Environmental Humanities

The Initiative for Environmental Humanities at Brown (EHAB) is the center of a vibrant intellectual community focused on environmental learning and research in the humanities that includes speaker series, workshops, reading groups, and other sites of engagement. We are faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates who study environmental topics from a wide variety of humanistic disciplines, and we partner with related groups on campus to help faculty and students connect diverse fields of study in their research and teaching on the environment. Read more about the Initiative.

Upcoming Events

Previous Events

  • Apr
    12
    9:00am - 10:30am

    Environmental Humanities Workshop with Macarena Gómez-Barris

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    Register >. (You must be logged into your Brown University email account.) Information on the workshop’s location will accompany pre-circulated reading material excerpted from The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Duke University Press, 2017). Breakfast will be served.

    Macarena Gómez-Barris is Professor and Chairperson of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. She is also Director of the Global South Center (GSC), a research center that works at the intersection of social ecologies, art and politics, and decolonial methodologies. Her instructional focus is on Latinx and Latin American Studies, memory and the afterlives of violence, decolonial theory, the art of social protest, and queer femme epistemes. 

    Gómez-Barris is the author of Where Memory Dwells: Culture and State Violence in Chile (UC Press, 2009), co-editor with Herman Gray of Towards a Sociology of the Trace (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Duke University Press, 2017) and Beyond the Pink Tide: Art and Politics in the Americas (University of California Press, 2018). 

    Gómez-Barris is series editor, with Diana Taylor, of Dissident Acts, a Duke University Press Series, and was Fulbright Fellow at FLACSO-Quito in Ecuador (2014–15). She is the current co-editor with Marcial Godoy-Anatavia of e-misférica, an online trilingual journal on hemispheric art and politics (NYU). She is also a member of the Social Text journal collective.

    At Pratt Institute, she works with a vibrant community of scholars, activists, intellectuals, and students to find alternatives to the impasses produced by racial and extractive capitalism. 

    Macarena Gómez-Barris will also give a public lecture titled “Forest Theory, Occupation, and an Archive of the Future ” on Thursday, April 11, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. in Pembroke Hall 305.

    This event is presented by the Environmental Humanities Initiative and co-sponsored by the C.V. Starr Lectureship Fund, the Watson Institute, the Departments of History and Religious Studies, the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society.

    Environmental Humanities, Humanities
  • The tree and the forest is the site of environmental humanities and multidisciplinary inquiry. By engaging the materiality of land, place, and the idea of the tree as knowledge, Macarena Gómez-Barris addresses the forest as a particular site of material and representational evacuation. Extending ideas from her book The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Duke University Press, 2017) on Indigenous aesthetics and social movements, Gómez-Barris considers modes of thinking about archives, counter-visuality, resistance, and recovery that work against the inevitability of the forest’s elimination. Where does the regenerative potential exist that challenges and moves us beyond the paradigm of no future?

    Macarena Gómez-Barris is Professor and Chairperson of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. She is also Director of the Global South Center (GSC), a research center that works at the intersection of social ecologies, art and politics, and decolonial methodologies. Her instructional focus is on Latinx and Latin American Studies, memory and the afterlives of violence, decolonial theory, the art of social protest, and queer femme epistemes. 

    Gómez-Barris is the author of Where Memory Dwells: Culture and State Violence in Chile (UC Press, 2009), co-editor with Herman Gray of Towards a Sociology of the Trace (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Duke University Press, 2017) and Beyond the Pink Tide: Art and Politics in the Americas (University of California Press, 2018). 

    Gómez-Barris is series editor, with Diana Taylor, of Dissident Acts, a Duke University Press Series, and was Fulbright Fellow at FLACSO-Quito in Ecuador (2014–15). She is the current co-editor with Marcial Godoy-Anatavia of e-misférica, an online trilingual journal on hemispheric art and politics (NYU). She is also a member of the Social Text journal collective.

    At Pratt Institute, she works with a vibrant community of scholars, activists, intellectuals, and students to find alternatives to the impasses produced by racial and extractive capitalism. 

    Free and open to the public. This event is presented by the Environmental Humanities Initiative and co-sponsored by the C.V. Starr Lectureship Fund, the Watson Institute, the Departments of History and Religious Studies, the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society.

    Environmental Humanities, Humanities
  • Apr
    9
    2:30pm - 3:30pm

    Planning Meeting • Environmental Humanities Initiative

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    All faculty, graduate students, and postdocs with interests in the environmental humanities are welcome to discuss 2019-20 activities and the organizational structure of the Initiative for Environmental Humanities at Brown (EHAB) .

    Environmental Humanities, Humanities
  • Feb
    1
    9:00am - 11:00am

    Environmental Humanities Workshop with Joyce Chaplin

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    To attend the Environmental Humanities workshop with Joyce Chaplin please register at this link .

    The discussion will focus on the pre-industrial era of American history, the arrival of the industrial revolution, and the crucial turn toward carbon-based energy in the U.S. 

    Information on the workshop’s location will accompany pre-circulated reading material. Breakfast will be served.

    Joyce Chaplin (BA Northwestern; MA and PhD, Johns Hopkins) is the James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History at Harvard University. A former Fulbright Scholar to the United Kingdom, she has taught at six universities on two continents, a peninsula, and an island, and in a maritime studies program on the Atlantic Ocean. Her most recent works include Round about the Earth: Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit (Simon & Schuster, 2012), and (with Alison Bashford) The New Worlds of Thomas Robert Malthus: Rereading the Principle of Population (Princeton University Press, 2016). She is the editor of Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography: A Norton Critical Edition (Norton, 2012) and Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population: A Norton Critical Edition (Norton, 2017). Her reviews and essays have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times Book Review, and the London Review of Books. Her work has been translated into French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Estonian, and, forthcoming, into Turkish and Chinese. She is a current Guggenheim Fellow; she tweets @JoyceChaplin1.

