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Departmental Seminar co-hosted with Fencing the Feral: Alex Blanchette

Irremediable Ecologies: Decomposing with America’s Oldest Industrial Animals

Info about event


Thursday 9 March 2023,  at 14:15 - 16:00


Lab 3 4205-212 & Zoom

Host: Professor Alex Blanchette


Alex Blanchette is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the department of Anthropology, Tufts University. He his Ph.D. in Anthropology from The University of Chicago. His research is concerned with the politics of industrial labor and life in a post-industrial United States. 


Chicago’s Bubbly Creek is complicated waterway: an ecology overwhelmed by industrial violence, a premonition of racial capitalism’s planet-distorting powers, and the historical locus of logics of biosecurity that make modern animal agribusiness possible. Between 1865 and 1920, blood and entrails from millions of hogs, cows, and sheep were dumped in the south fork of the South Chicago river. Labeled the animate “child of the stockyards” in the early 20th century, Bubbly Creek is an inadvertent feat of industrial engineering that still occasionally churns with bubbles to this day — as pockets of gas spring from the slow-decomposing sediment of 19th century animal blood and entrails. Over the past 100 years, there have been numerous proposals to return this small river to its pre-industrial state to make room for gentrification and other forms of urban development. These efforts have perennially failed. As city planners begin a new round of earnestly exploring how to entomb these animal remains, this talk considers what might be lost if this past was suddenly buried. It instead follows how artists, activists, and athletes are creating communities of value in irremediable landscapes by inhabiting the rhythms of slow decomposition. As part of a broader project on overcoming the legacies of the Chicago Stockyards, it examines these efforts to inhabit Bubbly Creek as exemplars of what it might mean to deindustrialize ecology today.

Responses and conversation are led by postdoc Annika Pohl Harrisson (Anthropology). 

All are welcome! Please register here!

Join us live on Zoom: aarhusuniversity.zoom.us/j/62076667482

Followed by a small reception in the Department Hall, Building 4235 – to celebrate Spring break!

For contact please direct an email to: rpa@cas.au.dk