Workshop: Environmental Humanities Working With Artists (23 Feb)

Friday 23 February 2024

10:15am – 4:30pm

Meet outside Spike Island Gallery, 133 Cumberland Road,BS5 6UX


Spend a day off-site at Spike Island Gallery, home to eightystudios, to engage with artists in their workspace and discuss artist projects in the public realm. Through a series of artist encounters and studio visits, we will look into variations of artist projects from public art to research collaborations. We will explore the possibilities when working on collaborative projects with artists as well as how artwork can engage with audiences.

The day will include studio visits with artists Jackson+Harris, Katy Connor and designer Jono Lewarne, visits to the exhibitions by Young In Hong and Olu Ogunnaike and workshops exploring approaches to collaborative projects and funding. The day will conclude with an introduction to artist film.

Notes and Handouts will be provided.

Working with Artists

One of our Centre for Environmental Humanities speakers last academic year was Eben Kirksey, an anthropologist at the University of Oxford. Among the themes he addressed in his talk was the value of integrating art and artists into environmental humanities research. Many of the members of our Centre already do this, and some members are artists themselves. For those of us who don’t already work with artists, it can be a little daunting to know where to start. Putting these two things together – the benefits of working with artists and the practical challenges of getting started – was the motivation behind inviting Georgia Hall to lead a day-long workshop on working with artists for the CEH in October 2023. Georgia is a curator from Bristol currently working in Switzerland who has extensive experience in supporting the facilitation of artist-academic collaborations.


The workshop aimed to share experiences of artist / academic projects & collaborations discuss learning and ways of working with artists and discover new ways of working with artists through sharing tips and considerations. The workshop began in the morning in the humanities research space at the University of Bristol. Georgia began by providing an overview of three different artistic collaborations she has been involved with, including Linda Brothwell’s Tools for Tea project in Knowle West, Earth Art Gallery, Earth Sciences Department at the University of Bristol and Art of the Anthropocene project at LSE. We then spent some time exploring the nature of these collaborations. There are broadly three types of collaboration between artists and academics.

  • The first is where an academic approaches an artist to commission a piece of work based on a scholarship that has already been done.
  • The second is where an artist seeks information from an academic about a particular topic to inform their practice.
  • The third is a genuine partnership between an artist and an academic on a common project where the output is uncertain at the start and where the potential exists for real collaborative creativity.

None of these types of collaboration is fundamentally ‘better’ than the others, but Georgia stressed that it is important to be honest about the nature of the relationship from the beginning of a project. We then did a short exercise based on academic collaboration to explore these different forms of collaboration.


As part of this exercise, we considered the importance of all parties having a clear set of expectations about what they want to achieve through the collaboration and aligning these as far as possible. This process of alignment can be challenging, as different ‘outputs’ or results can be valued differently in different professional contexts, but it’s important to take time to ensure that all parties feel a sense of ownership over the process and its results. These differences in approach can also be a productive source of new ideas and creative thinking. For instance, one potential collaboration in the morning exercise explored how theoretical academic discussions about the representation or ‘figuration’ of alternative ecological futures could be reshaped by engaging with artistic representations of these futures.


In the afternoon we walked to Spike Island art gallery where we were given a short introduction to the Ofelia Rodríguez Talking in Dreams exhibition displaying a selection of over 70 paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures made over the past five decades. Displaying a combination of found objects and images rich in symbolism to construct humorous yet critical works that examine cultural identity and gender stereotypes, influenced by memories of Rodríguez’s native Barranquilla, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The group then discussed their impressions and reflections on the work.

We then continued the workshop in the associate’s research space. As Georgia suggested, it was a powerful experience to be taken out of our academic surroundings and spend the afternoon surrounded by working artists, demonstrating that collaborating with artists is not the same as collaborating with other academics.

We spent some time discussing some of the practical elements of these kinds of collaboration: It is important to pay artists for their time in the initial design phase of a joint project; an artist may not always be the best person to ‘tell the story’ of their artistic practice so hiring somebody to focus on outreach can be beneficial. Questions were raised about how academics might approach an artist and how they could verify the quality and impact of their work without prior knowledge of their work. This led to a conversation around being continually engaged in the arts as well as working with a trained curator or producer who would advise on contemporary art practice.

