June 13th next KCL-LSHTM Critical Global Health Seminar with Professor Peter Redfield “Aftermaths: Equipment for Living in a Broken World”

Please join us for our next KCL-LSHTM Critical Global Health Seminar with Professor Peter Redfield which will take place on Tuesday 13 June 2017, 4.30-6 pm in room K6.63, King’s Building, Strand Campus,  King’s College London. Peter Redfield, a Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will give a presentation entitled Aftermaths: Equipment for Living in a Broken World that draws on his current research on humanitarian design and micro-scale devices.

Aftermaths: Equipment for Living in a Broken World. In this presentation, I will consider two forms of aftermath: the afterlives of theories and the aftereffects of modernist infrastructure and expertise. As such I am less interested in Foucault’s formulation of biopower proper, or the debates it has engendered, than in the larger field of norms, dreams and expectations now woven between life and politics. Foucault’s account famously focused on the emergence of the modern European state. Contemporary experience, however, includes concerns about life and health that exceed this political form, involving international agencies, nongovernmental organizations and private corporations. This global imaginary has inspired ingenious, designs for micro-scale devices like water filters, low-cost incubators, and alternative toilets, objects that offer little prospect of systemic response but suggest an alternative scale of social vision. Drawing inspiration from Steven Jackson’s call for “broken world thinking” in technology studies, my goal is to recognize the productive centrality of breakdown and repair, and also open questions about the scale of the future in the absence of a clear material vision for progressive utopia. Rather than assuming a unified or seamless apparatus for either health or security, we might then explore a more fragmented, heterogeneous world of dispersed threats and small fixes, moving across imaginative and material registers to reorient contests over the future.

Professor Peter Redfield. Trained as a cultural anthropologist sympathetic to history, he concentrates on circulations of science, technology and medicine in colonial and postcolonial contexts. The author of Life in Crisis: The Ethical Journey of Doctors Without Borders (University of California Press, 2013) and Space in the Tropics: From Convicts to Rockets in French Guiana (University of California Press, 2000), he is also co-editor of Forces of Compassion: Humanitarianism between Ethics and Politics (SAR Press, 2011).

KCL-LSHTM Critical Global Health Seminar Series. Jointly organised by King’s College London (KCL) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), this seminar series brings together critically-minded social scientists, public health experts and practitioners together to debate key areas of concern for global health today and reflect on how these should be approached and explored. The seminars are organised as a platform for social scientists working in the field to present and reflect on their current and planned research in discussion with the chair-discussant and the audience. More broadly, the aim of the series is to provide a forum to discuss emerging contradictions and frictions in global health research and policy as well as the challenges and opportunities these present to social scientific inquiry. Through open-ended and candid exchange on the experiences of working in the global health field, we seek to develop new avenues for critical thought in the social sciences and beyond.

Provisional Programme for the Autumn Term 2017:

  • Trade, Tobacco Farming and Tobacco Control in Sub-Saharan Africa, 11 October 2017, 12.30-2 pm, LSHTM | Speaker: Prof. Ronald Labonte (Ottawa) | Discussant: Dr David Reubi (KCL)
  • Global Mental Health, 7 November 2017, 4-5.30 pm, KCL | Speakers: Prof. Nick Manning (KCL) and Dr Olivier Bonnington (LSHTM) | Discussant: TBA

For further information, please contact one of the organisers: Dr Clare Chandler (clare.chandler@lshtm.ac.uk), Dr Ann Kelly (ann.kelly@kcl.ac.uk), Dr Melissa Parker (melissa.parker@lshtm.ac.uk), Dr Clare Herrick (clare.herrick@kcl.ac.uk), Dr John Manton (john.manton@lshtm.ac.uk) and Dr David Reubi (david.reubi@kcl.ac.uk).

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