Making amidst extinction: a call for creative practices

Centre for Environmental Humanities, University of Bristol & online, November 2, 2023

How to engage in world making across species? How to work toward world making that enhances the lives of others? And how to do all this in the time of extinctions, knowing, as we must, that we are living amidst the ruination of others?

—Deborah Bird Rose, Wild Dog Dreaming: Love and Extinction (2011)

Growing awareness of massive biotic diminishment and the accompanying large-scale loss of biological and cultural diversity has led to a surge in academic interest into what has become known as the sixth mass extinction. Centred around the emergent field of critical extinction studies, this concern seeks to establish ‘an interdisciplinary, biocultural approach that can attend to the plural phenomena and entangled significance of extinction’.[i] Broadly speaking, this field comprises humanities and social sciences (including but certainly not limited to the academic fields of ecocriticism, human geography, environmental history and philosophy, cultural studies, and multispecies anthropology) and researches the ways in which the sixth extinction is perceived, experienced, and narrated among different communities and individuals. Defining an expressive mode for this work, Deborah Bird Rose and Thom van Dooren write that storytelling ‘is one of the great arts of witness, and in these difficult times telling lively stories is a deeply committed project, one of engaging with the multitudes of others in their noisy, fleshy living and dying’.[ii] Stories, in their most generous interpretation, Rose writes, ‘have the potential to promote understandings of embodied, relational, contingent ethics’ and can ‘pull readers into ethical proximity’.[iii] This raises the following questions: who is able to join this deeply committed project of telling stories, and what kind of stories are told? Dealing with unprecedented loss, the stories currently told are often driven by a strong elegiac impulse.[iv] As the Australian poet John Kinsella writes in response to the extinction of the Christmas Island Pipistrelle: ‘What family / will post your obituary — trapped / in descriptors and comparatives, analogies / and desperate metaphors?’[v] But there are many ways to tell stories, and these are certainly not limited to the spoken and written word.

Auk eggs installation at the Kelp Store, Papa Westray. Photograph is copyright Milo Newman, 2022
Auk eggs installation, Kelp Store, Papa Westray. Photograph © Milo Newman, 2022

In this light, this call for creative practices aims to gather together myriad other modes of expression concerned with extinction and the ways in which biocultural loss affects more-than-human communities. In doing so it seeks to explore alternate modes of telling these extinction stories beyond the elegiac, and beyond the confines of the academic journal or book. Our interest in creative practices here is a broad one, encompassing a range of different mediums, approaches, and forms of creativity. It is about art-making as a process, not just as an outcome; a way for practitioners, researchers, or academics to explore different ways of knowing. Our concern is therefore with the doings of art. We want to explore what ‘“work” art does in the world’ in context of extinction, what it can set in motion.[vi] We think that art does far more here than simply help promote understanding, foster engagement or raise awareness. Instead, we want to explore how (or if!) a plurality of individual creative responses expressing personal emotional, ethical, poetic, critical, and many other reactions to biocultural loss are quietly (or even loudly) involved in the production of new worlds, knowledges, and subjectivities.[vii] To help us explore these ideas we invite contributions from artists, writers, activists, and academics (both individuals and collectives) that seek to make connections between creative practices and biotic diminishment, biodiversity loss, or extinction. While the symposium itself focuses on creative practice, other reflections on extinction are also welcome. We hope to publish some of the work resulting from this event at a later stage. Proposals may include:

  • Written texts, both fiction and nonfiction (4500–5000 words)
  • Poetry (up to five poems)
  • Artworks
  • Film
  • Performance
  • Artistic interventions/reflections/provocations (3500-4000 words)

The symposium will be hybrid. Registration is free; lunch (vegan only) will be provided. Please let us know if you have any allergies.

Please submit abstracts and/or short proposals (300 words, with accompanying images—max. 3—as necessary) to and by 31 August, 2023. While work is welcome in any language, we ask that the presentations and abstracts are in English. Please include a short bio for each contributor. Selected contributors will be notified by September 15, 2023.

This event is generously supported by the Bristol Centre for Environmental Humanities.

[i] Matthew Chrulew and Rick De Vos, ‘Extinction: Stories of Unravelling and Reworlding’, Cultural Studies Review 25.1 (2019): 23–28, 24.

[ii] Thom van Dooren and Deborah Bird Rose, ‘Lively Ethography: Storying Animist Worlds’, Environmental Humanities 8.1 (2016): 77–94, 91.

[iii] Deborah Bird Rose, ‘Slowly ~ Writing into the Anthropocene’, TEXT 20 (2013): 1–14.

