Curiosity, Inquiry, Discovery: A Political Genealogy

Wednesday, April 17, 2019
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM (ET)
CHS CHS 104 Chase Auditorium
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î ºDistinguished Visitors-PJHR

Distinguished Visitor Perry Zurn, assistant professor of philosophy, American University

The US defunding of the Environmental Protection Agency (and withdrawal from the Paris Agreement) is merely one of the more recent, high profile instances of political power suppressing curiosity. History is rife with such cases. And yet, while political power is often used to suppress curiosity, it is just as often used to wield it. Consider European imperialism or colonialism, and the requisite curiosity cabinets and freak shows, not to mention the development of scientific racism and phrenology. In this talk, I revisit the relationship between curiosity and politics. Digging deeply into their shared history, I argue that 1) curiosity is not simply a tool, wielded or suppressed by political agents, but that 2) curiosity and politics ultimately define the forms and functions of one another. They are mutually co-constituting. This paradigm shift necessarily changes our understanding of college campuses today as political spaces.

Tea at 4:15 p.m.

Sponsored by the David Levin Fund, and the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights Program in conjunction with the Distinguished Visitors Program 

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