Paper Sessions 4 – 6

Paper Session 4: Embodied Knowledges and Multiple Cosmopolitical Approaches to Environmental Change

Thursday, May 20: 9:30 AM PDT / 5:30 PM BST / 10:00 PM IST

Chair: Tracey Heatherington, University of British Columbia, Canada


    • “Performing foreseeable environments through ‘cabañuelas’ in the Andes” | Jorge Legoas, Queen’s University, Canada

Abstract: In this presentation I look at Cabañuelas, a traditional practice that forecasts the rainfall of a given year by observing a number of environmental signals in the year preceding it. Instead of analyzes that would lead me to wonder about the veracity or precision of such forecasts, I am interested in the forms of agency that allow the Indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Andes to deal with uncertainty through knowledges, gestures, and subjectivation strategies that allow them to understand increasingly unstable environments as part of intelligible natural-cultural worlds that can be faced under limited material living conditions.

    • “Co-constructing More Liveable Futures: Biodiversity Conservation, Nonhuman Agency and Posthuman Cosmopolitics” | Heather Alberro, Nottingham Trent University, UK

Abstract: The current sixth mass extinction event stemming from Western capitalism’s boundless exploitation of people, places and resources requires a radical rethink of how we perceive and relate to nonhuman ‘others’. Mainstream and neoprotectionist approaches within biodiversity conservation is still steeped in nature/culture binaries. This paper critically explores and calls for convivial and posthuman approaches to biodiversity conservation which emphasise living with and not apart from our agentic terrestrial counterparts. It concludes with reflections on the messy yet inescapable politics of living well together amidst turbulent times.

    • “Nature without Certainty? Considering Emergent Possibilities for Transformative Conservation” | Jim Igoe, University of Virginia, USA

Abstract: Ongoing convergences of the COVID pandemic, anti-racist uprisings, and climate-change related catastrophes have revealed the profound uncertainties of intersecting crises over much longer periods of time. Visual mediations of these crises are fast moving and far reaching, revealing the depth of these uncertainties and possibilities for transformative responses. Across the turn of the millenium these aesthetics and discourses proved valuable to interconnected neoliberal projects, including mitigation enterprises. Last decade’s rise of avowedly illiberal regimes presents existential challenges conservation’s hegemonic visions of progressive neoliberal certainty.


Paper Session 5: Oecologies and the Environmental Humanities at UBC

Thursday, May 20: 1:00 PM PDT / 9:00 PM BST / Friday May 21: 1:30 AM IST

Chair: Lane Hall, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee


    • “An Otherwise Unremarkable Oak: Shakespeare, Ecology, and Urban Development in Early Twentieth-century Vancouver” | Patricia Badir, University of British Columbia, Canada

Abstract: Near the entrance of Stanley Park, in Vancouver, British Columbia, there is an oak tree, planted by Mrs. Elizabeth Rogers in 1916 for the Shakespeare tercentenary. The narrative that unfolds around this planting illustrates how Canadian settler identity consolidates around Shakespeare’s name. However, this paper also considers the tree’s ambivalent status as a historical monument within the context of the nineteenth-century Parks Movement that developed urban green spaces for passive leisure. It shows how Rogers channeled Shakespeare to reforest the park with an ecumenical “green” spirituality that could stop time and compensate for the ravages of modern urban development.

    • “The Trouble with Existential Risk” | Derek Woods, University of British Columbia, Canada

Abstract: Emerging from analytic philosophy, especially the work of Nick Bostrom, the study of “existential risk” is the study of any risk that might lead to absolute human extinction, from extreme global warming to nuclear winter to malevolent AI. With my co-author Joshua Schuster, I have been studying this field in its cultural contexts. Because of its many philosophical and political blind spots, we question it in a short book entitled Three Critiques of Existential Risk.

    • “It’s Raining Potatoes!” | Vin Nardizzi, University of British Columbia, Canada

Abstract: This paper is about Shakespeare, potatoes, New World botanical imports, and disaster porn.


Paper Session 6: Artistic Expression, Activism &Technological Imaginaries

Thursday, May 20: 6:00 PM PDT / Friday May 21: 2:00 AM BST / 6:30 AM IST

Chair: Kendra Jewell, University of British Columbia, Canada


    • “The Techno-Tamaladas” | Praba Pilar, The Hindsight Institute

Abstract: The “Techno-Tamaladas” is a convivial art project that re-imagines technological futurity through the Indigenous technologies of nixtamalization and the milpa. The “Techno-Tamaladas” offer temporary utopias against a landscape where Silicon Valley corporations have deepened wealth inequality, precarity, evictions, homelessness, poverty, and displacement, intensified mining and environmental damage, and shattered civil society. The “Techno-Tamaladas” create vastly different algorithms of technological development, based on the sequences of technologies of life, the commons, and the knowledge of relational accountability and reciprocity of the Indigenous and Afro Americas.

    • “Craft and Climate Change” | Seema Goel, Manitoba Craft Council, Canada

Abstract: Using wool as a bellwether material to lay bare the contradictions of economic systems, foster tactile participation, and create constructive action, this talk will connect climate change and craft through examples of craft based projects, in particular the Carbon Footprint Project. This public art action highlights wool’s ability to facilitate discussion through physical engagement with making. Engaging the global conundrum of distance between producer and consumer and reconnecting the viewer/participant to the narratives hidden in the materials, it ultimately gathers community to re-assert agency in small scale craft production as an action to counter climate change.

    • “Sustainable Tools and Performance Activism for a Just Transition” | Kimberly Richards, University of Alberta, Canada

Abstract: The transition to renewable energy sources is often envisioned as a technological problem in the domain of engineers and innovators; however, it is equally a social and cultural problem which requires vision and leadership from the cultural sector. This paper introduces an open-source video archive of “sustainable tools” for performance-strategies that have emerged over the last decade to inspire energy transition. I will discuss the framework, which is informed by Sustainable Tools for Precarious Times, a study of art activist tools and tactics that can be circulated, adapted and repeated in different regions of the world, and provide some examples.

    • “Rhetoric Spreading like Wildfire” | Andreas Rutkauskas, University of British Columbia, Canada

Abstract: Speaking from the point of view of a visual artist that uses photography and videography to document the aftermath and regeneration of ecosystems following wildfire, I will examine how documentary film, Hollywood cinema, art photography and other televisual sources deal with the unpredictable nature of wildfire as a destructive force and a rejuvenating phenomenon. We will examine the role of rhetoric in response to the unpredictability of climate change including assumptions of increased wildfire risk, and question how visual art may propose options to guide us through an unpredictable future.