What is history?
the life and times of water hyacinth
Debates about the meaning and role of “history” in anthropology have characterized the discipline since its inception. This lecture revisits some of these debates to consider how anthropologists might better incorporate the contingent and transformative abilities of other species into our stories of what happened. Can “history” make room for multiple ontologies? To show how articulations across varied human and non-human agendas forge unexpected paths, this talk considers how the infamous weed plant water hyacinth has tracked and haunted colonial and neocolonial water engineering across the world.
Anna L. Tsing is Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, as well as the Neils Bohr Professor in the School of Culture and Society at the Aarhus University in Denmark. She is also the acclaimed author of many titles including Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection, In the Realm of the Diamond Queen, and Mushroom at the End of the World. Professor Tsing earned her bachelor’s degree from Yale University and her Ph.D. from Stanford University. In 2010 she won a Guggenheim Fellowship and in 2011 she received a Martin M. Chemers Award for Outstanding Research in the Social Sciences Division.