An important point that ran throughout the day is that the work of artists is itself research, and to get the most out of collaborations research must be given space to flourish.


Adrian Howkins, Milo Newman, Paul Merchant & Georgia Hall


Remembering Rockpools

Ursula Glendinning, MA student in English

What do rockpools mean to us? How do we remember them? How might the act of looking into tidal pools help us to engage mindfully with the non-human world? These are just a few of the questions raised by Suzannah V. Evans’s workshop on rockpool poetry held in early November. 

Byssus: Jen Hadfield: 9781447241102: Books


We are sat in a small room in the Folkhouse, just off Park Street in Bristol, surrounded by various volumes of poetry that focus on coastal environments and, in particular, rockpools. Next to each seat is a shell: razor clams, scallops, dog whelks, even an Iceland cyprine, are dotted along the perimeter of the table. 

I have come here to learn more about how to write the strange creatures of tidal pools – an interest recently discovered whilst reading for an introductory seminar earlier this year. The works of Isabel Galleymore, Mary Oliver, Jen Hadfield, and many others, have inspired a bit of an obsession and, encouraged by my lecturers, I have found and am now attending a rockpool poetry workshop.  

Each of us holds a shell in our hand and, closing our eyes, we see with our fingers – exploring the tactile pleasure of running our thumbs over smooth indentations and jagged edges. Suzannah asks us to construct our own rockpool, and in a large bowl intended to hold planted flowers, we ritualistically scatter sand, and place, within the nest of stone, the shells we have been cradling. Each of us pours in a bit of water, chanting the words we have chosen to describe the shells – smooth, winged, serrated, meditative. We laugh and regret the placement of a tinfoil sardine: the concoction admittedly looks a bit like a fish stew.  


Ostensibly, the rockpool is a site of extraction. Most of us have childhood memories of picking through the residents of these watery worlds. Which one is the biggest? The shiniest? The most colourful? But the workshop, and my subsequent studies, helped me to see the ethics of rockpooling beyond this perspective. Careful attention to rockpools changes our physical positionality as observers. Rather than looking up at a mountain, gearing for an excursion and eventual conquest, the participant must stoop until they are almost level with the water’s surface. The practice invites a meditative state, a quietness; we sit and observe, asking for nothing in return. 

However, rockpooling is an increasingly endangered pastime. Throughout the workshop, I, and the other attendees, were uncomfortably aware of the emerging threat to rockpools and coastal life in general. We spoke of rising sea levels, loss of species, and shorelines used, abused, and neglected until they become places of rot and pollution. The poems we produced contained an aroma of nostalgia as well as barely stifled anger for these increasingly depleted habitats.  

My current project involves a study of the liveliness of dead crabs in modern and contemporary poetry, looking at May Swenson, Mark Doty and more. I intend to explore how these poets represent the animacies of decay through the speakers’ exploration of intertidal regions. The poems I have chosen are achingly sensual and balance both profound sadness and wonder. Suzannah V. Evan’s workshop provided a vital foundation for this exploration, and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity by Bristol’s Centre for Environmental Humanities to further my new obsession with rockpools alongside her and the other participants.  

CfP // The Aesthetics of Geopower: Imagining Planetary Histories and Hegemonies

Call for Papers

The Aesthetics of Geopower: Imagining Planetary Histories and Hegemonies

4 & 5 April 2024, University of Amsterdam | Deadline for proposals: 15 October 2023.

Keynote Speaker:

Macarena Gómez-Barris (Brown University, author of The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives, Duke University Press, 2017)


For this two-day, single-stream, and in-person conference, sponsored by the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis and Dutch Research Council, scholars are invited to explore how the human and nonhuman forces shaping and emerging from the earth are articulated in art and cultural practice.


If the earth was once passed off as a neutral backdrop to human life, in the present age of ecological derangement it has reemerged as fraught with relations of power and politics. In this context, cultural theorists have put forward the rubric of geopower to conceptualize the ways that power is exerted over and through but also by the earth (Clare 2013; Neyrat 2019; Yusoff 2018). Having long been entangled with extractive, racial capitalism (Bain 2023, 1-2), geopower is becoming especially visible amid climate change and discourses of the Anthropocene. From proposals for solar geoengineering to legislation extending legal personhood to ecological entities such as the Ganga River, contemporary manifestations of geopower indicate how politics and planetarity are colliding in complex ways that are increasingly defining the present and will shape the future.

