The 2017 Marett Memorial Lecture by Professor Anna Tsing (University of California Santa Cruz) took place on Friday 28 April at Exeter College and was a great success.
The photograph shows Professor Tsing presenting her lecture on the subject of “What is history? or, the life and times of water hyacinth”.
Lecture abstract: Debates about the meaning and role of “history” in anthropology came of age in Evans-Pritchard’s Marett lecture of 1950—and have run strong ever since. In recent years, for example, disagreements among practitioners of the “ontological turn” have turned on the relationship between anthropology and history. This lecture revisits history-and-anthropology 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, the talk considers how the infamous weed plant water hyacinth has tracked and haunted colonial and neocolonial water engineering across the world.