STS Colloquium Schedule


Colloquia will be held virtually on Wednesdays from 12:30-2pm over Zoom, unless otherwise noted. If you’d like to attend, please subscribe to our mailing list and you’ll receive the URL a week beforehand as well as STS related news!

30 September
Hugh Gusterson (Anthropology/STS, UBC)
“Something fishy about the polygraph”

Abstract: In the United States, private companies are not allowed to polygraph employees and polygraph evidence is almost entirely banned from court on the grounds that the polygraph is “unscientific.”  On the other hand, most jobs as police officers, FBI agents, CIA agents, DEA agents, immigration officers, and working for defense contractors require applicants to pass a polygraph test.  Polygraph tests are also widely used to catch cheaters in fishing tournaments.  What happens when you win a prize for almost $3 million in a fishing contest, lose it for failing a polygraph, and go to court to get it back?

21 October
Kavita Philip (President’s Excellence Chair in Network Cultures, English, UBC)
“The Internet is Made of Imperial Debris”

18 November
Trevor Pearce (Philosophy, U of North Carolina, Charlotte) [and UBC alumnus!]
“Experimental Ethics: Pragmatism, Environment, and Social Reform”

25 November
Derek Woods (English, UBC)
“Earth System Science, Through the Looking Glass”

Abstract: Since the 1980s, Earth system science has been a field with an increasingly distinct object of study: the “Earth system,” or the biosphere insofar as it alters the same abiotic planetary environment to which life adapts. While similar planetary ecological concepts have been historically active for over a century, in recent years Earth system science has become conceptually and rhetorically distinct, and the concept of the Earth system now often replaces that of the planetary climate. My talk will survey some recent developments in the field and show how they reverse values that have traditionally been sticking points for STS: for example, reductionism gives way to holism, and a secular Gaia without teleology is on the menu even in mainstream journals like Science and Nature. Meanwhile, for humanists like Dipesh Chakrabarty and Clive Hamilton, the Earth system has become the foundation for a new kind of planetary politics irreducible to colonial and racial capitalism. Through what lens should STS scholars and theorists view its discursive textures? How does the concept of the Earth system compare to the earlier and more familiar ecosystem? How should we interpret paradigmatic statements such as “the functioning of the Earth system”? What are the politics of the Earth system today?

And more to be announced