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Witnessing and Stewardship, Reflections on Living with the Dead: A Closing Panel

For this final event in the Living with the Dead series we reflect on the politics and ethics of respectful engagement with the past. We interrogate the role of those who bear witness as outsiders to traditions of connecting with and honouring the dead, and consider what this means for the conflicted ethic of stewardship that so often informs our relations with the past and the ancestors of others. As philosophers, one of us (Berryman) approaches this as the co-convener of a Guatemala-based seminar on social theory who over several years has been witness to Indigenous conversations about those who have died or been disappeared in recent political violence. The other (Wylie) brings to bear the lens of a philosopher of science who has been party to debates about an archaeological ethic of stewardship that throws into especially sharp relief contentious questions about the politics of cultural appropriation, how conflicting interests in the past are to be mediated, and what joint or collaborative modes of stewardship might have to offer. In presenting our reflections on witnessing and stewardship our aim is to open up discussion that anticipates the MOA exhibition that is the culmination of this series.

When: Wednesday April 4, 5 – 5 pm
Where: Green College Coach House
Speaker: Sylvia Berryman and Alison Wylie, Philosophy, UBC