. They conclude the article as follows: "The mystery surrounding the geographical origin of the Iceland C1e lineage will remain until additional members are found in other populations
--ancient or contemporary. Until then, we propose that the most likely hypothesis is that the Icelandic voyages to the Eastern coastline of the Americas resulted in the migration of at least one Native American woman carrying the C1e lineage to Iceland around the year 1000." The authors are even more circumspect in their abstract
: "The C1 lineage was present in the Icelandic mtDNA pool at least 300 years ago. This raised the intriguing possibility that the Icelandic C1 lineage could be traced to Viking voyages to the Americas that commenced in the 10th century. In an attempt to shed further light on the entry date of the C1 lineage into the Icelandic mtDNA pool and its geographical origin, we used the deCODEGenetics genealogical database to identify additional matrilineal ancestors that carry the C1 lineage and then sequenced the complete mtDNA genome of 11 contemporary C1 carriers from four different matrilines. Our results indicate a latest possible arrival date in Iceland of just prior to 1700 and a likely arrival date centuries earlier. Most surprisingly, we demonstrate that the Icelandic C1 lineage does not belong to any of the four known subclades of haplogroup C1. Rather, it is presently the only known member of a new subclade, C1e. While a Native American origin seems most likely for C1e, an Asian or European origin cannot be ruled out."
Why can Asian or European origins not be ruled out? The authors note that the particular C1 lineage found in Iceland is "exceedingly rare" in European populations where mtDNA variation has been the subject of "dense sampling." This therefore "weighs against a hypothesis of antiquity in Europe." However, C1e has not to date been found among Native American populations. (C1a has been found only among East Asians, and C1b, C1c, and C1d only among Native Americans). But that is not a good indication that the Iceland mtDNA C subclade did not originally derive from an individual from the Americas. Native American populations are under-sampled. It could be here. The authors note a second possibility for its lack of presence here: "Given the rather drastic population size reductions that resulted from the actions of Europeans after 1492, it is quite possible that the C1e lineage was once carried by, but has now been lost from, contemporary individuals with Native American matrilineal ancestry." In short, genocide (my word, maybe not theirs) and disease may have killed off all of the C1e carriers here. Okay, so it is more likely that C1e arrived in Iceland via a body that came from what we call "the Americas" rather than via a human body that traveled from "Asia" or "Europe."
Now, I am not sure why Europeans and their descendants consistently rule out the possibility of human beings from other continents being able to travel vast distances pre-Columbus of their own accord and mindfully, i.e. as more than mammals just accidentally wandering far from home as they followed food (e.g. C1e in Iceland MUST be traced to the Viking voyages). We do have evidence to the contrary of non-European peoples' navigational skills. But leaving that bit of cultural myopia aside, the hypothesis of these anthropological geneticists is not unreasonable. But neither does it justify the interpretations in the press. Witness the ridiculous headlines:
Time Magazine (11/26/10): More Proof that Vikings Were First to America
AFP (11/17/10): Vikings Brought Amerindian to Iceland 1,000 Years Ago: StudyRedOrbit.com (
11/18/10) DNA Shows Viking, Amerindian Link to IcelandI like this one a bit more, it leaves the question of agency an open one, which it is, i.e. who decided to travel and why.Daily Telegraph (
11/16/10): First Americans 'Reached Europe Five Centuries Before Columbus Voyages'The lesson is not to rely too much on the popular press for your understanding of new scientific findings. I hate to bash science reporters--I know a couple of really good ones, and good venues. I especially like the UK-based New Scientist, usually. This time however they rely on the AFP take and write that Vikings Brought First Native American to Europe. Expected more of you New Scientist.
