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About the courseGender and Sustainability:Introducing Feminist Environmental Humanities
This online PhD course combines critical and creative perspectives on gender and sustainability from the emerging field of environmental humanities as it overlaps with science, technology, humanities, art and feminist theory-practices. It explores postdisciplinary directions in sustainability from a set of positions in environmental humanities and feminist posthumanities.
The course provides an introduction into the conceptual landscape of feminist environmental humanities, and an orientation into its methodological trajectories across the fields of science, technology, art and design. Notions of different scientific traditions in the past and present, and of inter- and transdisciplinary research are presented and framed in ways that are particularly useful for PhD researchers pursuing environmental humanities/postdisciplinary studies and practice-oriented research in art, technology and design. PhD researchers are provided with an understanding of key concepts – and the relationship between research questions, methods, objectives and outcomes – through lectures, literature seminars, workshops and collaborative project work. The course introduces participants to thinking on situated knowledge practices and ethics amidst a plethora of critical methodologies, qualitative and innovative methods, and performative research practices. On completion of the course, PhD researchers will be provided with tools to critically reflect over the epistemological and ethical challenges inherent to their own research practices and doctoral work, but also in relationship to other actors involved in the very social business of scholarship.
This new electable course (FAD3115) at KTH Royal Institute of Tecnology, in the doctoral program, Art, Technology and Design (7,5 credits), is an educational effort, supported by the KTH Equality Office for the integration of knowledge on gender equity in sustainable development research, provided by the KTH School of Architecture and the Built Environment.
To be eligible for the course, PhD researchers must have completed a masters’ degree or have an equivalent level of education in STS, history of science, technology and environment studies, gender studies, technology, art or design (such as architecture, planning, civil engineering, arts, crafts, and design) or affiliated subjects within the humanities and social sciences.
Module 1 – Re-inventing nature, re-inventing methodology, November 30 + December 1 Module 2 – Doing gender and sustainability: Practice-oriented research, December 14-15 Module 3 – Speculative ethics, 4-5 February Module 4 – Gender and sustainability in new registers: Knowledge communication, Suggested for March 2021
The course will be coordinated and taught by prof. Cecilia Åsberg, dr Janna Holmstedt, Dept. of History of Science, Technology and Environment, associate prof. Meike Schalk, School of Architecture, at KTH, and dr Marietta Radomska, Gender Studies, Linköping University.
Guest teachers are associate prof. Charlotte Holgersson, Organisation and Management at the Department of Industrial Economics and Management, associate prof. Jennifer Mack and dr Tijana Stevanovic, School of Architecture, at KTH, associate prof. Christina Fredengren, Stockholm University, prof. Isabelle Doucet, Chalmers Technical University, Dr Heidi Kajita Svenningsen, Copenhagen University and prof. Elke Krasny, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.
The course is an open collaboration with the InterGender University Consortium and Research School in Interdisciplinary Gender Studies www.intergender.net and The Posthumanities Hub, a nonconventional research group and platform for feminist posthumanities www.posthumanities.net
Application for this Doctoral Course
Deadline for application is 2nd November 2020.
We are grateful to have received a lot of interest for this course, so we ask PhD students to formally register for this course to be accepted in the following manner:
Please apply FORMALLY to the PhD course Gender & Sustainability by submitting an APPLICATION to dr Janna Holmstedt, jannaho[at]kth.se.
Include this application in your email:
CV (short bio), one page
Letter of motivation, half a page (why you would benefit from this course in your PhD-work)
Description of PhD project, one page, with aim and research question, material and practice-oriented/methodological approaches and challenges
“We are so proud to present Prof. Achille Mbembe for this years Archipelago Lecture. He is one of the most influential African philosophers, a political scientist, and a global public intellectual. His books have been translated into 13 languages.
This year the Archipelago Lecture will happen on ZOOM. More information will come, but until then: please mark your calendars and help us to spread the word.
