Life Sciences & Lab Seminar ‘Ecology, Politics and the Imagination’ (May 21st, Leuven)
We are happy to invite you to our Life Sciences & Lab Seminar ‘Ecology, Politics and the Imagination’ with professor Gerard Kuperus (University of San Fransisco) and Kim Hendrickx (KU Leuven). Join us in Leuven on May 21st for a work-in-progress seminar on the relations between ecology and our imaginative capacities in writing, scientific practice and politics.
Gerard Kuperus is Associate Professor at the University of San Francisco specialized in the philosophy of nature, environmental philosophy and Continental philosophy. Kuperus has published a monograph Ecopolitical Homelessness: Defining place in an unsettled world (Routledge, 2016) and the volume Ontologies of Nature (Springer, 2017; coedited with Marjolein Oele). Additionally, he has published articles in different areas of the history of philosophy (Kant, German Romanticism, Existentialism, and Plato, among others), aesthetics, and animal rights.
Steinbeck and Ricketts as Political Ecologists: Rethinking Science and the Human Condition
Steinbeck, through his collaborations with Ricketts, provides deep insights in the human condition by emphasizing our rootedness in evolution. They show how we are interrelated evolutionary with all other life forms. Their work, a phenomenological approach of the Gulf of California, leads to a reassessment of the human condition, as one deeply rooted in earlier lifeforms. I argue that their insight that the tidepool is an unmasked replica of our own society, leads us to an opportunity to rethink politics and society as inherited from other animals. Most directly we can look at chimps, but also rats, ants, or fish form different models of collaboration.
Kim Hendrickx is FWO Postdoctoral Fellow at the Life Sciences & Society Lab of the Centre for Sociological Research, KU Leuven. Trained in Anthropology and Science & Technology Studies (STS), he is interested in body-environment relations; science fiction and speculative pragmatism in the social sciences:
From chemical traces to speculative futures: a social inquiry into human biomonitoring
Concerns about human health and the environment are currently giving prominence to a particular form of scientific investigation called human biomonitoring (HBM). HBM mobilizes cohorts of human volunteers to give samples (e.g. blood, milk, hair or urine) which are analyzed to identify traces of environmental pollutants. The main particularity of HBM is that human volunteers are involved as both subjects of research – providing information about exposure levels inside the body – and indicators of the environment, raising questions about sources of pollution outside of the body. The main research question of my project is how, and by whom, ‘exposure’ and ‘pollution’ become defined and how, and by whom, decisions are made to deal with exposure in the future. My general aim is to establish an original and distinct line of research into “chemical traces”, tracing from past exposures to urgent questions of future action, and making HBM projects real-time experiments in environmental justice and public participation in science.