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Watermarks and the Ordinary

April 11 @ 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Watermarks and the Ordinary flyer

Watermarks and the Ordinary flyerWatermarks and the Ordinary
Sarah Vaughn, U.C. Berkeley

Monday, Apr. 11, Open Talks will be held noon to 1pm, and the Grad Workshops will be held 1 to 3pm.
In-person in ISR-Thompson 6050
Presentations will also be available online via Zoom

This talk considers the social worlds of watermarks. I propose the theme of watermarks as a way to get after the often subtle but deliberate attempts to manage daily life—and related pursuits—in the midst of the ongoing climate crisis. This theme became apparent to me while doing ethnographic fieldwork in the flood-prone, low-lying, and coastal South American country Guyana. By reading watermarks, people in Guyana reconsider how floods have the capacity to destabilize claims to identity, biopolitical capital/labor, and human hubris. In this respect, watermarks are performative. They shape and reveal the social relations of infrastructures within a given place that at times flourish, and at other times, can simply fail to shape plausible futures for their users. Building on the insights of anthropological scholarship on the ordinary and fakery, watermarks offer us less a theory of power than a creative medium for learning to live with dignity through the climate crisis.

This is a part of the Research Center for Group Dynamics (RCGD) Winter 2022 Series – “Water Ways: New Social Science, Science Studies, and Environmental Approaches to Water”

This is also a part of the class Anthrcul 558 section 002

Zoom link


Institute for Social Research – 6050
426 Thompson St
Ann Arbor, MI 48104 United States
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