UC Berkeley, ESPM 263 (0% appointment) indigenous, feminist & postcolonial approaches to science, technology, and environment
This graduate course examines indigenous, feminist, and postcolonial approaches to techno-scientific knowledge production from around the globe. Reading across the humanities and social sciences, we will encounter histories and analyses of a variety of sciences (e.g. human and nonhuman genetics, environmental sciences and engineering, anthropology, geographic information systems, and (ethno)mathematics and their theories and methods. Our goal is three-fold: First, to gain a richer understanding of the roles that Western technoscience has played in colonizations; second, to interrogate foundational concepts including "modernity," "universality," and 'objectivity" and the marginalization of non-dominant knowledges; and third, to examine marginalized knowledges and hegemonic Western science together on a more level playing field in order to think generatively about the possibilities for democratizing science and technology. This course highlights the role of critical methods in shifting power relations in research.
This upper-division undergraduate course aims to help prepare students to work with diverse populations in a variety of professions and disciplines concerned with social-environmental issues. Indigenous peoples, women, and other historically less powerful communities desire to use science to (self)govern in ways that explicitly challenge the cultural hegemony of Western science and governance. ESPM 151 challenges the presumed dichotomies between nature and culture, science and society with the idea of a more democratic science than the objective "view from nowhere." We will read across disciplines, cases, and global geographies to see how nature and the social/political are "always already inside each other." Topics include analyses of indigenous resource management practices that take both "science" and the "spiritual" seriously; feminist political ecology analyses of urban agriculture and conservation projects; analyses of how discourses of race and purity permeate genetic science on humans and non-humans; and analyses of the impositions of a male/female binary and heterosexuality onto nonhumans in scientific research.
Special Studies in Local Government: Indigenous & Feminist Approaches to Technoscience & Environment
I taught this short course during Fall semesters 2011, 2012 and 2013. I will return to Tokyo one final time to teach the course again in December 2014. It is a shortened version of my UC Berkeley ESPM 151 course and my University of Texas ANT 324L course. It focuses on feminist and indigenous approaches to understanding and knowing about the concepts of "nature" and "culture." We look at how those two things get "co-constituted" conceptually and materially. Because this course covers some difficult theoretical concepts (even for native English speakers), we spend significant time in class working on English comprehension of theoretical terms. What is more, we have fun learning both English and theory! This course is part of an exchange between UC Berkeley and Meiji University. A key thing I've learned from Meiji students? They have a much easier time than do many U.S. American students understanding the agency of things we take to be non-sentient (e.g. trains, computers) and of beings that non-indigenous people in the U.S. tend to consider less animate than themselves (e.g. nonhuman animals, forests). The other thing I love about my Meiji students is their love for contemporary Japanese culture and landscapes--both rural and urban--with all of the imperfections. This sits alongside their curiosity for U.S. American culture, and all of our imperfections. Their generous pragmatism inspires me.
University of Texas at Austin, ANT 391 (Spring 2014) Disrupting Sex, Disrupting Nature: indigenous, feminist, and queer theory approaches
graduate seminar examines indigenous, feminist, and queer theory approaches that
disrupt common understandings of “sexuality” and “nature.” Both categories have been defined in
the West according to a nature/culture divide. With the rise of scientific
authority and management approaches, sex and nature were rendered as discrete,
coherent, troublesome, yet manageable objects. Both are at the heart of
struggles involving ideas of purity and contamination, life and death.
Historically, scientifically trained experts or rational subjects (read white, heteronormative,
Western men) have claimed exclusive rights to name, manage, and set the terms
of legitimate encounter with sex and nature, though not without opposition. In this
course we will read anthropological, indigenous studies, queer theory,
environmental studies, and other social science and humanities literatures,
including recent conversations in critical animal studies, queer ecologies, and
the new materialisms literatures. The course is co-productionist in its overall
tone—meaning we assume that sociality, culture, and materiality (e.g. the
biophysical sciences) all matter in understanding the phenomena we label as
sex, nature, and environment. We will highlight indigenous engagements with
nonhumans in ways that “queer” the dominant Western politics of nature in particularly useful ways. A
foundational assumption of this course is that new theoretical work in
environmental and sexuality studies can link back to support applied thinking
about how to democratize scientific practices and policies related to sex and
University of Texas at Austin (Spring 2014) ANT 324L Indigenous NatureCultures
This upper-division undergraduate course examines contemporary indigenous knowledges and practices about “nature” and “culture.” Indigenous knowledges and practices often don’t fit well within the taken-for-granted Western categories of “nature” vs. “culture,” “science” vs. “religion,” “human” vs. “animal,” or “animate” vs. “inanimate.” Are indigenous peoples wrong, or somehow less advanced than the West in constructing their knowledge of the world with fewer, more fluid or different categories? And sometimes with methods that don’t look quite like science? Is “indigenous knowledge” better than Western science, an older and therefore less advanced form of science, science mixed with religion, or not science at all? And when indigenous peoples do use what we understand as proper Western science what happens when they entangle it with culture or religion? What does that do to the science and to indigenous tradition? Course readings come from anthropology, indigenous studies, environmental studies, geography, philosophy, religious studies, and (feminist) science and technology studies. This course will feature several films and guest speakers (sometimes on Skype). We will also take up applied environmental science, natural resource management, and policy readings from Native American and other indigenous communities. A foundational ethic of this course is that students who seek to understand indigenous life (and simultaneously strengthen their ability to critically analyze dominant knowledge categories and scientific practices) should learn to move among the cultures of the social sciences, natural sciences, and applied fields (i.e. policy or planning literatures). Indigenous communities bring all of these approaches into conversation when they engage with “environment” or “nature.” This is part of their/our strategy to survive and flourish in the 21st century.