Going Underground: Multispecies Encounters with Rocks and Water in the Shadow of Extraction

Friday 1 December 2017

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Supported by University of Sydney Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences and Artsource Global City AIR - State Government of WA funding

An Arts-Sciences Walkshop/Field trip

With extraction a hot-button issue for Australian publics, this arts-science walkshop and field trip aims to go underground: that is, to engage a transdisciplinary exploration of matters of concern related to “the vertical third dimension” – i.e. gas and mineral mining, subterranean ecologies, as well as the politics, economics and cultures of extraction and life underground. What relations are still to be forged between the rocks, waters and species (human and non-human) that all have different stakes in these questions? What kinds of knowledge-making and relational practices can enhance the perimeters of our research and our actions?

To explore these questions, we will embark on a collaborative journey to the heart of the coal mining history of New South Wales – the State Mine Heritage Park & Railway – in Lithgow. 15-20 participants will travel, read, listen, discuss, eat and make together, in the pursuit of new ways to think about our common (under)ground.

Confirmed guest speakers and workshop leaders include:

Professor Linda Connor’s (University of Sydney) research over the past 10 years has been concerned with the ethnographic study of climate change, place and community, focussing on impacts of coal mining and coal seam gas extraction, as well as local understandings and actions in relation to weather, climate, and environmental change. She is interested in the potential of ethnographic methods to identify unexpected or disturbing changes in the everyday practices of social life, and to explore how these perturbations affect, and are affected by, changes elsewhere. She enjoys being a member of research teams where her ethnographic insights will contribute to interdisciplinary projects and demonstrate the value of anthropology in understanding major societal challenges such as climate change and energy transitions.

Professor Bill Humphreys is a Senior Curator with the Museum of Western Australia, and is a world leading expert in the diversity, distribution and phylogeography of subterranean faunas including anchialine ecosystems. His research has included groundbreaking exploration of local and remote regions for new types of subterranean community. More information about Bill’s publications and projects can be found here.

Dr Maria De Lourdes Melo Zurita is a Lecturer in Human Geography at the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney. Her recent research has spanned different key areas of geographical scholarship – including the politics of social housing relocation projects, peri-urban disaster management, and water governance – and has featured in esteemed academic journals, and presented at a number of international conferences.

Dr. Louise Boscacci, an artist and biologist, is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Material Ecologies Research Network in the School of the Arts, English and Media at the University of Wollongong. She lectures in visual arts in the frame of the environmental humanities at UOW, and at the National Art School, Sydney. Louise draws material art practice informed by embodiment, the senses and affect into conversation with teachings and insights from a background in multispecies ecology and extinctions research. Her current research revolves around the art of wit(h)nessing which includes situated listening and sound translations (a project in the Illawarra); writing extinction and affect; and a continuing project on shadow places, based in north Queensland.

All field trip costs (including transportation, food, readings, workshop materials and admission to the museum) will be covered by the organisers.

If you would like to participate, please send an Expression of Interest (1 paragraph stating your interest in the field trip) to astrida.neimanis@sydney.edu.au no later than November 20, 2017.

Organisers: Dr Astrida Neimanis, University of Sydney and Dr Perdita Phillips, Artspace Artist in Resident 2017 and in association with the COMPOSTING Feminisms Environmental Humanities Reading Group and the Sydney Environment Institute (SEI).

Please see proposed itinerary attached.