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The Settler Sea: California’s Salton Sea and the Environmental Consequences of Colonialism

February 23, 2023 @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

This talk presents a view of the Salton Sea and its surrounding Sonoran Desert ecosystem that destabilizes hegemonic, settler colonial perspectives on the sea and the desert, exploring the ways that different kinds of human communities have encountered and made meaning out of this complex place. Ultimately, this story of sea, desert, and people is not just a tale of environmental decline in the face of human power. It is a parable about competing knowledge systems – epistemologies and worldviews about the land, ourselves, and one another – and how these knowledge systems hold consequences for arid places and the people who love them.

Dr. Traci Brynne Voyles is Professor and Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oklahoma (OU), and Affiliate Faculty in the OU Departments of History and Native American Studies. She is the author of two books: The Settler Sea: California’s Salton Sea and the Consequences of Colonialism (Many Wests book series, University of Nebraska Press, 2021), which won the prestigious Caughey Prize for best work on the American West in 2022, and Wastelanding: Legacies of Uranium Mining in Navajo Country (University of Minnesota Press, 2015).



February 23, 2023
12:30 pm - 2:00 pm




UCLA LENS (Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies)
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