November 25th, at 15:00 CET Reflections on Planetary Habitability Achille Mbembe Research Professor of History and Politics at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research in Johannesburg, South Africa Visiting Professor at Duke University”
All through the extended history of Earth, the coast line has been a zone of unrest where waves and tides have forged life and land on this planet. Despite sudden changes to our oceanic environments, the wrack zone by the edge of the sea with its kelp forests, mussel beds, flotsam and jetsam, remains a strange and beautiful place (as noted by Rachel Carson). This is one of the starting points for the research in the oceanic (environmental) humanities project, Sea Change. Another starting point is the possibilities for cooking, curing and curating with kelp explored at Lofoten International Arts Festival in 2019, the artistic duo Cooking Sections (and their exhibition 2021 at Bonniers Kunsthall), and that we are now entering the declared UN Decade of the Oceans (2021-2030). Sea Change is a knowledge- and capacity-building project for feminist posthumanities, aiming to connect science with art, humanities and local people so to catalyze societal transformation on low trophic ways of eating, socializing and thinking, together.
Cecilia Åsberg, PhD, Guest Professor of STS, Gender and Environment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm; Professor of Gender, Nature, Culture at Linköping University, and since 2008 founding director of the Posthumanities Hub. In 2005 she was the first to defend a PhD in Gender Studies in Sweden (a feminist science study on the popular imaginary of the new genetics), and in 2013 she inaugurated environmental humanities in The Seed Box (Mistra-Formas) research programme as Founding Director. Åsberg has attracted over €6 million in grants for her team; supervised 14 PhD students; published extensively (in Swedish, Dutch, English); given talks and taught gender studies, EH, STS, and posthumanities to BA-MA and PhD students in various positions at a range of international universities, incl Lancaster U, Utrecht Utrecht, NL, and as Fellow of Rachel Carson Centre, LMU, Germany.
Welcome to The Posthumanities Hub Seminar “Toxic/Trans/Bodies” with speakers Andria Nyberg Forshage (writer, poet and theorist based in Stockholm, SE) and dr Wibke Straube (Karlstad University, SE)!
When: Feb 2021
t4t4t4t4t: Fourfold Sex and Trans-Individuation at the End of the World
by Andria Nyberg Forshage
At present, 20th-century notions of bodily immune systems modelled as repressive-productive sovereign border controls — and vice versa — are at once being superseded, obsolesced, reinforced and reinvigorated as perhaps never before. At the same time, 21st-century notions of desiring-productive, flexible, molecular immuno-security, already dated as hyper-modern, are being folded into and onto any imaginable kind of body, society, or network. In terms of data, flesh, sex, nation, sense-making, resource extraction, ecological disaster, and ongoing resistance, it is at once a situation of planetary global or civil war, armed peace, state of emergency, and stasis.
Departing from a scenario of societal collapse following transgender bioterrorism on a hormonal and molecular scale as imagined in Torrey Peters’ sci-fi novella Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones (2016), this talk explores the drift of t4t desiring-machines in and through the bodies, farms, fields and factories of contemporary and imagined pharmacopornographic capitalism. Where t4t designates trans for trans desire, in the trans woman commune the logograph becomes self-replicating as desire and senseless noise, burnt and embedded through fleshy, tranimal metabolism.
Connecting the fourfold of subjectivation as theorised by Gilles Deleuze in Foucault (1988) with the t4t fourfold complexes of infectious human-animal-societal undoings, as developed through a reading of Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones, how might t4t4t4t4t be understood as an operation-operator of what Gilbert Simondon has termed the transindividual?
Andria Nyberg Forshage is a writer, theorist and poet, part of the editorial team for the Paletten Art Journal and currently working with the Knowledge Hub at Public Art Agency Sweden. She has previously presented research at conferences including the First International Trans*Studies Conference at the University of Arizona and The First International Queer Death Studies Conference at Karlstad University. They have a room of their own in Stockholm and a Scorpio rising.
Chemicals, endocrine disruptors and unruly bodies in trans and queer art
by Wibke Straube
In 2018, the post of a vegan group on facebook went viral which argued, that trans and queer bodies are the “damaged” outcome of environmental pollution and endocrine disruption by POP. The post argued further that to lobby for trans and gay rights would mean to support a capitalist, exploitative system of ecological destruction. In response other vegans and this group in particular, dismissed this (cishetero)econormative position and argued this is merely one individual’s opinion. In my talk, I would like to firstly address this “singular” opinion and unpack the idea of the trans and intersex bodies as a result of endocrine disrupting chemical. I will to do this by considering the trans and intersex body as bodily entangled with environmental pollution and toxic contamination (Ah-King/Hayward 2014; DiChiro 2010; Pollock 2016). Secondly, and most centrally, I explore how endocrine disrupting toxins emerge in trans and queer art, intoxicate art practices and artistic bodies, and foster creative pollution that subverts the gender binary norms of EDC discourses and reclaims the toxic body as a monstrous, alien becoming through and within Otherness.
