!! Cancelled – will be rescheduled !! Green Hour: “Fragments of the Forest: Infrastructures of Extraction and Endangerment in the Making of a West African Hotspot” (Prof. Gregg Mitman with Emmanuelle Roth)


December 7
12:00 PM - 01:00 PM

Due to the upcoming railway strikes, the Green Hour must unfortunately be postponed today. An alternative date will be announced as soon possible


The hotspot. In an age of anxiety about global warming, outbreaks, and extinctions, it is an iconic word. Its genealogies are many, and span biogeography, conservation science, disease ecology, and their economies of knowledge production. In a fragment of Zaire Ebola virus, found in a Nimba long-fingered bat in a fragment of the Guinean Forests of West Africa, the multiple scales and histories of the hotspot converge. Situated on the Liberia-Guinea-Côte d’Ivoire border, the Mount Nimba region is at once a UNESCO biosphere reserve, emerging infectious disease threat, contested site of iron ore extraction, magnet for researchers, and incipient ecotourist attraction. In this talk, we draw upon history and ethnography of the Mount Nimba region to ask how “hotspots” mobilize framings, new and old, of ecological fragmentation, multispecies interactions, and biological threats. What are the different strategies of containment and care at play, as hotspots attract global actors — foreign governments, NGOs, multinational corporations, scientists — seeking knowledge, intervention, and profit yet to be made? Thinking with the virus, in the words of Elizabeth Povinelli, as “an active antagonistic agent,” we explore the geosocial assemblages of Mount Nimba and their changing valuations, with consequences for how health is conceived of and nurtured.

ERC Advanced Grant, Fragments of the Forest


Author of Empire of Rubber: Firestone’s Scramble for Land and Power in Liberia (The New Press, 2021)