Upcoming Colloquium: Dr. Sarah Quinn on ‘Political Fractures, Market Bonds’

We’re pleased to feature one of UW’s own for this week’s colloquium. Please join us at 3:30 in Smith 304 for Dr. Sarah Quinn’s talk Political Fractures, Market Bonds: Finance, Technology and the Politics of Debt in the United States. As always, join us for a reception in Smith 409 following the talk.

Abstract: Scholars typically conceive of states as exogenous to markets, stabilizing and policing them from the outside. Against this, a growing literature shows that governments can be creative, entrepreneurial market participants. This talk sheds light on why and how government officials engage entrepreneurially in markets by studying a key juncture in the history of the American government’s participation in the housing market. In 1968, the Johnson Administration reorganized housing finance, “spinning-off” Fannie Mae and encouraging the use of securitization. This policy was in part a response to a showdown over the debt limit. Rather than being paralyzing, this budget constraint generated new policy responses. I use this case to theorize how fragmented and contentious political institutions create incentives for officials to promote homeownership, develop financial technologies, and use hybrid forms of governance. I reconsider securitization as a political and social technology, and draw conclusions for models of states and markets in the U.S.

Upcoming Colloquium: Dr. Elizabeth Johnson on ‘Reproducing Bees: Value and Bricolage in Biometric Practice’

Please join us this Friday at 3:30 in Smith 304 for the second of our spring quarter colloquia. Elizabeth Johnson will be joining us from the University of Exeter. Her talk is titled Reproducing Bees: Value and Bricolage in Biomimetic Practice. As always, please join us following the talk for a reception in Smith 409.  Remember that she’s also giving a Biofutures talk as well on Thursday (3:30, SMI 305) titled “Unsettling Life/Death: Living with and as jellyfish” as well! Find her abstract below:
Reproducing Bees: Value and Bricolage in Biomimetic Practice
To overturn superstition and myth, Francis Bacon lauded rational inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge. By “torturing nature for her secrets”, Bacon argued, scientific practice could engender a “happy match” between the nature of things and human understanding. Therein, he suggested, lay the “sovereignty of man”. 
Challenging this conception of exceptional human sovereignty and the mastery over nonhuman life has become an increasingly central task in human-environment geography and other areas of the humanities. Much of that work, conceived through Actor Network Theory, ’thing theory’, and ’new materialisms’ has destabilized human exceptionalism by elevating the contribution of nonhuman life to historical change. In this paper, I follow those argument by drawing on my own observations of the making of Harvard’s RoboBee, an ongoing project in biomimetics that now boasts an 80 microgram flying actuator that can hover and move using flapping flight. But rather than elevating the labor of bees, I consider how human labor is not as exceptional as Bacon, Karl Marx, and others once considered. While, from many perspectives, the making of RoboBees represents incredible human hubris, my work reveals that many of the narratives that differentiate human and nonhuman forms of labor lack validity. Rather than purpose-driven engineering, I find practices best considered as bricolage, part of an unexceptional story of human labor relations in the university. This, I argue, raises important questions about the production of value in scientific practice and the institutional structures in which those practices are couched.

Upcoming Colloquium: Colin Flint on ‘Geopolitical Constructs: Making the Mulberry Harbours, Geopolitical Agents and Geopolitical Regions’

Please join us this Friday at 3:30 in Smith 304 for the first of our spring quarter colloquia. Colin Flint will be joining us from Utah State University. His talk is titled “Geopolitical Constructs: Making the Mulberry Harbours, Geopolitical Agents and Geopolitical Regions”. As always, please join us following the talk for a reception in Smith 409.
The Mulberry Harbours were massive artificial constructs dragged across the English Channel in the immediate wake of the Allied invasion forces of D-Day, June 6, 1944. They were designed to ensure the continuous supply of personnel and materiel that would support the military advance towards Germany. The story of the making of the harbors is used to illustrate the concept of Geopolitical Constructs; the multi-scalar creation of geopolitical subjects, government bureaucracy, place-specific economic activity, and regions defined by a particular geopolitical agenda. The historical legacy of these constructs is addressed. The concept of Geopolitical Constructs is proposed in order to re-instate “big picture” or global geopolitical narratives in to political geography, but in a non-deterministic fashion.

West Coast Poverty Center (WCPC) Seminar by Vicky Lawson and Sarah Elwood

On Monday, 18 November Drs. Vicky Lawson and Sarah Elwood will introduce their recently funded Relational Poverty Network (RPN) in a West Coast Poverty Center seminar event. The talk, titled ‘The Relational Poverty Network: Developing a Global Network of Researchers to Expand Poverty Research Discussions,” will take place in Parrington Hall, Room 308, from 12:30-1:30. Please find more details below:

West Coast Poverty Center (WCPC) Seminar

The Relational Poverty Network:
Developing a Global Network of Researchers to Expand Poverty Research Discussions”

Vicky Lawson and Sarah Elwood
Department of Geography, University of Washington

Monday, November 18th
Parrington Hall Commons, Room 308
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Q & A until 2:00 p.m.

Abstract: This presentation will introduce the Relational Poverty Network (RPN), funded by the National Science Foundation and hosted on the UW Campus.  The RPN aims to enliven and expand poverty research by bringing together scholars, students, activists and policy-makers from diverse theoretical and methodological traditions, disciplines and countries into new conversations.  This collaborative research network advances a relational approach to poverty: theorizing poverty as produced and addressed by economic, political and cultural relationships between social groups.  This open and evolving network of poverty scholars is connected by members’ commitment to:

  • Focusing on new objects of study (such as middle class attitudes towards poverty, cross-class alliances, spaces of encounter)
  • building collaborative research across national contexts and disciplines
  • building resources for meaningful comparison across quantitative and qualitative studies
  • fostering open conversations across different views of poverty

We will also discuss opportunities for faculty and students to get involved in RPN activities.