Helsinki STS seminar May 21st: Liina-Maija Quist

Welcome to the spring term’s final session of the STS Helsinki Seminar Series on Tuesday, May 21st 12.15-13.45!

Venue: 3rd floor seminar room, Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies (HCAS), Fabianinkatu 24

Liina-Maija Quist, postdoctoral researcher, University of Helsinki
Undersea uncertainties: Ethnographic engagements with maritime worlds in Mexico (and the US)

Abstract
Sea(water) becomes known to humans in diverging ways depending on the senses, technologies, and time through which it is engaged. This talk discusses materiality in the study of politics of marine environments through analysis of embodied knowledge that fishers in Tabasco, Mexico employ in making claims about scientifically uncertain and contested consequences of marine oil exploration. I examine STS-inspired ethnography in creating understandings about the non-verbalized aspects of human-non-human relations and related knowledge. Drawing on theoretical ideas from de la Cadena and Ingold, the talk focuses on the fishers’ mobility at sea and related knowledge claims as ‘excess’, or beyond conventional political discourses, interrogating the multiple and contested meanings that fishers attach to their sea environment, fish and fishing in the context of increased oil extraction operations in Mexico. It illustrates the productivity of anthropologies inspired by STS in analyzing these embodied meanings that are difficult to articulate in words and even more so within a political frame that shapes marine spaces in terms of their contribution to economic progress. Lastly, I reflect upon similar approaches in my incipient work examining the ‘worlds’ of marine scientists based at the Scripps institute of Oceanography in California.

Liina Maija Quist is a post-doctoral researcher in Environmental Policy at the University of Helsinki. Her research focuses on the politics and science involved in governing marine environments in the Global South and North. Currently, she studies seafarers’ and marine scientists’ every day engagements with environmental, scientific and technological uncertainties. In her PhD thesis (2018), Quist examined ethnographically a marine-environmental conflict between fishers and oil companies in Tabasco, in the Mexican Gulf of Mexico.

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