What Goes into a Doomsday Vault? An Anthropology of/for Strange Times


WHEN September 21, 2023
5-6:30 PM EST WHERE 19 Washington Square North WHO NYU Abu Dhabi Institute in New York Open to the Public

The Arctic World Archive rests in an abandoned coal mine deep below the permafrost, designed to store human memory for thousands of years. It was inspired by the so-called "Doomsday Seed Vault" just down the road. Deposits include digital copies of the Vatican's secret archive, Disney films, and a large sample of open-source software code -- just in case we need a “civilizational reboot,” in the words of one CEO. Based on fieldwork conducted in Svalbard in 2019 and 2022, this talk grapples with the politics and imaginaries at work in doomsday vaults and other deep time objects.

Image credit: Shannon Dawdy

  • Shannon Dawdy, Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago

In Collaboration with

NYU Center for Media, Culture and History
Department of Anthropology, NYU

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