[iv] Ursula K. Heise, Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016).

[v] John Kinsella, ‘Not the Postage Stamp of the Christmas Island Pipistrelle!’, Red Room Poetry (2020).

[vi] Harriet Hawkins, For Creative Geographies: Geography, Visual Arts and the Making of Worlds (Milton Park & New York, NY: Routledge, 2012), 6.

[vii] Simon O’Sullivan, Art Encounters Deleuze and Guattari: Thought beyond Representation (London: Palgrave, 2009).

CFP// Earth Sensations: Affects, sensibilities and attachments in an era of climate change

Circulated on behalf of Tobias Skiveren

13 – 14 October 2022

Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Denmark

Organisers: Iwona Janicka & Tobias Skiveren

The interdisciplinary conference aims to examine various sensations generated by natural environments in an era of climate change. It intends to explore how ecological mutation reconfigures the way we feel, sense, desire and what long term effects these changes have on mental health of individuals and communities. How do we sustain ourselves, mentally and emotionally, when our environments are destroyed? How do we compose more-than-human collectives that provide favourable conditions not only for survival but also for thriving for humans and nonhumans alike?

Call for papers – deadline by 1 June 2022

Please submit abstracts of 250-500 words as well as a brief biographical note (100 words) to by 1 June 2022. Notifications will be sent out by 15 June 2022. Papers should not exceed 20 minutes in length and should be held in English.

Thanks to a generous support of our funders, we are able to cover travel and accommodation expenses for two-three early career researchers or untenured academics based in Europe, who are not able to draw on their institutional resources. If you wish to be considered, please include a brief supporting statement (max. 50 words).

Read the full call for papers here.

Conference website here

Call for Applications: ESEH 2022 Summer School in Environmental History

Reposted from the ESEH:

(An-)Hydrous Environments: Rethinking Water in Environmental History

ESEH 2022 Summer School in Environmental History
University of Bristol, United Kingdom
10-13 July 2022

The Department of History at the University of Bristol with the support of the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) and the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership are pleased to announce a four-day graduate school in environmental history hosted at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom. The summer school will follow the ESEH biannual conference in Bristol (4-8 July 2022) to offer intermediate to advanced graduate students the opportunity to present and discuss their work, to network with other researchers from across the world, and to experience and learn from the environments and technologies around Bristol.

The ESEH 2022 graduate school (An-)Hydrous Environments will explore the interrelationship between water and human society with monitoring the impacts of water on past environments and societies, and that of human society on waters. Relating to the environments at Bristol, the summer school will focus in particular on how societies have lived with, utilised and changed natural water bodies by means of technologies, management practices, and governance. At the same time, it will also explore the agency of the sea and its beings itself, allowing for more-than-human approaches within the broader blue humanities. In the summer school we will furthermore be looking for specific approaches and methods that could be useful for all of us who work with water-related issues, and explicitly aim to broaden water history to other states of matter, such as fog, precipitation, and frozen seas. We will discuss the diverse entanglements of water, societies, and technologies, with the aim to rethink water in environmental history.

The topic’s position at the intersection of environmental history, history of science and technology, and blue humanities, encourages to discuss, but is not limited to, issues such as:

• Environmental histories of seas, rivers, shorelines, and wetlands
• Utilisation of water resources and its technologies (e.g. energy, infrastructures)
• Governance of water supply, water resources, and water environments, incl. hydro-colonialism
• Management and mitigation practices
• Short- and long-term hydro-morphological changes (natural and artificial) and their impact on perception, law, and management
• Absences and abundances of water
• Public memory and socio-cultural perceptions (e.g. cultural practices, religion, climate extremes)
• Water bodies and water in bodies
• Agency of the sea and more-than-human agency of water bodies

The summer school is meant to be broad and inclusive in terms of themes, time periods, geographic regions, and disciplines, and we welcome applications with creative approaches towards the topic. Although the primary focus of the graduate school is historical, candidates from other fields are encouraged to apply in order to foster interdisciplinary dialogue.

It aims to gather around 20 doctoral students or recent post-docs together with junior and senior scholars who will all give formal and informal presentations, as well as feedback for promoting rich methodological discussions in a friendly atmosphere. Next to the keynote lectures and discussions, practical workshops and field trips will form an integral part of the summer school.

All participants are expected to submit a draft of a chapter or an article (approx. 4-5000 words) one month before the summer school, as well as to prepare a 10-minute oral presentation for the school. Students are furthermore expected to provide constructive feedback to other presentations. The working language of the summer school is English.

