2023 Environmental Humanities Grant Recipients
2023 GRANT RECIPIENTS
Haysun Choi, Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Knowledge is sensorially, spatially, and temporally variable, and so the dialectic disseminating such knowledge collects and resonantes. ‘Translational Reconciliation’, an original Artist’s Book printed in 2019-2021, studies life and lifeforms and their relative environments through iterative and textural imagery at different scales. I will use this grant to create a physical enclosure and digitize ‘Translational Reconciliation’ so that it can be shared outside of special collections spaces and for interdisciplinary interaction.
Black Homesteads of the New Deal
Austin Ehrhardt, Yale School of Architecture
Drawing upon a wealth of historical documents at the Library of Congress and the National Archives—including architectural drawings, textual records, and an extensive collection of photography—I propose to compile a web archive documenting the built and unbuilt Black homesteads of the New Deal. I will then interview scholars and community historians on the projects’ significance in challenging racialized property regimes, juxtaposing the interview transcriptions with digitized archival materials. Finally, I will enlist the assistance of a Graphic Design MFA student from the Yale School of Art to design and construct a website.
Following the Seeds Savers: Biocultural Conservation by Ethnic Minorities in Southwest China
Xiyao Fu, Yale School of the Environment
As the borderland between China and Southeast Asia, Yunnan is the nexus of biodiversity and ethnic diversity with its subtropic climate and mountainous ecosystems. Over 25 major ethnic groups have cultivated diverse traditional crops and native plants in a mosaic landscape. To celebrate the traditional ecological knowledge of minority farmers, I will produce a video web series during my ethnographic fieldwork in Yunnan. Following indigenous seed savers, culinary artisans, and home gardeners from the field to the kitchen, I will explore their multisensory engagement with plants in both daily practice and cultural rituals. The bilingual video web series will showcase the urgency and grassroot actions of bicultural conservation for Chinese audience and beyond.
Charlotte Hecht, American Studies Program
Unhomelike is a cyanotype photoseries and accompanying personal essay. Using my great-grandfather’s memoir as a guide—which describes his involvement in planning nuclear tests such as the infamous Castle Bravo detonation in the Marshall Islands in 1954—I will make cyanotype prints of the places he grew up and writes evocatively about. The chemical process of cyanotype printing results in an image that is tinted with the synthetic pigment Prussian Blue; Prussian Blue pills are also used to treat radiation poisoning. Reflecting on this resonance, this project hopes to be a mediation of violent history: to make images of home in one place to think about the destruction of home in another, and to consider the toxic and affective legacies of the US nuclear testing program through the lens of personal history.
Sharing Nature Stories on the Tibetan Plateau
Junhan Hu, Yale School of the Environment
During the summer research in 2023, I plan to carry out a series of storytelling campaigns with Tibetan indigenous people, including collective storytelling and poetry reading. The main theme of these storytellings will be the human-nature relationships between Tibetan nomads/monks and plants, wild animals, sacred mountain deities, and other nonhumans in Tibetan cosmology. I will collaborate with two familiar Tibetan indigenous conservation NGOs, which are all dedicated to protecting nature through traditional culture (Tibetan Buddhism and others) and have religious leaders who are experienced in storytelling. Some stories will be represented in natural education for local children.
Why We Melt
Lauren Maxwell, Yale Divinity School
“Why We Melt” is a public theological response to the climate crisis. This one-time event will carve out intersectional space for the New Haven community to acknowledge the ecological loss and devastation shaping our lives today. As we express the anxiety and grief related to the climate emergency, we will also imagine a way forward together. Through a combination of interdisciplinary arts and humanities, “Why We Melt” will explore the generative power found when communities hold grief and commitment side by side. The program will frame climate action as a moral imperative rather than a political talking point, and it will highlight an organization addressing local climate issues. This event will aim to help people find solidarity amidst strife and interlocking forms of injustice. From that place, may change begin to sow its seeds.
Horizons after Tourism
George Papamatthaiakis, Yale School of Architecture
Throughout the global sunbelt, tourism orders landscapes in ways that are not only intense and monocultural but also “sticky”—they condition and capture spatial imagination—a phenomenon latent and underexplored. This project focuses on the case of the Cyclades islands in the Mediterranean, exploring remapped and plural spatial and geographical imaginations beyond the fabled tropes of tourism. It does so through two parallel and interconnected endeavors: On the one hand, an oral history/ futures workshop and reading installation in Therasia island, and on the other a publication reporting on the workshop. Both are to be organized in collaboration with local residents, researchers, and collectives.
Growing Maize, Crossing Boundaries
Sandra Amezcua Rocha, Yale College
Maize carries the history and identity of Indigenous people across the Americas. Indigenous people selectively bred teosinte, the ancient grass ancestor of today’s dozens of edible maize varieties. Today, many varieties are at risk of extinction because of industrial agriculture and land appropriation. This significantly affects Indigenous people’s ability to grow specifically adapted corn varieties that reflect generations of knowledge and relations to nutrition, soil compositions, rain patterns, etc. To understand and support maize conservation, it is critical to look at maize cultures across individual Indigenous ethnic groups. Moreover, analyzing traditional maize food systems, can add to the scientific and Indigenous narratives surrounding corn´s biodiversity and conservation.
New Haven Brownfields Opportunities Flyer
Elihu Rubin, Yale School of Architecture / American Studies
I am proposing a collaborative project between myself and students in the Yale School of Architecture and the Yale School of Environment to research, design, and print the New Haven Brownfield Opportunities Flyer (working title), a broadsheet newspaper intended for public dissemination (through the public libraries, local museums, public spaces, etc.). The goal is a piece of public scholarship intended to stimulate awareness and interest in post-industrial brownfield sites (from former gas stations to sprawling industrial locations); their historical legacies; their current circumstances; and their potential futures, in a playful and interactive format.
New Haven, Revisited: An Anthology
Kevin Yang, Yale School of Architecture
Through a series of workshops hosted in partnership with local community groups, city departments, and high schools, this project will showcase stories from residents that humanize the lingering effects of redlining and urban renewal that shape the everyday experiences of New Haven residents. These stories take the form of a book that spatializes issues of the city and invites community leaders to co-author chapters on their own projects that respond to systemic injustice. Equal parts guidebook, oral history, and urban ethnography, this book serves as an anthology of hope that encourages a radical re-imagining of a future New Haven.
Building an Archive of Environmental Activism at Yale
Sebastian Duque and Madeleine Zaritsky, Yale College
This project aims to explore the history of environmental activism on Yale’s campus through the creation of a library archive that contains materials from the Yale Student Environmental Coalition (founded in 1986) and all the groups that have been associated with it over the years. Through engagement with the current decades-old documents, photos, posters, and more currently in YSEC’s office, we hope to encourage future research on environmental activism through the creation of a physical and oral materials collection, and fostering environmental education and activism on-campus by showcasing these materials in a final public exhibition. We hope for this collection to be a jumping-off point for further archival materials and research on student environmental activism outside of YSEC.