The Social Life of Plastics

  • 11 Jan 2021
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Online via Zoom (must register to receive log in information)


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IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This talk will be presented online using Zoom. Registration is required, before 3:00 pm on Monday, January 11, 2021. Log in information for Zoom will be emailed to those who have registered by 3:00 pm on Monday, January 11, 2021.

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YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/qYvVFcM8GZw

Speaker:  Kathleen Skoczen, Ph.D., Southern Connecticut State University

Date: Monday, 11 January 2021

Location:  Online meeting via Zoom
Time: 7:00 pm

About the talk:

The Social Life of Plastics

Very little anthropological work has focused on plastic, a complex and entangled “thing.” This remarkable 20th century technology is the most ubiquitous human artifact and one that will figure prominently in future archaeological studies.  Someone recently described the floor of a large Caribbean bay as layered with plastic “like lasagna.”  As plastic has become an environmental calamity, it behooves us to interrogate the relationship between humans and plastic, particularly as the stakes are high for environmental and human health.  Today most people cannot imagine a life without plastic, but indeed we have only experienced the advantages and disadvantages of plastic over our lifetimes.   Understanding how plastic circulates and accrues or loses value in the context of our quotidian existence is critical if, as some of us are tasked to do, we can interrupt the stream of plastic into our delicate ecosystems.  This presentation highlights the vital role anthropologists must play in addressing this environmental crisis.

About the speaker:

Kathleen Skoczen, Ph.D., is a professor of anthropology and a consultant for the USAID program, Clean Cities, Blue Ocean.  For more than three decades she has conducted anthropological research in the northeast region of the Dominican Republic where she had previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Her work has focused on community development, women’s health, the life-course, and tourism.  She is now working with a team addressing the problem of plastic waste in this region of the Dominican Republic.  At Southern Connecticut State University, Kathleen has developed a capstone applied anthropology course focused on plastic use in the United States, drawing on her interest and activism on environmental issues.

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