Resilience in a Multispecies World: The 2017 John Douglas Taylor Conference

April 21-23 2017

McMaster University

Hamilton, Ontario

In 1973, forest ecologist C.S. Holling introduced the concept of resilience to describe the ability of an ecological system to withstand, absorb or fortify against disturbances in a way that still maintains its basic structures. In recent years the concept of resilience has been extrapolated to a wide array of fields, from education, health science, and psychology to global finance, economic policy, and national security. In these contexts, resilience is often mobilized as a moral category that either affirms or denies the vital worth of things in and of themselves. Focusing on resilience situates critical inquiry within an already troubled state of affairs, a disaster in medias res, but it also “favors the cheery, the chipper, and the ignorant who dwell in bliss. It tells us to just keep shopping through the apocalypse” (Alaimo 2). The concept of resilience is especially salient today as we witness the immense stress that human activity has had on the earth’s systems. It can, on one hand, give us a vocabulary to describe and explore a system’s capacity to survive rapid and unpredictable change, but on the other hand, it also carries a warning that natural systems can reach a point of no return.

Resilience theory has most commonly been applied to the capacity of human populations and ecological systems to survive acute and slow disasters, but other animals also live and die alongside humans. With this in mind, the purpose of the 2017 John Douglas Taylor Conference is to generate a discussion of how the concept of resilience functions within discourses of animal life: How has resilience shaped the way we think about animal life? What might it mean for certain organizations and institutions to label a particular species as resilient? What kinds of forces are animals resilient to and how are these forms of resilience characterized by social institutions? This conference will also call attention to what happens when animals are characterized as lacking resilience, to discourses of extinction events and collapse, and to how we might view such “events” as models for expectations of the future of the anthropocene.

Given that animal resilience has not been substantially taken up within critical animal studies, human-animal studies, literary animal studies, ecocriticism, or the environmental humanities, we welcome submissions that engage with resilience in any number of theoretical, sociological, anthropological, textual, historical, political, activist, ethical, or artistic methods. We also encourage non-traditional forms of presentation including collaborative papers; panels that reduce presentation time to encourage discussion; panels that make use of creative limitations (for example: micro-themed, timed, or word-limit response panels); interdisciplinary approaches; proposals from thinkers outside the humanities, such as submissions from artists, writers, community practitioners, veterinarians, activists, and colleagues in the social and natural sciences. Papers may address topics and questions including, but not limited to, the following:

  •  The Aesthetics of Resilience: Environmental and evolutionary aesthetics; bio-/eco-aesthetics; Representing ideas of resilience, disruption/disturbance, disaster; aestheticizing loss and recovery; anti-anthropocentric (re)presentations.
  •  The Economics of Resilience: Bio-politics of resilience; animal capital; economizing decline and recovery; conservation politics and economies; commerce and species loss; neo-liberal (re)shapings of biota; community networking as strategic resilience; the labour of loss/disaster.
  •  Emblems of Resilience: Animals as models/metaphors/metonymies for resilient humans; human ‘nature’ as exceptional resilience; speciation resilience and social Darwinism; genetics, postgenomics and the future of human resilience.
  • Intersecting Resilience: Animal resilience as it intersects across race, gender, sexuality, class, (dis)ability; relationships between marginalized humans and animals; postcolonial resilience;
  • Multispecies Resilience: Sites of intrusion/permeability; liminal animals/humans; co-existence as resilience; the resilience of companion species; empowering the animal; Object Oriented Ontologies, intersectional spaces and bodies.
  •  Pesky Resilience: Microbiopolitics; the exhaustion of infestation; non-charismatic animals; the resilience of invasive species; resilience to extermination as a detriment to humans; urban animal studies; animal intelligence as resilience to humans.
  •  Precarious Resilience: Precarity as a condition of resilience; teleologies of resilience; the condemnation and resignation of species; identification of species “at-risk”.
  •  The Resilient Anthropocene: Extinction and elegy; discourses of ‘failed’ resilience; proleptic/anticipatory mourning; categorical/taxonomic vs physical loss; the resilient after-effects of extractivist mindsets; ecological crises of futurity; the value of speculation.
  •  Resilient Memory: Natural history; taxonomy; resilience in historical periods, histories of ecology and resilience; geological and social histories of ecological entanglement; historicizing animals.
  •  Transnational Modes of Resilience: Ecological citizenship; borderless bioregions; animal/human refuge; the Indigeneity of resilience/resistance; decolonizing ecological relations.