Wibke Straube, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Gender Studies, Karlstad University, SE. Their work focuses on intersectional analysis of trans, non-binary and queer embodiment, affective methodologies and the affinities of different socially marginalised bodies, their forms of survival and possibilities to create zones of liveability. They have published in Environmental Humanities and NORMA International Journal for Masculinity Studies, among others. E-mail: wibke.straube[at]kau.se
Welcome to KTH Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment Higher Seminar with Dr Otso Kortekangas on ”Indigenous avant la lettre. The origins and livelihoods of the Sámi in European scholarly thought 1930–1960”
Time: Mon 2020-02-10 13.15 – 14.45
Lecturer: Otso Kortekangas, KTH, Div. History of Science, Technology and Environment and Stockholm University
My project studies the pre-history of the concept indigenous. It shows in
what ways Nordic and European scholars produced the Sámi as precisely indigenous before the term itself was widely in use. When this UN-backed concept gained ground during and following the anti- and postcolonial political processes of the 1960’s, the Nordic Sámi minority could tap in to the global indigenous identity movement.2 This was possible since both the scholarly and, with a certain delay, the popular understanding had gravitated to a direction where the Sámi were considered the original inhabitants of the northern areas of Fennoscandia. Ever since the indigenous label was introduced in the Nordic countries, it has become the first and foremost label and lens through which the Sámi population is studied.
16 Aug 2019, 13:00-16:00 R1 Reactor hall, KTH, Stockholm (Drottning Kristinas väg 51)
In this mixed and postdisciplinary gathering,
with listening sessions and talks by artists and researchers, we will visit the
limits of communication(s) – when our technologies, ideas, languages and
intentions fail us. We will among other things encounter phenomena that
cannot be decoded, interspecies communication experiments, and speculations
about how we can communicate with not only aliens but also inhabitants on
planet Earth in a distant future.
In a society imbued with communication technologies and a
positive belief in the possibilities of accurately
formulating, transmitting, receiving and archiving,
it might be sobering to consider situations where the communicative attempt
takes us elsewhere. Where it derails
our assumptions and intentions and where we admittedly are out of control. What
can be gleaned from these limits and borderlands? What can be unlearned? What
ethico-political considerations do they confront us with?
Participants Cecilia Åsberg (founder and director of the Posthumanities Hub, KTH/Linköping Univ., SE), Marietta Radomska (co-director of the Posthumanities Hub, Linköping Univ., SE/Univ. of Helsinki, FI), Janna Holmstedt (artist, SE), mirko nikolić (artist, SE/FI), Jacek Smolicki, (artist, SE/PL).
Curated by Janna Holmstedt, the Posthumanities Hub, in collaboration with Jacek Smolicki, Fragmentarium Club, at the invitation of the Public Art Agency. The session will take place inside the large-scale art installation “The Interplanetary Species Society (ISS)” by Jonas Staal. ISS is part of the project “Choreograhies of the Social” curated by Edi Muka, the Public Art Agency Sweden (Statens Konstråd). More information and full program for all the events, 13-25 Aug: www.publicartagencysweden.com
Program, 16 Aug, 13:00-16:00 (in no specific order):
Cecilia Åsberg, Planetary Speculation: Cultivating
Ursula K Le Guin stated: “The only thing that
makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what
comes next”. Today we have, dare I say, enough science facts and credible
information to convince us that planetary changes like rampant mass species
extinction rates, climate change, glacial melting and sea rise, plastic
pollution and environmental health concerns are a very real part of the
planetary challenges we now face. What we do not have enough of,
perhaps, seem like a sense of belonging to the ecologies of this
planet, or enough of an ecological sense of wonder and curiosity to close the
emotional gap between values and action, and to sway our ways in more
sustainable directions. This is why we need to cultivate the more than human
arts of living on a damaged planet. Art and humanities have a particular role
to play here, and so does the notion of planetarity. In my talk, while
discussing a few unexpected vistas of environmental feminism, I will discuss
what the role and function of planetary speculation might entail for more
careful ways of knowing.
