Home / resources / STS/CSIS Food for Thought, Mar. 7th: Dr. Sophie Roosth - "Turning to Stone: Fossil Hunting and Coeval Estrangement in Montana"

STS/CSIS Food for Thought, Mar. 7th: Dr. Sophie Roosth - "Turning to Stone: Fossil Hunting and Coeval Estrangement in Montana"

When Mar 07, 2017
from 12:00 PM to 02:00 PM
Where Social Science Building 1246 (STS Conference Room)
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Please join us for a STS/CSIS Food For Thought event with:


Dr. Sophie Roosth

Department of the History of Science

Harvard University


"Turning to Stone: Fossil Hunting and Coeval Estrangement in Montana"


Tuesday, March 7th - 12:00 noon - 2:00 pm in the STS/CSIS conference room (SS # 1246)


Abstract: “The Old Man of the Belt,” a geologist who lives off-grid in a cabin on the Flathead Indian reservation, takes two geochemists and me on a road trip. Together we visit the outcrops that remain of a pre-Cambrian shallow ocean that stretched from Montana to Saskatchewan 1.4 billion years ago. I narrate the road trip on which the four of us searched for grypania, a fossil that is the oldest known example of single-celled organisms forming a complex macroscopic body. This story is punctuated by the early history of micro- and macrofossil research, beginning with the work of Charles Doolittle Walcott in the 1890s. Drawing upon theories from the anthropology of time and sci-fi criticism, I nominate “coeval estrangement” as a heterochronic apprehension that geobiologists cultivate to experience nonlinear time as fractured and dislocated, juxtaposed and disjointed.


As usual, we will pre-circulate a text which will be briefly introduced at the start of the session. The introduction will be followed by an hour or so of lively discussion about the text, so please come having read the paper in advance. Food and refreshments will be provided!


If you are interested in attending, please RSVP with Adrian using the google form below. He will send a copy of the text next week!



Sophia Roosth is the Frederick S. Danziger Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. Roosth was the 2016 Anna-Maria Kellen Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin and in 2013-2014 she was the Joy Foundation Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She was previously a postdoctoral fellow at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University and a predoctoral fellow of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. She earned her PhD in 2010 in the Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Roosth has published widely in journals including Critical Inquiry, Representations, Differences, American Anthropologist, Science, and Grey Room. In her first book, Synthetic: How Life Got Made (2017), Roosth asks what happens to “life” as a conceptual category when experimentation and fabrication converge. Grounded in an ethnographic study of synthetic biologists, she documents the profound shifts biology has undergone in the post-genomic age.



Adrian Lip Shing Yen

STS Fellow

PhD Candidate

Department of Anthropology

University of California Davis

Davis, California 95616


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