CFP: Insect Entanglements Online Workshop

CFP Insect Entanglements Online Workshop

deadline for submissions: April 30, 2020

Faculty of Arts, University of Bristol, 19 June 2020

Insects are everywhere, our (human) lives entangled with them, and yet we know surprisingly little about them. In the introduction to Insectopedia, Hugh Raffles writes the following:

For as long as we’ve been here, they’ve been here too. Wherever we’ve travelled, they’ve been there too. And still, we don’t know them very well, not even the ones we’re closest to, the ones that eat our food and share our beds. Who are they, these beings so different from us and from each other? What do they do? What worlds do they make? What do we make of them? How do we live with them? How could we live with them differently? (3)

These critters have been around longer than we have. They come in so many configurations — different shapes, sizes, and ecological functions. We encounter insects as part of a collective, or as lone individuals. Yet, there is still much to learn about them and, considering their newly realised precarity, the ways in which we can live affirmatively with them.

In the words of Deborah Bird Rose (2013): ‘We live in a time of almost unfathomable loss, and we are called to respond.’ How does one respond to the insect—whether as a taxonomic rank, a certain species, a figure or story, or even the single individual that buzzes and keeps you up at night. What shapes do insect entanglements take in a time of significant biomass and diversity loss, dominated by several flagship species? After all, as Eva Haifa Giraud argues (2019), with (any) politics of entanglement also comes a reality of exclusion, asking us to pay careful attention to those ‘frictions, foreclosures, and exclusions that play a constitutive role in the composition of lived reality.’ These are, of course, only suggestions for topics that are certainly not meant to limit presenters’ areas of research and creativity.

We invite proposals for twenty-minute papers, multimedia presentations, and creative responses to insect entanglements from postgraduates, ECRs and academics across disciplines (not just the humanities). We are especially keen to hear new and explorative work. Now covid-19 is forcing us to rethink how we produce academic knowledge and share it with the public, we are also thinking of an online platform to accompany the workshop (e.g., a virtual exhibition).

Please submit a 300 word abstract and short bio to e.tabak@bristol.ac.uk with “Workshop insect entanglements” in the subject line by 30 April 2020. You will hear back from us promptly.

Registration is free. Depending on individual needs, we might be able to cover travel costs for presenting PGRs & ECRs. Coffee and (vegan) lunch will be provided. Please let us know if you have any allergies.

Organisers: Eline Tabak & Maia Dixon

Supported by the University of Bristol’s Centre for Environmental Humanities.

Featured image by Maria Sibylla Merian

Snapshot: Bristol Museum & Art Gallery 20.09.2020

One of the first things I did after moving to Bristol was visiting the Extinction Voices exhibition at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. The exhibition’s title was inspired by a citation from environmentalist Paul Hawken: ‘Nature is noisy. It walks, it crawls, it swims, it swoops, it buzzes. But extinction is silent. It has no voice except our own.’

The exhibition – and the Hawken citation – made me think about (in)visibility and voice(less)ness. The shrouds were incredibly effective: how come the very act of veiling these threatened (and extinct) species make them so visible?

Snapshot: Naturhistorisches Museum Wien 17.06.19

The Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria, had a special exhibition on glaciers named: DAHINSCHMELZEN. Gletscher als Zeugen des Klimawandels (or MELTDOWN), created by the climate change charity Project Pressure.

My partner and I happened to be in Vienna when this exhibition just opened, and I just had to go. We both really enjoyed the set-up and the visuals. How can something so catastrophic be so aesthetically pleasing? I found Noémi Goudal’s work in particular very beautiful.

IMG-9756
Noémi Goudal’s Glaciér 1, Glaciér 2, and Glaciér 3 (2016)

One thing that struck me was the discrepancy (for the lack of a better word) between… artist/observer and the subject of the works of art. Most of the artists were born in either West Europe or North America, and the places and people shown were elsewhere. For me, this exhibition mostly raised one (or a set of related) question(s): who gets the tell these stories? Whose voices are we hearing? According to a website, Project Pressure’s mission is (amongst other things), “to depict first-hand the environmental impact of climate change”. But is it, really?

Blog: Place as experience

Last year, I was asked to write a short blog for the Problems of Place series at EnvHistNow, a website that highlights environmental history scholarship by women, trans, and non-binary academics. EnvHistNow is run by Elizabeth Hameeteman.

Writing about personal experiences is scary (especially when they’re not positive), but I’m grateful for the opportunity this gave me to write about academia, precarity, and the “places” you take with you as a firstgen academic.

Snapshot: Field Museum 13.06.18

The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. I adore the museum’s Plants of the World exhibition and will forever regret not having my camera with me. Enjoy this snapshot of Máximo instead.

There was also an interesting quote from Loren Eissley’s The Immense Journey (1957):

“Without the gift of flowers and the infinite diversity of their fruits, man and bird, if they had continued to exist at all, would be today unrecognizable. / The weight of a petal has changed the face of the world and made it ours.”

I have yet to read The Immense Journey (or any of Eissley’s books, to be honest), but I do now wonder about the tension between praising biodiversity and the anthropocentricity of this little citation.

Snapshot: Nationalpark Berchtesgaden 24.11.17

This picture was taken during an excursion to the Nationalpark Berchtesgaden – only one of two national parks in the state of Bavaria, which makes up about 1/5th of Germany. We had a tour from one of the park rangers and visited the information centre “Haus der Berge”, where we also had a lecture by the park’s director, Dr. Roland Baier, and learnt that part of the park has been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1990.

Review: Timothy Clark’s Ecocriticism on the Edge (2015) and Adam Trexler’s Anthropocene Fictions (2015)

See my review of Timothy Clark’s Ecocriticism on the Edge: The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept (2015) and Adam Trexler’s Anthropocene Fictions: The Novel in a Time of Climate Change (Bloomsbury 2015).

Published in Frame: Journal of Literary Studies 29.2, special issue on Perspectives on the Anthropocene (link). This issue also has essays by Lawrence Buell and Rosi Braidotti, and an interview with Cary Wolfe.