Cecilia Åsberg, PhD, is Guest Professor of STS, Gender
and Environment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm 2018-2020,
and since 2015 Professor of Gender, Nature, Culture at Linköping University.
She is Founding Director of the Posthumanities Hub, and of the Seed Box: An
Environmental Humanities Collaboratory, and associate editor of the journal
Environmental Humanities (Duke University Press). Recent publications:
“Feminist Posthumanities in the Anthropocene: Forays into the Postnatural” in
Journal of Posthuman Studies; Animal Places – Lively 15 Cartographies of
Human-Animal Relations, (Routledge, eds with Jacob Bull and Tora Holmberg), and
A Feminist Companion to the Posthumanities (Springer, ed with Rosi Braidotti).
mirko nikolić , lie and
shine: eleven steps of
A listening session, a walk along a narrow boundary of extraction,
presently in the process of negotiation in the semi-periphery of the European
North. Gold, water, arsenic and physical asset currency embody vectors of
interest or disinterest by various power formations. Most of the forces operate
without prior or informed consent, decisions are being largely made in the
absence of the bodies that will experience the material effects. Silent
neighbours are not that silent. Communication waves shimmer with dispersals of
toxicity and gatherings of resilience.
Through performance and critical writing, mirko
nikolić seeks to prefigure more just collaborations among different species and
heterogeneous bodies. In recent projects, mirko has been working on
counter-extractivist ontopolitics, multispecies commoning, performativity of
vegetal touch, and unlearning of anthropocentric and capitalist survival
ideologies. mirko holds a PhD in Arts & Media Practice from the University
of Westminster, London.
Janna Holmstedt, The
Order of the Dolphin
What do we hear when we think we listen? In 1961, a prominent flock of researchers were invited to a semi-secret conference arranged by NASA’s Space Science Board to discuss a subject not yet considered scientifically legitimate: What are the conditions required for establishing contact with other worlds? Could engaging in communication with dolphins prepare us for an encounter with non-human intelligence? At this time, attempts to reach out to intelligent life on other planets happened to coincided with attempts to get inside the minds and bodies of bottlenose dolphins. In this listening session, I’ll move between the human, the synthetic and the beastly while revisiting some of the interspecies communication experiments that were carried out in the 1950s and 60s, partly funded by NASA, where dolphins were supposed to learn to speak English with their blowholes. At the centre of my session are tape recordings from language lessons with dolphins, and a woman, whom during 75 days tried to live under equal conditions with the dolphin Peter in a flooded house.
Janna Holmstedt is an artist and researcher based in
Stockholm. She works across various media, ranging between installation, sonic
fiction, text, drawing, mapping and performance, with a particular interest in
listening, storying and situated practices. Her projects work transversally in order to weave a
web of parasitic relations in an attempt to story more-than-human relations and
less anthropocentric we-formations. She explores entangled
issues such as multispecies relations, interspecies communication, and the
intra-action of bodies, environs and technology. She holds a PhD in Fine Arts
in Visual Arts from Lund University, is affiliated researcher with the
Posthumanities Hub, and currently research engineer at the Division of History
of Science, Technology and Environment at KTH. More: www.jannaholmstedt.com
Marietta Radomska, From Terminal Ecologies to the
Non/Living Earth: Storying an Archive
her work on queer ecocriticism, literary scholar Sarah Ensor offers the concept
of ‘terminality’ understood as a state, a practice, an intimate belonging, and
a horizon; in other words, a ‘lifelong’ and shared condition, characterised by
the potential for relations, non-linear temporality, and an ongoing
responsibility for and accountability towards the harmed, the ill, the
perishing, and the dead (environments, ecosystems, organisms, and other
entities). Staying with the trouble of terminality is but one example of a
biophilosophical approach that does not start from a given image of life, but
instead, from a multiplicity of relations, forces, and materialities (that
which transforms and traverses life) encompassing the potentials for both
growth/development and decomposition/decay. Against the backdrop of the current
ecological crisis, this short intervention asks what it means to story(tell) an
archive of ‘terminal ecologies’, what modes of (non)communication it might
entail, and how it matters in an ethico-political sense.
