Fall 2021 Belknap Conversation to Discuss the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in Liberia

November 5, 2021
Photo: USA Today

On November 11, 2021, the Humanities Council will host a Belknap Global Conversation with author Gregg Mitman (University of Wisconsin–Madison) and Simon Gikandi (Chair, English) in discussion about Mitman’s new book, Empire of Rubber: Firestone’s Scramble for Land and Power in Liberia.

Mitman scoured remote archives to uncover the hidden history behind Firestone’s rubber empire in Liberia. This scrupulously researched narrative tells a story of capitalism, racial exploitation, and environmental devastation—a story with special import for the Princeton community.

The conversation will take place on Thursday at 4:30 pm in East Pyne 010. Erika Milam (History) will introduce the speakers, after welcome remarks from Humanities Council Chair Esther Schor (English).

In-person attendance limited to PUID holders and registration is required in advance. A livestream will be available to the public via Media Central Live.

Gregg Mitman is the Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History, Medical History, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. An award-winning author and filmmaker, his recent films and books include The Land Beneath Our Feet and Breathing Space: How Allergies Shape Our Lives and Landscapes. The author of Empire of Rubber (The New Press), he lives near Madison, Wisconsin. Read the latest from Mitman in Slate: “Let Us See It: Why companies with long histories should open up their archives.

Simon Gikandi is Robert Schirmer Professor and Chair of English at Princeton University, where he is also affiliated with the Departments of Comparative Literature and African American Studies and the Program in African Studies. He is the author of many books and articles, including Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature, Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o.

The Humanities Council’s Belknap Global Conversations bring distinguished writers, artists, and scholars to Princeton University’s campus for conversations that bridge “arts and ideas” in a global context. The program aims to provoke dialogue on a theme of broad interest in the realm of arts and letters that cuts across disciplinary boundaries and world regions.

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