    Joyce Chaplin will also give a public lecture titled “The Franklin Stove: Heat and Life in the Little Ice Age”   on Thursday, January 31, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. in Pembroke Hall 305.

    This event is presented by the Environmental Humanities Initiative and co-sponsored by the C.V. Starr Lectureship Fund, the Watson Institute, the Departments of History and Religious Studies, the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society.

    Environmental Humanities, Humanities
  • Jan
    31

    Joyce Chaplin’s current research examines climate change and climate science in eighteenth-century early America, focusing on awareness of and responses to the Little Ice Age. The invention and circulation of the Franklin stove is the central example of her study. Climate history is an important new subject for historians, given that public debates over climate and resource scarcity have become urgent. Belief that our dilemma is unprecedented is inaccurate and unhelpful, perhaps especially within the United States. Climate-change mitigation existed in the past and analysis of it reveals useful patterns of success and failure. Early American history has tended to emphasize non-environmental themes and events — especially the American Revolution as national pivot. But this history of politics, of human-to-human relations, was always entangled in human use and knowledge of the natural world. Early Americans themselves knew this. Benjamin Franklin knew he was living in an age of climate change, in response to which he designed a heating system and articulated a climate science. Both are significant. Franklin’s proposals about maximizing the production of heat from a minimal quantity of fuel were widely translated and discussed — they were profound Enlightenment statements about settler colonialism, resource conservation, and climate change.

    Joyce E. Chaplin (BA Northwestern; MA and PhD, Johns Hopkins) is the James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History at Harvard University. A former Fulbright Scholar to the United Kingdom, she has taught at six universities on two continents, a peninsula, and an island, and in a maritime studies program on the Atlantic Ocean. Her most recent works include Round about the Earth: Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit (Simon & Schuster, 2012), and (with Alison Bashford) The New Worlds of Thomas Robert Malthus: Rereading the Principle of Population (Princeton University Press, 2016). She is the editor of Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography: A Norton Critical Edition (Norton, 2012) and Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population: A Norton Critical Edition (Norton, 2017). Her reviews and essays have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times Book Review, and the London Review of Books. Her work has been translated into French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Estonian, and, forthcoming, into Turkish and Chinese. She is a current Guggenheim Fellow; she tweets @JoyceChaplin1.

    Free and open to the public. This event is presented by the Environmental Humanities Initiative and co-sponsored by the C.V. Starr Lectureship Fund, the Watson Institute, the Departments of History and Religious Studies, the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society.

    Environmental Humanities, Humanities
  • Nov
    16
    9:00am - 11:00am

    Environmental Humanities Workshop with Damian White

    Cogut Institute, Pembroke Hall

    To attend the ‘Environmental Humanities’ workshop with Damian White please register at this link .

    Information on workshop location will accompany pre-circulated reading material. Breakfast will be served at this workshop.

    Damian White is Professor of Social Theory and the Environment and Dean of Liberal Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design. He is the author of Bookchin: A Critical Appraisal (2008); Environments, Natures and Social Theory: Towards a Critical Hybridity (2016) and the co-editor of Technonatures (2009) and Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader (2011).

    Damian White will also give a public lecture titled “Just Transitions, transition design and radical hope: For a post-carbon politics beyond technocratic ecomodernism and the it’s-too-late-o-cene” on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 4:00 p.m. in Pembroke Hall 305.

    This event is presented by the Environmental Humanities Initiative and co-sponsored by the C.V. Starr Lectureship Fund, the Watson Institute, the Departments of History and Religious Studies, the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society.

    Environmental Humanities, Humanities
  • On the climate front, events are moving from bad to worse with alarming speed. With fossil fueled neo-liberalism hurtling towards climate chaos and authoritarian populisms, where is there room for hope? In this talk, Damian White reflects on the contributions that mobilizations concern with just transitions running alongside a vibrant explosion of interest in design for transitions might make for re-grounding a political ecology of hope in dangerous times. The just transition is a concept that has its roots in the labor movement. Of late, it has been adopted by a broader array of forces: from democratic socialists to environmental and racial justice advocates, from feminists to decolonial-indigenous forces as a means of thinking about the political strategies and alliance building for moving post-carbon transitions forward. The emerging field of design for transitions equally is attempting to draw a broad range of design activists, radical municipalists, peer to peer hackers, commoners and others to think about the platforms, prototypes, cultural and design interventions that could aggregate multiple modes of redirective practice that could be unleashed to build post-carbon futures. At present, these currents often talk past each other. This paper explores tensions and conflicts emerging within both fields. It also reflects on the spaces for further engagement. There are of course no quick fixes or easy solutions to our climate crisis. But it is suggested that a post-carbon politics that is experimental, iterative and inventive in its outlook, marked by a degree of democratic maker-ly ambition and a post-carbon politics that foregrounds the potential creativity of labor has much to recommend itself.

    Damian White is Professor of Social Theory and the Environment and Dean of Liberal Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design. He is the author of Bookchin: A Critical Appraisal (2008); Environments, Natures and Social Theory: Towards a Critical Hybridity (2016) and the co-editor of Technonatures (2009) and Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader (2011).

    Damian White will also lead an Environmental Humanities breakfast workshop on November 16, 2018 from 9am to 11am, that is open to Brown students and faculty by registration only.

    Free and open to the public. This event is presented by the Environmental Humanities Initiative and co-sponsored by the C.V. Starr Lectureship Fund, the Watson Institute, the Departments of History and Religious Studies, the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society.

    Environmental Humanities, Humanities