On Being a Queer Primatologist: Challenges and Progress in Being LGBTQ+ in Field-Based STEM Research

Dr Christopher Schmitt, from Boston University, will present the Faculty of Science Special Seminar, co-sponsored by the Human Evolution Research Institute, with a talk entitled, "On Being a Queer Primatologist: Challenges and Progress in Being LGBTQ+ in Field-Based STEM Research".

Abstract: Although being queer or LGBTQ+ is increasingly accepted in academic contexts internationally, and many countries show an increased willingness to protect the rights and well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals, this progress is rarely felt outside urban areas. This poses special risks for LGBTQ+ biologists and other scientists who work in field-based conditions. The risks faced by LGBTQ+ scientists are by no means simple or universal, as multiple identities (sex, gender identity, gender presentation, race, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status), their intersections, and how they are perceived in the field context can compound or mediate these risks. This discussion will explore some of these risks and how they intersect, at their core, with gender-based violence. Although this discussion is rooted in the experience of the speaker as a male-presenting queer white man working in rural west and south Africa and Latin America as a starting point, there will be further discussion of published accounts rooted in other identities. This will be a short talk with the goal of an interactive discussion of these issues and how to mediate them; audience members are encouraged to participate with their own experiences, if they feel safe to do so.

Christopher Schmitt is a biological anthropologist whose research explores mechanistic and adaptive aspects of developmental variation using techniques from behavioral ecology, physiology, morphometrics, and genomics. He is Co-PI of the Boston University Sensory Morphology and Genomic Anthropology Lab (SMGAL). His current focus is on two nonhuman primate models: New World atelins (woolly and spider monkeys) and Old World vervets.

Wed, 17 Jul 2019 - 13:00

 PD Hahn LT2, PD Hahn Building, Upper Campus, UCT