Monday, September 14, 2015 -
12:15pm to 2:00pm
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Pierce 100F, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 29 Oxford Street, Cambridge

STS Circle at Harvard

Megan Black, Fellow, Charles Warren Center, Harvard, will discuss "Rethinking Landsat: The American State and Big Oil in the Space Race" as part of the STS Circle at Harvard series. Lunch is provided if you RSVP. Please RSVP via our online form before Thursday afternoon, September 10th.

Abstract: In 1977 an American satellite helped Chevron to locate and drill the first onshore oil well in Sudan. The satellite, Landsat 2, performed geological reconnaissance of the terrain below. Floating freely across national borders under international space treaties, Landsat allowed the United States to discern on a grander scale than previously imaginable the resource potential of the planet. This paper explores Landsat’s origins and impacts in political, economic, and environmental transformations of the late Cold War. It argues that although decision-makers billed the technology as a means to protect American taxpayers and the environment, they primarily sought to spread American management and global capital across the globe. Despite its promise to view the world anew, Landsat ultimately helped re-entrench hierarchies of power and ensure an unequal distribution of resources and impacts of extraction between global North and global South.

Biography: Megan Black received her PhD in American Studies from George Washington University, with a specialization in the United States and the world, political economy, and environmental studies. She is currently undertaking postdoctoral work in Global American Studies at the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University. She is a former recipient of the Gene Wise-Warren Susman Award from the American Studies Association and the Annette Kolodny Prize from the American Studies Association and Duke University Press. She has earned fellowships and grants spanning a variety of fields, including the Samuel Flagg Bemis Dissertation Grant from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and a Beckman Center Fellowship from the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Her article, “Interior’s Exterior: The State, Mining Companies, and Resource Ideologies in the Point Four Program,” was published online and is forthcoming in print in Diplomatic History. 

Contact Name: 

Shana Rabinowich

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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