Phi Beta Kappa scholar to visit classes; give Oct. 12 lecture

Paige West

Paige West has written extensively on environmental racism, consumption, dispossession of indigenous peoples and climate change. On October 12, she will provide greater insight on those topics — and on her longtime work in Papua New Guinea — at St. Catherine University.

“Dispossession, Racism, and the Environment” will begin at 7 p.m. in 106 Mendel Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public.

“In it, I argue that there are racist logics of representation that underlie all uneven development and that if we examine the various representational strategies we see every day,” said West, the Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University, “we can begin to develop a more robust understanding of the ideological work that underpins uneven development.”

St. Kate’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) is hosting her two-day visit (October 11–13, 2017), with support from the University’s Evaleen Neufeld Initiative in the Liberal Arts. Her trip to St. Paul is the second in a nationwide tour.

“The National Phi Beta Kappa office supports about 15 prominent scholars each year to serve as its visiting scholars to campuses with a PBK chapter,” explained Susan Hawthorne, St. Kate’s chapter president and professor of philosophy. “We choose the scholar with a strong connection to our mission and who will have the widest appeal to students, faculty, staff and alumnae. With so many at St. Kate’s focused on issues around social justice, we thought Professor Paige West would be that person.”

Since the mid 1990s, West has conducted fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, where she established a nonprofit dedicated to empowering the nation’s scientists. She is the author or editor of eight books and the founding editor of the journal Environment and Society. She has been named a fellow of the Association of Social Anthropology in Oceania and is past president of the Anthropology and Environment Section of the American Anthropological Association.

In addition to her Thursday lecture, West will also meet with St. Kate's students and faculty in a few courses, including economics and biology.

Did you know?

PBK visiting scholars are a tradition at St. Kate’s — one is invited every other year.

in 2015, Hazel Carby, Yale professor of African American Studies and of American Studies, spoke on “Black Futurities: Shape-Shifting Beyond the Limits of the Human.” In 2013, MIT musicologist Ellen Harris was honored guest, and Gloria Pinney, Harvard professor of Classical Archaeology and Art, came to campus in 2011.

About Phi Beta Kappa

Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation's oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honors organization recognizing achievement in the liberal arts. St. Kate’s was granted a charter on September 9, 1937 — the first Catholic college or university to be awarded a Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

The Gamma of Minnesota chapter of PBK was installed at St. Kate’s on May 17, 1938. The day was selected because it was the birthday of St. Kate’s founding president, Mother Antonia Hugh (her 65th).

By Pauline Oo