Radomska, PhD, is a Postdoc at the Department of Thematic Studies, Linköping
University, SE, and at the Department of Cultures, University of Helsinki, FI.
She is the co-director of The Posthumanities Hub; founder of The Eco- and
Bioart Research Network, co-founder of International Network for ECOcritical
and DECOlonial Studies and a founding member of Queer Death Studies Network.
Her current research focuses on ecologies of death in the context of
contemporary art. She is the author of the monograph Uncontainable Life: A
Biophilosophy of Bioart (2016), and has published in Australian Feminist
Studies, Somatechnics, and Angelaki, among others. More: www.mariettaradomska.com
Jacek Smolicki, Per
Aspera Ad Astra
Per Aspera Ad Astra (from Latin ‘through hardship to the stars’) was a morse-coded sentence launched alongside other sound recordings onboard Voyager space probe sent into space in 1977. Just like many other signals sent by humans to reach extraterrestrial beings, the Voyager message has so far remained unanswered. Per Aspera Ad Astra is an ongoing artistic and media archaeological exploration of our persistent desire to connect with the non-human, and, more specifically, the extraterrestrial. The project takes the form of a performative soundscape composition built successively of archival material and sounds characterizing technologies used historically to establish contact with aliens. The archival recordings include glitches from digitized interviews with UFO witnesses from the Sweden’s Archive for the Unexplained, snippets from the famous Voyager message, radio signals from the outer space, and reenactments of historical messages sent into space. All these are combined with gradually intercepted remediations of Stanislaw Lem’s deliberations on the inherently flawed idea of establishing contact with other-than-human residents of the deep space.
Jacek Smolickiis a cross-media artist, designer,
researcher and “walker” exploring intersections of aesthetics,
technology, memory and everyday life. In his design and art practice, besides
engaging with existing archives and heritage, Smolicki develops new techniques
for recording, experiencing, and para-archiving human and other-than-human
environments. In his research, informed by art practice, philosophy of
technology, and media archaeology, Smolicki explores how transformations of
communication, recording, and computing technologies have been affecting
aesthetic, material, performative, and ethical aspects of archiving and memory
practices (both personal and public), but also everyday life practices at
large. In 2017, he completed his PhD from the School of Arts and Communication
at Malmö University where he was a member of the Living Archives, a research
project funded by the Swedish Research Council. In 2016 Smolicki
founded Fragmentarium Club, an independent initiative uniting enthusiasts
of listening, soundwalking, field recording, and soundscape archiving. More: www.smolicki.com and www.fragmentarium.club
Welcome to the workshop “Becoming with Alien Encounters and Speculative Storytelling in a More-than-human World” that takes place on 4th June at 13:15 – 16:00, in the big seminar room at Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH (Teknikringen 74 D, Stockholm).
No registration is required.
Workshop: Becoming with Alien Encounters and Speculative Storytelling
Speculative storytelling refers to a wide range of narrative fiction, poetic and artistic articulations that employ ’fantastic’, supernatural, spiritual or other non-mimetic elements. In the times of the climate change and environmental crisis, accompanied by futuristic ’technology-will-save-us’ scenarios, on the one hand, and visions of ‘doom and gloom’, on the other, speculative storytelling has gained momentum as a way to reimagine futures beyond the human-centred narratives of the Anthropocene. This, importantly, includes a reimagining and experimentally re-establishing of new posthuman relationalities, corpo-affectively grounded in a situated caring ethics, as well as a decentring and deconstruction of the sovereign human subject and its claim to an exceptional position of enunciation. In this poetic/artistic-philosophical workshop, we will reflect on theoretical and practical tools to be interpellated to approach the radically different, without gesturing towards anthropomorphisation or domestication. Alongside of the theorising, we will also, through poetic-artistic articulations, explore the processes of decentring the human subject position and preparing for ’alien encounters’ – what in the ethics of Gilles Deleuze is framed as ’making yourself worthy of the event’. We will draw examples from alien encounters with lichen, algae, pollen, and underwater creatures, among others. As part of the workshop, we will invite the audience to try out their own approaches to such encounters through short writing prompts.
