Keynote 1: Traditional Knowledge, Environment
Protection and Human Rights
Thursday, May 20: 1:30 AM PDT / 9:30 AM BST / 2:00 PM IST
Pooran C. Joshi, University of Delhi, India
Bio: Professor P. C. Joshi is a distinguished medical anthropologist working at the interface of culture, climate change and public health. He was a delegate to United Nations Framework Climate Change Conference in 2008 and the recipient of the Indira Priyadarshini Vriksha Mitra National Award. Professor Joshi has served in various government advisory positions in India, and is currently Acting Vice-Chancellor at the University of Delhi.
Abstract: Environment protection is largely addressed in the language of science. In the context of climate change, unpredictability of the environment and its disastrous consequences, scientific knowledge is considered as the only way to deal with this issue. This has led to scientism where-in a hegemony is created between the possessor of such knowledge and the ‘others.’ On the pretext of managerialism and conservation, alternative ways and knowledge of relating to the environment has been overlooked.
Keynote 2: Dear Forest: Writing Across Breaking-Points with More-Than-Human Worlds
Thursday, May 20: 11:15 AM PDT / 7:15 PM BST / 11:45 PM IST
Hilary Cunningham Scharper, University of Toronto, Canada
Bio: Dr. Hilary Cunningham Scharper is both a cultural anthropologist and a Canadian novelist. Her academic interests encompass multi-species ethnography, critical animal studies, sentient landscapes and land ethics. Her ethnographic practice engages with visual, sensory and arts-based methodologies. Writing as Hilary Scharper, she also publishes literary fiction. Her recent novel Perdita is the first of a series of “eco-gothic” stories set in the Great Lakes.
Abstract: Critically addressing issues of authorial power and the asymmetries of representation has a long tenure in anthropology. But what if that experimentation is extended to more-than-human worlds? What kinds of conversations might evolve, especially those informed by the unpredictability, urgency and escalation of anthropogenic climate chaos? With human/morethan- human relationships stretched to breaking-points, what forms of collaboration might ensue?
Dear Forest is a walk-in-a-dark-woods—both ethnographic and fictional—and explores “author-ity,” and “relational-research” in a world where the possibility of unlimited human/nonhuman “co-constitutions” can no longer be taken-for-granted.
Keynote 3: Compassionate Metabolism: Caring for Un/Predictable Futures
Friday, May 21: 1:00 AM PDT / 9:00 AM BST / 1:30 PM IST
Susanne Pratt, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Bio: Dr. Susanne Pratt lectures at the Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation, University of Technology Sydney. Her work focuses on art, digital storytelling, futures studies, innovative social research methods, public engagement, environmental humanities, feminist politics of care, transdisciplinary pedagogy and science & technology studies. She explores how creative practices of care can both enact and problematize engagement with environmental health concerns.
Abstract: As the aftermath of the 2019-20 fires in Australia smolder under the headlines of a global pandemic and other evolving disasters, various ecologically focused visions of the future are being imagined, predicted, exhausted and enacted. In this performative presentation, I will provide a transdisciplinary perspective, as an artist and researcher, on metabolising un/predictable futures. I offer the notion of “compassionate metabolism” as a means of exploring how activist-artists and artful-activists are shifting extractive imaginaries into more regenerative futures.
Keynote 4: Embracing Mutual Vulnerability in a Time of Planetary Crisis and Uncertainty
Friday, May 21: 9:30 AM PDT / 5:30 PM BST / 10:00 PM IST
Peter F. Cannavò, Hamilton College, U.S.A.
Bio: Peter F. Cannavò is Professor of Government at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. He is the author of TheWorking Landscape: Founding, Preservation, and the Politics of Place (The MIT Press, 2007), and co-editor, with Joseph H. Lane, Jr., of Engaging Nature: Environmentalism and the Political Theory Canon (TheMIT Press, 2014). He is currently working on To the Thousandth Generation: The Green Civic Republican Tradition in America, under contract with The MIT Press.
Abstract: Climate change and global pandemics are forcing contemporary society to deal with radical uncertainty about the immediate and long-term future. Ongoing changes and crises in our social and physical environment threaten societies’ capacities to organize themselves and build and maintain effective infrastructure. Such crises unfortunately create an opportunity for those with authoritarian ambitions. Alternatively, though, we may draw on our shared vulnerability in the face of crisis and uncertainty to advance a civic republican framework of mutual aid, non-domination, and democratic engagement. Such a society can be more equitable, humane, and resilient in dealing with turbulent times ahead.
Thanks to funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, our conference keynote recordings are open access!
We welcome commentaries on these conference keynote presentations and other sessions at the Un/Predictable Environments Digital Conference. You are invited to visit our lively blog site and share your own reflections on the conference theme.