Individual paper submissions should include a 250-350-word abstract clearly articulating your thesis and its relation to the conference theme. For non-traditional forms of presentation and whole-panel submissions please include a 250-word summary of your theme and a list of presenters. For the sake of blind peer review, please include all contact information and institutional affiliations on a separate title page. All proposals must be submitted by November 1, 2016. We will evaluate your proposal carefully and notify you of its final status by January 13, 2017.

 Please send submissions to: resiliencejdt2017@gmail.com

 In the coming months check out our website resiliencejdt.wordpress.com for updates, as well as to find information about and sign up for planned outings and adventures around Hamilton.

Call for Papers: Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting – Data Infrastructures, Nature, and Politics

Organizers: Eric Nost (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Jenny Goldstein (Cornell University)

Discussant: Luke Bergmann (University of Washington)

Date and location: April 5-7 2017, Boston, MA

Conservationists around the world are turning to new data collection, modeling, and visualization software they believe may help “save the planet”. For some conservationists, data paucity and irregularity may constrain environment governance more than political will, capacity, or legitimacy (e.g. Hsu et al. 2012). At the same time, corporations are developing new software for intensifying resource extraction or managing their use of ecosystem services. In both cases, as actors extend their use of new digital tools and grapple with big data, they run up against the social and technical limits of existing data management platforms, standards, and institutions – the data infrastructure. This session explores the making and un-making of data infrastructures by which conservationists and corporations – as well as development practitioners, scientists, and state planners – generate scaled, uneven, and actionable knowledge about the environment. In particular, we are interested in: contestation around data infrastructures that respond to or remake material environments; performative effects and surprising failures of data infrastructures (Bowker 2000); and the conditions under which technical approaches can further “appropriate,” just outcomes instead of re-entrenching state and capitalist power (Fortun 2004).

Political ecologists have shown how economic forces and institutional cultures shape who is called upon to make environmental science, which perspectives are deemed legitimate, and the values and interests characterizing this knowledge. But as STS scholars have argued, knowledge production relies on sociotechnical infrastructures–proprietary and open source devices, embodied practices, and social institutions–that are variously ubiquitous but transparent, learned but reliable (Edwards 2007). While political ecologists have shown how environmental science generated with digital tools like GIS and remote sensing drives particular land management policies (Robbins 2001; Turner 2003), we aim to characterize the broader infrastructures supporting the use of these tools and how these infrastructures themselves are sources of contested policy and material change. Although much recent political ecological work on infrastructure has focused on tangible systems, we seek to apply insights from this work to digital infrastructure, with the help of research from STS and geographies of technology (Wilson 2011; Leszczynski 2012, Ash et al. 2015) to better understand the new social relations, regimes of governance, and natures brought about by changes in the management of environmental data. Work from developing world cases is especially encouraged.

We are particularly interested in presenters who address one or more of the following:

  • What it means to an environmental expert in the age of big data and how volunteered, crowdsourced data reconfigures environmental expertise (Eden 2012; Lave 2015)
  • How data infrastructure transforms environmentalism and generates ecological/geographical imaginaries (Easterling 2014)
  • How conservation organizations change when they become data brokers and/or managers
  • Misalignments and tensions between designers, managers, and users of environment-related data infrastructure (Oudshoorn and Pinch 2003)
  • Who bears the costs of maintaining digital infrastructure, who gets to be involved in creating databases, and who defines what data is valuable
  • How data management infrastructures operate within bureaucracies
  • Critical physical geography approaches linking data infrastructure regimes and specific ecological outcomes
  • Methodologies for researching digital infrastructures (Star 1999)
  • Histories of data infrastructure (Jackson et al. 2007)

We invite interested participants to send their title, 250-word abstract, and affiliation to Eric Nost (nost@wisc.edu) and Jenny Goldstein (jeg347@cornell.edu) by October 15, 2016. We will notify accepted participants by October 22. As this session has a discussant, we will ask participants to circulate their papers several weeks prior to the conference.

