As part of the Closing Celebrations of the Community Partnership Exhibition Program THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM–GRAND OPENING (On View September 13 – October 4), a panel of scholars address Edward Abbey’s comparison of capitalism with cancer: growth for the sake of growth. This panel considers the violent legacies of capitalism’s exploitation and appropriation of nature. It inquires into how views of natural systems as separate from human systems–political, social, and economic– may be part of the problem we face in confronting climate change.
ABOUT THE PRESENTERS
Christian Parenti has a PhD in sociology (co-supervised in geography) from the London School of Economics and is a Professor in Sustainable Development at The School for International Training Graduate Institute. His latest book, Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence (2011), explores how climate change is already causing violence as it interacts with the legacies of economic neoliberalism and cold-war militarism. The book involved several years of travel and research in conflict zones of the Global South. Parenti has also reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ivory Coast and China.
Jason W. Moore is assistant professor of sociology at Binghamton University, and coordinator of the World-Ecology Research Network. He writes frequently on the history of capitalism in Europe, Latin America, and the United States, from the long sixteenth century to the neoliberal era. His research has been recognized with the Braverman Award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (1999); the Bernstein and Byres Prize in Agrarian Studies (2011); the Distinguished Scholarship Award of the American Sociological Association’s Political Economy of the World-System Section (2002, and 2011 honorable mention); and the Alice Hamilton Prize of the American Society for Environmental History (2004). He is presently completing Ecology and the Rise of Capitalism, an environmental history of the rise of capitalism, for the University of California Press.
Razmig Keucheyan is an assistant professor in sociology at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. He is the author of Le constructivisme. Des origines Ã nos jours and has recently edited a selection from Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks in French. He is a member of the editorial board of Contretemps, a critical journal founded by Daniel BensaÃ¯d, and an editor of the “Essais” book series at les Prairies ordinaires. His forthcoming book is Nature is a Battlefield: Test of Political Ecology.
ABOUT THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM–GRAND OPENING
On View September 13 – October 4
The Natural History Museum is a new museum that does exhibitions, expeditions, educational workshops and public programming, but includes the social and political forces that shape nature, yet are left out of traditional natural history museums.
The Natural History Museum borrows from the legitimating aesthetics, pedagogical models, and presentation forms of natural history museums in order to support a perspective on nature as a commons. From this perspective, it lifts up the work of socially engaged artists and climate activists so that their interconnections appear.
The museum is a new ongoing project initiated by arts collective Not An Alternative. Members of the collective perform as anthropologists in the museum and as museum anthropologists, interrogating the influences that affect both the atmospheric climate on Earth and the political climate within natural history museums.
Like many of the collective’s previous projects, this one will employ the strategy of mimicry”originally a scientific process among animal species, now powerfully deployed by activists to exert pressure on predatorial actors. In this case, they will mimic traditional natural history museums with an aim to politicize the aesthetics of the re-presentation of nature.
The Natural History Museum will have its grand opening at the Queens Museum September 13th – October 4th. It is timed to coincide with the People’s Climate March, an historic march through the streets of New York City, with an anticipated hundreds of thousands of people calling for climate justice.
To celebrate the launch, a series of panels, workshops, and performances with artists, activists, scientists, anthropologists, historians, and theorists will introduce the public to the historical and theoretical framework that informs The Natural History Museum’s programs. Presenters include authors Christian Parenti and Astra Taylor, scientist Michael Mann, artists Mark Dion and Liberate Tate, historians Fred Turner and Stuart Ewen, media/political theorist Jodi Dean, activists Eddie Bautista and Elizabeth Yeampierre, and others.
In tandem with the museum’s opening will be the launch of The Natural History Museum’s online museum, (to be found at http://thenaturalhistorymuseum.org), and The Natural History Museum’s mobile museum, a 15-passenger tour, expedition, and action bus.
Curation: Not An Alternative
Exhibition Design: Not An Alternative
Design: Not An Alternative and The Public Society
Event Production: Paul Amitai
ABOUT NOT AN ALTERNATIVE
Not An Alternative is a ten year-old Brooklyn-based arts collective and artist-run non-profit organization with a mission to affect popular understandings of events, symbols, and history. Through engaged critical research and design, the group curates and produces interventions on material and immaterial space, bringing together tools from architecture, theory, exhibition design, and political organizing.
All of these efforts are enacted with an eye toward social change and strategies for creative political intervention that involve creating participatory points of entry for arts audiences and everyday citizens alike”not through a typical head-on (or head-butt) approach, but through the co-optation of popular vernacular, semiotics, and memes.
Not An Alternative’s creative actions, installations, and presentations have been featured within art institutions such as Guggenheim (NY), PS1/MOMA (NY), Tate Modern (London), Victoria & Albert Museum (London), and Museo Del Arte Moderno (Mexico City), and in the public sphere, where they collaborate with community groups and activist mobilizations.
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