Phi Beta Kappa scholar to discuss coexistence of species

February 20, 2009

The McDaniel College Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa presents “Fugues for Multi-Species Living,” a lecture by Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Anna Tsing, at 8 p.m. March 5 on campus in McDaniel Lounge.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, call (410) 857-2294.

Tsing’s research on a high-value wild mushroom called matsutake explores a fundamental question, “How can humans live well with other species?” Her lecture ushers audiences into a world where species live not just for themselves but also in relation to each other.

“In Japan, matsutake live with red pines and red pines, in turn, thrive with human disturbance,” Tsing says. “This lecture offers a tour through Japanese village forests to listen to the histories co-existing species might tell.”

“The histories I evoke include long-durée evolutionary reconstructions, early-modern historical archaeologies, post-1980s cultural mobilizations, and microbiological insights about eternity,” she says. “This lecture offers a music lover’s tactic for training our ‘ears.’ This is the challenge: If we can listen to these incommensurable yet overlapping histories together, we come a long way toward affirming the possibilities of multi-species living.”

Tsing is a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has been a visiting professor at Harvard and the University of Chicago, a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

She is the author of “Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection” and “In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in an Out-of-the-Way Place.” She is co-editor of “Communities and Conservation: Histories and Politics of Community-Based Natural Resource Management,” “Shock and Awe: War on Words,” “Nature in the Global South: Environmental Projects in South and Southeast Asia,” “Uncertain Terms: Negotiating Gender in American Culture,” and the forthcoming, “Words in Motion.”

Tsing earned her bachelor’s degree from Yale University and her master’s and doctoral degrees from Stanford University.

McDaniel is one of 276 U.S. institutions with a chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. The Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program makes available each year 12 or more distinguished scholars who visit 100 colleges and universities with chapters of Phi Beta Kappa. The scholars spend two days on each campus, meeting informally with students and faculty members, taking part in classroom discussions, and giving a public lecture that is open to the entire academic community. The purpose of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the institution by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholars and the resident faculty and students.

Now entering its 53rd year, the Visiting Scholar Program has sent 555 Scholars on 4,651 two-day visits since it was established in 1956. Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest academic honor society.