The Feral: A Nearly Carbon Neutral Conference

Co-hosted by Massey University Political Ecology Research Centre and Wageningen University

In the twenty-first century, globalisation has become a truism, rather than a challenge or opportunity. People, money, resources, culture and power all flow around the world in ever increasingly complex systems and assemblages. Yet even as apparently almost all aspects of life become subject to global circulation, our ways of thinking about natural or non-human worlds remain stubbornly resistant to concepts of hybridity and exchange. Nature is so often imagined to have a proper place, arrangement or constitution: certain species are desirable and must be saved, whereas the flourishing of others (from algae to jellyfish to rats) can be taken as a sign of imbalance or degradation.

 

In order to re-examine how we conceive and value different forms of nature or the non-human, this event calls on participants to take up the feral as a way to explore the possibilities and problems of the human relation to the non-human world.  The idea of the feral gestures towards forms of non-human life that have spurned human control or expectations: ‘bad’ forms of wilderness that are out of place and upset conventional thinking about the desirable or proper arrangement of nature. From biosecurity to so-called invasive species, ‘dead zones’ to re-wilding, urban pests to the idea of the feral calls on us to interrogate our assumptions about how, what, where and why nature ought to be, how we draw those lines and distinctions and how they speak to wider structures of power, political economy and privilege.

 

We welcome contributors who hail from a broad range of disciplines: ecologists, artists, anthropologists, environmental psychologists, designers, sociologists, zoologists, geographers, environmental managers, development practitioners, biologists, economists, media and communications experts, educators, and environmental activists to name a few. 

Papers are invited to address, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  • Some animals are more equal than others: assessing the value of non-human life
  • Nature on the move: biological flows around the globe
  • Nature out of place: where do species belong?
  • Nature out of balance: resilience, equilibrium and ecology
  • Political economies of the feral: value, (non)commodification, markets
  • Everyday and urban ecologies
  • Growing in the cracks: non-human agency
  • Experimenting with the non-human world: introduced species, rewilding and novel ecosystems
  • Trash animals: vermin, pests and weeds
  • Feral humanity: bridging human and non-human worlds
  • Feral education: the nonhuman world in the classroom

 

Nearly carbon-neutral conference format

 

Traditional academic conferences are responsible for a considerable amount of carbon emissions, as presenters fly from around the world to present in a single location. This also incurs significant financial costs, which often precludes researchers from developing countries and postgraduate students from attending. The Environmental Humanities Initiative at UC Santa Barbara estimated that running an online conference reduces the carbon footprint of a conference by 99%. 

 

This conference will take place entirely online in November 2018. Contributors will not have to travel anywhere and there is no registration fee. Conference presentations will consist of material that can be submitted online as a video file. This could take the form of a webcam recording, an edited video, a PowerPoint or Prezi with recorded audio or another form of video.  Each presentation should be no more than 20 minutes long. Instructions on creating and submitting presentations for the conference are online here.  For a sense of what this looks like in practice, please see last year’s conference on “The Lives and Afterlives of Plastic.”

 

Abstract deadline and details

 

If you are interested in presenting at the conference, please send a 250 word abstract with your name, e-mail address, and affiliation to PERC@massey.ac.nz by 30 June, 2018.  

 

After the conference, some contributors will be invited to develop their presentations for publication in an edited volume.  Preference for publication in the edited volume will be given to papers presenting research collaborations between arts/social science researchers and natural scientists.  We hope some of these research collaborations will emerge out of the conference.  

 

Conference Organisers

Massey University: Nicholas Holm, Trisia Farrelly, Sy Taffel, Lisa Vonk, Tony Carusi, Corrina Tucker, Karen Hytten

Wageningen University: Bram Buscher, Rob Fletcher, Jessica de Koning