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This seminar was founded to study the most compelling questions of the day which then related to the war in Southeast Asia, its causes, and consequences. Today the seminar continues to examine vital current issues with an emphasis on their economic, political, and philosophical dimensions. Such issues have included welfare policy, homeless­ness, and strains in multicultural democracies, and violent conflicts within and across nation-states. The underlying nature and structure of the political economy giving rise to these issues are also considered. In this regard, sessions have addressed the extension of democ­racy to economic enterprises, refashioning American government, developments in welfare states, and new principles of income distribution. Theories oriented to deepening democracy and realizing human rights both in the US and abroad are also an ongoing focus.


Professor Carol Gould

Professor Omar Dahbour

Marian Chia

Meeting dates and locations are subject to change. Please confirm details with the seminar rapporteur.

Meeting Schedule

11/07/2019 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:30 PM
Mining, Meaning, and Memory: A Political Ecology of Extractivism in Bolivia
Tom Perreault, Syracuse University


Drawing on ethnographic research in the Bolivian Andes, this talk examines the ways mining is memorialised in monuments, murals and public discourse as central to the collective national experience. Memory is similarly important, though less public, for populations impacted by mine-related pollution and their demands for remediation and reparation. Such memory narratives are less important for what they tell us about the former landscapes – which were likely less pristine than reported – than what they tell us about contemporary conditions. The talk considers the potential and limitations of memory as a conceptual tool for envisioning environmentally just futures.