Northwestern Events Calendar


Brent Crosson: Sounding the Depths: The Evidence of Science, Diasporic Religion, and Oil in Trinidad

When: Tuesday, May 24, 2016
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CT

Where: Scott Hall, 201, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Mona Oraby  

Group: Global Politics and Religion Research Group

Category: Academic


Just a few miles from the coast of Venezuela, southern Trinidad arguably possesses the world’s oldest oil industry. Trinidad’s economy remains heavily dependent on the extraction of these subterranean hydrocarbons, but with less than two decades of reserves remaining, economic futures depend on the seismic exploration and development of hard-to-perceive reservoirs of energy beneath the earth’s crust. These surveys use buried dynamite and underwater cannons to generate shockwaves powerful enough to penetrate the earth and echo back to geologists and geophysicists. Like the earth scientists involved in seismic surveys, the African diasporic spiritual healers I have worked with in southern Trinidad for the past nine years also use the medium of sound to seek knowledge about what lies below the earth. Despite their very different positioning in terms of class and educational hierarchies, spiritual workers and petroleum geologists both refer to their sensing of subterranean realms as science. This talk compares geologists’ and healers’ practices of subterranean sensing to reflect on the conceptual and political limits of the word “science.”

Sponsored by the Buffett Institute’s Global Politics and Religion Faculty Research Group

Contact Mona Oraby at for more information

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