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.
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?
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?
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).
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"?