Reading Environments: MOOM!

Tuesday 19 June 2018
4.00 - 6.00pm

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MECO S226 seminar room
Woolley Building | Manning Road
University of Sydney


Reading Environments is a new series of gatherings sponsored by the Sydney Environment Institute and open to staff and students from across the University of Sydney.

Our common focus is the developing, diversified, and interdisciplinary field of the Environmental Humanities. Key concerns will be drawn from environmentally-engaged philosophy, art, literature, history, and so forth. Exemplary topics may include cultures of climate change; bioethics; animals; nonhuman temporalities; ecology and biodiversity; posthumanism; planetarity; etc.

In our first term, we will sample a variety of works – academic and otherwise – that represent significant, but by no means exhaustive, features and futures of the field. Future selections will reflect the interests of salon members. Our method will encompass readings, structured discussions, free conversations, field trips, and other endeavours besides. Our materials will be drawn from sources critical and creative; textual and ephemeral; visual and other-sensory.

This month’s suggested material:

Nnedi Okorafor – “MOOM!” (Hartmann 2012)

“MOOM!” is one of several stories in Okorafor’s oeuvre to engage the environmental and social consequences of petroleum extraction and transportation in West Africa. It was inspired by a 2010 Reuters headline, “Swordfish Attack Angolan Oil Pipeline.” It would become the opening chapter of her 2016 novel Lagoon.

Julio Cortázar – “Axolotl” (1956)

 In this short fiction, Cortázar’s narrator encounters a group of reptiles living in a tank at the Jardin des Plantes, in Paris. What proceeds is a tangle of recognition, identification, “sensibility,” and metamorphosis.

Elisa Aaltola – “Empathy, Intersubjectivity, and Animal Philosophy” (Environmental Philosophy 10.2 (2013); 75-96)

 Aaltola considers the possibilities of intersubjectivity, and problematizes the place of “propositional language” in human-more-than-human relations. Inspired in part by Simone Weil and Barbara Smuts, Aaltola describes a practice – and ethic – of “attention.”

Eduardo Kohn – “Runa Puma” (Introduction to How Forests Think (2013))

 Kohn’s text derives from work conducted in the Upper Amazon. It discovers and seeks novel “conceptual tools” for thinking, writing, and practicing beyond an anthropocentric anthropology.

For more information, or to request access to texts, contact: killian.quigley@sydney.edu.au