Keynotes and Plenaries

Keynotes and Plenaries are free and open to the public, but require registration for participants who do not appear on the conference program. Please register using the “Registration” tab on this website. Thank you!

Keynote lecture featuring
Dr. Amitav Ghosh
“Deadly Simplifications: Imagining the Future in a Warming World”

Friday, April 26, 2024, 5 pm – 6:45 pm, reception to follow
William Johnson Building Auditorium, room 2005

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria and is the author of The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and The Ibis Trilogy, consisting of Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke and Flood of FireThe Great Derangement; Climate Change and the Unthinkable, a work of non-fiction, appeared in 2016. Gun Island, was released in September 2019. Ghosh’s first-ever book in verse, Jungle Nama: A Story of the Sundarban, was published February 2021. His next book, The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis, was released in October, 2021. His latest book, Smoke and Ashes: Opium’s Hidden Histories was released in February, 2024.

Author image of Amitav Ghosh The book cover of Ghosh's Smoke and Ashes


Bartholomeusz keynote lecture featuring
Dr. Radhika Govindrajan
(University of Washington)
“’The Two Wives of Masan’: On Haunting, Ritual, and Interspecies Kinship in Himalayan India” 

Thursday, April 25, 2024, 5 pm – 6:30 pm, reception to follow
Globe Auditorium
, Center for Global Engagement

In the Central Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, a malevolent supernatural being called Masan tends to catch (what some might term possess) young women. Masan is induced to release his human victims through an elaborate ritual which involves transferring him from the woman’s body into the body of a black goat who is eventually sacrificed. This talk will trace how the ritual appeasement of Masan creates opportunities for a transient and limited kinship between human and nonhuman beings, including animals and spirits. More broadly, it will engage the possibilities of theorizing ritual as a site of multispecies kinship.

Animal Intimacies book cover Scholar photo of Radhika Govindrajan

Modern Languages and Linguistics plenary lecture, with support from the Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies featuring
Dr. Wai Chee Dimock
(Yale University)
“A Long History of Pandemics”

Friday, April 26, 2024, 10:45 am – 12:15 pm
Student Union, room 2213 – Flannery Student Life Project Room

This talk explores the community-based science of the Cherokees and Navajos as a new form of more-than-human spirituality. It tells an epic story beginning with the smallpox epidemic of the eighteenth century, and ending with the use of AI in tackling COVID-19. Focusing on the Cherokee’s strategies in vaccine distribution and the Navajo’s collaboration with NASA in drought forecasting, we explore the resilience of human communities as a crucial complement to science and technology, turning the legacy of harm from the past into a new form of spirituality, a path towards a different future.

Followed after lunch by a panel discussion featuring panelists Amitav Ghosh, Antje Muntendam, Franz Prichard, and Andrew Frank, 1 – 2:30 pm, Student Union, room 2213 – Flannery Student Life Project Room

Dr. Wai Chee Dimock writes about public health, climate change, and Indigenous communities, focusing on the symbiotic relation between human and nonhumans. She is now at Harvard’s Center for the Environment, working on a new book, “Microbes and AI: Surviving Pandemics and Climate Change with Nonhuman Intelligence.”

Scholar pic of Wai Chee Dimock Book cover of Wai Chee Dimock's Weak Planet


Museums plenary panel featuring
museum professionals from the
Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, Seminole Tribe of Florida:

Gordon Wareham
Cypress Billie
Chandler Demayo
Tara Backhouse
Joseph Gilbert

Saturday, April 27, 2024, 1:45 pm – 3:15 pm
Student Union, room 3010 – Senate Chambers

Nestled in the heart of the Everglades on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum is home to more than 200,000 works of art and historic objects.

Logo of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki museum