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SSN Seminar: ‘Trust in ventures’ with Tom Özden-Schilling

SSN Seminar: ‘Trust in ventures’ with Tom Özden-Schilling

Event Venue:

Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation‚ Deakin University 221 Burwood HighwayBurwood, VIC, 3125, Australia ( Map )

The emergence of new venture capital markets has changed how geologists and other resource exploration experts conceptualise the ethical terms of their work.

Please join us for this in-person seminar with Assistant Professor Tom Özden-Schilling (John Hopkins University), hosted by the Deakin Science and Society Network (SSN) and the Melbourne STS Lab and sponsored by the Alfred Deakin Institute’s Culture, Environment and Science stream.


The emergence of new venture capital markets has changed how geologists and other resource exploration experts conceptualise the ethical terms of their work. Recently, a spectacular rise and fall in prices for a class of mineral commodities called the rare earth elements (REEs) and the brief emergence of hundreds of new REE-focused exploration companies made clear the fragility of these markets and the new strategies of legitimation that support them. New regulatory processes built around technical disclosures and audits have generated vast stores of geotechnical data. Rather than generating trust among different market actors, however, these processes have dramatically altered the temporalities of global resource development in ways that have greatly energised the development of unruly spaces of narrativisation. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with exploration geologists and promoters in Vancouver, British Columbia, this article examines how experts federate flows of “serious” and “speculative” information in both carefully regulated technical reports and rumour-filled online discussion forums. In their struggles to mediate the sense of “crisis” now endemic within venture markets, exploration experts are learning to enact the conventional ideals undergirding new regulatory requirements even as they hold open spaces for the speculative narratives of others.


Dr. Tom Özden-Schilling is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at John Hopkins University. His current book project, Science, Survivance, and the War in the Woods (forthcoming from Duke University Press), is a historical ethnography of twenty-first century environmental deregulation in British Columbia, Canada, and its effects on both Indigenous and settler cultures of expertise. Focusing on different researchers’ struggles to maintain long-term forestry experiments and sovereignty projects in the wake of government downsizing, the book examines how anthropological studies of expertise might learn to track rural experts and the artifacts of their work as governance institutions unravel. Tom’s research has been supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the National Science Foundation, and his publications have appeared in Anthropological Quarterly, American Ethnologist, History and Theory, Endeavour, American Anthropologist, and Cultural Anthropology online. This year, Tom is beginning a new ethnographic project on critical minerals exploration, research, and technology development in the American Mountain West.


Date/time: 22 April 2022, 15:30 -17:00

Location: Deakin Downtown, Tower 2 Level 12, 727 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3008

Q&A with the speaker to follow.


The seminar is made possible thanks to the support of the Culture, Environment and Science stream at Deakin University’s Alfred Deakin Institute.

The seminar will be recorded and available to watch on the SSN YouTube channel after the seminar. You can join the conversation on Twitter by following us at @SSNDeakin and using the hashtag #SSNseminar.

If you have any questions, please send to


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