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A Thousand Dead Snow Geese: The Matter of the Non-Human in the Age of Humans

  • Harvard University Mahindra Humanities Center Room 113, Sever Hall (map)

I will be offering a public talk at Harvard University's Mahindra Humanities Center discussing the latest mass killing of snow geese in the toxic waters of Montana's Berkeley Pit copper mine this past November. As the title suggests, I will examine the meaning of the non-human in this supposed "Age of the Human" or the Anthropocene. As much as the snow geese were clearly victims of global climate change, reckless mining, and other anthropogenic changes, even in death these extraordinary animals defy any anthropocentric claim to human preeminence and power. To the contrary, I argue that the snow geese teach us that we live not in an Age of Humans, but rather in an age of things, fellow creative beings both living and non-living who are constantly entangling and empowering our very existence. Today more than ever, our goal should be to escape our reflexive anthropocentrism in order to better understand the multitude of ways in which the non-human things around us make us human.