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A Life's Worth: Mining's Uncertainties and Neo-Colonial Alchemies

The next Gray/Wawro Lecture in Gender, Health, and Well-being will take place on Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 6pm in Herring 100, featuring Diane M. Nelson, Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University.

This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so please register today!  

A gold mine is an intervention into an ecosystem, affecting every lifeform in its vicinity.  But like gold itself, a mine is also mysterious.  It can be hard to prove the mine is hurting your kids and dividing your community when gold is surrounded by promises of wealth (or at least employment), progress, and hope (gold’s chemical symbol comes from the Latin “glow of sunrise”).  Against transnational companies fortified by World Bank loans and private security firms and the monstrous power of value that gold seems to guarantee, Mayan women in highland Guatemala are constructing fragile skeins of organizing with the tools of “housewife epidemiology” to counter neoliberal alchemies with a transformative politics of their own.  This talk explores their efforts in San Miguel Ixtahuacán as part of larger struggles over worth and what counts.

nelson photoNelson is an award-winning teacher who began fieldwork in Guatemala in 1985, exploring the impact of civil war on highland indigenous communities with a focus on the more than 100,000 people made into refugees and 200,000 people murdered in what the United Nations has called genocidal violence.  Since then her research has sought to understand the causes and effects of this violence, including the destruction and reconstruction of community life.  She is the author of “A Finger in the Wound: Body Politics in Quincentennial Guatemala,” (University of California Press, 1999) and “Reckoning: The Ends of War in Guatemala,” (Duke University Press, 2009).  Nelson has also published widely in scholarly journals, and is co-editor with Carlota McAllister of “War By Other Means:  Aftermath in Post-Genocide Guatemala” (Duke University Press, 2013).  Her most recent book is “Who Counts: The Mathematics of Death and Life after Genocide” (Duke University Press, 2015).

nelson book coverDoors to Herring 100 will open at 5:30pm.  The program will begin at 6pm, and an audience Q&A and a reception will follow the lecture.  Copies of "Who Counts?" will be available for purchase, courtesy of the Rice Campus Bookstore.

We advise arriving early to allow time for traffic and parking.  Convenient paid parking is available in the Central Parking Garage, most accessible from campus entrances 4, 8, and 20.  For more information, visit http://www.rice.edu/maps.