Essay competition: “Interdisciplinarity: the new orthodoxy?”

Many thanks to Patricia Noxolo for alerting me to this! You can also view the call – as well as more information about it – here.

The Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF) intends to award research funding of €5,000 for the best essay on the topic ‘Interdisciplinarity: the new orthodoxy?’ This is a topic, not a title. Accordingly, authors are free to choose an essay title within this field.

Please read these details carefully before submitting your essay for consideration or contacting the ISRF with a query.

Submissions are invited on the theme ‘Interdisciplinarity: the new orthodoxy?’ Essays may address any topic, problem or critical issue around or on this theme. The successful essay will be intellectually radical and articulate a strong internal critique of existing views. Writers should bear in mind that the ISRF is interested in original research ideas that take new approaches and suggest new solutions to real world social problems.

The winning author will be awarded a prize of €5,000 in the form of a grant for research purposes. It is intended that this award would be made to the author’s home institution, although alternative arrangements may be considered for Independent Scholars.

The ISRF is interested in original research ideas that take new approaches and suggest new solutions, to real world social problems. The full statement of the ISRF’s criteria and goals may be viewed here.

The submitted essays will be judged by an academic panel (the ISRF Essay Prize Committee). The panel’s decision will be final, and no assessments or comments will be made available. The ISRF reserves the right not to award the prize, and no award will be made if the submitted essays are of insufficient merit.

The winning essay, and any close runners-up, will be accepted for short format presentation at the 2019 ISRF Annual Workshop (expenses for attendance at which will be covered by the ISRF) and publication in the ISRF Bulletin; authors may be asked to make some corrections before publication.

The winner will be able to visit The Conversation UK for a day, see how the news site operates behind the scenes and spend some one-on-one time with Josephine Lethbridge, the ISRF-funded Interdisciplinary Editor, discussing their research, its potential news angles and how best to draft a pitch, with the potential of writing an article should an idea be agreed upon.

The details and criteria are as follows:

Essay topic: ‘Interdisciplinarity: the new orthodoxy?’

Essay length: 5,000 – 7,000 words.

Language: English

Submission deadline: 31 December 2018

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RGS-IBG RACE 2018 Workshop & Performing Welsh Identities

This year, I’m involved in 2 sessions at the RGS-IBG 2018, both of which are affiliated with the RACE Working Group. The first one is the group’s annual workshop, this time organised by Dr Margaret Byron (Leicester). The workshop’s first half will focus on the amazing multicultural community of Butetown in Cardiff, and the second part will focus on racism in the academy through discussions of students’ and staff’s experience during dissertation/thesis research. The workshop will be run on Tuesday 28 August 2018 from 12-5pm (free entry, free lunch, open to public). More information can be found here.


Image: Adeola Dewis

The second set of sessions, ‘Performing Welsh Identities’ (Thursday 30 August 2018, 2:40 – 6:30pm) is organised with Dr Patricia Noxolo (Birmingham). My participation in this performance and discussion session came about through my work as a musician and record label owner: I had noticed a lot of interesting artistic work on Wales and coming out of Wales, and felt like a workshop might be a good opportunity to connect people, as well as performers and geographers. Patricia Noxolo has been leading a project on Caribbean In/Securities that is looking at “the negotiation of risk in cultural production and creativity”. She will be focusing on Caribbean migration and performativities. Participants include: Adeola Devis, Rosie Okae and Ffion Aynsley (Off Chance), Roshi Nasehi (Roshi & Pars Radio), Geraint Rhys Whittaker. Others TBC. Details on the session can be found here.


Images: Roshi & Pars Radio (left); Off Chance Theatre Company (middle); Geraint Rhys (right)

Decolonial Transformations Workshop @ Sussex (with SOAS)

There are two launches coming up for the forthcoming ‘Decolonising the University‘, an edited collection put together by Gurminder K. Bhambra, Dalia Gebrial and Kerem Nişancıoğlu. I have a chapter in this book, in which I critique how university managements perform internationalisation. The London launch will be on 29 August 2018 from 7pm at Housmans Radical Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX. Tickets are £3 and available here.

The second discussion of the book will take place at a 3-day workshop at the University of Sussex, entitled Decolonial Transformations: Imagining, Practicing, Collaborating and co-organised with people from SOAS (31 October – 2 November 2018, description further below). Here is the description for the panel:

Afternoon Workshop
Decolonising the University?
1-3pm, Friday 2nd November, 2018
University of Sussex campus (Falmer, Brighton)

This session aims to explore the discourse and challenges around current moves to decolonize the university. It draws together contributors from a forthcoming volume on the topic and ask them to outline the key points from their chapters before opening up to a discussion with the audience around the themes raised.

