Symposium on the Environmental Humanities

Event time: 
Thursday, May 3, 2018 - 10:15am to 5:00pm
Whitney Humanities Center, Room 208 See map
50 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

A spring showcase of Yale graduate student research in the environmental humanities.

Panels from 10:15am-3:30pm, followed by an end-of-semester reception. 

“Second Annual Symposium on the Environmental Humanities”

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Conference Overview

This one-day conference  showcased current Yale graduate student research from across the diverse range of disciplines that make up the environmental humanities. The conference included four moderated panel sessions featuring presentations by graduate students from eleven different fields.

The first session, “Environmental Rights and Multi-species Ethics,” examined new legal horizons in the Anthropocene; the relationship between science and local knowledge in the Philippine banana industry; and emergent modes of intercentric environmental thought, which refract existing biocentric and anthropocentric ethic models through the lens of religion.

The second panel, “Landscape, Development, and Spatial Politics,” analyzed the everyday entanglements of ritual purity and air pollution in household kitchens in the rural Indian Himalayas; coastal regions and shipping ports as natural, economic, and symbolic transition zones; and the historical (re-)development of shanty towns in Amazonia’s two biggest cities: Manaus, Brazil and Iquitos, Peru.

The third session, “Ethics, Literature and the Anthropocene,” explored the intersections of theology and marine biology; new modes of human-nonhuman engagement through a notion of “ecstatic embodiment”; and the relationship between attention exercises and political ecology, from Marcus Aurelius to Aldous Huxley to the more recent work of Timothy Morton and Ursula K. Heise.

The fourth session, “Representation and the Material,” addressed the cultural and economic corridor between Houston, Texas and Saudi Arabia by attending to energy development and infrastructure; the interplay between art, materiality, and “proto-environmental” thought in the work of nineteenth-century social critic John Ruskin; toxic geographies of U.S. imperialism and the “bioaccumulation of empire” in Marshallese women exposed to radiation from nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s; and the “ecological turn” in theater and performance. 

The presentations were offered as flash talks designed to provide a brief overview of each presenter’s main arguments and their engagement with the environmental humanities. 

10:15 Opening Remarks

Taylor Rose, Yale University

10:25-11:20 Panel 1: Environmental Rights and Multi-species Ethics

Moderator: Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University

Ted Hamilton (Comparative Literature), “Steps Toward a New Legal Ontology for the Anthropocene”

Alyssa Paredes (Anthropology), “‘Backyard Science’ and Microbiopolitics in the Philippine Banana Industry’s Fight Against Fusarium Wilt”

Nathan Empsall (Divinity, Forestry and Environmental Studies), “You’re All Right: The Pressing Need for an Intercentric Environmental Ethic”

11:20   Coffee Break

11:35-12:25 Panel 2: Landscape, Development, and Spatial Politics

Moderator: Jennifer Raab, Yale University

Deepti Chatti (Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Forestry and Environmental Studies), “Everyday Entanglements of Ritual Purity and Air Pollution: Complicating Energy Transitions in the Rural Indian Himalayas’”

Chandana Anusha (Anthropology), “The Coast as a Material and Conceptual Entity”

Adrián Lerner Patron (History), “Urban Waterscapes: Floating Shantytowns and Memory Politics in Amazonia”

12:25   Lunch

1:10-2:00 Panel 3: Ethics, Literature and the Anthropocene

Moderator: Joanna Radin, Yale University

Julia Johnson (Yale Divinity School), “When God Created the Tunaverse: An Exploration of Fish Sentience in Scripture”

Peter Conroy (English), “Attending to the Anthropocene: Or, Meditations in an Emergency”

Max Chaoulideer (German), “Ecstatic Embodiment”

2:00   Coffee Break

2:15-3:25  Representation and the Material

Moderator: Paul Draghi, Yale University

Aanchal Saraf (American Studies), “Bioaccumulating Empire: Toxic Landscapes and Pacific Interiority”

Judith Stapleton (Art History),  “Iron Wire and Fields of Steel: John Ruskin and the Work of Iron”

Ashley Chang (Drama),  “The Science of Ecology in Theater and Performance”

Jack Hanly (Architecture), “Media, Petrodollars, and Environmental Control: Caudill Rowlett Scott, 1948-1983”

3:30 Reception

Co-sponsored by: 320 York Humanities, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Franke Program in Science & the Humanities, Program in Agrarian Studies, Whitney Humanities Center, Departments of Anthropology, English, and History

Co-organizers: Teona Williams and Taylor Rose