Katja Aglert, independent artist and researcher, SE
Line Henriksen, University of Copenhagen and IT University of Copenhagen, DK
Nina Lykke, University of Linköping, SE
Camila Marambio, Melbourne University, AUS
Tara Mehrabi, Karlstad University, SE
Marietta Radomska, Linköping University, SE and University of Helsinki, FI
Katja Aglert is a Stockholm based independent artist and researcher whose practice – situated in feminist, more-than-human imaginaries – is transdisciplinary in nature, and includes both individual and collaborative projects. Currently she examines artistically through hybrid forms of storytelling how we through the experiences of multi-beings-encounters can investigate what it can mean to materialise perspectives beyond the human-centred narratives. She exhibited widely, including venues such as Marabouparken and Biologiska Museet, Stockholm (SE); Solyanka State Gallery, Moscow (RU); Polarmuseet, Tromsø (NO); Fotografisk center, Copenhagen (DK); FLORA ars+natura, Bogota (COL); Museum for Contemporary Art, Santiago (CHL). She is an executive board member of The Seed Box, an international environmental humanities collaboratory headquartered at Linköping University. She teaches regularly at Umeå Art Academy, and Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts, and Design. katjaaglert.com
Line Henriksen, PhD is a lecturer in Gender Studies at the University of Copenhagen and IT University Copenhagen, DK. She holds a PhD in Gender Studies from the Unit of Gender Studies at Linköping University, Sweden. Henriksen has published on the subjects of monster theory, hauntology and digital media in journals such as Women & Performance and Somatechnics, and her fiction has appeared in Andromeda Spaceways and Tales to Terrify, among others. She is a founding member of the Monster Network.
Nina Lykke, PhD, Professor Emerita, Gender Studies, Linköping University, Sweden. Co-founder of Queer Death Studies Network, and The International Network for ECOcritical and DECOlonial Research. Current research: queering of cancer, death, and mourning in queerfeminist materialist, decolonial and eco-critical perspectives; autophenomenographic and poetic writing. Recent publications: Queer Widowhood. Lambda Nordica. 2015:4; Academic Feminisms: Between Disidentification, Messy Everyday Utopianism, and Cruel Optimism. Feminist Encounters. 2017:1(1); When death cuts apart, in: Juvonen & Kohlemainen: Affective Inequalities in Intimate Relationships. Routledge, New York 2018; Rethinking socialist and Marxist legacies in feminist imaginaries of protest from postsocialist perspectives. Social Identities. Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture. 2018:24 (2). Website: https://ninalykke.net
Camila Marambio is curator of Ensayos, and her work with the program has been represented in exhibitions and performances at the Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; the Institute for Art and Olfaction, Los Angeles; BHQFU, New York; Puerto de Ideas, Valparaíso; Festival Cielos del Infinito, Puerto Williams, CL; Kurant, Tromsø, NO; and Psi #22, Melbourne, AU. Currently a PhD Candidate in Curatorial Practice at MADA in Melbourne, Australia, Marambio received an M.A. in Modern Art: Critical Studies at Columbia University and a Master of Experiments in Art and Politics at Science Po in Paris; attended the Curatorial Programme at de Appel Arts Center in Amsterdam; and was Head Curator at Matucana 100 (Santiago, CL) and Assistant Curator at Exit Art (New York, NY).
Tara Mehrabi, PhD, is a Lecturer at the Centre for Gender Studies, Karlstad University (Sweden). She is a feminist technoscience studies scholar who is interested in the intersection of gender studies, medical humanities and environmental humanities. She is a founding member of Queer Death Studies Network and a member of The Posthumanities Hub. Meharbi is the author of the monograph Making Death Matter: A Feminist Technoscience Study of Alzheimer’s Sciences in the Laboratory (2016). She has published in anthologies such as Animal Places. Lively Cartographies of Human Animal Relations, (eds.) by J. Bull, T. Holmberg & C. Åsberg, Routledge (2018), Gendering Drugs: feminist studies of pharmaceuticals, (ed.) by E. Johnson, Palgrave (2017) and journal Gender, Women & Research (2018). Website: https://taramehrabi.wordpress.com/.
