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Slow seminar no. 38

Corals: Figurations, Hyperobjects, Beings

Info about event


Monday 20 November 2017,  at 15:00 - 17:00


Jens Christian Schous vej 3, 8000 Aarhus C (1451, 515).

This slow seminar focusses on corals: as historical figurations in anthropology and beyond; as contemporary concrete icons of the hyper-objectivity of global warming; and as magically symbiotic beings.  In coral, the field study of symbiosis meets both the figurations of science and what Bratton and Jeremijenko (2014) - in the readings for the last slow seminar - have called “the political image” of global warming models.  Corals are in that sense a site to study the iconicity of hyperobjects as well as the entanglement embodiment of holobiomes.  As a theoretical background, we read a text on hyperobjects - a term we have come across several times before in the slow seminar - by Morton in conjunction with a key text (by Hughes et al) that causally links global warming to coral bleaching.  These readings are contextualised by Helmreich’s history of the many kinds of roles coral have been made to play in sociology and anthropology and by the documentary “Chasing Coral” (available on Netflix) which follows the technical difficulties and visual affect of recording ongoing coral bleaching.  Please watch the documentary before the seminar, if available to you.




1) Hughes, T.P., et al. 2017. Coral reefs in the Anthropocene. Nature 546:82-90.


2) Helmreich, S. 2016. Chapter 5 “How Like a Reef, Figuring Coral 1839-2010” in Sounding the Limits of Life. Essays in the Anthropology of Biology and Beyond.). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Page 48-61.


3) Morton, T. 2013. Poisoned Ground: Art and Philosophy in the Time of Hyperobjects. symploke 21, 37-50.


4) Chasing Coral. 2017. Documentary directed by Jeff Orlowski. Netflix Media Center. Available on Netflix.  See also movie website: http://www.chasingcoral.com