References
Ash, J; Kitchin, R; Leszczynski, A. 2015. Digital turn, digital geography? The Programmable City, Working Paper No. 17. http://eprints.maynoothuniversity.ie/7234/1/RK-Digital-turn.pdf
Bowker, G. 2000. Biodiversity Dataversity. Social Studies of Science 30(5): 643-683.
Fortun, K. 2004. Environmental Information Systems as Appropriate Technology. Design Issues 20 (3):54–65.
Easterling, K. 2014. Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space. London: Verso.
Edwards, P. 2007. A Vast Machine. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Eden, S. 2012. Counting fish: Performative data, anglers’ knowledge-practices and environmental measurement. Geoforum 43 (5):1014–1023.
Hsu, A., A. de Sherbinin, and H. Shi. 2012. Seeking truth from facts: The challenge of environmental indicator development in China. Environmental Development 3 (2012):39–51.
Jackson, Steven J., Paul N. Edwards, Geoffrey C. Bowker, and Cory P. Knobel. 2007. Understanding Infrastructure: History, Heuristics, and Cyberinfrastructure Policy. First Monday 12(6).
Lave, R. 2015. The Future of Environmental Expertise. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 105 (2):244–252.
Leszczynski, A. 2012. Situating the geoweb in political economy. Progress in Human Geography Published (1):1–18.
Oudshoorn, N. & Pinch, T. 2003. “Users and Non-Users as Active Agents in the De-Stabilization of Technologies” in How Users Matter: The Co-Construction of Users and Technology.
Robbins, P. 2001. Fixed categories in a portable landscape: the causes and consequences of land-cover categorization. Environment and Planning A 33 (1):161–179.
Star, Susan Leigh. 1999. The Ethnography of Infrastructure. American Behavioral Scientist 43(3): 377-91.
Turner, M. D. 2003. Methodological Reflections on the Use of Remote Human Ecological Research. Human Ecology 31 (2):255–279.
Wilson, M. W. 2011. Data matter(s): legitimacy, coding, and qualifications-of-life. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (January).
Zoomers, A., A. Gekker, and M. T. Schäfer. 2016. Between two hypes: Will “big data” help unravel blind spots in understanding the ‘global land rush?’. Geoforum 69:147–159.

Call for Papers – The World in 2050: Imagining and Creating Just Climate Futures

We invite presentations of all kinds on the theme of “The World in 2050: Imagining and Creating Just Climate Futures” for an online, nearly carbon-neutral conference (described below) that will take place from October 24 to November 14, 2016. Coordinated by UC Santa Barbara, this conference is part of a series of events on “Climate Futures: This Changes Everything” [http://ehc.english.ucsb.edu/?page_id=11154]

The most pressing existential issue of the 21st century for humanity as a whole is the increasingly grim reality of climate change and our entry into a new era in the history of humans and the planet well signified by the Anthropocene. The changing conditions of life on Earth lie at the center of a storm of interconnected crises which include, among others, the precarity of the global economy, a widening deficit of political legitimacy, and cultures scarred by violence, from the most intimate interpersonal interactions to the most global realities of war-making.

Unlike either the justifiably pessimistic critical discussions or the unrealistically optimistic policy approaches that increasingly confront (or ignore) each other around the climate crisis, this conference will depart from our present ground zero by asking participants to experiment with perspectives on the multiple possible states of the world in mid-century and work back toward the present in an attempt to imagine, envision, enable, and collaboratively find or create some of the pathways to a more just  – or just less worse – outcome for humanity by 2050.

Please note that this will be a nearly carbon-neutral conference. We believe that a conference that takes up the issue of climate change while simultaneously contributing to the problem to such a degree is simply unconscionable. Even a relatively small academic conference can generate the equivalent of 20,000 pounds or more of CO2 (chiefly from travel). To put that number in perspective, this is the total annual carbon footprint of ten people living in India, thirty-three in Kenya.

