Challenges for the environmental humanities

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Cecilia Åsberg

Challenges for the environmental humanities


Environmental humanities refers to a multi-, trans- and postdisciplinary community of scholars working from the traditions and transitions within literature, history, philosophy, fine arts, anthropology, archeology, geography, gender studies, human animal studies, and more. Distinguishing themselves from other emerging forms of interdisciplinary humanities, the environmental humanities think through, or with, nature and the environment, operate along activist and postconventional lines of research, but is also characterized by bridge-building between different environmental story-telling practices, disciplines, or knowledge communities, such as indigenous or scientific communities. With a focus on purpose, preferences, meaning-making, imagination, and more-than-human ethics, the environmental humanities pick up on the lacunae in the humanities which seldom address science, technology and its material embodiment in detail and the lacunae in environmental studies where analysis typically emphasize science and social science. To further work across the modern academic nature-culture divide, and to address how human preferences, practices and cultural sense-making are driving global environmental change today, the environmental humanities face now four key challenges: popular alienation from issues of larger environmental concern and a view of environmental issues as primarily questions of technocratic management and policy, a predominantly negative and even apocalyptic tone and the compartmentalization of environmental problems from other salient matters such as the globalization of capital, the speed and gendering of technological advance, or new forms of colonialism. In this talk, I will address these challenges and present how we in the Seed Box: A MISTRA-FORMAS Environmental Humanities Collaboratory work through ie feminist theory, posthumanities and cultural science studies to address them in our research.


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