Consider the Oyster…again

Thursday 7 November 2013

This event has passed


Holme Building, Science Road, University of Sydney


This amazing mollusc, has one foot on the land and opens its life to the sea.

Animal, food, mineral? This amazing mollusc, keystone species in the estuarine waters of coastlines everywhere, has one foot on the land, and opens its life to the sea. These animals played an important role in the human diet in many coastal cultures, providing sustenance as they were gathered along the tidal shore. Oyster shells were also burned for their lime content for construction in colonial Australia helping to build new towns for convicts and other settlers. As the earliest form of aquaculture, they have been global travellers, exported along with French and British expertise to new world places in the antipodes. But they are also the canaries of the sea, their health sounding the warning of disease and pollution for the waters that flow through their valves. And now oysters are being enlisted to help reverse the toxic build up and environmental damage associated with the Anthropocene. This workshop brings together scholars of the Environmental Humanities to consider the oyster. We will grapple with the histories and meanings of oyster culture. Our aim is to examine the way the interrelationships of species change and adapt in association with the circumstances of people, place and ecosystems. Together researchers from Cultural Studies, Art Criticism, Environmental Science, History and Indigenous Studies will start a conversation about this fascinating creature of our more-than-human estuary worlds.


  • Jennifer Silver, University of Guelph Canada
  • Stephen Mullins, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton
  • David Raftos, Macquarie University, Sydney