Panellists:
Kolar Aparna, Radboud University, Netherlands
Dalia Gebrial, LSE
John Holmwood, University of Nottingham
Rosalba Icaza, Erasmus University, Netherlands
Olivier Kramsch, Radboud University, Netherlands
Angela Last, University of Leicester
Kerem Nisancioglu, SOAS
Rolando Vazquez, University College Roosevelt, Netherlands

Chair:
Gurminder K Bhambra, Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies, University of Sussex

These are the book contents that will be discussed:

Introduction: Decolonising the University? – Gurminder K. Bhambra, Kerem Nisancioglu and Dalia Gebrial

Part I: Contexts: Historical and Disciplinary
1. Rhodes Must Fall: Oxford and Movements for Change – Dalia Gebrial
2. Race and the Neoliberal University: Lessons from the Public University – John Holmwood
3. Racism, Public Culture, and the Hidden Curriculum – Robbie Shilliam
4. Decolonising Philosophy – Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Rafael Vizcaino, Jasmine Wallace, Jeong Eun Annabel We

Part II: Institutional Initiatives
5. Asylum University: Re-situating Knowledge-Exchange Along Cross-Border Positionalities – Aparna Kolar and Olivier Kramsch
6. Diversity or Decolonisation? Researching Diversity at the University of Amsterdam – Rolando Vazquez and Rosalba Icaza
7. The Challenge for Black Studies in the Neoliberal University – Kehinde Andrews
8. Open Initiatives for Decolonising the Curriculum – Pat Lockley

Part III: Decolonial Reflections
9. Meschachakanis, a Coyote Narrative: Decolonising Higher Education – Shauneen Pete
10. Decolonising Education: A Pedagogic Intervention – Carol Azumah Dennis
11. Internationalisation and Interdisciplinarity: Sharing across Boundaries? – Angela Last
12. Understanding Eurocentrism as a Structural Problem of Undone Science – William Jamal Richardson

Here is the description of the whole 3-day workshop:

Decolonial Transformations: Imagining, Practicing, Collaborating

31 Oct to 2 Nov 2018

This workshop provides a space for conversations and collaborations around the theme of ‘Decolonial Transformations’. The world we currently inhabit has been structured significantly by imperial and colonial rule. While colonization was resisted over the longer durée, the decolonization movements of the last seventy years consolidated and institutionalised these efforts. This has led to the beginning of a fracturing of the colonial world order. This fracturing remains incomplete.

Coloniality continues to be pervasive as a structuring force in the world, often manifesting as the modernist control of nature and civil society, racialised divisions of labour, Eurocentric social theories, global governance regimes that institutionalise asymmetric relations (in trade, natural resources and capital), racialised migration regimes, disqualification of ‘non-Western’ modes of knowing, demonization of specific identities and xenophobia, and the silencing and erasure of subaltern histories. While struggling against these forms of coloniality, there is an urgent need for imagining and realising transformations that can help build alternate decolonial worlds and sustainable futures.

A key aim of the workshop is to think about and discuss how to move recent conversations around coloniality and decolonial transformations forward, linking academic scholarship with art, activism, and everyday life. This workshop brings together scholars, artists, students and activists to collaboratively imagine and reflect upon decolonial processes. It aims to further cooperative engagement in and among movements aimed at decolonial transformations, for realising educational justice, ecological regeneration and pluriversal futures.

The workshop will include a variety of different events and forums over two and a half days, including panel discussions, interviews, interactive and participatory workshops, and creative spaces and performances. The afternoon workshops will be streamed to bring together work in Scholarship, Art, and Activism.

This workshop is a collaboration between SOAS and the University of Sussex. We welcome you to join us in 3 days of conversations and collaborations on ‘decolonial transformations’.

Workshop Schedule:

Wednesday 31 October – General Theme: Decolonising Transformations, 13:00 – 17:00

Thursday 01 November – Theme: Decolonising Methodologies, 10:00 – 17:00

Friday 02 November – Theme: Decolonising Institutions, 10:00 – 16:00

The Workshop will take place at the University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.