Interested doctoral students and immediate post-docs working on the above topics are welcome to apply. An application for the graduate school should consist of:
1. an abstract of your presentation and outline of research topic (ca. 350 words),
2. short CV (2 pages maximum),
3. a paragraph on what you hope to get out of the summer school (ca. 150 words).

We hope to be able to provide free accommodation (in shared rooms) and lunches for accepted applicants during this four-day seminar. Travel costs will likely have to be covered by the participants themselves. Since we do not expect COVID-related restrictions this summer, we are planning this graduate school as an in-person event.

We are committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion at the ESEH Summer School, and welcome applications from underrepresented communities.

Application deadline is 1 April 2022.
Please send your application in one single document with the subject line ESEH 2022 Summer School to both Nina Vieira ( and Melina Antonia Buns (

Organising committee:
Adrian Howkins (University of Bristol)
Nina Vieira (FCSH NOVA University of Lisbon/CHAM-Centre for the Humanities)
Aditya Ramesh (The University of Manchester)
Andrea Kiss (Vienna University of Technology)
Melina Antonia Buns (University of Stavanger)

Click HERE to download the call in pdf.

The ESEH Summer School is co-organised with the South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership and the University of Bristol.

Banner image Unsplash/Josh Withers.

Water Works: The Arts of Water Management, 1500–1800

Call for Papers

Institute of Humanities, Northumbria University, 22 June 2022

At a time of environmental crisis, studying histories of the manipulation of natural resources has never been more important. While our ancestors used different terms to talk of such matters, they engaged with (or stridently disengaged from) the same questions.

This symposium, which has been generously supported by the Institute of Humanities at Northumbria University, aims to draw together expertise from across disciplines to engage with managed and mechanical water systems in the period 1500–1800. Our focus for this multidisciplinary symposium is on how humans have sought to make water work for them—for not only practical but also artistic purposes.

While water’s centrality to life has long made it a rich source for metaphor and symbolism, Thomas Willard notes that the period between 1500 and 1800 ‘saw a breakthrough in the understanding of water: what it was and how it blended with other substances to form waters of great variety’ (‘Testing the Waters’ in Classen, ed., 2015). Engineered and managed water, however, has not garnered as much attention as other varieties of water. The growing focus on the ‘blue humanities’ has tended to prioritise certain ‘natural’ waters and their human and non-human inhabitants, especially saltwater environments (Brayton, Shakespeare’s Ocean, 2012; Mentz, Shipwreck Modernity, 2015). Yet recent studies (Mukherji, Impossible Engineering, 2009; Ash, The Draining of the Fens, 2017) have shown the potential for interdisciplinary study of managed or mechanical water systems (drainage and irrigation, sewer pipes and sophisticated hydraulics, wells and fountains). This symposium builds on this growing body of early modern scholarship to explore early modern responses to managed water.

We hope that this symposium will create new dialogues with water experts across disciplines, and would welcome proposals for exploratory papers on topics including but not limited to:

  •  Regulation, water law
  •  Flood mitigation
  •  Water power
  •  Recreation and tourism
  •  Health, bathing, sanitation
  •  Waterscaping (prints, plans, designs)
  •  Water systems, hydraulics
  •  Practical and ornamental works
  •  Wasted water
  •  Creative and instructive texts
  •  Gardens, fens, canals, cities
  •  Religion and ritual
  •  Heritage and digital resources

We envisage this symposium as the first step in developing a journal special issue, and plan to build towards this further by hosting a panel (or panels) leading out of the symposium at the ASLE-UKI conference (6–8 September 2022).

Proposals for 20 minute papers should be sent to Dr Rosamund Paice by Friday 31 March 2022, 5pm GMT.

Creative Environments workshop: call for contributions

Creative Environments: a workshop on collaborative methods for researchers and artists

Friday 17 September 2021

Call for Contributions

The Brigstow Institute and the Centre for Environmental Humanities at the University of Bristol invite contributions for a workshop on the role of creativity in conducting and communicating environmental research. During this one-day event, participants will consider how creative research methods and collaborations between researchers and artists can enrich our understanding of contemporary ecological challenges. 

Amid growing scholarly interest in art-science collaborations and in transdisciplinary and co-produced research, what can be learned from existing best practice, and what innovations are needed in order to further cultivate ‘arts of attentiveness’ (van Dooren et al., 2016) to our environments? In seeking to answer these questions, the day’s activities will include presentations from academics, a showcase of work by local and international artists, and plenty of time for brainstorming and generating new ideas. 

