Stories and Seaways

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Tuesday 12 June 2018
5.00 - 6.30pm

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New Law LT 104, Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney



University of Edinburgh

Hosted jointly by the University of Edinburgh Global Environment and Society Academy and the Sydney Environment Institute.

How do oceans remember? What times do they record? Whose histories – and whose futures –  are visible by sea-light? The Sydney Environment Institute welcomes Alice Te Punga Somerville and David Farrier, two internationally-renowned scholars, and authors, of ocean stories, for this public lecture.

Discussion will flow through hemispheric boundaries, to incorporate southern and northern seas and to interrogate and enliven compositions of oceanic place, language, knowledge, and tradition. From deep times – and deep futures – seas speak and move momentously, and uncannily. Against narrative, temporal, and geographical homogeneity, rich and varied seascapes resist intellectual, ecological, spiritual, and political impoverishment. A vital and vexing oceanic present requires inquiries and interventions like these.


Associate Professor Alice Te Punga Somerville, University of Waikato
Dr David Farrier, University of Edinburgh


Professor Iain McCalman, Sydney Environment Institute


Alice Te Punga Somerville (Te Atiawa, Taranaki) is an associate professor at the Faculty of Maori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato, where her research and teaching sits at the intersections of literary, cultural, Indigenous and Pacific studies. She has taught in Indigenous Studies and English in New Zealand, Hawai‘i, Canada and Australia. Her first book was Once Were Pacific: Maori connections to Oceania (2012). She is currently working on a multi-stranded research project titled ‘Writing the new world: Indigenous texts 1900-1975.’ She also writes the occasional poem.

David Farrier is a senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, where he convenes the Edinburgh Environmental Humanities Network. In 2017 he was a Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales. Anthropocene Poetics: Deep Time, Sacrifice Zones, and Extinction will be published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2019. Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils, for which he won the Royal Society of Literature’s Giles St Aubyn award for non-fiction in 2017, will be published by 4th Estate and Farrar, Straus & Giroux, also in 2019. His work has appeared in Aeon Magazine and The Atlantic. 

Iain McCalman is a Research Professor of History at the University of Sydney, and Co-Director of the Sydney Environment Institute. Iain has established a national and international reputation as a historian of science, culture and the environment whose work has influenced university scholars and students, government policymakers and broad general public around the world. He has published fourteen scholarly books with leading academic and trade presses, and dozens of peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. In 2007 Iain was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia for Services to History and the Humanities. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

This public event and associated workshop are part of a Partnership Collaboration awarded to SEI, which aims to develop research collaborations between scholars in environmental humanities and social sciences at the University of Sydney and Edinburgh.