There is a 10.00 registration fee. Concessions are also available for students, and unemployed. Accessibility to the Workshop is an important issue. Please make sure to indicate on the registration form any specific accessibility needs.

Tickets are available here.

From Cosmic Terror to Cosmic Dissent @ The Library of Obscure Wonders


Image: Wassily Kandinsky “Yellow Circle”(1926)

Next Friday, I will be giving a talk entitled “From Cosmic Terror to Cosmic Dissent” at the Library of Obscure Wonders. The talk will be based on my book research on ‘cosmic materialism’, and accessible to a general audience. I will touch upon questions such as:

* what is ‘cosmic terror’ and why was it a thing?
* What were anti-colonial/anti-totalitarian activists doing with physics, theology, anthropology etc?
* Why did so many philosophers/politicians hang out in occult societies at the time?
* How did people try to perform alternative cosmologies?
* Why does a geographer look at this now?

I may also be drawing a map of questions and interconnections.

“The Library of Obscure Wonders collects, documents and archives the obscure, the odd and the wondrous within the everyday.”

Friday 27 July 2018
Doors: 7pm; talk 8pm
The Library of Obscure Wonders
2 Besant Court
Newington Green Road
London N1 4RE

https://obscurewonders.com/

Funded PhD studentship in Caribbean Studies

Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies
University of Warwick

Applications are invited for a three-and-half-year (42 months) funded PhD studentship at the University of Warwick starting in autumn 2018. The successful candidate will be based at the university’s Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies (YPCCS) and the research can be into any aspect of the history, literature, culture or societies of the Caribbean.

The studentship is tenable for up to three-and-a-half years (full-time), subject to academic progression.

It offers an annual stipend at the standard RCUK rate (currently £14,553) and covers full tuition fees at the Home/EU rate for 3 years. International candidates are encouraged to apply but would need to self-fund the difference between the fee rates.

The studentship is funded jointly through the generous endowment provided by Yesu Persaud and the Warwick Collaborative Postgraduate Research Scholarships (WCPRS) scheme.

Applicants should be holders of a good first degree (at least 2:1 or equivalent).  A relevant Masters degree, completed or close to completion, is also expected in an area relevant to the proposed area of doctoral research.

Before submitting an application, candidates should identify and make contact with a potential supervisor from among the Centre’s academic staff.

Please send informal inquiries about the studentship to the acting director of the YPCCS, Dr Michael Niblett, at M.Niblett@warwick.ac.uk

For further details see http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/ccs/study/fundedphd/

Deadline for receipt of applications is Wednesday 4th July.  Interviews, if required, will take place at the University of Warwick.

 

An experiment in teaching geohumanities

As someone whose work gets framed as ‘geohumanities’, I often get asked about my take on the field, both in terms of research and teaching. I usually answer that I feel that geohumanities is in danger of becoming a mere rebranding exercise for cultural geography or environmental humanities. Looking at articles from journals across those three fields, it becomes difficult to make out a difference. This dynamic seems aggravated by the demands of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) that evaluates research output according to discipline. Many academics have complained that, while contemporary problems (and research funders) demand interdisciplinarity, the current research (and academic career) assessment punishes discipline transgressions. Your work will always be scrutinised for sufficient adherence to disciplinary boundaries, and it seems not enough that most of your work can be accounted for in this way, and the fact that there are dedicated journals for this field in which you can publish. Although the new framework promises to pay more attention to interdisciplinarity, the paranoia around disciplinarity persists. Certainly, during last year’s job interviews, I experienced anxiety around my work and the journals in which I decide to publish. Even at interviews for geohumanities themed posts, when bringing up potential practice based or inter/cross-disciplinary outputs, the answer was often ‘no’.

Moreover, some geographers have started to define geohumanities as a meeting of geography and art, sometimes to contrast with environmental/ecological humanities, which tend to be perceived as a meeting of literature and environmental geography. Frequently, geography itself is seen as a science (in the art-science vein), and also as an already pre-defined aesthetic project in itself, due to its dealings with things such as landscape and weather. For me, this definition feels too limited, and frequently leads to a predictable division of labour: geographers write about art, while artists engage with geography. Referring to some attempts at role reversal, some sceptics have joked that it is perhaps best if geographers don’t try to ‘do art’, although there are a few successful examples around. The greater problem, for me, however, is the loss of the wide humanities spectrum, which all creatively engage with and affect geography, from theatre to history. Many of our key concepts that have altered the course of geography, in academia and beyond, come from the humanities, such as ‘postcolonialism’, the ‘nonhuman’/ ’posthuman’, the ‘subaltern’ or ‘slow violence’. In addition, there is a danger of losing the breadth within the geo, which includes all sorts of levels, layers and scales through e.g. geology, geophysics, GIS and especially geopolitics.

