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U. Michigan Prof. of Environment & Sustainability Kyle Whyte presents “Against Crisis Epistemology”

November 5, 2020 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

People who perpetrate colonialism often defend their actions as necessary responses to real or perceived crises. Epistemologies of crisis involve knowing the world in such a way that a certain present is experienced as new. In this talk, Whyte will discuss newness in terms of the presumptions of unprecedentedness and urgency. According to Whyte, these presumptions often depend on an unquestioned linear conception of time. In contradistinction to an epistemology of crisis, he suggests that one interpretation of certain Indigenous intellectual traditions emphasizes what he calls an epistemology of coordination. Different from crisis, coordination refers to ways of knowing the world that emphasize the importance of moral bonds—or kinship relationships—for generating the (responsible) capacity to respond to constant change. Epistemologies of coordination are conducive to responding to expected and drastic changes without validating harm or violence.

Kyle Whyte is Professor of Environment and Sustainability and George Willis Pack Professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, serving as a faculty member of the environmental justice specialization. Previously, Whyte was Professor and Timnick Chair in the Department of Philosophy and Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University. Whyte’s research addresses moral and political issues concerning climate policy and Indigenous peoples, the ethics of cooperative relationships between Indigenous peoples and science organizations, and problems of Indigenous justice in public and academic discussions of food sovereignty, environmental justice, and the anthropocene. He is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and has partnered with numerous Tribes, First Nations and inter-Indigenous organizations in the Great Lakes region and beyond on climate change planning, education and policy. He is involved in a number of projects and organizations that advance Indigenous research methodologies, including the Climate and Traditional Knowledges Workgroup, Sustainable Development Institute of the College of Menominee Nation, Tribal Climate Camp, and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga. He has served as an author on reports by the U.S. Global Change Research Program and is a former member of the U.S. Federal Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science and the Michigan Environmental Justice Work Group. Whyte’s work has received the Bunyan Bryant Award for Academic Excellence from Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice and MSU’s Distinguished Partnership and Engaged Scholarship awards, and grants from the National Science Foundation.

The event is free and open to the public.

To participate, visit The Humanities Studio Zoom Lounge (https://pomonacollege.zoom.us/j/97855796517) on Thursday, November 5, at 4:30 p.m. PT. (If the link above does not take you directly to the registration page for the presentation, visit zoom.us and enter Meeting ID: 978 5579 6517 when prompted.)

For more information and updates on upcoming Humanities Studio events, including the Indigeneities Speakers Series, visit the Humanities Studio events page: