VIDEO: Rob Nixon Discusses Forest Altruism, Neoliberalism, and the Tree of Life in Old Dominion Lecture

December 14, 2022

On Wednesday, November 16, Rob Nixon (English, High Meadows Environmental Institute) gave the first talk in the Humanities Council’s 2022-23 Old Dominion Lecture Series.

The lecture, entitled “The Less Selfish Gene: Forest Altruism, Neoliberalism, and the Tree of Life,” explored the contemporary allure of forest communication and the widespread discontent with neoliberalism’s antipathy to cooperative ways of being. Nixon argued that the science of forest dynamics offers a counter-narrative of flourishing, an allegory for what George Monbiot has called “private sufficiency and public wealth.”

Nixon, the Thomas A. and Currie C. Barron Family Professor in Humanities and the Environment and professor of English and the High Meadows Environmental Institute, is a scholar whose work focuses on literature, environmental justice, and social movements, particularly in the Global South. As an Old Dominion Research Professor in 2022-23, he will focus on his most recent book project, “Blood at the Root: Environmental Martyrs and the Defense of Life,” which is a response to the 21st century surge in environmental martyrs, who are being persecuted and murdered at alarming rates.

Old Dominion Research Professors contribute to the Council’s programs and events and engage the campus community in sustained discussions about their research. This cohort of senior faculty join a yearlong program designed to provide additional research time and to enhance the humanities community more broadly. They also serve as faculty fellows in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts. Old Dominion Professors are full professors in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.

Watch the video here.

The 2022-23 Old Dominion Lecture Series continues February 8 with a talk from William Jordan (History). Stephen F. Teiser (Religion) will close the series with a talk on February 28.  

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