A related issue is interdisciplinary teaching. There are many different ways of doing this, depending on institutional logistics (timetabling, student location, connection to other departments etc), levels (undergraduate, postgraduate) and staffing. An increasing number of universities claim to have interdisciplinary undergraduate teaching programmes such as ‘Liberal Arts’, but in reality, subjects are still being kept separate and taught by specialists. The location of an interdisciplinary programme also often determines the angle. For instance, if an art and science programme is located within an arts faculty, the syllabus is more likely to be art centred, no matter how diverse the student body.

Factors that contribute to disciplinary adherence include assessment and employability. In terms of assessment, existing people need to assess work in an existing framework. Although there is some leeway in terms of content, method, tasks and outputs – usually attached to a lengthy process of approval and external scrutiny – there are considerable benefits in staying with the old system, from economic to identity-related ones. One argument that has been rolled out for as well as against interdisciplinarity is employability. Employer requirements are, of course, all over the teaching excellence framework (TEF). How is this supposed to shape teaching, according to the reports? The paper “Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice”, at first glance, emphasises student choice and flexibility, but on closer scrutiny, this mainly relates to financial issues: all students should have the same consumer choice of institution. Nothing about potential links to earlier statements in the same report such as “business problems often require rapid solutions, and are rarely focused on a single research discipline”.

With so much woolly “guidance”, institutional and disciplinary anxieties, how is one to teach an interdisciplinary geohumanities module? One way of going about this is to ask: what would I like this module to do? In my case, what I would be interested in trying is to teach geography arts and humanities style. I would like geography students to see not only where many of their concepts come from, but also how the arts and humanities are used at different sites to attempt to reimagine and overwrite geographical narratives that are at the heart of many environmental and geopolitical problems. Geohumanities work often presents itself as “crisis focused”, and it is a good idea to discuss examples of interventions that people in different positions around the world have made in the face of crisis. In practical terms, what I would be looking at is to include consideration of different humanities disciplines, different media (also to teach aesthetic literacy), geographical breadth and high-low culture dynamics. This is quite a lot to consider for one module, which probably allows for 10 sessions at the most. I do not worry too much about covering everything, as the module building process will be naturally limited by the research interests of whoever teaches it. In fact, this limitation will open up the possibility for students to bring their own examples of which they are “experts”, also often due to a generational difference, thus creating a more equal position in the classroom.

Over the last few years, I have drafted different geohumanities modules that are structured by different emphases: issue focused, concept focused, medium/output focused (not just to work on/through different media, but to perhaps also not privilege reading as a mode of knowledge transmission), discipline focused (covering as many humanities/”geos” as possible with or without co-teaching from other subject areas), format focused (non-lecture) etc. While I currently do not teach any of these modules, I integrate aspects of them (and of my “postcolonial” science studies module) into some of my current courses.

So, to liberate at least one of my full “fantasy modules” from my drawer and to put it out there for discussion, I’d like to show a hybrid medium/issue focused one. While comparatively conservative in format – it was written to pass a particular course approval system in geography – it can easily be adapted to suit different institutional and non-institutional needs. Feedback/discussion welcome! Also, please feel free to post links to other courses below. Today, I found an interesting mapping themed teaching syllabus, developed by Garrett Nelson at Dartmouth, which can be found here.

CHANGING GEOGRAPHIES: CREATIVE INTERVENTIONS INTO GLOBAL CRISES


Image: Actors from Shakespeare’s Globe perform “Hamlet” at the Good Chance Theatre Tent in the Jungle, Feb. 3, 2016. Source: Al Jazeera/Getty Images/Dan Kitwood.

The main aim behind this module is to enable (geography) students to get a sense of how different humanities-based disciplines engage with pressing global environmental and geopolitical issues, and why this is interesting for geographers. Further aims include: to help students understand links between social, economic and institutional dynamics around art and culture; to map the reach of the humanities, especially the feedback loops between popular culture, ‘high culture’ and wider global (political) dynamics; to identify, challenge and perhaps contribute examples of creative attempts at challenging geopolitical dynamics and stereotypes; to study and experiment with a variety of media and formats (e.g. press release, podcast, photograph, zine, arts grant application) to improve communication of critical geographical issues; and to build confidence in engaging with difficult debates and in communicating these to different audiences.