Extrapolated from Michel Foucault’s thinking of biopower, geopower—or “geontopower” in Elizabeth A. Povinelli’s alternative formulation (2016)—has been theorized along several overlapping trajectories (Tola 2022; Luisetti 2019). For some, it primarily signifies the “government of the earth” (Diran & Traisnel 2019, 44) and implicates the technologies and tactics through which dominant subjects frame and exploit not just terrestrial environments but those “defined into nature” under patriarchal and colonial orders (Caputi 2020, 183). For another strand of theory, which draws on posthuman philosophies of life and matter (esp. Grosz 2008), geopower names the nonhuman forces of the earth, which permeate, condition, but also often disrupt or imperil humanly regulated environments (Clark 2011; Grosz, Yusoff, & Clark 2017).

Building on these developments, this conference explores how geopower intersects with aesthetics, taken expansively as referring to art, film, literature, and other forms of cultural practice, as well as sensed materiality and embodied perception. Our premise is that the aesthetic, far from being secondary or supplemental to the forces shaping the earth, is centrally entailed and embedded in dynamics of geopower. This can be seen in the visual construction of “the Earth system” as an object of calculation, conservation, and control, or in scholarly, literary, and filmic narratives of the Anthropocene, which cast different human subjects as planetary culprits or custodians (Bonneuil & Fressoz 2016). The earth’s inhuman forces, meanwhile, have a transgressive vitality that often registers aesthetically and might be articulated in artistic practice (Sheikh 2017). Such forces suffuse cultural practice even when not explicitly thematized, whether because some artistic scenes are economically aligned with particular regimes of resource extraction (Acosta 2020) or because cultural works are necessarily composed of planetary materialities, which precede and exceed discursive or authorial framings of the aesthetic (Parikka 2015).

To probe the connections among power, planetarity, and the aesthetic, we call on scholars, critics, and practitioners across disciplines to reflect on how diverse formations of geopower are enabled and mediated, but also challenged in cultural practice. How do conceptual, visual, poetic, or narratological framings of the earth calibrate social approaches to environments? Which marginalized perspectives can be brought forward to develop alternative representations or counter-histories of geopower? How is it imbricated with racializing, (neo)colonial, and cisheteropatriarchal orders? And how might theories of geopower be rethought by attending to its material manifestations or reimagined in literary and artistic experiment?

In addressing these and other questions pertaining to the aesthetics of geopower, contributors are invited to explore narratives, images, and practices relating to any genre or medium, or events, discourses, and materialities in any historical and geographical context. Possible topics might include (but are not limited to):

—cross-cultural perspectives on/representations of the earth as an aesthetic object;

—the significance of land and planetary forces in decolonial thought and practice;

—the aesthetics of geoengineering, from speculation to design;

—climate fiction and narrative constructions of geopower;

—articulations of the earth’s materialities in the arts and cultural practice;

—the role of mapping, remote sensing, and technological mediation in planetary governance;

—the politics and aesthetics of “deep time” imaginaries;

—Embodied and multi-sensory apprehensions of planetary power;

—representations of resource extraction and new commodity frontiers;

—the aestheticization of planetary forces that exceed and transcend the human;

—creative interventions that make visible the inequities and injustices of geopower.



Please submit abstracts (max. 300 words for 20 minute presentations) and a short biographical note (max. 250 words) to by 15 October 2023.

Kindly send submissions as a single pdf document of max. two pages. To deepen mutual engagement, papers will be circulated a week before the conference; each participant will be assigned a respondent and asked to act as primary respondent to an assigned paper in return. Selected papers will be invited for inclusion in an edited volume. No conference fees will be charged.

Organized by Dr Simon Ferdinand ( and Dr Colin Sterling ( of the University of Amsterdam.



Acosta, Santiago, We Are Like Oil: An Ecology of the Venezuelan Culture Boom, 1973-1983 (PhD. dissertation, New York: Columbia University, 2020).

Bain, Kimberly, “Black Soil,” Social Text 41.1 (2023): 1-19.

Bonneuil, Christrophe, and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, The Shock of the Anthropocene (London: Verso, 2016).

Caputi, Jane, Call Your “Mutha”: A Deliberately Dirty-Minded Manifesto for the Earth Mother in the Anthropocene (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).

