The Posthumanities Hub Seminar with Dr. Lauren LaFauci

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

Abstract:

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.

Bio:

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.

Who are the feminist environmental and environmental justice heroes currently MISSING from Wikipedia?

Recognizing that Wikipedia is the first point of entry for curious people everywhere, we are launching a new project to increase the representation of key environmental figures on the Wikipedia platform. We are especially interested in women, people of color, and social justice activists, as well as in terms, concepts, or key historical events in the realms of environmental justice and feminist environmental practices.

Who are the people, concepts, or events you have found missing from Wikipedia? Who is there, but needs a more up-to-date or more nuanced entry?

Please feel free to consult either the Swedish or English-language sites, and specify below from which Wikipedia your person, concept, or event is missing. For example, perhaps the English site has a person the Swedish site does not, or vice versa. We aim to update pages for both audiences.

Over the next few months, we’ll be focusing on adding and revising entries within the broad areas of environmental justice and feminist environmental studies, and we’ll keep you posted about our results.

Re-launch of The Posthumanities Hub at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 28th May 2018!

Meet the Posthumanities Hub programme image

Welcome to the official re-launch of The Posthumanities Hub that takes place on 28th May 2018 at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden!

For a pdf version of the programme, see here.

Meet the Posthumanities Hub! The program of this day represents a smorgasbord of the many projects and activities – and of course some of the collaborating scholars – working together within The Posthumanities Hub.

Programme

Part I. Venue: Salongen, KTHB.

10.15-12.00 “Practicing posthumanities” – introductory lecture with Prof. Matthew Fuller, Goldsmiths University of London, UK and, The Posthumanities International Network. Commentary: Renée Valiquette, PhD, Nipissing University, Canada.

Welcome with Cecilia Åsberg, prof of Gender, nature, culture LiU, Founding Director The Posthumanities Hub (PH), and KTH Guest Prof of Science and technology studies of Gender and Environment, and VR-postdoc Marietta Radomska, Co-Director of The PH.

Part II. Venue: Seminar room, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH.

13.15-13.30 Welcome with the Posthumanities Hub, a community of scholars now also at KTH, by Cecilia Åsberg, Prof and Founding Director, and Marietta Radomska, PhD, Co-Director of The PH and VR-postdoc. Welcome words by Sabine Höhler, PhD Head of Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment – host of the PH.
13.30-13.35 “Deep Time and Intragenerational Justice” by Christina Fredengren, PhD, Docent Archeology (SU), Research Director at National Historical Museums.
13.35-13.45 “Prion Stories”, and “Tears for Fish” by Justin Makii and Vera Weetzel, PhD-students.
13.45-13.50 “Flock Frequency” by artist Janna Holmquist, PhD.

13.50-13.55 “A Feminist Feeling for the Forest” by Olga Cielemęcka, PhD, The Seed Box Postdoc.
13.55-14.00 “Popularizing Posthumanities” by Lotten Wiklund, The Posthumanities Hub science journalist.

— Break —

14.15-14.20 “Ecologies of Death” by Marietta Radomska, PhD, VR-postdoc, Co-Director of the Hub.
14.20-14.25 “Death in the Life Sciences” by Tara Mehrabi, PhD.
14.25-14.30 “Feminist Environmental Humanities”, and “Herbaria 3.0” by Lauren LaFauci, PhD.
14.30-14.45 Virtual messages from honorary members.
14.45-15.00 Wrapping up with Cecilia Åsberg and Marietta Radomska.

Part III. Venue: Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH.

15.00-16.00 Snacks and “mingle” with the companions of The Posthumanities Hub.

The Posthumanities Hub is a research group, a lively community, and a platform for postdisciplinary humanities and more-than-human humanities, for philosophy, arts, and sciences informed by advanced cultural critique and some seriously humorous feminist creativity. In our research, we specialize in the human and more-than-human condition, and inventive feminist materialist philosophies. This entails work in environmental humanities, human animal studies, cultural studies of science and technology, new media, citizen science/citizen humanities, digital and techno-humanities, medical humanities and environmental health (especially toxic embodiment), the posthuman, a-human, inhuman, nonhuman, and trans-, queer or anti-imperialist theory-practices, feminist science studies, and other inter- and/or postdisciplinary areas of researching a complex and changing world that does not admit to old academic divisions of labour (i.e., that research on “culture” is for the humanities and “nature” for science.) We work to meet up with pressing societal challenges, across the natureculture divide and target specific cases. Curiously, creatively, and critically.