The core of the Agrarian Studies Program’s activities is a weekly colloquium organized around an annual theme. Invited specialists send papers in advance that are the focus of an organized discussion by the faculty and graduate students associated with the colloquium.
This topic embraces, inter alia, the study of mutual perceptions between countryside and city, and patterns of cultural and material exchange, extraction, migration, credit, legal systems, and political order that link them.
It also includes an understanding of how different societies conceive of the spatial order they exhibit. What terms are meaningful and how are they related?: e.g., frontier, wilderness, arable, countryside, city, town, agriculture, commerce, “hills,” lowlands, maritime districts, inland. How have these meanings changed historically and what symbolic and material weight do they bear?
Sarah E. Vaughn (UC Berkeley) is a sociocultural anthropologist working at the intersection of environmental anthropology, critical social theory, and science and technology studies. Over the past decade she has conducted archival research and ethnographic fieldwork of experts and ordinary citizens implementing climate adaptation projects throughout the circum-Caribbean. This research has primarily focused on Guyana and Bermuda. She is particularly interested in the way climate adaptation addresses the politics of potentiality in cultures of engineering, wetlands and coastal-scapes, and historical narratives of settlement. Her research is based around two questions: 1) How do people imagine and confront their vulnerability to climate change? 2) How does technology mediate people’s experiences of climate change and valuation of environments? She takes a posthumanist and new materialist perspective on climate adaptation to address these questions. More broadly, she is interested in the ways technology has become an important, and at times taken for granted, object of intervention in climate adaptation projects.