Date: 22 June 2018
Location: SymbioticA, School of Anatomy and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia, Room 228, Level 2
Speakers: Tony Hughes-d’Aeth and Andrea Gaynor
In the Anthropocene, a paradox has opened up between science and knowledge. Namely, as science has become ever more capable at knowing the world, the impotence of this knowledge in preventing environmental catastrophe has also become ever clearer. For every environmental success—unleaded petrol, a ban on whaling, a ban on CFCs—there has been an unrelenting litany of intractable failures.
The premise of the Environmental Humanities is that because environmental problems are overwhelmingly anthropogenic, environmental solutions must be human solutions. At the heart of many of these issues is what Dori Laub calls, in the context of Holocaust Studies, a crisis of witnessing. That is, environmental catastrophe is unseeable inasmuch as it comes up against the horizons of human sense. The challenge for Environmental Humanities is turning scientific knowledges into actionable value systems.
In this discussion, Andrea Gaynor and Tony Hughes-d’Aeth talk about their vision for Environmental Humanities and how this is being, and might better be pursued, at UWA and beyond. In particular, they will share their ideas for an Enviro-Humanities Lab and how this might work. Equally, they are actively seeking input from those concerned with these issues and are particularly eager to hear from the members of SymbioticA about the challenges and rewards of working at the interface between science and creativity.
Andrea Gaynor is the Chair of the Discipline of History at UWA. Amongst her recent publications is her co-edited collection, Never Again: Reflections on Environmental Responsibility after Roe 8 (UWAP, 2017).
Tony Hughes-d’Aeth is the Chair of the Discipline of English and Cultural Studies at UWA. Last year he published Like Nothing on this Earth: A Literary History of the Wheatbelt (UWAP, 2017).