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Lecture by Prof. Israel Rodríguez-Giralt (Goldsmiths College, University of London, and Open Universtity of Catalonia), 12th December 2011 at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Room 4B302, from 11:00 to 12:30.

How one might conceive the relationship between nonhumans and politics? Although it’s been repeatedly articulated this is an issue which continues to haunt STS and Cultural Geography. Actually, with the appearance of so-called “speculative realism” there has been something of a resurgence of interest in understanding these entanglements of human/nonhuman agency (and the possibility of non-relationship or non-connection between the two) and concomitant relationships between ontology and politics. Drawing on fieldwork conducted around Doñana’s environmental disaster, 1998, a huge toxic spill nearby the most important Natural Parks in southern Europe, this presentation will revisit this issue by analysing the emergence of migratory birds as disruptive and lively “beings” capable of extending and re-connecting through their flight the aftermath of the disaster to new sites, environments and matters of public (and political) concern.

Israel Rodríguez-Giralt is professor of social psychology in the Open University of Catalonia (Barcelona) and Beatriu de Pinós Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Sociology Department of the Goldsmiths College (London). His research aims at connecting two fields of study which have not had much interaction in recent decades: on one hand, the study of social movements, and on the other STS. With this purpose, his PhD thesis (2008) discussed the implications that an Actor-Network Theory approach could have for the analysis of contemporary collective action. His more recent research has been in an ongoing project regarding the techno-scientific controversies and public participation in social care policies in Spain, the objective of which is to analyze the ethical, political and cultural consequences of the technification of care policies and assistance devices.