1 Introduction to the Geohumanities

This introduction situates the geohumanities vis à vis fields such as environmental humanities, cultural geography and ecocriticism. Through a variety of examples, the session seeks to illustrate why the field has evolved and how it contributes to discourse. As part of this, it also draws attention to institutional dynamics such as issues of race and gender in academic authorship, funding, publishing and syllabus design. Further, by explaining the rationale behind this module, this introduction prompts the question:
What have the geohumanities set out to do so far and what would you actually like them to do?

Bird Rose, D, van Dooren, T, Chrulew, M, Cooke, S, Kearnes, M, O’Gormand, E (2012) Thinking Through the Environment, Unsettling the Humanities.

Cosgrove, D (2000) Cultural Geography. In: R.J. Johnston, D. Gregory, G. Pratt, M. Watts (eds) The Dictionary of Human Geography. Oxford: Blackwell.

DeLoughrey, E, Handley, G B (2011) Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hawkins, H, Cabeen, L, Callard, F, Castree, N, Daniels, S, DeLyser, D, Munro Neely, H, Mitchell, P (2015) What Might GeoHumanities Do? Possibilities, Practices, Publics, and Politics. GeoHumanities1(2).

Other examples of works discussed: Juliana Spahr, This connection of everyone with lungs (2005) and The Transformation (2007); Vanessa Agard-Jones, Toxic Symposium (2017)

2 Is the Museum a Battlefield? Art, culture and global power

Taking inspiration from artist Hito Steyerl’s performances Is the Museum a Battlefield (2013) and Guards (2012), this session looks at the museum, the artwork and the art world as a site of geopolitical struggle. What actually makes a museum or gallery? Who funds, views and buys art and why? What are artists, curators and institutions doing to challenge problematic dynamics? This lecture also looks at geopolitical use of cultural “soft power” to garner wider support from populations, explaining terms such as culture washing, pinkwashing.

Bennett, T (1995) The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics. London: Routledge.

Puar, J K (2007) Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Sharp, J (2000) Condensing the Cold War. Reader’s Digest and American Identity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Steyerl, H (2012) The Wretched of the Screen. Berlin: Sternberg Press.

Other examples of works discussed: Hito Steyerl, Is the Museum a Battlefield (2013) and Guards (2012); Barnard, L (2014) Hyenas of the Battlefield, Machines in the Garden. TLV in LDN. MODCaR, Imaging Detroit Festival (2012).

3 Inhuman Conditions: Documenting human rights abuses

Prompted by Pheng Cheah’s question of how the humanities can make a difference in addressing global human rights abuses, this session looks at how photographers, documentary film makers, journalists, lawyers and even architects are attempting to change the way we think about violence. This session looks at experiments with human empathy in relation to geographical and cultural distance and proximity. It also looks at the ways in which violence against humans is linked with (real, imagined) environmental factors and special practices such as erasures in the built environment.

Azoulay, A (2012) Civil Imagination: Political Ontology of Photography. London: Verso (reprint).

Cheah, P (2006) Inhuman Conditions: On Cosmopolitanism and Human Rights. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Herscher, A (2010) Violence Taking Place: The Architecture of the Kosovo Conflict. Redwood City: Stanford University Press.

O’Tuathail (1996) An Anti-geopolitical Eye: Maggie O’Kane in Bosnia, 1992-93. Gender, Place & Culture 3(2).

Examples of works discussed: Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture (2017); Susan Sontag, On Photography (1977); pro/anti-Refugee Campaigns; war campaigns; Ai Wei Wei controversies; debates around public monuments; apartheid architecture; cultural economy of ‘ruin porn’.

4 Shakespeare in the Jungle: Can theatre help refugees?

When the Globe Theatre in London sent actors to the Calais ‘Jungle’ refugee camp, their actions were both lauded and condemned. Of all things, do refugees need theatre, dance or music? And, if yes, what kind of performances? What can such interventions do in terms of affecting different publics, including decision-makers? This session looks at a variety of controversial but also ‘quiet’, less high profile examples of how well-meaning performances have negotiated prevalent geographical imaginaries.

