UNSW New Earth Histories events with Andrea Westermann

The New Earth Histories Research Program at UNSW is hosting a visit from Dr Andrea Westermann from University of Konstanz, Germany. There will be two public events in Sydney associated with her visit, an early-career academic masterclass and a public lecture. Details below.

Writing History in and of the Anthropocene

ECA Masterclass, 10.00am-1.30pm, 10 August – Morven Brown 353, UNSW Upper Campus  

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This workshop, hosted by Dr Andrea Westermann and UNSW, offers a close reading of historical source material and research threads that went into the making of her article “Enrichment and Dilution in the Atacama Mining Desert”. In the second part of the event, we will look at the structure and arguments of this essay. We will also take the text as a starting point to discuss possible ways to become more “earth-attuned” in our own research projects.

Entirely New and Very Old Water

Public Lecture, 5.00pm-8.00pm, 15 August – Metcalfe Auditorium, State Library of NSW

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This talk addresses the entangled histories and elemental shifts of the Atacama mining desert in northern Chile, one of the driest places in the world. Though the desert’s industry has been making crucial contributions to national income for two centuries, Chileans have positioned the region as their faraway periphery. Today, the desert “wanders south,” encroaching both climatically and ideologically on Chilean society. Chile’s temperate central provinces including the capital of Santiago have in recent years felt the tightening grip of extreme drought. In this context Chilean citizens discuss drafting a new constitutional paragraph to protect glacial and permafrost environments in order to maintain the little ground water there is in the desert’s aquifers. Moreover, cities on the edge of the desert have been marked out for desalination plants. Like the constitutional reforms, this public sector infrastructure binds the desertic north of Chile to the country at large. In her talk, historian Andrea Westermann gives a fuller picture of these entangled histories and explains the elemental shifts in the Atacama mining desert’s relations not only with Chile but also with its neighbouring landscapes, the Pacific, and the Andes.

Image: Nicolás Gutiérrez at Unsplash