26.4.22 Christopher Kelty on absurdities of governing animals in LA

We are looking forward to inviting you to the first of three NatureCultures Lab events of the summer term – organised together with the Department of Anthropology and Cultural Research at the University of Bremen, and held as joint sessions with the institute colloquium.

26 April (Tue) | 18-20h | Rotunde (Cartesium) **
Christopher Kelty (University of California, Los Angeles)

“Absurd Resistance: Political Governance of Animals in Los Angeles”

**Hybrid Event
Location Address: Cartesium, Enrique-Schmidt-Str. 5, U Bremen
For online attendance: Please email xiaolingATuni-bremen.de by April 26, 2022, to register.
(Please be aware of the German “academic quarter”, which means the event starts at 18:15)

Abstract: This talk considers some absurdities of governance in Los Angeles: an attempt to non-lethally manage coyotes, who eat pet cats and dogs; an attempt to care for community cats, who eat birds and other endangered species; and an attempt by an oil company to restore a wetlands belonging to Native Americans, so that the birds will come back. These absurdities take shape in the technopolitical tools of environmental governance: Environmental Impact Reports slow what people want to accelerate, and accelerate what people wish to slow; a dispersed social media public sphere summons cloud coyotes and turns grasslands into astroturf; and sophisticated scientific models of hydrology, habituation, and cat reproduction disclose the truth but cannot find a space where they can have an effect. Are these forms of resistance, and if so, to what? Is their absurd interconnection something that should be resisted, or just the revenge of multispecies entanglement or the ruins of representative democratic institutions? What do the animals say?

Christopher M. Kelty is professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has appointments in the Institute for Society and Genetics, the department of Information Studies and the Department of Anthropology. His research interests center on social theory and technology, the cultural significance of information technology; the relationship of participation, technology and the public sphere; and more recently, the role that wild animals play in contemporary urban Los Angeles. He has written two books: The Participant: A Century of Participation in Four Stories (Chicago, 2019), and Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software (Duke University Press, 2008) in addition to written articles on open source and free software, including its impact on education, nanotechnology, the life sciences, participation as a political concept, open access in the academy, piracy, the history of software, hackers and hacking, and many other diverse topics.