Rethinking Invasion Ecologies: Natures, Cultures and Societies in the age of the Anthropocene

Monday 18 June 2012

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Sydney Law School Foyer


What sorts of futures have we imagined for climate changing environments?

The publication of Charles Elton’s classic The Ecology of Invasions by Plants and Animals in 1958 signaled a shift in the understanding of the global reorganization of biological species during the Anthropocene. The encouragement of acclimatisation and naturalization of new species gave way to managing the ramifications of the changes that introductions bought to ecologies, landscapes and environments. Over the nineteenth century environments of the new world – land and sea – became testing grounds for the introduction of new assemblages of people and plants, economies and animals, cultures and coastlines. But things didn’t go according to the script. Some species became pests – out-of-control threats to environments across the globe. These changes had enduring impacts, some adverse, some beneficial, that are dynamic, unpredictable and often oscillating.Australia was one of the new world places that became a laboratory for western science and colonization from the late eighteenth century. From that time to the present, new plants, animals and humans migrated here, at the same time that biological material and ideas about nature transited from Australia to other parts of the world. Indigenous knowledge and law shaped resistance and adaptation to colonizing forces of invasion in ways that intersect with environmental politics and movements of the twentieth century. Multiplying the disciplinary conversations within the humanities will allow us to explore how the conceptual understandings of Australian environments are infused with literary and artistic narratives, gendered tropes, moral fables and political, legal, sociological and historical inflections.This conference seeks to explore the role of Australia, and Australian scholarship, in environmental thought about invasive ecologies for the Anthropocene. How will biological and cultural invasions of the past impact on the futures of Australian places? How should we think about the more-than-human roles of camels and carp; or willows and baobabs, or Nordic and Ngarrindjeri in environmental change? What of the Australian plants, animals, people and ideas that travelled out of Australia, that re-made other global places? What sorts of futures have we imagined for climate changing environments? How will we account for environmental justice on policy agendas and political campaigns? How do different spatial scales of analysis help us to understand the impacts of invasive species and their more-than- biological events? What other methodological challenges do we face?

We are particularly keen to engage in conversations across disciplinary boundaries around the following themes:Invasion, Overabundance, Scarcity, Prediction, Vulnerability, Adaptation, Extinction , Resilience