Tom Özden-Schilling

Tom Özden-Schilling

Assistant Professor

Mergenthaler 459
Monday, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

My research explores how new practices of environmental knowledge production are transforming individual articulations of identity politics and settler colonialism in rural North America. In conversation with forest ecologists, First Nations cartographers, and other experts working in British Columbia and Alaska, I examine everyday experiences of neoliberalization amidst the ongoing deregulation of the region’s resource management institutions. By detailing how aspiration, obligation, and belonging come to be mediated by maps, models, and other material artifacts of scientific work, I ask how professional precariousness has changed the ways experts to speak on behalf of the contemporary rural north.

My current book project, Salvage Cartographies: Mapping Futures in a Northern Forest, is a multi-locale ethnography of two research communities currently mapping and modeling ecological succession patterns and land use changes on the traditional territories of the Gitanyow and Gitxsan First Nations. In it, I explore how First Nations experts and forestry scientists alike have struggled to craft new venues for sharing territorial histories. The book traces the racialization of the region’s landscapes through the tools and discourses of adaptive management and environmental modeling, as well as through the legacies of lapsed capacity building projects originally designed to train and disperse First Nations technocrats.

In my second project, I plan to trace the rise and fall of rare earth minerals exploration in Alaska and the Northwest Territories by exploring how contemporary alternative energy development projects interpellate rural communities and workers. The project asks: How have these transformations altered rural articulations of the common good? And how have fleeting recruitment and promotional strategies premised on mobility, technological innovation, and global interconnection marked rural subjectivities in remote locales, particular as American and Canadian national imaginaries turn inward?

I came to Baltimore from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I served as a postdoctoral fellow in the Harvard Canada Program after completing my Ph.D in the History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016.