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This issue of the Wall Papers highlights exciting new research in the sciences at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. It reports on the innovative work of the Institute’s International Visiting Research Scholars. Dr. Bingcheng Lin is developing new lab-on-a-chip technology to screen drugs in a more expeditious and effective manner. Dr. Giancarlo Panaccione’s cutting edge research is focused on topological insulators, using recently discovered materials that could be the key to an age of spintronics, based on the spin of electrons to carry information and quantum computing. Dr. Katie Zhong is working with her UBC host Dr. Frank Ko, Peter Wall Institute Associate, to develop safer and more flexible batteries from soy-lignin, with the next generation of batteries promising to be flexible and foldable. The magazine also discusses Dr. Ko’s research on natural fibrous materials to develop implants or prostheses that can aid in healing. The research of four of the Institute’s Early Career Scholars is also profiled, including Dr. Chris Harley, who is undertaking important work in ocean acidification impacts on marine life on BC coastlines and Dr. Larry Lynd, who is leading a multidisciplinary team of health economists, epidemiologists, ethic researchers and other scholars to address the difficult but urgent questions about the high cost of drugs for rare diseases. The Institute is also pleased to welcome this year’s Distinguished Scholars in Residence, profiling the first three in this issue. Other features include insights from very Distinguished International Visitors, French philosopher Dr. Bruno Latour and French anthropologist Dr Philippe Descola. Research at the Institute continues to support our belief that unrestricted deep thinking and interdisciplinary collaboration will lead to new insights.

03 International scholar research may open doors to “spintronics”

Dr. Janis Sarra Professor of Law, Institute Director

04 Chip technology may bring new drugs to market faster 05 Researchers develop safer and more flexible batteries from soy-lignin 06 Associate uses eco-conscious engineering to develop prostheses

EARLY CAREER SCHOLARS 07 Ocean acidification impacts marine life on BC coastlines 09 Qualitative research sheds light on workplace discrimination in US 10 Associate uses mindfulness exercises to reduce sexual pain in patients 11 The cost of treating rare diseases

DISTINGUISHED SCHOLARS IN RESIDENCE 13 Distinguished scholar uses facial expressions to assess pain in non-verbal patients 14 Think tanks act as ‘ideological first responders’ in US policy landscape 15 Language practices in classroom can help motivate students, says Institute scholar


WRITINGS ON THE WALL 17 French Anthropologist contemplates new ways to think about human impact on planet 18 Ethnography shows how humans have interacted with the environment at different times

WALL ART 19 Culture and emotion: Understanding the connection 19 Institute academics perform evening of wind music

11 Convicted women with children should be rehabilitated, say Roundtable delegates


16 Artefacts give historic insight into cross-cultural contact

19 Bookshelf 22 The Wall of Fame

The Wall Papers is published twice per year in the fall and spring by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia. Since its founding two decades ago, the mission of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies has been to create collaborative, interdisciplinary, basic research programs for scholars at all stages of their career. It is one of only 30 similar institutions worldwide devoted to the pursuit of learning and research at the highest levels. The Wall Papers aims to showcase the collaborative, creative and innovative interdisciplinary research facilitated by Institute programs. Institute Director: Dr. Janis Sarra; Editor: Nicola Johnston; Assistant Editor: Alyssa O’Dell; Art Director: Gregory Ronczewski; Photography: Martin Dee, Dr. Philippe Descola, Dr. Chris Harley, Nicola Johnston, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Gregory Ronczewski, Stock; Contributors: Erin Morawetz, Alyssa O’Dell, Bernadette Mah, Jimmy Thomson, Nicola Johnston, Samantha Sarra. Program Managers: Joanne Forbes, Samantha Green, Emma MacEntee, Bernadette Mah. Please write to us at: Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, University Centre, University of British Columbia, 6331 Crescent Road, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2. Phone: 604 822 9575 or contact us by email Printed at Hemlock Printers.



Left: This ultra-high-vacuum photoelectron spectrometer, developed in Dr. Andrea Damascelli’s Quantum Materials Laboratory at UBC, is used to measure the velocity and direction of motion of the electrons in novel quantum systems at cryogenic temperatures, with unprecedented precision.


Dr. Giancarlo Panaccione

Since long before Newton and his fabled apple, physicists have devoted their careers to observing the properties of the physical universe. Matter has its own behaviour, and physicists have discovered and put to use many of the properties of matter in industrial applications. For example, the discovery of quantum physics gave way to an understanding of semiconductors, which today can be found in just about every electronic device we use. Semiconductors were the product of what some scientists call the “Observation Age”. Dr. Giancarlo Panaccione, Peter Wall Institute International Visiting Research Scholar, says we are now in the “Control Age” – and his research is helping to usher it in. “This means controlling the characteristics or functionalities of specific samples in terms of solids, or gas, or molecules”, he explains from his laboratory in Trieste, Italy, “and try to use them in a way that is controlled by ourselves”. “This – one should say this in a modest way – is simply the way in which now, technology and science is able to manipulate atoms and solids … materials science is now learning how to make a metal ‘less’ metallic, or how to make a semiconductor ‘more’ conductive.” While the manipulation of semiconductors is one promising application for new technologies, Dr. Panaccione’s research focuses on topological insulators, a recently discovered class of material in which the interior acts as an insulator while just the surface conducts electricity. He compares the properties of these insulators to a gold-coated ceramic disc. Since gold is a conductor and ceramic is an insulator, electricity would flow around the surface of the dish but not through it since the object is made of two different materials. “The peculiarity of topological insulators is that the material is the same, but the properties of the surface are completely different to the properties of the volume”, he explains. Just as semiconductors opened the door to televisions and cell phones, topological insulators, only first theorized a few years ago, could be key to the age of “spintronics”, which is based on the spin of electrons to carry information and quantum computing. Dr. Panaccione’s work while in residence at the Peter Wall Institute


enabled him to make use of the expensive, specialized equipment at the University of British Columbia (UBC) that is necessary for his research. The magnetic and electronic properties of matter change as the temperature approaches the extreme low of 0 degrees kelvin, so the Italian physicist needed someplace quite cold to conduct his experiments. “They have an experimental setup that is almost unique in the world”, he says, “because it is a setup to study the properties of materials at very, very low temperatures… close to absolute zero.” Over three visits, Dr. Panaccione made the most of the collaborative research spirit of the Peter Wall Institute fellowship, delivering a public lecture as well as working closely with Dr. Andrea Damascelli and Dr. George Sawatsky, researchers at UBC’s Quantum Material group of the Advanced Materials and Process Engineering Laboratory (AMPEL) and in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Together, they combined knowledge of topological insulators and access to equipment for ultralow temperature research to better understand how to manipulate solids and surfaces. “So many groups are specialized in a specific subject of activity”, he says. “In our case, the two specializations that we had, they were good starting points to understand the properties of these materials – and the Peter Wall Institute was the node where it was possible to join together these ideas and exchange these ideas with students and postdocs and staff.”

Right: The cryogenic manipulator allows the full rotational and translational motion of the samples under investigation, while keeping them at temperature as cold as 3K (-270ºC). That motion is what in turn enables the 3-dimensional motion of electrons inside the material along different directions.



Dr. Bingcheng Lin

The development of new drugs is one of the most expensive processes in health care, often costing billions of dollars to bring a single drug to market. Screening patients and testing their reactions to drugs is only the last step in a chain of time-consuming and expensive trials, beginning with the discovery of potential effects from a compound. Dr. Bingcheng Lin, an International Visiting Research Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, is developing a technology to make the early stages of drug development stream-lined, cheaper and much, much smaller. Lab-on-a-chip technology allows scientists to work with much smaller samples and see results more quickly because of the short distances that fluids need to travel within the tiny microscope-slide size tools. To date, lab-on-a-chip has been used to screen tumors, find potential patients for tissue regeneration studies and protect against chemical attacks, among many other current and potential applications. Dr. Lin’s research aims to take advantage of the rapidity with which lab-on-a-chip technology can deal with samples in order to screen new drugs. In an age of spiking drug costs, a speedier, more efficient process for drug development would be welcome for pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers, taxpayers, and patients. “Using microfluidic technology in this step may significantly save the expenses plus labour costs, and shrink the development”, says Dr. Lin. He adds that the process could not only obviate the need for ethically problematic animal testing, but actually improve on the results too. Working on such a small scale has unique challenges that Dr. Lin and his colleagues at UBC are meeting with equally unique solutions. Because the usefulness of lab-on-a-chip depends on a field known as microfluidics, which studies the unique behaviour of tiny quantities of fluids, seeing and understanding what is happening can be difficult. Transoceanic connections through the Peter Wall Institute are helping Dr. Lin sort out this problem. “Coupling between microfluidics and mass spectroscopy is a good start to deal with part of this problem”, says Dr. Lin from his lab in Dalian, China.


Dr. Chang Liu and Jessica Risley, supervised by UBC Professor Dr. David Chen, and in collaboration with Dr. Lin, have been working to combine lab-on-a-chip technology with mass spectroscopy to unlock new tools for interfacing with the tiny tools. “Since microfluidics is regarded as the best platform so far for handling and investigating samples in fluid with very small consumptions, such a combination will equip our research with a powerful tool at the molecular level in developing new drugs and characterizing precious proteins”, says Dr. Lin. Scholarly connections such as the collaboration with Professor Chen have been useful in solving the problems arising from the small scale lab-on-a-chip. But the broader interdisciplinary approach fostered at the Institute has contributed to big-picture intellectual issues as well. “Even though our backgrounds are so different, innovation is the common ground we stand on”, says Dr. Lin. “I personally get a better understanding and some new ideas – and more importantly, it gave me a chance to turn around and look back into my area from a whole new and quite different perspective.”



Dr. Katie Zong


Canadians use and discard a lot of batteries. The devices power dozens of our most commonly used items like cell phones and laptops, and they don’t just appear and disappear. The chemicals used in making batteries need to be mined, processed and transported, and at the end of their life, batteries can cause environmental and health problems as they degrade. Environment Canada estimates that by 2015, we will be discarding as much as 22,600 tonnes of batteries each year, equivalent to nearly a billion AA batteries. New collaborative research between International Visiting Research Scholar, Dr. Katie Zhong, and Peter Wall Faculty Associate, Dr. Frank Ko, could help solve that problem. While Dr. Ko develops electrodes from lignin – a tree polymer that gives plants their structure and is the second most abundant organic polymer on the planet – Dr. Zhong has been solving the other half of the bio-battery equation, using soy proteins to develop solid electrolytes. “I believe nobody has been doing this kind of research, incorporating bioelectrolytes and bio-electrodes to make bio-batteries”, says Dr. Zhong. Like her associate Dr. Ko, Dr. Zhong believes that a key part of her research should be to develop commercial applications. Currently her lab is working on assembling the bio-batteries, and looking for companies interested in bringing the technology to the world. She hopes the batteries find their way into the marketplace within a couple of years. “For batteries, you can’t just stop at fundamental research”, she says. “We must target commercialization.” With the next generation of electronics promising to be flexible, foldable, and even elastic, the soy-lignin bio-batteries are just in time. Currently, the shape, size and weight of batteries are limiting factors in how electronics are designed, but with Dr. Zhong and Dr. Ko’s biobatteries just around the corner, electronics will be freed from those restraints. Wearable electronics, for example, have just become much closer to realization thanks to this technology. The benefits of bio-batteries keep sprouting. Manufacturing biobatteries from soy and lignin would mean that we could essentially grow


the materials needed to produce the power sources for our gadgets. The soy-based, solid electrolytes Dr. Zhong is developing have another upside. The danger of the liquid electrolytes currently present in the batteries in our laptop computers is that they have various safety issues, and are at risk of being punctured. Solid electrolytes do not have the same problem. “The most important characteristic for this type of battery is that it is safer”, says Dr. Zhong. “It will not cause corrosion problems. It will not cause environmental problems.” Dr. Zhong has been at the forefront of materials research for two decades since she received her PhD in the Composites and Manufacturing Program at Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA). Five years later, she became the university’s youngest full professor, and one of the youngest in all of China. An international visiting professorship brought her to the United States in 2001, and she returned in 2003 to accept a full-time position at North Dakota State University. That international spirit has stayed with her in her new chair position as Westinghouse Distinguished Professor at Washington State University, where she continues to work across the border with Dr. Ko and his team on their electrifying discovery. “The USA and Canada are so close, but there isn’t a lot of opportunity for researchers to collaborate”, she laments. “The Peter Wall Institute supported that collaboration.”


Dr. Frank Ko

ASSOCIATE USES ECO-CONSCIOUS ENGINEERING TO DEVELOP PROSTHESES Dr. Frank Ko, a Faculty Associate with the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, sees endless possibilities in mimicking nature’s extensive use of fibres. He points to his favourite example from the animal kingdom: a spider digests an insect off its web and in order to produce more protein to spin a new web, it then eats that web to absorb and recycle the protein again. “It’s a very interesting model for eco-conscious engineering”, he says. While spider silk may be the most compelling natural structure to come to mind, for Dr. Ko, it’s only the start. “Nature is full of fibrous materials”, he says. “Look at your body, or at a tree, it’s all fibrous material. The structural elements are always fibrous material.” In fact, it is in the fibres of the human body, and in tree fibres, known as cellulose/lignin, that Dr. Ko’s most promising areas of research lie. When the human body builds bone, it depends on fibrous materials like collagen to form the scaffolding on which the bone tissue develops. Drawing inspiration from this process, Dr. Ko is developing implants or prostheses that can aid in healing. Unlike traditional implants, which are foreign to the body and can cause complications from rejection, these implants can be integrated into body tissues, slowly break down, and even release medicine at the site of injury while defending against infection. These scaffolds could become a normal part of surgical procedures and burn care – and the material from which they could be derived might seem as surprising as the treatments themselves. “Canada, of course, has plenty of trees”, explains Dr. Ko, a Tier I Canada Research Chair and Professor in UBC’s Department of Materials Engineering. This super-abundant natural resource – the second-most


abundant natural polymer on the planet – is being put to waste; only about two per cent of the lignin we harvest is being put to good use. By extracting the polymer and converting them into carbon nanofibres, Dr. Ko says a larger portion of the lignin could potentially be used in car bodies, electrodes for batteries, ultrahigh sensitive sensors for health monitoring, and even electromagnetic shielding for electronic device applications. Before the lignin can be put to these diverse uses, it has to be “spun” into a nanofibre, an extremely thin fibre. This spinning increases its surface area, making it more reactive, for use in sensors, for example, and reducing the probability to include defects, which makes it stronger. To produce the nanofibre, the polymer is subjected to an electrical field that overcomes the surface tension of the polymer then teases out a fine filament by solvent evaporation and a whipping motion. The end result is a fibre between 100-500 nanometres (nm), around the size of the smallest known bacterium. Your hair is about 50,000 nm in diameter.

FROM WEARABLE, FLEXIBLE ELECTRONICS FOR HEALTH MONITORING TO BIODEGRADABLE, IMPLANTABLE SCAFFOLDS FOR TISSUE REGENERATION, DR. KO IS ADDING NEARLY ENDLESS FUNCTIONS TO FIBRES. “My work is to add function to this fibre”, he says. Adding such diverse function to nanofibres means input from an equally diverse number of fields; his multidisciplinary connections help him to explore more potential applications for nanofibres and bring seemingly wild technological ideas into reality. As a Faculty Associate of the Institute, Dr. Ko is part of a multidisciplinary group of researchers at the Advanced Materials and Process Engineering Laboratory (AMPEL) and in laboratories across campus, from which he can glean insights into biology, clinical practice, engineering, and many other disciplines. His work on lignin-based carbon nanofibres has brought him together with new research groups, including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Biomaterials and Chemicals Network and the Genome Canada team at UBC. From wearable, flexible electronics for health monitoring to biodegradable, implantable scaffolds for tissue regeneration, Dr. Ko is adding nearly endless functions to fibres. His work also has the potential to reduce the necessity of petroleum products, as many of the naturallyderived fibrous materials made in his lab serve the same purpose as their oil-based counterparts. As for the future? Dr. Ko is optimistic: “The future is already here.”



FEATURING THE PETER WALL INSTITUTE’S EARLY CAREER SCHOLARS In the 1950s, UBC marine ecologist Dr. Thomas Widdowson surveyed the distribution of algae and mussels along the south coast of Vancouver Island, BC. Now, at three out of those 15 original sites, mussels no longer occur. Such localized extinctions are a direct result of rising temperatures, changes to ocean salinity and extreme weather events, explains Dr. Chris Harley, a marine ecologist at UBC and Peter Wall Faculty Associate, who studies ocean acidification and the impact of climate change on rocky coasts. “We’re pretty dependent on coastal marine systems”, says Dr. Harley. “They provide lots of food, the export value of just the shellfish harvest in Canada is more than $2 billion a year and climate change affects how well shellfish grow.” He has many insights about the significant changes occurring on BC coastlines as a result of increased carbon dioxide emissions, including the impacts of ocean acidification on shellfish and sea stars. “When carbon dioxide is absorbed into the ocean, it reacts with sea water and creates a weak acid, which is why the pH goes down. When the water is more acidic, you have more hydrogen protons floating around, and they tend to grab carbonate ions, which is one half of what you need to build clam shells or corals that are made out of calcium carbonate”, explains Dr. Harley. “This acidity reduces the availability of carbonate ions for making calcium carbonate.” The result is that shellfish, such as mussels, have difficulty building

Dr. Chris Harley




May 2011 After two salty summers in 2009 and 2010 (remember how little snow there was during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics?) there were very few mussels because sea stars have eaten most of them. This rock face is mostly bare.

April 2012 The relatively fresh summer of 2011 has allowed the mussels (black band in the middle of the photo) to partially recover. There are a few sea stars near the water line.

OCEAN ACIDIFICATION IMPACTS MARINE LIFE ON BC COASTLINES shells. In addition, mussel beds are also affected by higher temperatures, contributing to their demise in some localized spots along the BC coast. Conversely, Dr. Harley’s lab tests have shown that sea stars have fared well in warmer and more acidic waters. “They grow faster when you warm up the water and when you add carbon dioxide to it.” They also do better in relatively salty water, he adds. When freshwater from the Fraser River runs into the Strait of Georgia in the spring, sea stars suffer, or stay in deeper waters, away from fresh water. Mussels, in turn, can thrive as the freshwater effectively staves off their predators. As BC’s climate continues to change, and less snow falls in the mountains, spring run-off into the Strait of Georgia will decrease, making water in the Strait saltier – which is good news for sea stars and therefore bad news for mussels. All of these changes have impacts on intertidal communities. As acidic waters and higher temperatures threaten mussels but favour sea stars, mussel bed habitats are being reduced. “You have this layer cake pattern of species on rocky shores and as you get to hotter places those species are getting pushed downwards towards the low tide line. But waiting for them are all the predators that can crawl up from below”, explains Dr. Harley, referring to sea stars. Ocean acidification also affects aquaculture, he adds. When the


April 2013 The summer of 2012 was very fresh, with the peak Fraser River outflow more than double that of 2010. Sea star populations crashed, and the mussel bed extends even further down the shore.

ocean becomes too acidic, acquaculturalists cannot rear baby scallops since the scallops are unable to develop a hard shell. It also means that sometimes marine life moves around, perhaps to deeper waters or toward other shores, changing where seafood can be fished from. “We are putting food security at risk, people’s careers and employment at risk and the Canadian economy at risk if we are not careful about how we deal with climate change”, he warns. In 2006, Dr. Harley published a review paper entitled, “The impacts of climate change in coastal marine systems”, in which he suggests that human-induced global climate change has profound implications for marine ecosystems and the economic and social systems that depend on them. It was a turning point in the field of marine ecology, where previously the ocean was believed to be buffered by the impacts of climate change. “The problem is we have kept putting off making tough choices and now we have tough choices to make that may have no acceptable alternatives when it comes to preventing major ecological problems. We can’t tell people to stop burning fossil fuels. But we do need to cut back. There is a fine line between convincing people it is important and making it so depressing that people throw their hands up in the air and give up”, concludes Dr. Harley.


Dr. Elizabeth Hirsh


QUALITATIVE RESEARCH SHEDS LIGHT ON WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION IN US Sociologist Dr. Elizabeth Hirsh has spent much of her career looking at workforce data and records of employment discrimination lawsuits, identifying and tracking broad trends of discrimination and injustice in the workplace. Her newest project has her going far beyond the numbers. Dr. Hirsh, a recipient of the Early Career Scholar award at the Peter Wall Institute, has looked at thousands of legal claims of employment discrimination filed in the United States over the past decade. She is currently interviewing some of the people behind these proceedings in an effort to gain a more qualitative perspective of the effects on discrimination. She says that this project, the first in which she has conducted one-on-one interviews, has become integral to her understanding of the broader trends of discrimination and the impact of such legal claims. “These cases all started as data points in my research project, which included hundreds and hundreds of cases”, she says. “I went into a few and started talking to people and realized it is such a monumental event for these individuals.” Dr. Hirsh says part of the challenge she has had is being sensitive to individual stories, as opposed to immediately relating them back to the greater context. “In many cases, the lawsuit took over and devastated people’s lives for many years”, she says. “This work really was their life and their families’ lives.” “On the one hand, you want to look at the broader trend over many cases, but the individual stories are equally as important.” Nonetheless, Dr. Hirsh is applying the lessons she is learning from individual stories to make a more complex analysis of workplace inequality. “Part of the argument I’m making about discrimination is that it really is more than a one-time event or a single employment event or decision”,


she explains. “The law treats discrimination mostly as a single event, but really, when you start talking to individuals and uncovering the conditions that brought about that event, what you see is that the entire workplace context was set up so that individuals were really subject to bias and they had no choice in the discrimination they experienced.” Dr. Hirsh’s interest in this area began as an undergraduate student of sociology, during which time she intended to apply to law school. However, she slowly realized she preferred researching the law from a sociological perspective, studying the impact of the law on social behaviour and inequality, and how it can help or hurt. Dr. Hirsh says her work has received a lot of attention because few have considered the aggregate impact of litigation. She also notes that her current interviews have been just as enlightening as any numerical patterns. “It’s very interesting to hear the experiences of plaintiffs, to hear their point of view, what happened at the workplace, what broad culture was at the workplace that enabled or facilitated their treatment, how it was ongoing for a number of years, and so on”, she says. “You really see differences when you compare that with the legal record, where only a narrow amount of evidence is permissible and there is very limited information about prior experiences.” Dr. Hirsh hopes her research will lead to a new way of thinking about the conditional factors that go along with lawsuits and legal claims. “Thinking about lawsuits and claims in a broader way, thinking about how we can use the law most effectively, and also thinking about how we can resolve legal cases with the most impact.”



The year Dr. Lori Brotto completed her Master’s in psychology, Viagra was approved for men in Canada. “It shone a spotlight on women’s sexuality research because there was very little comparable research in women”, Dr. Brotto says, a recipient of the Peter Wall Institute Early Career Scholar award. Today, Dr. Brotto is a lead researcher in using mindfulness, the “practice of intentionally being fully aware of one’s thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, without judgment”, as a means of treating sexual problems in women. Dr. Brotto spent many of her early academic years studying human sexuality and sexual problems, and then did her post-doctorate fellowship at the University of Washington where she received training in dialectical behaviour therapy for people with borderline personality disorder. It is there she was introduced to mindfulness. “There’s a strong mindfulness component in this treatment for these highly suicidal individuals”, she says. Dr. Brotto brought forth the idea to her supervisor of using mindfulness to help women with sexual problems. “I suggested to my supervisor, there’s a lot of similarities between how women survivors of cancer experience their sexuality and how these people with borderline personality disorder talk about their own symptoms. They describe a disconnection, a lack of self, not in touch at all with any sexual sensations.” Dr. Brotto embarked on a pilot study; now, ten years later, she has adapted her mindfulness approach to look at a variety of different populations, including women with low desire and arousal, women with genital pain, cancer survivors with sexual difficulties, and women with sexual problems and a history of childhood sexual abuse. The treatment program itself has evolved. Dr. Brotto and colleagues take on groups of six to ten women to lead them through mindfulness exercises. In the past, there were just four sessions for a given group; now, in response to the participants’ reactions, it’s up to eight. “They were just getting their feet wet when the group ended”, she says. “They asked us to expand the program, so we did.” Indeed, the positive outcome of mindfulness to help sexual problems is not just a success story for Dr. Brotto’s research, but also for each and every woman who comes in with problems. “We’ve had women with intense genital pain”, Dr. Brotto says. “Women will say that they can’t have anything penetrate the vagina, it feels like there are knives or razors cutting the opening of their vaginas.”


“It’s interesting because in a physical exam, there are no obvious signs of damage, swelling or pain. There’s no signs of redness, there’s no inflammation, there’s no tissue damage.” Mindfulness skills, Dr. Brotto says, targets the pain from where it starts – the brain. “To really understand pain, even though pain is felt in the genitals, pain originates and is processed in the brain”, she says. “It’s not surprising to me that something like mindfulness, being very present in a non-judgmental way, and accepting all the sensations that arise into awareness, can improve pain.” But Dr. Brotto says one of the most challenging aspects of her research is convincing women and doctors alike that mindfulness techniques are effective. “On surface level, it does seem paradoxical. Patients often ask us, how is it that being present, that breathing, that adopting this present moment … can actually translate into my pain going away?” “They have a really hard time understanding this concept in the beginning”, she adds. “We borrow heavily on the neurophysiological data that’s shown us where pain is located and how mindfulness basedtechniques can change the brain.” Dr. Brotto says there is a progression of mindfulness techniques, from mindfulness of body to mindfulness of breath and finally to mindfulness of thoughts. Activities to encourage these states of mind include taking 15 minutes to eat a raisin, really focusing on what you’re eating, mentally taking yourself through a full body scan, focusing on different parts of the body, and doing various meditation and breathing techniques. Dr. Brotto has found that women truly enjoy these exercises. “Many women have told us they wish they’d learned these skills much earlier in their lives, as a teenager or a child even”, she says. “They feel like these skills could have generalized to many other domains of their life where they were struggling.” “Mindfulness interventions are effective in a number of different domains, including sexual response, mood, quality of life, and general well-being.” Dr. Brotto has indeed seen women, even those with the most painful genital conditions, come to experience a different relationship with their pain as a result of mindfulness practice. In some cases, the emotional suffering around the pain has diminished. In other cases, the pain itself begins to lessen. “Hearing women say that they’re able to get back to their sex life, they’re able to wear jeans for the first time in years, those kinds of outcomes make it very rewarding.” “It’s surprising maybe to a lot of physicians because there’s a sense of ‘pain is pain’, how can something psychological be effective for real pain?” Dr. Brotto asks. “But it is.” Next, she plans to launch a new program for women with sexual desire and arousal problems using mindfulness. “Sexual health really is an important part of general health and general quality of life. Societal and cultural taboos remain rampant, but it’s a fundamental part of health and well-being.”



Most people would agree that you can’t put a price tag on human life. Yet, what if a person’s health was costing the health care system up to $1 million per year? Can it be justified? These questions are being asked by Dr. Larry Lynd, Peter Wall Faculty Associate and Associate Professor in the UBC Pharmaceutical Sciences Department. He says, there is no easy answer. Dr. Lynd is leading a multi-disciplinary team of health economists, epidemiologists, clinicians, decision-makers, ethics researchers, lawyers, and expert researchers in health policy to help address some of the questions about the cost of expensive drugs for rare diseases. There are numerous different definitions worldwide of rare diseases. In British Columbia, where Dr. Lynd sits on the advisory committee for the provincial Ministry of Health, rare diseases are defined as those diseases that occur in less than 1.65 per hundred thousand people, although the World Health Organization’s definition defines a rare disease as 1 in 2,000. There are an estimated 7,000 known rare diseases and approximately 250 new ones are identified every year, though Dr. Lynd says this rate of growth has not put any pressure on the pharmaceutical industry to provide cheaper drugs for these rare diseases, which can cost anywhere from $300,000 to a $1 million per year per patient. “We know this is an underserviced population”, Dr. Lynd says. “We don’t have other treatment alternatives.” With asthma or high blood pressure or depression, we have a number of treatment options with different costs; and even if the costs weren’t covered by our payer, often they’re not so exorbitant that we couldn’t pay out of pocket if we absolutely had to”, Dr. Lynd says. “What’s different here is if these drugs aren’t paid for by a third-party payer, whether it be a government payer or a private insurer, it’s just not an option for these patients to pay for them themselves.” Dr. Lynd has received funding from Canadian Institutes for Health Research for this five-year project, which will work on developing a decision-making framework for making reimbursement decisions relating to treatments for rare diseases. “One of the questions that we always have as tax payers in Canada is, should we be spending a $1 million to treat one patient when there’s an opportunity cost that we could be using these same resources for other programs for more people”, Dr. Lynd says. “What is the societal value for paying a premium for rarity?” Dr. Lynd says he hopes the creation of this team will encourage some innovation in the area of medicine for rare diseases because it will be looking at different potential strategies that could be implemented. But for now, it must look at what Canadians are willing to pay, research that has never before been done. “We’re a fairly altruistic and philanthropic society, and most people would agree that we’d probably be willing to pay some premium on the cost of the drugs to treat patients who just by virtue of bad luck have a rare genetic disease, which is what most of these are”, Dr. Lynd says. “The question is how much more are we willing to pay. I don’t think it’s infinite. I think there’s some sort of ceiling on how much we would be willing to pay, but we don’t know what that is.” Dr. Lynd says that with an ever-expanding list of rare diseases, this evaluation needs to be done, and it needs to be done now. “We’re right at the front edge of the curve in terms of personalized treatment and the number of these types of treatments that we might see”, Dr. Lynd says. “In ten or 15 years we’ll be dealing with a lot more types of treatments.” “Then the potential pressure on a limited health care budget is going to be that much more significant.”



When a woman is convicted of a crime, it is not only the woman who is sentenced, but also her children who are themselves innocent and yet who suffer the ultimate punishment – maternal separation – says Samantha Sarra, Co-Principal Investigator of a Peter Wall Institute International Research Roundtable held in May 2013. “The result is a cycle of trauma and struggle that has generational consequences that has left the health and well-being of marginalized women and their children in a state of crisis”, she says. The International Research Roundtable, Bonding Through Bars, brought together delegates from five continents to explore the health and human rights of incarcerated women and their children. The state of Canada’s prison, legal and child welfare system was at the forefront of this international dialogue aimed at initiating change towards more equitable laws, policies and programs. “It’s extremely important to know that more than two-thirds of the women in Canadian prisons are mothers and the majority of them are the sole providers for their children who are directly impacted when they are incarcerated”, says Roundtable delegate, Kim Pate, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies. While there is a dearth of national research on this topic in Canada, studies in the US have shown that when a man goes to jail, 90 per cent of the time his children end up in the care of a family member, contrasted with when a woman is incarcerated only 10 per cent of the time do her children end up in the care of family. Other countries have had more equitable approaches to justice and its relationship to parental incarceration. In 1994, South Africa offered special remission of sentences for mothers with minor children under the age of 12. “Nelson Mandela freed all the women who were mothers”, explains Pate, “he understood the legacy of imprisoning the mothers punished not just the mother but also her children and all generations to come”. “We’re talking about a situation rooted in women’s economic, social and political inequality. Women who are at greater risk for victimization, women who have no choices and are selling their bodies or doing


whatever they can to make ends meet and essentially the criminalization of poverty”, she adds. Dr. Susan Boyd, a Roundtable delegate and Chair of the Policy Working Group for the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, agrees that socioeconomic factors are key to understanding maternal incarceration. “It’s poor and radicalized women who are in prison. Aboriginal women and women in poverty are criminalized. The cards are stacked against them from the beginning and there are terrible consequences for them”, says Dr. Boyd. “There is a terrible cost in human suffering and tax dollars in prison building rather than providing the affordable housing, adequate income assistance and access to education that would better support families and children. Stop blaming them for being poor mothers. We need to look at our compulsion to see the law as a solution for social problems.” Dr. Boyd began her career as an outreach worker in a harm reduction program whose primary goal was to reunite mothers with their children, and she is concerned that the laws and policies currently in place are actually detrimental to the well-being of families. “I am worried that mandatory minimum sentencing for drug crimes will have a terrible impact on women as well as limiting a judge’s ability to have discretion in sentencing.” The Safer Streets and Communities Act (SSCA) is a bill that was brought forth by the Conservative government, passing in March of 2012. One of the amendments to the criminal code it has implemented is increased penalties for drug crimes. An April 2013 report from the BC Provincial Health Officer expressed concerns that the SSCA would unfairly impact Aboriginal people who are already overrepresented in the prison system. Similarly, a March 2013 report from Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers argued that there has been an insufficient response from Ottawa to the Aboriginal incarceration rate. The prohibition of drugs directly impacts mothers and children with 82 per cent of federally sentenced women and 90 per cent of federally sentenced Aboriginal women having experienced physical and/or sexual abuse. Drug use, like work in the sex trade, welfare fraud and stealing food are all survival strategies which are criminalized and contribute to a self-perpetuating cycle. Nearly 40 per cent of women in Canadian jails were separated from their own parents because of incarceration and now they are mothers raising the next generation, and 50 per cent of their teenage children have already been in youth custody. The Creating Choices report of the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women found countless times that the hardest thing on women was not the imprisonment itself, but separation from their children, says Sarra. “One of the emotions that is profoundly important is the emotion of shame. When women have abandoned their children or had children taken away, there is enormous shame and guilt around that”, says Alison Granger-Brown, who is a PhD candidate working in the area of growth, development and healing for women in prison. “You cannot understand the life of the woman in prison if you don’t try to journey with them and understand some of what brings them into prison.” Granger-Brown has taken that journey with many women including Mo Korchinski. “I used to block out those feelings and tell people that I did not have kids”, recalls Korchinski, who had an abusive childhood and lived a life of addiction that eventually led to her losing custody of her children. “It wasn’t until I saw the babies inside the prison that I started to think of my own kids and start my healing.” Korchinski was incarcerated at a time when the mother and baby program was running at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women in Maple Ridge, BC. “When I walked out of those gates I didn’t have anything to look forward to except to go back to my old life, because I didn’t have my kids. It is devastating not to know where your child is.” After her release, Korchinski was reunited with her children, the younger of whom had been told she was dead. Today is she a proud grandmother, filmmaker and author who works to advocate for others


through Women in2 Healing, a community-based research project. “I get calls from women who are terrified inside. They are pregnant and worried about what will happen. No one wants to deliver a baby and then four hours later have to leave your child and be back in jail. It’s sadism. The conditions are inhumane, being in labour while you are handcuffed and shackled. There was one woman who was told her release would only be supported if she had an abortion.” Korchinski dedicates herself to helping other women behind bars, adding, “Yes, politicians can dictate what happens in prison, but if the public knew what goes on, things would change. We don’t have to run things the way we are.” Granger-Brown agrees, “Decisions are made by those who have social power, and fear is often what drives policy creation. I want to see value placed on the people who have lived experience; creating programming and settings where people can do the healing work they need to do.” The mother and baby program at Alouette ran successfully from 2005-2008. It was cancelled abruptly and it’s closing was protested by many including Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, BC’s representative for Children and Youth who highlighted a baby’s right to the enormous health benefits associated with breastfeeding and strong maternal attachment. GrangerBrown worked as a recreational therapist at Alouette and resigned after the new warden announced the closure of the program. “I could not watch as they pulled apart everything that we knew was helpful”, said Granger-Brown. There is currently a case before the B.C. Supreme Court, Inglis v. British Columbia (Minister of Public Safety), 2012 BCSC 1023, which seeks to establish that both mothers and infants have constitutional rights to remain together during the incarceration of the mothers in the provincial corrections system. The pain of mother and child being separated is one understood universally. “My experience with incarcerated mothers and their children has been stories of pain, suffering and rejection”, explains Mary Kamau, who works in prison ministry and is Head of Nursing at the Presbyterian University of East Africa. Kamau travelled from Kenya to attend the Roundtable. “There is a great need to change the current scenario in which the stigma attached to imprisoned mothers is highly traumatizing, especially to the children who most of the time are innocent and find themselves the victims of circumstances. Something needs to be done, and the time is now.”

Roundtable panel on the rights and realities of the children of incarcerated mothers. From left to right: Debbie Kilroy, Sharon McIvor, Chesa Boudin, Pushpa Basnet, Geoff Cowper and Sharon Content. To watch the panel online, please visit:



Dr. Kenneth Craig

DISTINGUISHED SCHOLAR USES FACIAL EXPRESSIONS TO ASSESS PAIN IN NON-VERBAL PATIENTS How do you measure pain? Is someone’s own description of his or her level of pain accurate? What if they can’t describe it? Dr. Kenneth Craig, a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UBC, has been grappling with these questions for years and continues to explore them. The study of pain is an ongoing phenomenon, in large part due to the challenges of measuring pain, according to Dr. Craig. There remain widespread problems of unrecognized, underestimated and inadequately controlled acute and chronic pain. Early in his career, Dr. Craig says he had doubts about the accuracy of using self-reporting as a measure of pain. “People are extremely responsive to the context in which they are reporting pain”, he explains. “If we perceive others as sympathetic to our plight or likely to react adversely to our expressions of pain, it changes our expressions.” Dr. Craig says people can respond to another person’s expression of pain in both automatic or controlled fashions, but that certain social conditions, such as one’s relationship to the person in pain or even their


personal background, always play a role in their responding actions. “People typically have empathic reactions to another person’s stress”, he says. “Observing others in pain is distressing.” Recognizing that the method of self-reporting levels of pain has its shortcomings, Dr. Craig and his colleagues have developed systematic measures of facial expressions to assess non-verbal expressions of pain. Dr. Craig has used this approach with success in populations that have particular trouble with verbal communication, such as young children, people with brain damage, autistic children, and adults with intellectual disabilities. The system has been widely implemented in health care systems. “The facial grimace is highly specific to pain”, Dr. Craig explains. “Recognizing it as a non-verbal expression of pain has provided a means of measuring pain in clinical settings.” “We found non-verbal measures were the only reliable and valid means of understanding pain in infants and young children.” But Dr. Craig acknowledges that there is still much room to study both the experience and the expression of physical pain, especially since



Dr. Jamie Peck

Think tanks responded faster to the 2005 disaster in New Orleans than did the Bush administration, says Dr. Jamie Peck, Peter Wall Distinguished Scholar in Residence.

it is such a continuum of feeling and can come from so many different ailments. “We’re slowly approximating better measurement of pain but we have a long way to go”, he says. Dr. Craig has been studying the experience of having and expressing pain as a clinical psychologist for much of his career. As a 2013 Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the Peter Wall Institute, Dr. Craig is currently organizing workshops in Paris and Vancouver to enable an interdisciplinary discussion of the pain experience. His upcoming interdisciplinary workshops will help with this discussion, he says, as it needs to come from scholars from all different disciplines from psychology to computer science. Sociological elements, he says, are particularly important to examine. “I’m increasingly impressed by the importance of social context as a determinant of pain and suffering and how people behave when they’re experiencing pain”, he says. “That’s an area where more studies can be done.”


When the financial crisis hit in Detroit in 2008, Michigan-based think tanks were already hard at work on anti-union legislation. In California, as the drum beat of public-sector reform was intensifying, a satellite of the New York-based Manhattan Institute, the California Public Policy Center, was stepping up its campaign for privatized pensions. Dr. Jamie Peck, who studies the everyday strategies of think tanks, refers to these organizations as “ideological first responders”. “They are in a position to react quickly and they try to frame policy discussions about how to respond to new challenges or unexpected events”, says Dr. Peck, UBC Professor of Geography and 2013 Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the Peter Wall Institute. A number of years ago, he was involved in an accident that left him bedridden for several months. He began monitoring the daily strategies of free-market (or “neoliberal”) think tanks in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. He observed that think tanks responded faster to the disaster than the Bush administration, and they were remarkably successful in framing the eventual policy response to the New Orleans crisis. They do so by improvising and making the most of sophisticated communications strategies, but they always seek to act consistently with particular objectives: small government, liberty and the free-market. “Their work is about trying to frame appropriate kinds of responses”, explains Dr. Peck. “With respect to the recovery effort after the hurricane, it meant evading long-term entitlement obligations, it meant ensuring that the federal government would not be on the hook for this kind of insurance risk, and that the costs of clean up and recovery would be devolved to local responsibility wherever possible. They respond quickly and with reference to a fairly well-articulated ideological position, which isn’t necessarily explicit in what they do, but if you look at enough of what they do, you see the recurring patterns.” Many of the leading neoliberal think tanks can be traced back to the free-market project of F.A. Hayek, and to a meeting with Antony Fisher at the London School of Economics in the late 1940s. Many of these groups are now referred to as “Fisher think tanks”. “They are in the business of making policy-based evidence”, explains Dr. Peck, as opposed to evidence-based policy. “They are effectively producing evidence to fit an ideological position and have been amazingly effective at doing that. They have really reshaped the conversation in many policy areas, like welfare, education, taxation, and the environment.” Dr. Peck is particularly interested in the daily strategies of state and local-level think tanks in the United States, which, in many cases are satellite offices of larger think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute in Washington, DC. This kind of work has had very little attention so far, he observes. “Many of the local think tanks have been operating under the radar.” “It’s extremely important at the present time because we are in a historical moment where federal systems are being rolled back, so increasingly states, cities and local governments are on their own. They are not going to get big transfers from the feds.” Cuts to programs have trickled from top to bottom, so much of the policy action is happening on the local level, he adds. He explains that the current policy terrain makes it much easier for right of centre think tanks to operate in than it does for more left-leaning think tanks. Making the case for new social programs in times of austerity or proposing progressive changes to the tax code is inherently more difficult, he contends. “In some ways, these more progressive groups are working against the grain.” However, Dr. Peck maintains that basic research on these issues is an essential part of policy-making. Increasingly, evidence is only collected for narrow and instrumentalist purposes, or to justify preferred positions. “Too often, the fundamental questions just don’t get asked.”


Dr. Bonny Norton


For years, if students didn’t do well in school, they were often considered ‘unmotivated’. But thanks to Dr. Bonny Norton, that notion is changing, putting less emphasis on individual students and more onus on the learning environment. South African-born Dr. Norton, a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the Peter Wall Institute, conceptualized what has become a breakthrough in the field of language teaching as she began to challenge the notion of students being differentiated by their motivation — or lack thereof. “I realized theories of motivation were very limited”, says Dr. Norton, Professor in the Department of Language and Literacy Education in the Faculty of Education at UBC and a recipient of both a Killam Research Prize and a Killam Teaching Prize. “If you don’t do well in class, you’re often considered to be unmotivated, but what I’ve found in my research is it’s a lot more complicated than that. A student may wish to speak, but who is listening?” Dr. Norton developed the concept of investment, an idea that has been widely successful in the world of language education. What she means by investment, she explains, is a sociological rather than psychological construct, and captures the relationship between commitment to learning and student identity. Identity, in turn, is not simply the essential personality of an individual, but is considered to be multiple and socially constructed. For example, in addition to asking how motivated a student is, it is also important to ask what the student’s investment is in the language practices of a classroom or community. A motivated student who is subjected to a racist, sexist or homophobic class culture may not be invested in the language practices of the classroom, but nevertheless be perceived as ‘unmotivated’. “There may also be a disjuncture between what the teacher considers good teaching, and what the student considers good teaching”, Dr. Norton says, noting that within this conceptual framework, learning is not just the responsibility of the learner. “It’s a fundamental shift in the way we understand the learner and the learning context.” According to Dr. Norton, the best classroom practices validate students’ identities as opposed to marginalizing them. “If students laugh at another student’s accent, it can certainly marginalize the student”, she explains. “Or perhaps if the assessment of a student’s work only looks at his or her weaknesses, and not his or her strengths.”



Dr. Norton says the best classroom culture will cultivate or even reconstruct students’ identities to make them feel as much a part of the fabric of the classroom as possible. “Say you have a shy student who doesn’t participate or talk, some teachers might say she’s not motivated. But say, for example, she’s a good violin player, a good practice would be to say, ‘let’s have a jam session and play some music’. Suddenly her identity shifts from ‘shy student’ to ‘musician’. Because of that, the relationship between the student and the classroom changes and she becomes a more integrated part of the community. Other students view her more positively and she speaks more freely.” “Other students are all part of the culture of the classroom”, she says. “Often the most important challenge is how a teacher can promote practices that validate student identity, so the student can then become invested in classroom practices.”



Artefacts connected to the meeting of cultures, such as items acquired during European exploration of the Pacific and South America, are helping scholars understand the historical and transformational impacts of exchanges between peoples, says Peter Wall Faculty Associate, Dr. Neil Safier. “Material objects have different meanings for different groups of people, and this becomes especially relevant in moments of crosscultural contact: when two groups exchange goods that mean very different things to the giver and the receiver, we have a privileged moment that allows us to gain insight into cultural frames of reference that otherwise would remain opaque”, says Dr. Safier, from UBC’s Department of History. These objects give researchers a glimpse at the relationship mediation and understanding of other cultures that emerged as a result of cultures meeting. Often there is little communication between the different groups – from anthropologists and art scholars to Indigenous communities – interested in such artefacts. Dr. Safier says he hopes interdisciplinary initiatives, like the “Artefacts of Encounter” Exploratory Workshop he led with the Institute in April 2013, will bring greater understanding to the importance of these items in their historical context. At the workshop, held at the UBC’s Museum of Anthropology (MOA), Dr. Safier and colleagues from the fields of ethnography, historical anthropology, archaeology, art history, and media studies discussed the kinds of texts, images and artefacts found at MOA, as well as in archives and cultural centres across Canada and the world. For the group, these remnants of cross-cultural exchanges were looked at not just as objects, but as agents of complex processes of socio-cultural and historical transformation. “The experience of curating and discussing collections of objects at the Museum of Anthropology has been an excellent way of opening up a dialogue between groups that don’t often speak to one another. This workshop … offered new models for dialogue that I hope will be repeated in other venues”, adds Dr. Safier. Focusing on the Pacific and South America, scholars compared methodologies currently being debated within their different regional and disciplinary areas related to the role of artefacts in exchanges between different peoples across space and time. These artefact collections frequently have large significance for Indigenous communities as well as scholars. According to Dr. Safier,


Sketched by the British engraver, John Hall, circa 1739-1797, ‘A representation of the interview between Commodore Byron and the Patagonians’ was drawn from the journals of several commanders, by John Hawkesworth.

the active participation of members of these communities intensifies the sense of collaboration and exchange in discussions about the collections. At the “Artefacts of Encounter” workshop, Indigenous participants included Maori and Musqueam activists and scholars. Two Musqueam curatorial students took participants through the museum to look at theoretical questions about objects in the context of the MOA collection, adding to the poignancy of some of the difficult issues being discussed. As well, after discussing questions surrounding physical and “virtual” artefact repatriation, the workshop showcased the performances of Toi Hauiti, a working group of the Aitanga-a-Hauiti Charitable Trust - a Maori tribal organization. Based in Uawa, on New Zealand’s eastern coast, together with the “Artefacts of Encounter” group in Cambridge, they have worked to build a digital repository of Hauiti taonga – treasured ancestral artefacts – held in museums internationally. Input and participation from groups like Toi Hauiti help solidify the innovative links between creative expression, digital knowledge and Indigenous curatorial practices. For researchers, it demonstrates the importance of incorporating Indigenous conceptual frames, such as the use of the term taonga, into theoretical discussion of objects and their uses. “Bringing together historians and anthropologists was challenging, because each has his or her own disciplinary models/debates in mind. But it offers a very good forum for challenging those questions and the myopia with which we frequently view our own disciplines, so that alone is helpful and encouraging”, says Dr. Safier. Dr. Safier and collegues are preparing draft papers for an edited volume that will consider the role of objects and materiality more broadly in history, anthropology and allied disciplines. Toi Hauiti performing Maori tribal dance and song.



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Dr. Bruno Latour

For Dr. Bruno Latour, eminent French philosopher and anthropologist, nature and resources have always been part of politics, in some way. He says there was a time in the 17th century when there was a dividing line between science, natural law and politics. This division didn’t always work practically, he says, but the western world operated this way until ecology came into the foreground at the end of the 20th century and destroyed this divide. “Every single issue about energy, transportation, production of food and so on, has become mixed, which is an understatement. So now it is very difficult to separate what is about science and what is about politics. That’s what is new – in theory.” He references his contemporary, French anthropologist Dr. Philippe Descola, whose work has shown that at other times and in other cultures a continuity between nature and society has existed, in which the two concepts were not thought of as distinct from one another. “Nature is not a universal concept”, he adds. Now he says, “to do politics is to deal with nature”, citing oil, fracking and forests, as examples of recent contentious politics concerning natural resources.

IF WE BECOME A GEOLOGICAL FORCE AND ARE INFLUENTIAL ENOUGH TO MODIFY THE CONDITION ON THE EARTH, WE ARE A DIFFERENT SPECIES; WE ARE NO LONGER A MODERNIST SPECIES. Over the course of his career, Dr. Latour has spent a considerable part of his time conceiving of other ways to think about society and nature, or about humans and non-humans, as he puts it. “I am trying to find the right institution, polity and vocabulary to speak collectively about these matters of dispute.” As countries around the world continue to grapple with ecological crises, the politics of natural resource extraction and the impacts of climate change, Dr. Latour’s work is increasingly relevant. “Science is an important way to represent the will and destiny of non-humans”, says Dr. Latour, adding that the anthropology of science


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has been very useful in this regard. He chuckles under his breath about advocating for his own discipline. “Science is a good way to think about politics.” On September 23, 2013, Dr. Latour was in Vancouver to deliver the fall 2013 Wall Exchange lecture, entitled “War and Peace in an Age of Ecological Conflict”, where he will discuss the Anthropocene – a geological, anthropological, religious and political concept – as an alternative to notions of modernity and modernism. “For many years, I have argued that we have never been modern”, he explains. “Modernity is believed to have occurred, we thought we would emancipate ourselves from all sorts of attachment and basically live in a progressive frontier, as though we could expand indefinitely, but this emancipatory past was lost somewhere at the end of the 20th century precisely because of the ecological crisis.” The Anthropocene, as a concept, proposes that humans are the active geological force on the planet. “If we become a geological force and are influential enough to modify the conditions on the earth, we are a different species; we are no longer a modernist species.” In his book, We Have Never Been Modern, published in 1991, he argues that modernity is a dual process of ‘purification’ and ‘hybridization’ where modernists separate nature from society and the self, but mix nature and culture at times. He contends that moderns pretend to separate the two, but in practice produce forms of natureculture hybrids. Dr. Latour also emphasizes the political and social significance of the Anthropocene. “The most important geological force now operating on the earth is humans. Humans are a complicated entity because it isn’t anyone in particular – it is humanity as a whole – and of course, not everyone is doing the same thing”, he argues. “Politically it is a very interesting concept because it unifies humans even though humans are not unified at all. The poor and the rich and the people from the South and the North don’t have the same responsibility.” Dr. Latour’s Wall Exchange lecture can be viewed online at


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When Dr. Philippe Descola began his PhD in the 1970s, the Achuar people of the Amazon had only recently accepted peaceful contact with the outside world. “I decided to go and work with the Achuar in the 1970s because I was interested in studying the relationship between an Amazonian society and its environment”, says Dr. Descola, from the Collège de France and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Peter Wall Institute. “Although they were not completely isolated from the outside world, their system of relationships with nature was little changed from what it had been in the past centuries. They had some metal tools, but most of their techniques - cultivating, hunting and fishing – were genuinely autochtonous.” European accounts of the Amazonian Indians from the 16th century onwards had described their relationship with nature in conflicting ways: either they were portrayed as quasi-beasts entirely moved by their brute instincts, or as ‘naked philosophers’ enjoying the fruits of a generous nature – they did not have to work. But in both cases, recounted Dr. Descola, they were seen as little differentiated from their natural surroundings. Dr. Descola spent three years living and working with the Achuar and published his doctoral thesis entitled In the Society of Nature in 1986. His thesis concluded that the Achuar incorporated most nonhumans within human society. “The result of my ethnographic inquiry was precisely that these people entertained a relationship with plants and animals, who were treated as persons – not as resources or as part of a natural environment they had to adapt to. The kind of relationships they had between themselves, humans, was used to conceptualize the kind of relationship they had with non-humans.” He adds that the Achuar lived in an area with very low human density, approximately 0.1 inhabitant per square kilometre, and thus they saw no major discontinuity between themselves and what the western world typically understands as “nature”. “It means that when you go out of a house that you share with other humans, you will be immersed in a world where humans are extremely scarce and what you have mainly are non-humans – so there is no real discontinuity between the world of the house and the world of the forest. You simply extend the type of relationship you have with humans in the house to non-humans outside the house.” These observations were to provide the impetus for much of his anthropological career. Dr. Descola has continued to examine in a comparative way how different cultures conceive and implement their relations with their environment. “Such a conceptualization of the relationship between society and its environment has guided my work ever since, which is trying to


Dr. Philippe Descola

dispel this notion of nature as we use it in the west and as we project it onto other cultures and finding other ways of understanding forms of continuity and discontinuity that societies have established with nonhumans”, he continues. “That has been my main research project of the past 30 years.” This perspective can help us think about how humans currently interact with the environment, he says, and more precisely with regards to resource extraction.

SOME PEOPLE THINK RESOURCES CAN BE EXPLOITED ENDLESSLY WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE. IT’S ALSO A QUESTION OF NOT BEING INTERESTED IN LONGTERM AND NOT BEING INTERESTED IN WHAT WE WILL BEQUEATH TO OUR GRANDCHILDREN. “Once you consider that non-humans constitute a block, like nature, and that block is entirely divorced from humans, it becomes a field of investigation and a domain from which you can extract resources, appropriate legally and manipulate. Then the relationship with all these elements will be such that you won’t consider restraint as a factor. It’s only after you discover that you have meddled with the environment in a terrible way that you may have regrets, but only as an afterthought”, warns the Professor. “Some people think resources can be exploited endlessly without consequence. It’s also a question of not being interested in the long-term and not being interested in what we will bequeath to our grandchildren.” He is quick to add that the point of view of the Achuar cannot be transposed to contemporary questions about the arctic, climate change and nuclear power plants, for example. They involve different questions and different times entirely, he says. What the point of view of the Achuar and other cultures around the world can offer, however, is a range of possibilities for how humans have interacted with the environment in other places and at other times. “When people say we can’t do otherwise, we can look and say, ‘Yes, we can do otherwise’. So we can invent new solutions to do otherwise; that would be the political path for anthropology in this domain.” Dr. Bruno Latour and Dr. Descola recently engaged in a public debate at the Museum of Anthropology. The discussion can be viewed online at





Award-winning pianist Dr. Rachel Iwaasa presented an evening of Mozart, Beethoven and De Profundis as part of a Peter Wall Institute International Research Roundtable, Biocultural Hinge: Theorizing Affect and Emotion Across Disciplines. The Roundtable, held May 1, 2013, took an interdisciplinary approach to exploring how theoretical understanding of emotion can help locate a hinge mechanism to explain the ways cultural experience can have an impact on biological matter. Dr. Iwaasa is known for bold and innovative concerts and has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in Canada, the United States and Germany. She is part of the sessional faculty at UBC’s School of Music. Find her performance online at


On April 10, 2013, the Peter Wall Institute Woodwind Quintet WW5 presented “An Evening of Wind Music”, performing a selection of pieces by Berger, Muller and Piazzolla that showcased the versatility of the group. Members of the quintet also introduced their instruments and provided a brief historical background or piece of trivia related to their instruments. Formed nine years ago, the WW5 consists of Dr. Brett Finlay, Peter Wall Distinguished Professor on clarinet, Institute Associate Dr. Vanessa Auld playing the flute, and former Distinguished Scholars in Residence Dr. Holger Hoos and Dr. Margaret Schabas playing the bassoon and oboe, respectively. Marianne Plenert of the West Coast Symphony and the Vancouver Philharmonic Orchestra rounds out the quintet on the French horn. “It is a wonderful group to play with, all very talented musicians, yet also academics by training”, says Dr. Finlay.


Standing Up with Ga’axsta’las: Jane Constance Cook and the Politics of Memory, Church and Custom UBC Press, March 2013 Dr. Leslie Robertson Standing Up with Ga’axsta’las is a compelling conversation with the colonial past initiated by the descendants of Kwakwaka’wakw leader and activist, Jane Constance Cook (1870-1951). Working in collaboration, Dr. Robertson and Cook’s descendants open this history, challenging dominant narratives that misrepresent her motivations for criticizing customary practices and eventually supporting the potlatch ban. Drawing from oral histories, archival materials, and historical and anthropological works, they offer a nuanced portrait of a high-ranked woman who was a cultural mediator, devout Christian, and activist for land claims, fishing and resource rights and adequate health care. Ga’axsta’las testified at the McKenna-McBride Royal Commission, was the only woman on the executive of the Allied Indian Tribes of BC, and was a fierce advocate for women and children. This powerful meditation on memory documents how the Kwagu’l Gixsam revived their dormant clan to forge a positive social and cultural identity for future generations through feasting and potlatching.

Roman Theories of Translation Routledge, May 2013 Dr. Siobhán McElduff For all that Cicero is often seen as the father of translation theory, his and other Roman comments on translation are often divorced from the complicated environments that produced them. The first book-length study in English of its kind, Roman Theories of Translation: Surpassing the Source explores translation as it occurred in Rome and presents a complete, culturally integrated discourse on its theories from 240 BCE to the second century CE. Dr. Siobhán McElduff analyzes Roman methods of translation, connects specific events and controversies in the Roman Empire to larger cultural discussions about translation, and delves into the histories of various Roman translators, examining how their circumstances influenced their experience of translation.


Small Matters: Canadian Children in Sickness and Health 1900-1940 McGill-Queen’s University Press, May 2013 Dr. Mona Gleason What was it like to be young and sick in the past? Who taught children how to be healthy and what were they expected to learn? In Small Matters, Dr. Mona Gleason explores how medical professionals, lay practitioners and parents understood young patients and how children responded. The first work of its kind, Small Matters explores how children faced death, endured illness and learned to be healthy in the context of their families and communities. By focusing on children’s medical treatment beyond the doctor’s office, and by paying particular attention to the experience of marginalized children, Dr. Gleason makes a major contribution to the history of Canadian childhood and healthcare.

The Choreography of Resolution: Conflict, Movement and Neuroscience American Bar Association, August 2013 Edited by Professor Michelle LeBaron, Carrie MacLeod (PhD candidate) and Andrew Acland In The Choreography of Resolution: Conflict, Movement and Neuroscience, 18 experienced mediators discuss the novel and important nexus of physical intelligence in conflict analysis and resolution. Drawing on recent research, the book describes how neuroscientifically-informed experiences with movement give mediators and others working with conflict expanded repertoires and new vocabularies. Readers will be better able to assist others in creating broader perspectives and possibilities in relation to divisive issues. Movement and neuroscientific understandings yield more complex understandings of conflict intervention and training by accenting nuance, texture and complexity.

Strong Constitutions, Social-Cognitive Origins of the Separation of Powers Oxford University Press, June 2013 Dr. Maxwell Cameron The separation of powers is an idea with ancient origins, but nowadays it is often relegated to

legal doctrine, public philosophy, or the history of ideas. The book argues that the separation of powers emerged with the spread of literacy, became a central part of constitutional thought in the context of the Gutenberg revolution, and faces unprecedented challenges in our current era of electronic communication. The separation of powers is linked to socialcognitive changes associated with evolving media of communication. The essence of the argument is that constitutional states use texts to coordinate collective action, and they do so by creating governmental agencies with specific jurisdiction and competence over distinct types of power. The book is a must read for anyone interested in the separation of powers, its origin, evolution, and consequences.

An Introduction to Quasisymmetric Schur Functions Springer, June 2013 Dr. Stephanie van Willigenburg, Dr. Stefan Mykytiuk and Dr. Kurt Luoto An Introduction to Quasisymmetric Schur Functions is aimed at researchers and graduate students in algebraic combinatorics. The goal of this monograph is twofold. The first goal is to provide a reference text for the basic theory of Hopf algebras, in particular the Hopf algebras of symmetric, quasisymmetric and noncommutative symmetric functions and connections between them. The second goal is to give a survey of results with respect to an exciting new basis of the Hopf algebra of quasisymmetric functions, whose combinatorics is analogous to that of the renowned Schur functions.

Managing Ocean Environments in a Changing Climate Elsevier, August 2013 Dr. Kevin J. Noone, Dr. Ussif Rashid Sumaila, Dr. Robert J. Diaz Managing Ocean Environments in a Changing Climate: Sustainability and Economic Perspectives summarizes the current state of six threats to the global oceans, what can happen if these threats act together, and the economic consequences of taking or not taking action to reduce them. It is based on the “Valuing the Ocean” project funded by the Okeanos Foundation for the Sea that was nominated for a Katerva Award in 2012 in the Economy category. The book begins with a holistic, global-scale focus and then provides an example of how this approach can be



applied on a smaller scale, focusing in on the Pacific region. By examining the threats to the oceans, both individually and collectively, this book provides gross estimates of the economic and societal impacts of these threats, and delivers high-level recommendations for how to manage them.

John Fawcett’s Ginger Snaps Toronto University Press, August 2013 Dr. Ernest Mathijs Few studies of Canadian cinema to date have engaged deeply with genre cinema and its connection to Canadian culture. Dr. Ernest Mathijs does just that in this volume, which traces the inception, production and reception of Canada’s internationally renowned horror film, Ginger Snaps (2000). This tongue-in-cheek Gothic film, which centres on two death-obsessed teenage sisters, draws a provocative connection between werewolf monstrosity and female adolescence and boasts a dedicated worldwide fan base.

Big Gods, How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict Princeton University Press, August 2013 Dr. Ara Norenzayan How did human societies scale up from small, tight-knit groups of hunter-gatherers to the large, anonymous, cooperative societies of today – even though anonymity is the enemy of cooperation? How did organized religions with “Big Gods” – the great monotheistic and polytheistic faiths – spread to colonize most minds in the world? In Big Gods, Dr. Ara Norenzayan makes the surprising and provocative argument that these fundamental puzzles about the origins of civilization are one and the same, and answer each other.

Where the River Ends Duke University Press, 2013 Dr. Shaylih Muehlmann Living in the northwest of Mexico, the Cucapá people have relied on fishing as a means of subsistence for generations, but in the last several decades, that practice has been curtailed by water scarcity and government restrictions. The

Colorado River once met the Gulf of California near the village where Dr. Shaylih Muehlmann conducted ethnographic research, but now, as a result of a treaty, 90 per cent of the water from the Colorado is diverted before it reaches Mexico. The remaining water is increasingly directed to the manufacturing industry in Tijuana and Mexicali. Since 1993, the Mexican government has denied the Cucapá people fishing rights on environmental grounds. While the Cucapá have continued to fish in the Gulf of California, federal inspectors and the Mexican military are pressuring them to stop. The government maintains that the Cucapá are not sufficiently “Indigenous” to warrant preferred fishing rights. Where the River Ends is a moving look at how the Cucapá people have experienced and responded to the diversion of the Colorado River and the Mexican state’s attempts to regulate the environmental crisis that followed.