Where: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, EHL Labroom, Teknikringen 74D, Stockholm
Hester Blum is Associate Professor of English at Penn State University in the US. Her scholarship and teaching focus on oceanic and polar studies, nineteenth-century U.S. literature and culture, Herman Melville, and the environmental humanities. Her most recent book is The News at the Ends of the Earth: The Print Culture of Polar Exploration (Duke University Press, 2019). In it she examines polar expeditionary newspapers and other forms of knowledge that circulate geophysical and climatic extremity, both in the age of polar exploration and in our current moment of climate change and polar resource extraction. In summer 2019 she will participate in the Northwest Passage Project, an Arctic expedition tracking climate change. She is at work on two new book projects: Ice Ages, about the temporalities of ice in an epoch of anthropogenic climate change; and Castaways, a meditation on female Robinson Crusoes.
Welcome to the Open Humanities Lab Symposium: New Humanities & the Anthropocene, taking place on 14th & 15th May at Openlab, Stockholm.
In order to register for the event, please send an email to: the.posthumanities.hub[at]gmail.com
New Humanities & the Anthropocene (Uncertainty, response-ability and humankind)
Now, the environment is in us, and we humans are fully in the environment: that much is clear in this new planetary era of uncertainty some call the Anthropocene. This new geological period, the environmental ‘Age of Man’, is often defined by unparalleled human disturbance of the Earth’s ecosystems, climate, and biodiversity. Almost half of the wildlife on Earth has been lost in the past forty years. Perhaps we will soon have spawned more transgenic organisms, synthetic biological systems, hybrid creatures or artificial intelligences than we ever asked for. In the age of the Anthropocene, humans have become a ‘force of nature’, making nature – in its classical sense – over. The old idea of Universal Man in its classical and imagined sense of a bounded individual, safely zipped up in a white skin of his own, guided by rational thought rather than sociability, preconceptions and desires, along with his anthropocentrism seem dated, if not down-right detrimental to our planetary existence. Conventional divides between nature and culture, sex and gender, body and technology, human and animal, and between science and society, have collapsed.
During the past several decades, emerging research in the humanities has turned its attention to subjects that were previously conceived as ‘not human enough’: women, queers, children, migrants, people of colour, elderly, and other groups. Simultaneously, popular culture, technologies, animal subjects, insects, plants, whole ecosystems, along with all kinds of human and more-than-human infrastructures, call for our attention. After all, values, purpose, existential conditions and sociocultural formations that are historically sustained, or not, on local or larger scales, are the expertise of the humanities (and its sibling social sciences). The human exceptionalism of the humanities is increasingly abandoned in favour of planetary ethics, societal accountability, and a more-than-human humanities of conviviality. We witness now the exciting emergence of new humanities, responding to present societal challenges.
How can the humanities accommodate the transformations associated with advances in science, technology, medicine, with the Anthropocene and the ‘great acceleration’ of planetary damage following suit with ’progress’ and ‘growth’? Is there a solidarity in our precarious diversity as we now all have to learn to live with the wounds of the world, to live on a damaged planet? Can we, like Timothy Morton, re-imagine kindness in its human and more-than-human sense? How can the new humanities, like environmental humanities, feminist bio-philosophy, cyborg studies, architectural philosophy, multispecies studies, eco-art, citizen humanities, gender studies, human-animal studies, plant theory, techno-humanities, media studies and digital humanities, respond to the challenges of the Anthropocene? Such forms of posthumanities – or new humanities – often share a sense of belonging in a world not divided across nature and culture, arts and sciences. For new humanities, postdisciplinary bridge-building and collaborations are crucial. So is responsibility, response-ability, and situated knowledges, as Donna Haraway and decades worth of feminist theorising on what gets to count as human or natural remind us.
Can the new humanities, transformative and integrative in nature, become not just relevant to society but also enact real change? Can we have research that is participatory, communicable, and, as Rosi Braidotti puts it, ‘worthy of our times’?
Come join the conversation on uncertainty, response-ability, and humankind in the age of the Anthropocene, and see if the new humanities’ cultivation of attentiveness, curiosity, care, concern, and critique can do something for you, co-existentially with others.
Warmly welcome to an open dialogue amongst various artists, scholars, educators, citizens, academic activists, and journalists, a symposium where we break bread together in public and forge new brave alliances in the face of the unexpected!
After all, humanities is for everybody.
