Michael Egan, Associate Professor of History at McMaster University, will give a talk titled:
“Covenant with the Future: First Thoughts on Catastrophe as an Organizing Principle”
The talk will be from 3:30 to 4:45 in the Carlson Auditorium. No registration required, and interpreters are provided.
Abstract is below:
One of the hazards of writing contemporary history is the temptation to treat each new event as the latest catastrophe. In the wake of global climate change and the Anthropocene, however, the latest catastrophe may also be the last catastrophe. This presentation seeks to raise two avenues of inquiry. In the first, it interrogates world history from the perspective of catastrophe. If we treat disaster not as a punctuated interruption to a predominantly progressive historical narrative but, rather, as the historical norm: how does that alter our understanding of the world around us? The second reflection picks up on that premise and asks what parts of a precarious world are worth saving. It introduces “modern arks”: the protection and/or preservation of things, places, and ideas that are deemed important to some abstract (and different) future. Drawing on examples as conceptually and geographically diverse as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and the Galápagos Islands, the talk invites reflection on arks great and small and how contemporary and historical constructions of power drive much of this future-thinking.
When and Where
3:30 PM-4:45 PM
Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science
076 CAR-1125 Lecture Hall
Open to the Public