Workshop I

1a. Dolly Jørgensen (University of Stavanger)

Narrating the City as a Multi-Species Space

In this workshop, we will discuss the idea of living with animals in urban communities. Humans live (and have historically lived) in multispecies cities: human structures and infrastructures serve as animal homes, our food becomes their food, and companions come in all biological forms. This calls for reflections about the way that cities have been and can be designed to accommodate wild co-inhabitants. Rather than framing this as rewilding the city, this colloquium will challenge participants to recognize the wild that already is and has been in the city through the concepts of control, care, cultivation, and creativity. This workshop will include a walking component to observe the multispecies city in the area and a sharing session afterward.

1b. Arupjyoti Saikia
(IIT Guwahati)

Rivers in the Historical Imagination

Can we write a biography of a river? Why does a river need a biography? What can we expect to get from such an exercise? What is the place of the river in our historical imagination? How much one can draw from disciplines which are beyond the conventional archives? Are rivers agents of historical changes? This workshop will bring together the experience of writing a biography of the one of world’s turbulent river as well as methodological challenges that one encounters in such an exercise.

1c. Keijiro Suga (Meiji University)
Reading the Animals in Miyazawa Kenji
Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933) is one of the major figures in Japan’s literary modernism. Although he died young and was not widely known at the time of his death, his posthumous fame has grown unparalleled. Now he is widely considered one of the most important poets and visionaries in modern Japan. A teacher at an agricultural school in the poor Northeast and an ardent Buddhist in the school of Nichiren, he had a cosmic sense of life that unites all beings in an ecological interconnectedness. And this becomes a basis for his peculiar ethics and view of the world. Principally a poet, he also wrote many stories seemingly for children yet in fact are written for grown-ups as well. In them he depicts the reciprocity of life, interspecific relations, animistic interactions, humans’ invasion into a land, vegetarianism, Buddhist compassion, and other topics. The stories are short enough to read and reread closely and see their narrative structures clearly. His stories, even today, offer many moments that invite us to think differently about the world, the wild, and maybe the sacred.
Workshop II
2a. Chia-ju Chang, (Brooklyn College)
Smog Life Outside the Dome: The Possibility of Aerophilia in the Anthropocene
In this workshop, we zoom in on the toxic matter we call “smog” (wumai) as a site of cross-cultural ecocritical inquiry and a grassroots cultural phenomenon I call “smog life.” We will first survey a wide spectrum of smog-themed literary and artistic texts in contemporary China to explore the way in which writers, artists and filmmakers engage with one of the most serious ecodisasters of the present time. We will then move to “smog life.” Smog life refers to a seemingly “ecoambiguous” habitus in which the toxicity of the air is recognized but the awareness of it has not become the central principle structuring one’s daily life. Smog life involves activities such as practicing taiji or qigong on a smog day, or taking smog photography. In this workshop, we will explore the following questions concerning smog life: why would one practice taiji on a smog day? How one can appreciate the apparent “smog photography” (wumai sheying) with full cognizance of the harmfulness of particulate matter? Is the “scientific way of life” (or scientism) promoted by environmentalist smog art a more rational response to smog crisis than that of smog life? Finally, what does smog life on an existential level signify in the very context of the scienticization of life—a practice that turns science into a governing principle of one’s life?
2b. Ursula Heise,(UCLA)
Biodiversity and Narrative
This workshop will focus on storytelling about evolution, biodiversity, bioabundance, speciation, extinction, and endangered species. We will discuss cross-cultural differences in storytelling about biodiversity and loss of species in particular. How do stories about emerging or vanishing animal and plant species differ in different cultures, and why? What historical memories are connected to such stories? What narrative templates do they use? What social, cultural or political functions are they meant to serve? We will also discuss how storytelling about biodiversity corresponds to actual conservation practices.
2c. Jon Christensen (UCLA)
The Anthropocene and Environmental Justice
This workshop will focus on two important concepts at the center of contemporary environmental change and narratives. We will discuss how environmental justice globally and locally complicates narratives of the Anthropocene. While the Anthropocene focuses on humanity as a whole, environmental justice focuses on inequalities in how different people cause environmental harms and others experience the negative impacts of those harms, as well as differential access to the positive benefits of nature. We will also ask whether environmental justice should include nonhumans in the Anthropocene, and if so, how. We will critically read a variety of fiction and nonfiction narratives and explore how environmental justice locally and globally sometimes troubles Anthropocene narratives of nature, and at other times makes those narratives more urgent, real, and compelling.

2020 Imagining Nature in the Anthropocene

National Chung Hsing University
145 Xingda Rd., South Dist., Taichung City 402, Taiwan (R.O.C.)