Consequently, this conference will largely occur online. Over a period of three weeks, starting on October 24 and running through November 10, accepted talks and other events will be available for viewing on the conference website. Q&A will also take place online during this period, as participants and registered attendees will be able to connect with speakers and each other via online comments and speakers will be able to reply in the same way. Both the talks and Q&A sessions will remain up on the website as a permanent archive of the event.

A conference using this format was staged at UC Santa Barbara in May of 2016. As that conference’s website [http://ehc.english.ucsb.edu/?page_id=12687] contains a complete archive of the event, please visit it if you would like to see how this conference will work. In particular, the opening remarks and the accompanying Q&A session [http://ehc.english.ucsb.edu/?p=13550] help explain the rationale for this approach while also demonstrating it.

While we realize that this will not replicate the face-to-face interaction of a conventional conference talk and Q&A, we believe that it will nonetheless promote lively discussion, as well as help build a community of scholars and activists with intersecting research interests and hopes for the world. An advantage to this approach is that individuals who would not otherwise be able to become involved in the conference owing to distance, daily life, or financial constraints will be able to fully take part. There will be no registration fee for the conference. Although this online conference will have its own carbon footprint, as data centers and web activity also require energy, we expect that this will be only a small fraction of that of a conventional conference, likely just 1-3%.

Instead of traveling to the conference to attend panels and deliver a talk, speakers agree to do the following:

1) Film yourself (or yourself with others) giving a talk of 15-17 minutes. The webcams that come with desktop and laptop computers have improved dramatically over the past few years. Aftermarket webcams with noise cancelling microphones, which can be purchased for under $50, often provide even better quality. It is also the case that most computers have video recording software preinstalled, such as Apple’s QuickTime. Consequently, it is now possible, and relatively easy, to record a talk of surprisingly good quality in your home, office, or just about anywhere. How easy is it and how good is the quality? A sample talk that explains the concept and process in detail can be found here: http://ehc.english.ucsb.edu/?p=12048.

2) Take part in your three-week online Q&A session by responding to questions raised by your talk. You will automatically receive an email each time a new question is posed. Only registered conference participants (this includes speakers, as well as others who register for the conference) will be posing questions.

3) View as many of the talks as possible, posing questions of your own to speakers. This is especially important, as this is how you will meet and interact with other conference participants. Given the subject matter, our goal is help establish relationships and to build a community. In this case, since travel has been removed from the equation, our hope is that this community will be diverse and truly global.

Abstracts of 250 words and a brief biographical note of about 150 words should be submitted as one document [Word or pdf, only please] by August 15 and attached in a single e-mail copied to both of the following e-mail addresses: conference co-organizer John Foran – foran@soc.ucsb.edu and our conference assistant Rick Thomas  –EHCfellow@gmail.com.

We welcome all international submissions if the talks themselves can be either in English or subtitled (see below) in English.  The Q&A will be in English. You should also please confirm that you have viewed the sample video and agree both to the above conference requirements and to allow your filmed talk to be posted to the conference website, as well as our Vimeo, YouTube, and SoundCloud accounts. As noted above, the talks will become part of a permanent conference archive open to the public.

Amara provides free closed captioning software that allows anyone to caption videos. As they note on their website, Amara makes it “incredibly easy (and free) to caption and translate your videos…. Amara is built by a nonprofit, 501c3 organization. We are driven by the mission to reduce barriers to communication and foster a more democratic media ecosystem.” Because it does not require a steep learning curve, Amara can generally be quickly learned. Since our goal is to have a conference that is accessible as possible, please consider using Amara to add closed captioning to your talk or have someone (perhaps a student intern or a tech-savvy friend) do it for you. If you will not be able to closed caption your talk, please note this when submitting your abstract.

Abstracts are due by Monday, August 15, 2016.

Participants will be informed whether their submissions have been accepted or not by Monday, August 29, 2016.

