Dr. Stuart Kirsch: Geography's visiting speaker
Stuart Kirsch, this week’s Blue Box seminar presenter, doesn’t shy from a controversy. As an anthropologist working with indigenous communities in the South Pacific and Amazon, he has helped challenge the large-scale pollution and displacement associated with industrial mining. As a professor of anthropology at University of Michigan, he even took on his own university in 2007 when it appointed the same mining company involved in this environmental disaster, BHP Billiton, as a corporate advisor to the university’s Sustainability Institute. Author of the books Reverse Anthropology (2006) and Mining Capitalism: The Relationship Between Corporations and Their Critics (2014), Dr. Kirsch is a leading figure in the study of the encounter of indigenous peoples with global mining capital.
Dr. Kirsch will speak about the intersections of scholarship and activism this week as he visits Memorial as part of the Scholarship in the Arts speakers series. Jointly sponsored by the departments of geography, history and anthropology, his visit includes a discussion session with graduate students on engaged scholarship on Thursday, Oct. 8, and a Blue Box seminar Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. in SN 2025 on “Corporate Science.” This presentation examines how corporations strategically produce and deploy science. Building on critiques of tobacco industry sponsored science and the research practices of the pharmaceutical industry, it draws on long-term ethnography of the mining industry to argue that the problems associated with corporate science are intrinsic to contemporary capitalism rather than restricted to particular firms or industries.