Clare, Stephanie, “Geopower: The Politics of Life and Land in Frantz Fanon’s Writing,” Diacritics 41.4 (2013): 60-80.

Clark, Nigel, Inhuman Nature: Sociable Life on a Dynamic Planet (London: Sage, 2010).

Diran, Ingrid, and Antoine Traisnel, “The Birth of Geopower,” Diacritics 47.3 (2019): 32-51.

Grosz, Elizabeth, Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008).

Grosz, Elizabeth, Kathryn Yusoff, and Nigel Clark, “An Interview with Elizabeth Grosz: Geopower, Inhumanism and the Biopolitical,” Theory, Culture, & Society 34. 2-3 (2017): 129-46.

Luisetti, Federico, “Geopower: On the States of Nature of Late Capitalism,” European Journal of Social Theory 22.3 (2018): 342-63.

Neyrat, Frédéric, The Unconstructable Earth: An Ecology of Separation (New York: Fordham University Press, 2018).

Parikka, Jussi, “Earth Forces: Contemporary Land Arts, Technology, and New Materialist Aesthetics,” Cultural Studies Review 21.2 (2015): 47-75.

Povinelli, Elizabth A., Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016).

Sheikh, Shela,“Translating Geontologies” inAnd Now: Architecture Against a Developer Presidency: Essays on the Occasion of Trump’s Inauguration, edited James Graham (New York: Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2017), pp. 165-184

Tola, Miriam, “Geopower: Genealogies, Territories, and Politics,” in Handbook of Critical Environmental Politics, edited by Luigi Pellizzoni, Emanuele Leonardi, and Viviana Asara (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2022), pp. 564-76.

Yusoff, Kathryn, “The Anthropocene and Geographies of Geopower,” in Handbook on the Geographies of Power, edited by Mat Coleman and John Agnew (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2018), pp. 203-16.

Conference // Resisting Toxic Climates: Gender, Colonialism, and Environment

We are circulating details of this conference on behalf of Dr Edwin Coomasaru.

Wed 26 – Thu 27 Jul 2023, 09:00 – 17:30, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

Full details via the British Academy, here.

Whether it’s the spectacular event of an oil spill or the scarcely perceptible pollution of micro-plastics, toxicity is central to the environmental concerns of today. To exist in the world means being vulnerable to multiple forms of toxicity. Yet, conditions of vulnerability are unequal, shaped by enduring global histories of colonialism and capitalism.

This event will highlight the toxic valences of coloniality, asking how toxicity manifests and mutates with particular regard to gender across variously situated bodies, lands and waterscapes. While we are concerned with the interrelated forms of material toxicity that threaten the wellbeing of human and more-than-human communities, we also seek to facilitate dialogue around pertinent social, political and cultural discourses of toxification. Operating at the intersections of the medical and environmental humanities, and centering feminist, queer, decolonial and Indigenous paradigms, this interdisciplinary event brings together scholars and practitioners working across disciplines and employing creative and/or critical modes of enquiry to explore these topics.

Resisting Toxic Climates will feature a series of original artworks by Natasha Thembiso Ruwona and Caitlin Stobie, produced in response to the themes and setting of the event.

The programme will feature a tour of the exibition Shipping Roots by Keg De Sousa, led by the exhibition curator Emma Nicolson.

Conference convenors

  • Dr Rebecca Macklin, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Alexandra Campbell, University of Glasgow
  • Professor Michelle Keown, University of Edinburgh


  • Professor Cecilia Åsberg, Linkoping University & KTH
  • Professor Mishuana Goeman, University of Buffalo
  • Professor Savage Bear, McMaster University
  • Dr Metzli Yoalli Rodriguez, Forest Lake University
  • Dr Hannah Boast, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor Astrida Niemanis, University of British Columbia Okanagan
  • Dr Christine Okoth, Kings College London
  • Dr Treasa De Loughery, University College Dublin
  • Dr Dipali Mathur, Ulster University
  • Dr Jason Allen-Paisant, University of Manchester
  • Dr Thandi Loewenson, Royal College of Art
  • Dr Craig Santos Perez, University of Hawaii
  • Dr Alycia Pirmohamed, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Patricia Widener, Florida Atlantic University
  • Dr J.T. Roane, Rutgers University
  • Dr Caitlin Stobie, University of Leeds
  • Natasha Thembiso Ruwona

If you have any questions about this event please refer to our events FAQs or email

British Academy/Wellcome Trust Conferences bring together scholars and specialists from around the world to explore themes related to health and wellbeing.

