Self-Devouring Growth: Julie Livingston in conversation with Brian Larkin

FEB 24, 2020 | 6:30 PM

Self-Devouring Growth



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue


9100: Skylight Room


February 24, 2020: 6:30 PM




Intellectual Publics


Under capitalism, economic growth is seen as the key to collective well-being. In Self-Devouring Growth Julie Livingston upends this notion, showing that while consumption-driven growth may seem to benefit a particular locale, it produces a number of unacknowledged, negative consequences that ripple throughout the wider world. Structuring the book as a parable in which the example of Botswana has lessons for the rest of the globe, Livingston shows how fundamental needs for water, food, and transportation become harnessed to what she calls self-devouring growth: an unchecked and unsustainable global pursuit of economic growth that threatens catastrophic environmental destruction.

Please join us on the evening of Monday, February 24th at 6:30pm, when Julie Livingston will be joined in conversation by Brian Larkin to discuss Livingston’s new book Self-Devouring Growth: A Planetary Parable as Told from Southern Africa. This talk will be held in the William P. Kelly Skylight Room beginning at 6:30 p.m., with a reception to follow.

This event is free and open to the public.

Julie Livingston is Julius Silver, Rosalyn S. Silver, and Enid Silver Winslow Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and of History at New York University. She is interested in the body as a moral condition and mode of experience, taxonomies and the relations that challenge them, African thought and political and moral imagination, relations between species, and the public health consequences of capitalism and economic growth. Her publications include Self-devouring Growth: a Planetary Parable told from Southern Africa (Duke University Press, 2019), Improvising Medicine: An African Oncology Ward in an Emerging Cancer Epidemic (Duke University Press, 2012), Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana (Indiana University Press, 2005), and two special issues of Social Text: Collateral Afterworlds (coedited with Zoe Wool) and Interspecies (coedited with Jasbir Puar).  She is the recipient of the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing, the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Wellcome Medal, and the William Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine. In 2013 she was named a MacArthur fellow.   

Brian Larkin is the Director of Graduate Studies and a Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College, Columbia University. His research focuses on the ethnography and history of media in Nigeria. With Stefan Andriopoulos, Larkin is Co-Director of the Comparative Media Initiative at Columbia University and co-founder of the University Seminar on Media Theory and History.  He is a board member of the Institute for African Studies and the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, and a member of the Committee on Global Thought. Larkin is the author of Signal and Noise: Media Infrastructure and Urban Culture in Nigeria (Duke University Press, 2008) and, with Lila Abu-Lughod and Faye Ginsburg, co-editor of Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain (University of California Press, 2000).