Daley, P (2005) Bob Geldof and the Livingstone connection: Africa not yet saved? Pambazuka News. URL: http://tinyurl.com/yaxvhahq

Nagar, R (2014) Muddying the Waters: Co-authoring Feminisms across Scholarship and Activism. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.

Rogers, A (2017) Advancing the geographies of the performing arts: Intercultural aesthetics, migratory mobility and geopolitics. Progress in Human Geography [Online First].

Salhi, K (1998) African Theatre for Development: Art for Self-Determination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Other examples of works discussed: Geraldine Pratt and Caleb Johnston ‘Nanay’ (2009); Aimé Césaire, A Tempest (1969); Live Aid (1985); WOMAD; Beyoncé’s Superbowl performance (2013).

5 “These girls are the future!’: subculture visions

‘These girls are the future!’ was an overheard exclamation by a male visitor of the 2016 DIY Zine Fair in London. The person pointed at the stall of ‘OOMK’ (One of my kind), a small independent journal primarily devoted to the creative experiences and ambitions of young Muslim women. This session looks at related examples and strategies of supposed ‘low culture’, such as DIY zine making and DIY fashion as part of experimentation with identity and geography.

Ashery, O, Sansour, L (2009) The Novel of Nonel and Vovel. Milan: Edizioni Charta Srl.

Dasgupta, R K (2015) Articulating dissident citizenship, belonging, and queerness on cyberspace South Asian Review, 35(3)

Feigenbaum, A (2012) Written in the mud. (Proto)Zine-making and autonomous media at the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. Feminist Media Studies 13(1).

Hall, S, Jefferson, T (1993 [1975]) Resistance Through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-war Britain. London: Routledge.

Other examples of works discussed: Oomk, Odd One Out, Mashalla News, Bidoun, The Henceforward (Eve Tuck), Indian & Cowboy, Skin Deep, Sticky Institute gay marriage controversy.
→ Possibility of visit to zine fair.

6 Technologies of Struggle: whose future/ism?

Afro, Asian and Arab Futurism are contemporary cultural movements that often take technology as an inspiration for re-imagining cultures and global divisions. This session looks at the role of technology (and technology censorship) in shaping global dynamics and (natural, built) environments, and at humanities based takes on dominant techno-narratives. It especially focuses on film and video games as a medium of exploration, but also makes links with interventions into geographical mapping and multi-dimensional visualisation technologies such as GIS and CAD.

Chude-Sokei, L O (2015) The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics.

Majali, S (date unknown) Towards Arab Futurism/s: Manifesto. Novelty 2

Moore, K (2007) Towards a Postcolonial GIS. In: A. C. Winstanley (ed) GISRUK 2007 Proceedings. National Centre for Geocomputation. National University of Ireland Maynooth.

Mavhunga, C (2017) What do Science, Technology, and Innovation Mean from Africa? Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Examples of works discussed: Harun Farocki Parallel I-IV (2014); Larissa Sansour Nation Estate (2013); Fatima Al Qadiri, GCC Transmission (2013); Sophia Al Maria, Black Friday (2016); Alondra Nelson (ed) Afrofuturism (2002); Simon Rittmeyer, Drexciya (2012); Wanuri Kahi, Pumzi (2009); Liu Cixin, Zhongguo 2185 (1989); Mitnick/Roddier, Off the Radar (2013); Sabine Gruffat, I have always been a dreamer (2012); Russian ‘Paper Architecture’; what3words project.

7 Geopoetics: Disrupting colonial orders by becoming geography

This session looks at how natural forces have been critically appropriated in invigorating cultural identity and movements. Students are invited to trace this strategy through examples from recent anti-colonial literature and poetry from areas such as the Caribbean and Polynesia, and are encouraged to find other examples from across the world where this strategy has been employed. This session also looks at the journeys and production conditions of supposedly immaterial art forms such as poetry and sound.

Césaire S (2012) The Great Camouflage: Writings of Dissent (1941-45). D. Maximin (ed). Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press.

Glissant, E (2010) Poetics of Relation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Hau’ofa, E (2008) We Are The Ocean. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Noxolo, P. Preziuso, M. (2012) Moving Matter. Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 14(1) 120-135

Other examples of works discussed: Manthia Diawara, One World in Relation (2009), Aimé Césaire, Moi, laminaire (1982), Edouard Glissant, La Lézarde (1957); Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, My Poem To My Daughter (2014); Femi Nylander, A poem that migrates through tongues; Anthropocene related works.

