Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 6:30pm
Add to Calendar
MIT 3-270, 33 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge

Parasites of Capital: Tales of Ecology, Disease, and Landscape in a Neoliberal Age

SARS. Avian influenza. Ebola. Transgressions across animal/human borders? Industrial diseases of our own making? Causal explanations abound. Ecological perspectives on emerging diseases proliferate, from the dynamics of host-microbe interactions to the cycles of global capital. But new forms of life and their ecological understandings have been emerging in industrial landscapes in the making for generations of humans and microbes. This talk explores how industrial hygiene, engineering, and film became integral to the infrastructure, logic, and imaginaries of development advanced by Firestone Plantations Company in Liberia and the ecological regimes of capital accumulation that created conditions of life conducive to a virus' emergence and spread.

Gregg Mitman is the Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History of Science, Medical History, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is an award-winning author, filmmaker, and teacher, whose interests span the history of science, medicine, and the environment in the United States and the world, and reflect a commitment to environmental and social justice. 

His recent works include Documenting the World: Film, Photography, and the Scientific Record (University of Chicago Press, 2016), Breathing Space: How Allergies Shape our Lives and Landscapes (Yale University Press, 2007), and Reel Nature: America’s Romance with Wildlife on Film, rev. ed. (University of Washington Press, 2009). Mitman is the founding director of the Nelson Institute’s Center for Culture, History and Environment, and is also past president of the American Society for Environmental History.

During the last decade, Mitman has increasingly focused on public humanities projects. In 2007, he created the Tales from Planet Earth film festival that has brought together artists, academics, and the public to explore and further the power of storytelling through film as a force of environmental and social change. Under his leadership, CHE, in collaboration with Munich’s Rachel Carson Centerand Stockholm’s KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, hosted a 2014 experimental performance, The Anthropocene Slam: A Cabinet of Curiosities. The project was duplicated in Australia and Switzerland and a book is forthcoming with the University of Chicago Press.

Mitman’s current work is a multimedia project—a film, book, and public history website—exploring the history and legacy of the Firestone Plantations Company in Liberia. He recently co-produced and co-directed with Sarita Siegel, In the Shadow of Ebola, an intimate portrait of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, and The Land Beneath Our Feet, a documentary on history, memory, and land rights in Liberia.

Contact Name: 

Jessica Ann Varner

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

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

Connect with us

Follow HUCE to stay updated on energy and the environment at Harvard and beyond.

Subscribe to our mailing list

Parasites of Capital: Tales of Ecology, Disease, and Landscape in a Neoliberal Age | Harvard University Center for the Environment


The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later.