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Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies pres.

CANCELLED: EIHS Lecture / Human Conditions Keynote: Towards A Decolonial Account of Chemical Exposures on the Lower Great Lakes

Michelle Murphy, University of Toronto

This lecture is part of Human Conditions: An Eisenberg Forum.

What might a decolonial understanding of chemical exposures look like? While concepts like the Anthropocene scale environmental violence up to the planetary level—treating the chemical pollutant and the human body as the same everywhere—this talk takes a non-universalizing approach to chemical violence and its relations to land and bodies. Focusing on the history of Canada's Chemical Valley and the world’s oldest running oil refinery, this talk asks how the specificity of chemical exposures can be understood in relation to colonialism as well as Anishinabek and Haudenosaunee obligations to land on the lower Great Lakes. In so doing, it makes the case for the need to rethink the assumptions of universalism and liberal humanism that undergird conventional environmental understandings.

Michelle Murphy is professor of history and women and gender studies at the University of Toronto, Canada Research Chair of Science and Technology Studies and Environmental Data Justice, and Director of the Technoscience Research Unit. Her current research looks at chemical pollution and environmental data in Canada's Chemical Valley, with a focus on the world's oldest running oil refinery which sits on the land of Aamjiwnaang First Nation. Murphy's most recent book is The Economization of Life (Duke University Press). She is Métis from Winnipeg.

Free and open to the public.

This event is part of the Thursday Series of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies. It is made possible by a generous contribution from Kenneth and Frances Aftel Eisenberg.

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