Drafts of the below papers have been completed and are awaiting publication. Please get in touch if you’d like to see any of them.
A Bird, a Flock, a Song and a Forest
For a journal.
Authored by Thom van Dooren, Zoë Sadokierski, Myles Oakey, Sam Widin, Timo Rissanen, and Ross Crates.
The south-eastern corner of the Australian continent was once criss-crossed by the nomadic flight paths of the Regent Honeyeater. For hundreds of thousands of years, they winged their way up and down this vast continent. Today, however, the species is listed as critically endangered and is just clinging to existence. This multimedia essay tells the story of this decline, exploring the complex, co-shaping, relationships between individual birds and their flocks, their songs, and their forests. While these are relationships that might be glossed as being social, cultural, and ecological (respectively), and so belonging to separate domains of life, they are in reality delicately interwoven elements of what it is to be a Regent Honeyeater; relationships that, taken together, have been integral to the emergence and ongoing life of this species. In attending to the breakdown of these relationships in our present time, this essay seeks to develop new resources for storying loss in a time of ongoing extinctions. Bringing text into conversation with images and audio, the essay works to draw the reader/viewer/listener into an encounter with an unravelling world. Ultimately, our aim has been to create an essay in which the conceptual ideas, the design, and the biology of the species described, are brought into some sort of alignment that allows them to become mutually reinforcing elements of a storied encounter. Our reflection on the process of creating this essay are provided in the accompanying exegetical commentary.
Military Snails: Multispecies Solidarities in Hawai‘i
For Environmental Humanities in Oceania and the Pacific Islands, Rebecca H. Hogue and Craig Santos Perez (eds.), University of Washington Press.
Mākua Valley on the island of O‘ahu is a place in which snail conservation, the US Army, and Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) claims to access land and cultural sites, are all brought into dynamic tension. Over roughly the past 100 years, the Army have used this valley for live-fire and other exercises, excluding people while also blowing up and burning the habitat of critically endangered land snails and other species. Snails and some local people are drawn together here into a powerful multispecies solidarity centered on efforts to conserve the biological and cultural heritage of this place in the context of deep histories and ongoing realities of both colonization and militarization. In telling this story, this chapter aims to draw out how the history of struggles over this valley was shaped by a particular snail species, Achatinella mustelina: by its specific evolution, life history, and ecology. In so doing, it aims to highlight the importance of multispecies solidarities, of the particular possibilities that different, other-than-human, beings open up and foreclose as allies in struggles for more livable worlds.
Ethical conference economies?: Reimagining the costs of convening academic communities when moving online
Authored by Bastian, M., Flatø, E. H., Baraitser, L., Jordheim, H., Salisbury, L., & van Dooren, T. Forthcoming in The Geographical Journal.
Online conferences are widely thought to reduce many of the ‘costs’ of convening academic communities. From lower carbon emissions, lower fees, less difficult in attending (particularly for marginalised researchers), and greater accessibility, virtual events promise to address many of the issues that in-person events take for granted. In this article, we draw on a community economies framing from geographers J.K. Gibson-Graham to argue for centring the work of convening within efforts to explore ‘reparative possibilities’ within the academy. Reflecting on the changing costs arising from moving, an originally in-person conference series, online, we argue for embracing the opportunities offered. We explore how organising teams might enact alternative values through allocating the material, financial and labour resources traditionally spent for these events differently. We look particularly at how our carbon and financial costs changed, and how, by retaining a fee, we were able to allocate our budgets in ways which redistributed the surplus to participants in need (rather than bolster conference centre profits). We then explore what these changing costs meant in terms of our attendance levels across career stages and geographical locations. Looking at whether our experiment resulted in increased support for online events, we examine the continued ambivalence felt for the virtual. Finally, while we largely explore the benefits of online options, our last section urges caution over assumptions that this move will result in a more sustainable academia, particularly given the intensifications surrounding high quality streaming video, and suggest that we treat current trends as ongoing experiments, rather than solutions.