Work In Progress Seminar with Dr. Axel Gelfert


Topic: Rumours - Which Ones Can You Trust?
Speaker: Dr. Axel Gelfert

Rumours don't usually get a good press in academic circles. Spreading rumours is typically dismissed as morally blameworthy, yet at the same time rumours have been described as ways in which social communities 'make sense' of situations of uncertainty. Either way, for better or worse, rumours are an important element of public discourse. In this Work-In-Progress seminar, I will focus on rumours as a possible route to knowledge rather than as a social or political problem. That is, I will discuss the question of whether (and if so: when) rumours may be reasonably thought of as a source of knowledge -- even if we cannot, and should not, always take them at face value.

The Tembusu (Fagraea fragrans) is a large evergreen tree in the family Gentianaceae. It is native to Southeast Asia. Its trunk is dark brown, with deeply fissured bark, looking somewhat like a bittergourd. It grows in an irregular shape from 10 to 25m high. Its leaves are light green and oval in shape. Its yellowish flowers have a distinct fragrance and the fruits of the tree are bitter tasting red berries, which are eaten by birds and fruit bats.