Call for papers // Women and the Natural World: historical perspectives on nature, climate and environmental change

The theme for the 30th annual West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network is ‘Women and the Natural World: historical perspectives on nature, climate and environmental change’.

This conference will offer a broad perspective on women and the environment over time. Themes could include women’s historical involvement in:

  • Environmental and natural sciences
  • Conservation and eco-activism by individuals and in campaigning organisations seeking to protect nature and biodiversity.
  • Weather forecasting and climate change
  • Rescue and recovery work following environmental events such as floods, earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes
  • Land management practices e.g. enclosures
  • Gardens and allotments,
  • Parks and garden cities
  • Farming, gardening and agricultural work
  • Botanical and zoological films, photography and illustration

Papers should be of not more than 20 minutes in length. Suggestions for presentations in film or other non-standard formats will be considered.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted via email by Friday May 26th 2023.

The conference will be held on 30th September in Exeter Central Library.

The keynote speaker is Professor Nicola Whyte , Co-Director of the Centre for Environmental Arts and Humanities. University of Exeter.

For more details see:

Download the CFP here.

Literary and Visual Landscapes Autumn Schedule

LVL is back!

We’re excited to announce our autumn schedule which brings together a diverse range of scholars and students from the environmental and geo-humanities. For this term we are keeping the series online, so all are welcome, internal and beyond. Please feel free to circulate this information and flyer to anyone you think might be interested.  

For our first instalment of the series, Dr Noreen Masud from Durham University (though joining Bristol University from January 2022) will be presenting Slippage and Fakery in Willa Cather’s Prairie Landscapes. This session will take place on Wednesday 13th October, at the usual time of 4:30-6pm UK time, on Zoom. Please join us for what will be a fascinating paper and discussion, and to welcome a new CEH member! 

Later this term we have invited Dr Susanne Ferwerda (Utrecht University) to speak on The Waves, the Ocean: Boats, Borders and Refugee Bodies in Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains, and Dr Anushka Peres (University of Revada, Reno) for a paper on Queer Ecovisual Rhetorics and Settler Colonial Landscapes. Details of the full semester’s events can be found on the Events page

This year’s LVL series is very generously funded by the Centre for Environmental Humanities, the School of Geography, and the English Head of Subject Fund. We are very grateful for this support and excited to present such a diverse series, bringing together scholars exploring landscapes across a range of spatial and temporal contexts, with an emphasis on queer and decolonial spaces. 

Free tickets for all the upcoming seminars can be booked via Eventbrite: A Zoom meeting link will be circulated to ticket-holders in advance of each session. 

We hope to see you there! 

Lena, Austin and Eline (the new LVL team). 

Header image: André Derain, Paysage du Midi (1906), SF MoMA

A Poetics of Inquiry: A Reading and Conversation with Tjawangwa Dema

Internationally acclaimed poet, Tjawangwa Dema (The Careless Seamstress and Mandible) will be reading from her work as part of the University of Southern California’s Visions and Voices platform. Dema is a poet, arts administrator, teaching artist, and an Honorary Senior Research Associate in the Department of English at the University of Bristol. Her writing includes work around eco-poetry, and identity and the pastoral form in poetry.

After the reading, Dema will be joined in conversation by Dr Kirk Sides of the Centre for Environmental Humanities and the Department of English at the University of Bristol.

The event takes place on Thursday 25 February at 8pm GMT, and is free. Registration is through Eventbrite.

Tjawangwa Dema’s poems are as bold, roving, and insistent as they are delicate and incisive.

Tracy K. Smith, U.S. poet laureate

Don’t miss internationally acclaimed Motswana poet Tjawangwa Dema, as she reads from her prize-winning collections The Careless Seamstress and Mandible, and performs spoken word pieces from throughout her career, reflecting on life in Botswana, the United States, and England.

By foregrounding inquiry as a poetic practice, Dema invests the mundane with philosophy and ordinary beings with beauty while exploring ecopoetry, gender, race, disobedience, labor, mythology, and empathy.

Eventbrite listing