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Reading Seminar with On Barak, “Strands of Tentacular Thinking”

November 16, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm  |  Humanities 1, Room 408


The “Race, Violence, Inequality, and the Anthropocene” Research Cluster invites faculty and graduate students to a reading seminar with On Barak, Senior Lecturer in the History Department at Tel Aviv University. Dr. Barak is a historian of the modern Middle East, specializing in the introduction of science and technology into non-Western settings. He is the author of On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt (UC Press, 2013).  We will be meeting in Humanities 408, on Thursday, November 16, from 4:00-6:00 pm.

Strands of Tentacular Thinking:

What can the non-Western humanities offer in the face of climate change – a phenomenon usually situated squarely in the domain of technoscience and entrenched in the fossil-fueled European Industrial Revolution and capitalism? A chapter-draft from On Barak’s book project Coalonialism grapples with such questions by drawing on nineteenth-century translations of geology books into Arabic and Ottoman Turkish. The reading seminar puts this chapter in dialogue with works by Donna Haraway and Peter Godfrey-Smith. Read together, these texts constitute an attempt to recruit the octopus – a creature whose arms are said to be smarter than its brain – to reconsider imperial flows of concepts and power.​

Seminar readings:

Staying with Trouble – Donna Haraway 

The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life – Peter Godfrey-Smith 



November 16, 2017
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm