Clare Hall Postdocs - 3 Slide Talk Series

In May we held the fifth in the series of 3 Slide Talks. The three engaging talks from different disciplines provided much food for thought.

The first talk was given by Dr Robert Beyer from the Department of Zoology. Robert, who has a background in maths, presented current collaborative research on palm oil production. Oil palm is a highly contested crop linked with environmental destruction. While environmental NGOs and others have called for boycotts of products containing palm oil, the research done by Robert and his collaborators show that the ‘world’s most hated crop’ may not be as environmentally destructive as the rumours have it – rather, they found that due to its high yield, oil palm generates the lowest greenhouse gas emissions and the lowest loss of species richness per unit of oil produced. This paper sparked a friendly and engaging debate about bio-diversity and environmental policy.

The second speaker of the evening was Dr Marie Louise Herzfeld-Schild, a visiting Fellow based at CRASSH working in the intersection between musicology and history. In her talk ‘The Nerves of the Soul’: 18th Century Concepts of Music and Emotion, Marie presented her research on how the 18th century conceptualised music and its emotional effects. Focusing on the sensory perception of music, Marie considered how the contemporary medical understanding of the ear, brain, and nervous system affected the understanding of the links between music and emotion. Through concepts such as the nerves being strings that could be played, Marie discussed the contemporary conceptualisation of the link between body, soul, and sensory experience.

The final talk was from the Postdoc Committee’s Dr Marianne Hem Eriksen, based at the Department of Archaeology. Marianne’s talk, Things as people, people as things: Personhood in Iron and Viking Age Scandinavia considered two practices of Iron and Viking Age Scandinavia – ‘burying’ houses, and placing dead infants and children within the constructional elements of the house. Marianne questioned whether we can universally state across time and space that objects are inanimate, or that human beings are conceptualized as social individuals with an intrinsic value in all societies. She argued that we rather need to accept, to some extent, an ontological blurring between people, animals and things, if we are to understand this prehistoric period from an emic perspective. 

All talks were followed by a Q&A session, sparking engagement and discussion about the importance and impact of research executed by Clare Hall Fellows and research associates. We would like to thank all three speakers for sharing their research with us, and for turning some established truths on their heads.

The final 3 Slide Talks of the academic year will take place on 15 June 2018, at 6.30 pm in the ALB followed by end of year drinks. All College members are welcome.