Department of Gender and Cultural Studies seminar series 22 March
Anja Kanngieser / Astrida Neimanis
Climates of Listening: Holding Space for Contesting Voices
That there has been a massive influx of academic, government and NGO interest in the Pacific to do with climate change over the past few years is an understatement. Identified as a frontline region for rising seas, erosion, intensifying drought, floods, earthquakes, cyclones and tsunamis, the Pacific, especially large ocean developing states such as Kiribati and Tuvalu are internationally represented as unparalleled victims of climate crisis. This representation, however, cannot be taken unequivocally, and against media, government and academic discourses emerging from the Global North, the claim to a homogenous position on climate change obfuscates the very diverse, contradictory and critical voices from the ground.
Informed by ethnographic work with women and LGBTQIA communities in Fiji and Kiribati, this presentation asks how, as an academic from the Global North, is it possible to truly hold space for, and actively listen to, the voices of those living through everyday environmental change, particularly when those voices refuse to fit with ‘official’ storylines and trouble the high stakes of the climate industry. From research fatigue and resentment, to climate denial, the expectation of extractive and unethical fieldwork practices, and ambivalent relations to neocolonialism and external economic assistance, this talk focuses on what it means to amplify self-representation and self-determination in a precarious environment already exhausted by the ongoing legacies of whiteness, colonialism and aid.
Dr Anja Kanngieser is a political geographer and sound artist. They hold a Vice Chancellors Research Fellowship in Geography, University of Wollongong, Australia. They are the author of Experimental Politics and the Making of Worlds (2013), and have published in interdisciplinary journals including South Atlantic Quarterly, Progress in Human Geography and Environment and Planning D. Anja’s work looks to the intersections of political economy and ecology, sound and social movements; their current projects use oral testimony, field recording and data sonification to amplify community responses to ecological violence and environmental racism in Oceania. http://anjakanngieser.com/
Toxic Erotics and Bad Ecosex: Dumped Desires at Windermere Basin
Windermere Basin, at the tip of Hamilton Harbour in Oniatarí:io / Niigani-gichigami (Lake Ontario), was once the most polluted body of water in North America. These are the waters that grew me up. Today, thanks to a $20.6 million dollar rehabilitation effort, it has become Turtle Island’s largest man-made inland coastal wetland. Supposedly ‘healed,’ Windermere basin now boasts a hiking trail, bird houses, wildflowers… Yet the belching steel industry smokestacks in the near distance, as well as the ‘no swimming’ signs, used condoms, tampon applicators, and crumpled water bottles on its foreshore, suggest that reports of repair may be overstated. In an Anthropcenic context where contemporary waterways harbour so many of our dumped desires, I am interested in alternatives to the frame of ‘rehabilitation’: how else might we love and live with wounded bodies of water in the shadow of settler colonial petrocapitalism? Drawing on feminist, crip, decolonial and queer ecologies, I consider how Windermere Basin opens to a variety of queer intimacies that fall somewhere between irreparable damage, and purity or cure. I ask: how might the idea of ‘having bad sex with the earth,’ to quote Lindsay Kelley (2016), give us some clues for practising a different kind of multispecies and elemental erotics – perhaps bumbling and awkward, always risky and incomplete, but nonetheless attentive and full of care?
Astrida Neimanis is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney, on Gadigal land, in Australia. Often in collaboration with other artists, writers, and makers, her work examines water, weather, and bodies, from intersectional feminist perspectives. She is co-editor of Thinking with Water (MQUP 2013) and author of Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology (Bloomsbury 2017). She is also a Key Researcher with the Sydney Environment Institute, Associate Editor of Environmental Humanities and with Jennifer Mae Hamilton, co-organiser of the COMPOSTING feminisms and environmental humanities reading and research group.
The Department of Gender and Cultural Studies hosts a lively departmental research seminar series. Participants include staff, associates and postgraduate students from the department, as well as presenters from other University of Sydney departments and from outside, both nationally and internationally.
Please join us after the seminar for drinks at the Holme Courtyard Bar
Everyone is welcome to attend.
2019 Seminar Series convenors:
Thom van Dooren and Elsepth Probyn
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