Videos of the talks will be due by Monday, October 10, 2016.


The online conference will take place from Monday, October 24 to Monday, November 14, 2016.

Please send any questions to conference co-organizers John Foran – foran@soc.ucsb.edu and Ken Hiltner –hiltner@english.ucsb.edu.

Please feel free to be as creative as you like in your proposals – we look forward to seeing them!

UWinnipeg creates green investment fund, faces criticism from students

Reposted from: The Academica Group. Originally posted on June 30, 2016

Representatives from the student group Divest UWinnipeg have criticized the school’s decision to pursue strategic alternatives to a full divestment from fossil fuels. The university has been consulting with the group for the past year. The group has asked the University of Winnipeg Foundation and pension board of trustees to end all investments in stocks and bonds of fossil fuel companies. This Monday, the school’s board of regents asked the foundation to instead create a responsible investment policy that applies environmental, social, and governance criteria. “The U of W’s choice not to divest from fossil fuels represents a contradiction with its commitments to sustainability, Indigenization and, ultimately, reconciliation,” said UWinnipeg Student Association Preisdent Kevin Settee. UWinnipeg Senior Executive Officer Chris Minaker responded that the school “has adopted a balanced approach to the divestment issue which is consistent with actions taken by other universities in Canada.”

PROFESSOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL HUMANITIES

Reposted from: Australian Environmental Humanities Hub. Originally posted on June 22, 2016.

Bath Spa University is launching the UK’s first taught MA in Environmental Humanities. Building on Bath Spa’s long-standing strength in literature and environment, this innovative interdisciplinary programme, led by Kate Rigby, brings (post-)human geography, environmental anthropology, environmental philosophy, ethics and religious studies, ecocriticism, and nature writing into critical conversation with the biological sciences in order to find creative responses to today’s complex socio-environmental problems.

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CLIMATE CHANGE AND FOOD POLITICS

By: Irena Knezevic with contributions from Peter Andrée

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Photo credit: Maranda Grant

For most of us who think about the food system, the link between food and climate change seems obvious. Figuring out exactly what that relationship is can be more blurry. Carleton Climate Commons hosted a roundtable on this topic on March 17th which was attended by more than 50 students, faculty and community members. Andrew Spring from Wilfrid Laurier University and Dr. Sonia Wesche from the University of Ottawa opened up the discussion with vivid accounts of how climate change affects food systems in Canada’s North. From melting permafrost to increasingly unreliable ice-roads, to changing flora and fauna, they established a clear link between climate change and one of Canada’s most pressing challenges – food insecurity in the North. Though their accounts were mostly grim, they also offered hope through showcasing initiatives like the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River, community gardens, and substitutions strategies where communities are moving to eating wild game that is more abundant now as caribou herds continue to decline. Dr. Leah Temper from Seeds of Survival (USC Canada) brought an international perspective to the discussion by describing the international programs focused on seed security and diversification. She offered an optimistic account of how seed saving and sharing can not only facilitate adaptation to climate change, but also support small-scale farmers who are struggling to survive in the globalized food system.

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Carleton University’s Dr. Peter Andrée acted as a respondent and provided an insightful commentary reminding the audience that we need to consider these issues in the wider context of how the global food system contributes to climate change, through monoculture-heavy agriculture, industrial meat production, and monumental food waste. Dr. Andrée noted some key themes across the three presentations, including the centrality of issues of social justice, the links between realizing food security and food sovereignty, and the need for climate change adaptation processes to be based in the participation of those communities and individuals most severely affected. The general discussion that followed engaged the audience in an exploration of how we can contribute to addressing climate change and food problems through both individual and collective action. By bringing together speakers from three universities and one organization, as well as diverse audience, Carleton Climate Commons offered a space for learning, dialogue and hope for action.

 

Originally posted on: http://nourishingontario.ca/blog/2016/03/30/climate-change-and-food-politics/

Global Economic and Climate Change along the Silk Road: Crisis in Central Asia and Afghanistan

In the age of the Silk Road, Central Asia and Afghanistan came to prominence by facilitating global trade between China and the Mediterranean. Today, the fortunes of the region are still tied to global trends, but these are taking an increasingly negative turn.