Katja Aglert, independent artist and researcher, SE
Marco Armiero, KTH, SE
Rosi Braidotti, Utrecht University, UK
Christine Daigle, Brock University, CA
Hayden Lorimer, University of Glasgow, UK
Christina Fredengren, Stockholm University, SE
Hélène Frichot, KTH, SE
Matthew Fuller, Goldsmiths, UK
Myra Hird, Queen’s University, CA
Janna Holmstedt, KTH, SE
Lauren LaFauci, Linköping University, SE
Nina Lykke, Linköping University, SE
Tara Mehrabi, Karlstad University, SE
Norie Neumark, LaTrobe University, AU
mirko nikolić, independent artist, SE/FI
Jesper Olsson, Linköping University, SE
Marietta Radomska, Linköping University, SE/University of Helsinki, FI
Welcome to the Posthumanities Hub seminar with Dr. Lauren LaFauci (Linköping University, SE) on “Histories and Perceptions of Climate in Early American Literature and Culture”.
The event takes place on 8th April 2019 at 13:15 – 15:00 in the big seminar room at the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Teknikringen 74D, level 5, SE-114 28 Stockholm).
Histories and Perceptions of Climate in Early American Literature and Culture
This society [British America before the Revolution] . . . does not afford that variety of tinges and gradations which may be observed in Europe, we have colours peculiar to ourselves. For instance, it is natural to conceive that those who live near the sea must be very different from those who live in the woods; the intermediate space will afford a separate and distinct class.
Men are like plants; the goodness and flavor of the fruit proceeds from the peculiar soil and exposition in which they grow. We are nothing but what we derive from the air we breathe, the climate we inhabit, the government we obey, the system of religion we profess, and the nature of our employment.
. . .Whoever traverses the continent must easily observe those strong differences, which will grow more evident in time. The inhabitants of Canada, Massachusetts, the middle provinces, the southern ones, will be as different as their climates; their only points of unity will be those of religion and language.
—J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, Letter III, Letters from an American Farmer (1782)
In this passage from Crèvecoeur’s famous essay, “What is an American,” he offers a defining imagination of Americans growing alongside and in harmony with their environments. Importantly, he considers the social, political, cultural, and ecological as all part of the “environment” shaping the individual, and ultimately, the collective in the nation that was then taking shape. While Crèvecoeur himself fled the “New World” upon outbreak of Revolution to return to the Old, his collection of Letters from an American Farmer defined for many Europeans and Americans alike a way of understanding the citizen as an ever-evolving constellation of multivalent forces acting upon the body.
How did early Americans imagine, perceive, and interpret their climate? How did these formulations change over time, between first European contact and the turn of the 20th century? This talk will provide an overview of some of the ideas and assumptions about weather and climate common to early Americans. The place-based ontology Crèvecoeur theorizes here was not in itself a new way of understanding human development, but his formulation opened up the space for an enormous variety of regional and local human peculiarities as varied as the climates (and weathers) associated with them. The resultant environmental determinism became, in the United States at least, the dominant way of theorizing embodiment—including physical and mental disease and health—until the advent of germ theory at the turn of the 20th century.
A second, broader concern of this talk is to discuss the role of historicist environmental humanities work in an age of climate change. Much environmental humanities research is, understandably, presentist: we face a daily barrage of environmental crises, local and global, as well as the longer-term, slower violences of climate change at large. Amidst these imminent crises, the presentist focus is not only understandable; it may also be desirable. But where does such a focus leave those of us who spend our days teaching and researching in pre-Anthropocenic periods? What is the relevance and significance of environmental humanities research before the Anthropocene? What does such work have to contribute to environmental humanities at large? This second focus of my talk will, I hope, generate discussion about the theoretical concepts, empirical materials, and/or historiographical interventions that are significant to EH research today.
Lauren LaFauci is assistant professor of environmental humanities in the Unit of Gender Studies, Department of Thematic Studies at Linköping University in Sweden, where she also directs the “Multispecies Stories” research area of the Seed Box Environmental Humanities Collaboratory and serves as an international liaison for ASLE, the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment. She is part of the interdisciplinary team behind the citizen humanities website, Herbaria 3.0 (www.herbaria3.org), which collects stories about the intertwined relationships between plants and people. Her research and teaching are wide-ranging, focusing on histories of racial formation, medicine, and the body; US literature, history, and culture from to 1900; Scandinavian cultural studies; and multispecies story-telling. Lauren’s talk with the PH Hub will form the basis of a short article in preparation for a Cambridge UP volume on Climate in American Literature.