Regionalism and Globalism in Antiquity: Exploring Their Limits Peeters Publishing, 2013 Edited by Dr. Franco De Angelis How we conceive of the movement of ancient phenomena through time and space has been undergoing reassessment in the last two decades, causing the grip to be loosened on the well-entrenched interpretative models that had dominated research up to that point. The ‘Regionalism and Globalism in Antiquity’ conference, held in Vancouver on March 1617, 2007, aimed to take stock of this situation and in particular to investigate in fresh ways how regional and global phenomena in the ancient Mediterranean, Near East and Eurasia shaped local life. This volume contains 14 reworked and peer-reviewed essays from the original conference proceedings and provides a fair overview of the various chronological periods, methods and data and perspectives encountered at the conference.

Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending Simon & Schuster, 2013 Dr. Elizabeth Dunn and Dr. Michael Norton Happy Money offers a tour of new research on the science of spending. Most people recognize that they need professional advice on how to earn, save and invest their money. When it comes to spending that money, most people just follow their intuitions. But

scientific research shows that those intuitions are often wrong. Happy Money explains why you can get more happiness for your money by following five principles, from choosing experiences over stuff to spending money on others. And the five principles can be used not only by individuals but by companies seeking to create happier employees and provide “happier products” to their customers. Dr. Elizabeth Dunn and Dr. Michael Norton show how companies from Google to Pepsi to Crate & Barrel have put these ideas into action.

Heian period (794–1185) and that literary writing and scholarship were the domain of men during the Kamakura era. Its analysis of literary works within the context of women’s history makes clear the important role that medieval women and their cultural contributions continued to play in Japanese history.


Identity and Language Learning

A Primer on Mathematical Models in Biology Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, 2013 Dr. Lee A. Segel, Dr. Leah Edelstein-Keshet

Multilingual Matters, October 2013 Dr. Bonny Norton

• grew out of a course that the popular and highly respected applied mathematician Dr. Lee Segel taught at the Weizmann Institute and it represents his unique perspective; • combines clear and useful mathematical methods with applications that illustrate the power of such tools; and • includes many exercises in reasoning, modelling, and simulations.

Identity and Language Learning draws on a longitudinal case study of immigrant women in Canada to develop new ideas about identity, investment and imagined communities in the field of language learning and teaching. Dr. Bonny Norton demonstrates that a poststructuralist conception of identity as multiple, a site of struggle and subject to change across time and place is highly productive for understanding language learning. Her sociological construct of investment is an important complement to psychological theories of motivation. The implications for language teaching and teacher education are profound. The book integrates research, theory and classroom practice, and is essential reading for students, teachers and researchers in the fields of language learning and teaching, TESOL, applied linguistics, and literacy.

Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women

Experimenting with Social Norms

University of Hawai‘i Press, 2013 Dr. Christina Laffin

Russell Sage Foundation, December 2013 Dr. Jean Ensminger and Dr. Joseph Henrich

This textbook introduces differential equations, biological applications and simulations and emphasizes molecular events (biochemistry and enzyme kinetics), excitable systems (neural signals) and small protein and genetic circuits. A Primer on Mathematical Models in Biology will appeal to readers because it:

Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women explores the world of 13th century Japan through the life of a prolific noblewoman known as Nun Abutsu (1225–1283). Abutsu crossed gender and genre barriers by writing the first career guide for Japanese noblewomen, the first femaleauthored poetry treatise, and the first poetic travelogue by a woman—all despite the increasingly limited social mobility for women during the Kamakura era (1185–1336). Capitalizing on her literary talent and political prowess, Abutsu rose from middling origins and single-motherhood to a prestigious marriage and membership in an esteemed literary lineage. Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women effectively challenges notions that literary salons in Japan were a phenomenon limited to the


Questions about the origins of human cooperation have long puzzled and divided scientists. Social norms that foster fair-minded behaviour, altruism and collective action undergird the foundations of large-scale human societies, but we know little about how these norms develop or spread, or why the intensity and breadth of human cooperation varies among different populations. What is the connection between social norms that encourage fair dealing and economic growth? How are these social norms related to the emergence of centralized institutions? Informed by a pioneering set of cross-cultural data, Experimenting with Social Norms advances our understanding of the evolution of human cooperation and the expansion of complex societies.


THE WALL OF FAME Peter Wall Institute Associate appointed to the Order of Canada Dr. Robert Silverman is an Institute Faculty Associate and one of Canada’s premiere pianists, having performed in concert halls throughout North America, Europe, the Far East, and Australia. He was named a member of the Order of Canada on July 1, 2013, for his significant contribution to the arts. Dr. Silverman’s playing is lauded for his polished technique, extraordinary range of tonal palette and probing interpretations of the most complex works in the repertoire

International conference held in honour of Distinguished Scholar Dr. Dale Rolfsen lectured at Rolfsenfest, held in his honour from July 1 – 5, 2013, in Luminy, France. The conference gathered international scholars to discuss low dimensional topology, knots and orderable groups. Dr. Rolfsen, a professor in UBC’s Department of Mathematics, has a particular interest in the theory of knots. His mathematical research also focuses algebra, geometry and dynamics.

Peter Wall Institute Associate receives Google Faculty Research Award Dr. Kevin Leyton-Brown won a Google Faculty Research Award, created to support cutting-edge research in computer science, engineering and related sciences that is of mutual interest to both the scholar and Google. Dr. Leyton-Brown is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at UBC, and focuses much of his work on the intersection of computer science and microeconomics, as well as on the application of machine learning for solving hard computational problems.

Dr. Christian Kastrup wins CIHR New Investigator Award Dr. Christian Kastrup, a Peter Wall Institute Early Career Scholar, won the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator Award. The five-year $300,000 award will be used to support research at Dr. Kastrup’s lab in Michael Smith Laboratories, aimed at developing new therapies for blood hemorrhaging and cardiovascular disease.

Royal Canadian Geographical Society award goes to Peter Wall Institute Associate Dr. David Ley received the 2013 Massey Medal, which is awarded to an individual who has made outstanding career achievements in the exploration, development or description of the geography of Canada. Dr. Ley leads UBC’s Department of Geography and is known for his research on gentrification in North American cities and issues surrounding immigration and large urban centres.

Peter Wall Institute Associate wins Best Paper Award Dr. Ali Mesbah recently won the award for best paper, alongside his MSc student Zahra Behfarshad, at the 13th International Conference on Web Engineering (ICWE). Behfarshad, and Dr. Mesbah, who leads the Software Analysis and Testing (SALT) lab at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, took home top prize for their paper titled “Hidden-Web Induced by ClientSide Scripting: An Empirical Study”.

Peter Wall Institute Associate wins Humboldt award Dr. Stephanie van Willigenburg was the recipient of an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Renewed Research Award. She is a professor of mathematics at UBC with specific expertise in algebraic combinatorics – a form of abstract algebra. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is a German foundation working to promote academic cooperation between scientists internationally.

Peter Wall Distinguished Professor inducted as Royal Society of Canada Fellow Dr. Jamie Peck, a political-economic geographer, was elected by peers to join the more than 2,000 Canadian Fellows celebrated by the Royal Society of Canada for their remarkable contributions as scholars, artists and scientists. Dr. Peck joined the Institute in 2013 to continue his work on neoliberalism and the political economy of the free-market.

Peter Wall Institute Associate honoured twice



Dr. Joel Bakan, UBC Professor of Law, received the 2012 Outstanding Alumni award at Simon Fraser University. He was also recognized for his recent book, Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children, winning the 2013 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature.

Scholar recognized for excellence in teaching Dr. Doug Harris is this year’s recipient of UBC’s Faculty of Law George Curtis Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence. Dr. Harris was recognized for his dedication to teaching, accessibility to students and innovative approach to learning.

Former Early Career Scholar wins best paper Dr. Susan Birch was honoured alongside colleagues with the Margo Wilson Award for best paper in the journal Evolution & Human Behaviour. The team’s 2012 paper, “Prestige-biased cultural learning: bystander’s differential attention to potential models influences children’s learning”, investigates how children learn from individuals to whom they have already seen bystanders learn from or defer to.

$200,000 Partnership Development Grant awarded to social work scholar Dr. Shelly Mukwa Musayett Johnson was selected for a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council development grant to support her research on First Nations Court and the move towards a restorative justice, community-based healing plan. Dr. Johnson is a 2013-2014 Peter Wall Early Career Scholar and a faculty member in UBC’s School of Social Work. Her research focuses on the areas of Indigenous child well-being, trauma and education, political and community-based leadership, as well as advocacy and activism.

Dr. Julie Bettinger wins awards for two articles Dr. Julie Bettinger’s paper, “Pandemic Influenza in Canadian Children: A Summary of Hospitalized Pediatric Cases”, won Top Cited Article in 2010 from the journal Vaccine. Dr. Bettinger also co-wrote an article examining the cost effectiveness of rotavirus vaccination in Canadian infants, which was the winner of the 2013 Dr. Lindsay E. Nicolle Award, given out annually for a paper judged to have the most potential to impact the fields of infectious diseases and medical microbiology.


P E T E R W A L L D O W N T O W N L E C T U R E S E R I E S FA L L 2 0 1 3

War and Peace in an Age of Ecological Conflict Bruno Latour, eminent philosopher, sociologist and anthropologist of science and technology, spoke about the new geopolitical framework emerging from our entry into the Anthropocene. To watch the lecture online please visit

“The Anthropocene is the most decisive philosophical, religious, anthropological and political concept yet produced as an alternative to the very notion of modern and modernity.�

- Bruno Latour

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