Writing to give a big thanks to Professor Luci Tapahonso
and all of the amazing grad students and U of Arizona staff who hosted me today in the Vine Deloria, Jr. lecture series
. I was the last in a series of four speakers (Ray Austin, UArizona; Winona LaDuke, Honor the Earth; and Daniel Wildcat, Haskell Indian Nations University). What esteemed company. Before lecturing on genome research in indigenous communities and changing ethical norms to an attentive audience (thanks to those who attended on a lovely November afternoon in Tucson), I was honored by the nicest introductions I have ever received. Maxine Sam (Tohono O'dham), American Indian Studies
(AIS) Master's student gave a moving prayer, partly in my honor. I know it was lovely because she translated it into English after giving it in the O'odham language. Thank you. Then law student Sherri Mitchell (Penobscot) introduced me with an accounting of my work and some great student recommendations that she must have pulled off RateMyProfessors.com (which I never look at; it's all love/hate). She did a thorough accounting of my work, setting it in a broader context of scholarship that supports tribal sovereignty and governance. I appreciate her attentive reading. It did my heart and mind good to be among smart, committed Native scholars all day and evening, and who treated me with such respect. Arizona is Indian Country.Finally, I have to thank the late Vine Deloria, Jr. in whose honor
I was hosted to speak. I never had the honor of meeting him. But his intellectual influence began before I could read. I asked my mother at five years old, "What does it mean 'Custer Died for Your Sins
'"? I knew from that time that academic research could be used as a tool of colonization. I later came to see that it can be part of enhancing and expanding Native American sovereignty. In the 21st century the role of science and technology will be crucial in the development of tribal institutions, economies, and governance. I look for tribes to reckon with technoscience in ways that enhance political and "cultural sovereignty
" (in Wallace Coffey's and Rebecca Tsosie's
words). Native American and other indigenous peoples' engagement can help open up technoscientific practices to a broader array of standpoints and conceptions of the risks and benefits to be had. (As usual, I have to give local culinary tips: Was treated to great food and ambiance at the historic El Charro Cafe in downtown Tucson. Found smooth organic coffee and expert service at Savaya Coffee Market, Broadway and Craycroft.)
Yesterday at the DCI National Tribal Enrollment Conference,
several tribal enrollment department staff members told us about individuals attempting to apply for tribal membership using genetic ancestry test results
as documentary proof of their right to be enrolled. In my forthcoming book I speculate that this phenomenon might arise. It is here. There are two widespread educational deficiencies that lead to this problem: 1) the lack of understanding of genetics by most people; and 2) the equal dearth of knowledge by most people of the particularities of U.S. tribal sovereignty, 20th century tribal migratory history, and tribal rights to determine their own enrollment or citizenship criteria. Until these gaps are addressed, tribes will continue to be approached by individuals with genetic ancestry test results
in hand. In responding to such requests and applications, and perhaps in revising enrollment ordinances to expressly address ancestry tests, there are resources out there that might be of use. First of all, tribal enrollment officers will want to get a basic handle on the genetics at play in genetic ancestry testing. It will then be clear how the forms of biological relatedness documented by genetic ancestry mtDNA, Y-chromosome, and autosomal analyses are not the same forms of biological relatedness with which tribal enrollment offices are concerned. Genetic ancestry test findings are simply incommensurable with the biological relationships that tribes care about, i.e. documenting an applicant's close biological relationship to an individual who is/was already on the tribal rolls, or to individuals who were on the tribe's "base rolls." (As such, tribes increasingly use DNA parentage tests in concert with other documentation.) But genetic ancestry tests document the fact that a test taker is descended from unnamed "founding ancestors" who first settled the Americas. Such genetic information is interesting, but ultimately irrelevant from a tribal enrollment point of view.
See Bolnick et al's The Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testing
for a bit on the science and its limitations generally. See Royal et al's Inferring Genetic Ancestry: Opportunities, Challenges, and Implications for more background on genetic ancestry testing companies.See my chapter, DNA and Native American Identity, published last year in a National Museum of the American Indian Anthology, indivisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas, ed. Gabrielle Tayac. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian, 2009.