Colloquium: Dr. Michael J. Hathaway "Forays in Decolonizing Biology: Thinking about What Mushrooms Live For"
Dr. Michael J. Hathaway
Simon Fraser University
March 13, 2023 4:00-5:30pm 14S-130, The Nexus, Hayden Library
Abstract: In this talk, Michael will provide an introduction to his latest book, What a Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make, which was just published by Princeton University Press. For this STS and Anthropology-oriented audience at MIT, he will explore how we might explore the legacy of Enlightenment thinking and the English language in shaping the emergence of the discipline of biology. In contrast, he argues for understanding mushrooms as lively beings. While much of the scientific literature describes their lives in mechanistic ways, Michael suggests that fungi are actively encountering and engaging with the world. Influenced by important thinkers such as the Potawatomi scientist, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Michael shows how we better understand fungi as perceiving and interpreting beings that are shaping the world through their everyday actions. Such a vision, he contends, might help us more beyond our tendencies towards seeing our fellow kin as resources, as utilitarian objects for the plate or for profit and to dethrone the idea of humans as fundamentally and qualitatively different from all other living beings.
Bio: Dr. Michael J. Hathaway is a Professor of Anthropology at Simon Fraser University (SFU), where he is also an Associate Member of the School for International Studies, and the Director of SFU's David Lam Centre for Asian Studies. A 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, he has been working with Indigenous peoples in Southwest China and Japan for over a quarter century, exploring how they engage global environmental efforts and globalized markets. He is also working on a project exploring the historical roots of the discipline of biology and imagining alternative modes of inquiry. michaeljhathaway.net