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Aquifer Ethnography: A Reading from "Running Out"

Dr. Lucas Bessire
Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Oklahoma
Date and Time: 
Friday, February 18, 2022 - 15:30

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)

And via Zoom



The extreme depletion of the Ogallala aquifer condenses the most urgent conundrums of the contemporary into a single drama. It also poses a significant challenge to many conventional modes of interpretation and intervention. In this reading from Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains (Princeton UP 2021), the author traces the competing intimacies, genres and scales through which aquifer depletion gains meaning and force. This, in turn, invites a wider conversation about the status of anthropological writing today and our capacity to reckon with the destruction of the natural resources on which our futures depend.


Lucas Bessire is an American writer, filmmaker and anthropologist. His work explores the social worlds emerging along extractive frontiers. He is the author of Behold the Black Caiman: a Chronicle of Ayoreo Life (U Chicago Press, 2014), among other articles, films and essays. The recipient of several awards, he has been a member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and a fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Currently, he is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains (Princeton UP, 2021) is his most recent book.