 

 

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A profound economic crisis is gripping the region. The causes are diverse: decreasing oil and gas prices, an economic slowdown in China, the falling Russian Ruble, and for Afghanistan – even the withdrawal of NATO forces. Under such circumstances, households and national governments are scrambling to cope.

But the economy is not the sole global force challenging Central Asia and Afghanistan. In recent years, climate change has put growing pressure on this fragile and mountainous region. Rising temperatures, irregular rainfall, and increasingly devastating natural disasters are the new normal.

In a rapidly changing environment, what processes, policies, and plans are in place to help citizens and their governments to deal with these new global realities?

Join the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and Carleton University for a panel discussion on the future of Central Asia and Afghanistan. Speakers will bring insights informed by decades of experience in the fields of economic development, public policy, and climate change. In addition Dr Bohdan Krawchenko and Dr Dietrich Schmidt-Vogt from the University of Central Asia will reflect on lessons learned from the UCA’s Research and Public Policy Initiative, funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre and AKFC, which sought to strengthen research capacity and evidence-based policy-making in Afghanistan and Central Asia.

 

Date: Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Time: 1:00 – 4:00PM

Location: Carleton University, River Building Room 2228

Cost: Free (please register)

https://www.akfcnetwork.ca/akfc-events/2016/global-economic-and-climate-change-along-the-silk-road

Contact: tyler@akfc.ca

Refreshments will be provided

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Mosaic: Call for Submissions

Within the biological-ecological sciences from which the term Anthropocene emerged, “scale” has a longer history and broader usage than it does within the now-proliferating philosophical, critical, theoretical, and ethical discourses that address environmentalism, climate change, and the Anthropocene’s status as a sixth major extinction event. For the latter discourses, scale often refers to something “bigger” than we have ever previously encountered: climate change, for instance, as a crisis unprecedented in its scope and in the reorientation, or “reinvention,” of critical protocols that it is said to require. Given the unrelenting scale of such issues as climate change and of factors contributing to it, e.g., the shift from small-scale family farming to massive global-marketing industrial operations, must theory, too, as some suggest, undergo a transition from local and individual to global perspectives? In what might a global imaginary consist, and how might it relate to existing critiques of globalization as but a label for the hegemony of Western culture? Are broader understandings of scale available from within the ecological sciences and, if so, how might these serve as resources for the “greening of theory”?
            Mosaic, an interdisciplinary critical journal, invites innovative and interdisciplinary submissions for a special issue on Scale in relation to ecocriticism, the Anthropocene, climate change, and environmental and animal ethics.
Mosaic follows an electronic submission process. If you would like to contribute an essay for review, please visit our website for details:www.umanitoba.ca/mosaic/submit. Email any submission questions to mosasub@umanitoba.ca. Submissions must be received by: May 9, 2016.

 
SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
We welcome submissions that conform to our mandate.
  •  Essays may be in English or French and must represent innovative thought (either in the form of extending or challenging current critical positions).Mosaic does not publish fiction, poetry, or book reviews.
  •  Mosaic publishes only original work. We will not consider essays that are part of a thesis or dissertation, have been published previously, or are being considered for publication in another journal or medium.
  •  Preferred length of essays is 7,000 words, to a maximum of 7,500 words. Parenthetical citations and works cited must follow the conventions of the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd ed.) or MLA Handbook (7th ed.). Essays may feature illustrations.
  •  Mosaic’s anonymous peer-review process requires that no identifying information appear on the electronic version of the essay itself. Submissions that meet our requirements are sent to specialists in the specific and general area that an essay addresses. Anonymous but complete transcripts of the readers’ reports are sent to the author.  
 
Address inquiries by email to:
Dr. Dawne McCance
Editor, Mosaic
University of Manitoba, 208 Tier Building
Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 2N2 Canada
Tel: 204-474-8597, Fax: 204-474-7584
 
Submissions: Submit online at www.umanitoba.ca/mosaic/submit