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Reanimating Postindustrial Rivers: The Ethics of Dam Removal

Thu, February 17th, 2022
4:15 pm
- 5:30 pm

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This will be a hybrid event. The campus community is welcome to attend in person (Bronfman Auditorium in the Wachenheim Science Center) or remotely. Open to the public remotely. Please click the link below if you wish to join the webinar:

Over the past thirty years, thousands of dams have been torn down in the United States and Europe to improve habitat for migratory fish and restore ecologically degraded rivers. Part of a rising movement to reconnect rivers to the sea, dam removal has become a prominent arena of environmental politics and a symbol of hope for many environmentalists, especially as runs of threatened fish return to “reborn” postindustrial rivers. Focusing on grassroots environmental activism in Maine, this lecture explores the cultural geography of river restoration in the Anthropocene. Along the way, it argues for more attention to the role of virtue ethics in ecological restoration.    

Nicolas Howe is associate professor and chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Williams College, where he is also affiliated with the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. A cultural geographer, he studies the role of religion, meaning, and morality in environmental politics. He is the author of Landscapes of the Secular: Law, Religion, and American Sacred Space (University of Chicago Press, 2016) and co-author, with the sociologist Philip Smith, of Climate Change as Social Drama: Global Warming in the Public Sphere (Cambridge University Press, 2015). He is currently at work on a book that explores the ethics, politics, and history of river restoration in New England. Prof. Howe graduated from UCLA in 2008 with a PhD in Geography and has held fellowships from the National Science Foundation and Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. In 2019-2020, he was a visiting research fellow at the University of Bristol Centre for Environmental Humanities in Bristol, England.

The Faculty Lecture Series aims to present big ideas beyond disciplinary boundaries. Organized by the faculty members of the Lecture Committee, the Faculty Lecture Series was founded in 1911 by Catherine Mariotti Pratt, the spouse of a faculty member who wanted to “relieve the tedium of long New England winters with an opportunity to hear Williams professors talk about issues that really mattered to them.” From these humble and lighthearted beginnings, the Faculty Lecture Series has grown to become an important forum for tenured professors to share their latest research with the larger intellectual community of the college.

The full spring 2022 series is listed below:

Feb 10: Jeremy Cone
Feb 17:  Nick Howe
Feb 24: Nelly Rosario
Mar 3: Li Yu
Mar 10: Tim Lebestky
Mar 17: Lama Nassif

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