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Linking Past to Present in a Postcolonial Field Science: How Scientific Training and Practice in US Geology Perpetuates Marginalization
  • Tamara Pico
Tamara Pico
UC Santa Cruz

Corresponding Author:tpico@caltech.edu

Author Profile


I explore power dynamics in modern US field geology and their links to the discipline's history. From undergraduate training to scientists' impact on local communities where fieldwork is situated, modern practices replicate existing power structures that can be traced to 19th century geology in the United States. I seek to understand how field geology attracts and trains the next generation of field geologists and how field geologists interact with the external communities where fieldwork is conducted. I draw upon modern and historical practices of race-based exclusion from outdoor space to argue that field geologists ignore an important legacy of racism that is crucial to acknowledge in training future scientists. Furthermore, 19th century US American geologists instituted imperialistic practices of producing knowledge that subjugated marginalized populations. I argue that field geologists continue to use these tactics today, and the training and practice of field geologists participates in imperialistic knowledge production. Through an analysis of knowledge production and training practices in field geology, I trace the imperialistic legacy of 19th century US geology in modern culture. I build upon discourse in feminist studies and postcolonial theory to illuminate the social culture of field geology through a feminist lens.