The workshop forms part of the AHRC-funded research project Reimagining the Pacific (PI Dr Paul Merchant). The event will be held in person at the University of Bristol, subject to covid restrictions, but may switch to an online format if necessary. Virtual participation will be facilitated. The workshop may lead to a co-authored publication or other output (format to be discussed at the event). 

Contributions are invited in a variety of formats (the following list is not intended to be exclusive):

  • presentations showcasing examples of academic collaboration with artists and creative practitioners, or the use of creative research methodologies
  • readings or performances of material created as a result of such collaborations
  • (audio)visual materials to be displayed at the conference venue and online
  • theoretical reflections on the co-production of knowledge 

Submissions from early-career researchers are particularly welcome. Please send a 250-word abstract and a brief biography to by 15 July 2021

Reposted from Reimagining the Pacific.

Banner image: “Local surfers from above #chicama #surf #peru” by neverything; licensed under CC BY 2.0

CfP – Storied Deserts: Re-Imagining Arid Environments

Circulated on behalf of Dr Aidan Tynan of Cardiff University.

Deadline for submissions of abstracts: September 30, 2021

Celina Osuna, Arizona State University,

Aidan Tynan, Cardiff University,

Desert landscapes and ecologies have become central to our perceptions of space and place and to the stories we tell ourselves about the environment. In Western traditions, we  frequently see deserts represented as dead or valueless, or merely as exotic backdrops. Such depictions often encode racism and histories of colonial violence. Our conceptions of the desert as wasteland or hostile wilderness can be traced back to Biblical notions of damnation, messianism and salvation, but they also feature extensively in the secular dystopian and apocalyptic vision of the future so widespread today. This volume seeks contributions that interrogate and challenge these stories of the desert while exploring alternative traditions in order to shed light on the multitudinous possibilities of what desert places are and can be.

Storied Deserts: Re-Imagining Arid Environments takes a global point of view on a topic that is too often limited by a regional or national frame. We are interested in the diversity of desert places, which we hope will reflect the diversity of backgrounds and experiences of potential contributors. While recognizing the crucial differences that distinguish arid places from each other, we want to insist that there is something special about them that mark them out from other kinds of places. While the Namib Desert of southwest Africa differs radically from, say, the interior of the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States, these places elicit experiences, perceptions, and narratives that can speak to and inform one another. In this sense, deserts embody a singularity and a multiplicity at once.

This simultaneity is complex and rich in intersections and needs to be approached through multidisciplinary perspectives. The volume will draw on work in desert humanities as a field concerned with the flourishings of thought and practice in the arid environments of the world, with multi-ethnic human, nonhuman and more-than-human interrelationships of desert places and the urgent care necessary for them in a time of climate crises. We call on contributors to imagine desert humanities as an emerging field, to explore the range of approaches that deserts demand, and to set directions for future work. We invite non-traditional, creative nonfiction, and experimental pieces as well as more traditional scholarly work. Contributions considering the following topics are welcome, but the volume’s scope is not necessarily limited to only these:

  • Ecocritical approaches to deserts
  • Cinema, media and visual studies
  • Speculative projects
  • Land stewardship
  • The Anthropocene and climate change
  • Displacement, diaspora
  • Desertification and dust-bowlification
  • Science Fiction
  • Cultural geographies
  • Indigenous studies
  • Studies of place and space
  • Placemaking and placekeeping
  • Ethnographic approaches
  • Political geology / geologies of race
  • Afrofuturism
  • Water management
  • Extractive industries
  • Post-apocalyptic and dystopian landscapes
  • Desert ecologies
  • Cultural studies
  • Decolonial/Anti-colonial approaches
  • Phenomenology and environmental philosophy

Please send the following to or by September 30, 2021:

1) 300-500 word chapter abstract/proposal

2) a brief bio

3) a statement of your interest in this project or contextual background/relevant info

If you are interested in writing a piece and would like to discuss it with the editors before submission of the abstract, please contact us via the email address above. Those with accepted proposals will be expected to submit a full draft (6,000-8,000 words).

Two further events: cuteness and ghosts!

News has come our way of two interesting environmental humanities events on creative responses to cuteness and gothic shorelines.

Aww-struck: creative and critical approaches to cuteness is a seminar and exhibition hosted by the University of Birmingham and Royal Holloway, University of London, taking place on 21 May.

The call for papers closes on 29 March. Download the call here.

Haunted Shores: Coastlands, Coastal Waters and the Littoral Gothic Symposium will be hosted by the Haunted Shores Research Network on 26 March. The conference features more than thirty presentations on topics closely connected with the environmental humanities.

Registration is via a webform here.