Imperial Terroir: Sensing the Lives and Relations of Everyday Things, a writing workshop for higher degree/early career researchers

A writing workshop for higher degree/early career researchers with Dr. Rick W. A. Smith, biocultural anthropologist and STS scholar, Dartmouth College; and Carina Truyts, Deakin University and Sol Plaatje University, South Africa.

19 February  9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Deakin Downtown, Tower 2 level 12, 727 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3008

Applications: 20 January
Responses: 23 January

Apply here


This single day workshop will be an exercise in short-form writing based on the lives of everyday objects, the relations in which they circulate and bind us in connection, and the broader landscapes of power that they reveal. During the workshop, each participant will write a short essay modelled on Katie Stewart’s writings in Ordinary Affects and/or Robin Wall Kimmerer’s writings in Braiding Sweetgrass. Each participant should choose an ordinary object from their own lives that will serve as a basis for developing their essay. We will write in connection and with inspiration from work in the areas of the anthropocene, “new” materialisms, affect theories, queer ecologies, geontologies, and Indigenous studies.

Several broad questions motivate this workshop: What is an object and how does it come into focus or existence? What do we touch when we touch an object? How might we attune ourselves to the taken-for-granted, the familiar-and-forgotten, the hidden-in-plain-sight, the open secrets of things? How might we sense their terroir, or the ways in which objects are co-constituted at the intersection of culture, nature, and political economies? What dynamic relations and entanglements do we encounter in an object, and to what assemblages do we become conjoined? What do objects normalise/concretise and what do they disrupt/change/undo? What happens if and when an object fails, becomes damaged, ruined, or destroyed, gets remade/reconfigured, or is malformed or incomplete? What are the limits of writing in capturing the essence of things? In what ways is the object conscribed in systems of harm and care?

If you have any further questions, please contact Carina Truyts at

Apply here


Rick W. A. Smith, Ph.D. is a biocultural anthropologist whose work merges genomics with queer, feminist, and Indigenous STS in order to trace the molecular impacts of imperialism across bodies and landscapes. Dr. Smith is a postdoctoral fellow with the Neukom Institute for Computational Science and the Department of Anthropology at Dartmouth College. He is also affiliated with the Indigenous STS Lab in the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. His use of the concept of terroir comes from his upcoming manuscript “Imperial Terroir: Toward A Queer Molecular Ecology of Colonial Masculinities”, where he uses terroir as a theoretical framework in conjunction with queer ecologies to explore the relationship between sex and nature in the colony.

Carina Truyts is a social anthropologist and STS scholar. Her experience in establishing the Anthropology department at Sol Plaatje University and running the Kimberley Nourishing Spaces project in South Africa directed her focus toward decolonial pedagogy and interdisciplinary and engaged academia. Her use of a concept of terroir is explored in her upcoming ethnographic manuscript “How ingestion edits life: nourishment and belonging in the Cape Winelands of South Africa”  that uses a series of meals to articulate diverse forms of care in a context of skewed inheritance. Now based in the Alfred Deakin Institute at Deakin University her PhD will explore epistemological questions around plasticity in the context of imperial economic expansion and urban governance.