Adjunct Professor Deborah Bird Rose and ‘Gifts of Life in the Shadow of Death’

On Thursday 8 March 2018, Professor Deborah Bird Rose will be presenting the second lecture in the HumanNature: Sydney Environmental Humanities Lecture Series called ‘Gifts of Life in the Shadow of Death’. In preparation for the lecture, get to know about Deborah and her research.

'Little red flying-foxes roosting on Eucalyptus trees' by Visionary Earth. Sourced from Shutterstock, ID: 330431633.

Deborah Bird Rose is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Humanities and Languages at the University of New South Wales who specialises in Anthropology and Environmental Philosophy.  Her HumanNature Lecture will explore how giving and receiving take form in, and give form to, our living world.

Deborah is a founding figure in the environmental humanities in Australia, and her research has made major contributions in a range of fields including the anthropology of indigenous Australia, animal and multispecies studies, and philosophies of ethics, justice, religion, temporality, and place. Deborah’s extinction studies research has worked to enhance, critique, and sharpen the humanities and sciences by merging the fields in explorations of multispecies relationships at the edge of extinction. Her current research includes studies of flying foxes in Australia and the broader the Pacific region, and the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal.

Associate Professor Thom van Dooren has worked closely with Deborah over the years, a relationship that began when she agreed to supervise his PhD research at the Australian National University. Since this time they have collaborated on a number of projects, including co-founding the journal Environmental Humanities. Thom shares that:

Over the course of a career spanning almost forty years, Deborah Bird Rose has produced an incredibly rich body of work that is interdisciplinary and broad reaching in its scope, while also being remarkably consistent in its core themes and commitments. At its heart, this work is concerned with what it means to inhabit a more-than-human world in a way that is faithful to all those who have come before and those who will, who must, follow after; to inhabit a lively world in a way that takes seriously the profound connections between paying attention, knowing deeply, and taking up the ongoing labours of care and responsibility.

Across her research and writing—through her work on indigenous Australian environmental knowledges and practices of caring for country, her work on decolonisation and Aboriginal land claims, her work on the ethics of conservation and extinction—Deb has consistently explored the way in which processes of colonisation, modernisation, and development produce ramifying patterns of unequal loss, destruction, disavowal, and death. Inhabiting and thinking through spaces of the living and the dying, of love and loss, of careful and inquisitive knowing and of utter disregard, Deb has worked to cultivate the skills of thinking with others in an effort to imagine and enact new—and all too often fragile—possibilities for entwined social and environmental justice.

At the same time, for many of us Deb has also inspired the development of new modes of scholarship. Hers is a scholarly practice of paying close attention; of drawing together disparate voices from within and far beyond the academy, from philosophers and scientists to her many indigenous teachers; of a skilled refinement of the crafts of writing and storytelling; of deep commitment to and creative intervention towards better possibilities for life and death.

For more information on Deborah, and her research and publications, click here.

SEI is excited to welcome Professor Deborah Bird Rose for the HumanNature Lecture Series, which is jointly funded and coordinated by the Australian Museum, the University of New South Wales, Macquarie University, Western Sydney University, and the University of Sydney. The Series will feature leading international scholars in the Environmental Humanities and aims to highlight the key research and developments to come out of the environmental humanities and will feature environmental humanities scholars who are renowned in their fields. Stay tuned for more profiles on Keynote Speakers for in the months to come.

For more details and to purchase tickets for ‘Gifts of Life in the Shadow of Death’, click here.

Please note that tickets are available to staff and students at the four partner universities at the discounted rate of $8. These tickets must be booked in advance using the discount code: ENVHUM18.

Also, check out the video of Deborah from the Global Ecologies – Local Impacts Conference:  the Sixth Biennial Conference of the Association for the Study of Literature, Environment & Culture, Australia & New Zealand (ASLEC-ANZ) in collaboration with the Sydney Environment Institute.