8 Back to the future: rewriting geography by rewriting the past

How do historians, archaeologists and anthropologists contest geographical and geopolitical narratives? This session looks at how supposedly ‘backwards looking’ humanities participate in the rewriting of the present world, for instance, by contesting existing theories about human and nonhuman cohabitation. Does it matter how old the earth is? Does it matter that there were black Romans? Does it matter that Haiti had a revolution? This session also looks at the ways in which historical knowledge is disseminated to wider audiences.

Buck-Morss, S (2009) Hegel, Haiti and Universal History. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Graeber, D (2011) Debt: The First 5,000 Years. New York: Melville House.

Tolia-Kelly, D (2011) Narrating the postcolonial landscape: archaeologies of race at Hadrian’s Wall. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 36(1)

Yusoff, K (2013) Geologic Life: Prehistory, Climate, Futures in the Anthropocene. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 31(5).

Other examples of works discussed: British slave owner database; white supremacist histories (e.g. Vinland, Mary Beard controversy, white slavery, Nell Irvin Painter’s ‘The History of White People’ (2010)); geological discovery of ‘deep time’.

9 Into Eternity: ways of working against environmental ‘slow violence’

How do we deal with long-term problems such as nuclear waste and severe environmental pollution? How are the differences in responses between developed and developing countries? Which populations are the most effected by such environmental risks? Students will be invited to research examples of how a variety of actors, including governments, businesses, artists are trying to tackle issues that will exceed their life-times.

Agard-Jones, V (2014) Spray. Somatosphere (Commonplaces: Itemizing the Technological Present) May 2014.

Nixon, R (2011) Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Teiawa, K M (2015) Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Van Wyck, P C (2005) Signs of Danger. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Other examples of works discussed: Michael Madsen, Into Eternity (2011); Bodil Furu, Mangeurs de Cuivre (2016); Josh Fox, James Spione, Myron Dewey, Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock (2017); LaToya Ruby Frazier, A Haunted Capital (2013); Vanessa Agard-Jones, Toxic Symposium (2017).

10 Geophilosophy: why imagine the Earth without us?

Why are philosophers interested in imagining a world without humans? Why are some of them looking at medieval mysticism and turning to Black Metal and Noise music as part of this pursuit? This session looks at the intellectual movement of ‘geophilosophy’ and its strange nihilist challenge to environmental and social movements. Is this ‘environmental pessimism’ just a pure celebration of human and nonhuman extinction or is there a more profound challenge to rethinking how we think about ourselves in the world?

Connole, E (2017) On the Meaning of Style: Black Metal’s “Black” Or So, Black Is Myself. in P Webb, S Jacobs et al (eds.) Through the Subcultural Lens: Hebdige and Subculture in the 21st Century. London & New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mackay, R (2010) Editorial Introduction. Collapse 6: Geophilosophy. Falmouth: Urbanomic.

Negarestani, R (2008) Machines are digging. In: R. Negarestani Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials. Melbourne: Re:press.

Woodard, B. (2013) Introduction, or, Abyss Lessons. In: B. Woodard, ‘On an Ungrounded Earth: Towards a New Geophilosophy’. New York: Punctum.

Other examples of works discussed: Wojciech Doroszuk, Festin (2013); Bela Tarr, The Turin Horse (2011); Lars von Trier, Melancholia; Black Metal, Noise Music.

New article in Feminist Review Environment Special Issue


Image: Mount Pelée on Martinique

My article “To risk the Earth: The Nonhuman and Nonhistory” is out in the new Feminist Review Environment Special Issue, edited by Carrie Hamilton and Yasmin Gunaratnam (free link from publisher here). The article was originally written for the : Decolonizing and Reinhabiting Broken Earth, curated by Kathryn Yusoff and Nigel Clark. It was prompted by a string of peer reviews and conference papers which, in my view, followed a problematic and re-occurring pattern of inattention to colonial histories in public engagement with global environmental change. I feel that, no matter what discipline we inhabit, we have to remain aware that any landscape has a history, and that this history will be differently remembered by different people. The fact that some of these papers either ignored or tried to erase particular traumatic histories speaks of a privileged position that, in all cases, remained unacknowledged. This article is a plea to sensitise oneself to geography and geology not just aesthetically and experientally, but also historically. I am expressing this call through concepts developed by Suzanne Césaire and Edouard Glissant against the white privilege of selective environmental aestheticisation.