University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > CRASSH > The Burning Issue: Hazy Relations and the Construction of Knowledge in the Land Management Fires of Southeast Asia - gloknos seminar

The Burning Issue: Hazy Relations and the Construction of Knowledge in the Land Management Fires of Southeast Asia - gloknos seminar

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Samantha Peel.

All are invited to join us for this event in the ‘cum panis’ seminar series, hosted by gloknos at CRASSH . The ‘cum panis’ seminars are a space to share work currently in progress and break bread (or cake!) with new intellectual companions.

In this session we are joined by Dr Julia Cassaniti (Washington State University). Julia L Cassaniti is an Associate Professor of Medical and Psychological Anthropology at Washington State University, and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

Abstract: Air pollution during the hot season is an increasingly recognised health crisis across Southeast Asia, with the air quality index (AQI) of Chiang Mai in March 2019 almost four times higher than the recommended 100 AQI safety standard, and those neighbouring countries not far behind. Yet as people demand action from their governments, the causes and solutions to the burning are often hazy and unclear. While city and countryside residents walk around Northern Thailand with air masks on, squinting to see in front of them, many point up to the hills, where Karen, Hmong, and other upland minority communities burn crops each year to make way for a new cycle of planting. Yet while the imagined worlds of upland communities are central to the national rhetoric on air pollution in the country, the cosmological imagination of lowland communities regarding themselves and their relations to these communities is of equal if not more importance. This talk will use ethnographic evidence to cover some of the central explanations for the air pollution problems, from upland burning to the rise in agrobusiness, using it as a case study to better understand the creation of perceptions about causation and responsibility. By re-centering discussion on the different ways that causes are represented, and the knowledge of selves and others are imagined, this talk will shed light on some of the cosmo-political epistemologies at play in a burning global issue.

Please email sjp229@cam.ac.uk to confirm your space for this seminar.

This talk is part of the CRASSH series.

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