The Nordic Network for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies (NIES) in partnership with the Department of English and the Centre for Environment and Development Studies (CEMUS) at Uppsala University are pleased to sponsor a major interdisciplinary research symposium in Uppsala featuring 30 researchers from 10 countries collectively representing more than a dozen academic disciplines.
Titled Counter Nature(s): Revising Nature in an Era of Environmental Crisis, this international symposium has been made possible in large measure through the generous support of The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond), as well as through the local support of Kungl. Humanistiska Vetenskaps-Samfundet i Uppsala, the Forum for Advanced Studies in Arts, Languages and Theology (SALT), the CEMUS Research Forum (CEFO) and the American Literature Research Section of the Department of English at Uppsala University.
By design the title Counter Nature(s) is at one and the same time suggestive and elusive, expressive in no small degree of the present moment of environmental crisis and revaluation. The focuses of research papers to be delivered at the symposium range from alternative conceptions of nature and the natural that have emerged in response to environmental crisis and/or modernity to contested/oppositional environmental spaces; indeed, the latter may include anything from physical landscapes to discursive/imaginative spaces in which challenges to prevalent understandings of nature have begun to emerge. The Counter Nature(s) theme can thus extend to include virtual nature, engineered nature or urban/suburban/industrialized landscapes (e.g. the ecosystems of cities, parks, residential developments, industrial areas, even toxic environments). Together these examples express in some measure the multivalent potential of Counter Nature(s) as a productive research theme. Among other things the symposium seeks to initiate a fruitful series of cross-disciplinary conversations that may help to suggest renewed or innovative theorizations of nature, perhaps the most abiding motif of art and literature, and the most fundamental of scientific and philosophical concepts.
Confirmed keynote speakers (and the lectures they are scheduled to deliver) include:
• Lawrence Buell, Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature, Harvard University, USA: "The Uses and Abuses of Environmental Memory"
• Ursula Heise, Professor of American and European Literature and Director of the Program in Modern Thought and Literature, Stanford University, USA: "After Nature: Contemporary Cultures and the Challenge of Species Extinction"
• David Nye, Professor of History, Center for American Studies, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark: "Anti-Landscapes: The Discovery and Recognition of Unlivable Spaces"
• Sverker Sörlin, Professor of Environmental History, KTH: The Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden: "Reversing the Reserves: Reinterpretations of Protected Nature from the Wild to the Urban"
Other researchers recruited to participate in the Counter Nature(s) symposium represent a wide range of disciplines and fields in the humanities and social sciences, including: American History, American Literature, Animal Studies, Communication Studies, Comparative Literature, Curriculum Studies, English Literature, Environmental Ethics, Environmental History, Environmental Policy Studies, Ethnology, European History, History of Ideas, History of Technology, Landscape Architecture, Landscape Studies, Linguistics, Religious Studies, Social Anthropology, Sociology, Swedish Literature and Swedish History.
The conference program will begin at approximately 9 AM on Friday 20 November and end at 5 PM on Sunday 22 November; in between these time frames the event will offer three full days of stimulating discourse, as well as two evenings of cultural events and social activities. In the aggregate three to four hours of breaks in the program will be scheduled each day for lunch, coffee, light snacks and refreshments, or for excursions into town or around the university’s environs (not counting the more relaxed social activities planned for the evenings).
The organizers are pleased to welcome auditing participants to the symposium. A downloadable registration form will be accessible here on the Counter Nature(s) website from the last week of August 2009. Advance registration is required for both active participants and auditing participants.
• The advance registration period begins 31 August and closes 2 October 2009 (registration fee 900 KR).
• The late registration period begins 3 October and closes 15 November 2009 (late registration fee 1200 KR).
Both the conference venues and the hotel where conference speakers will lodge (Akademihotellet of Uppsala University) are located within a 15-minute walk of Uppsala Central Railway Station, which is itself only a 15-minute ride on the airport express shuttle from Stockholm Arlanda International Airport (this shuttle runs several times an hour). The regional train between Stockholm Central Railway Station and Uppsala Central Railway Station takes roughly 40 minutes and also runs typically several times an hour.
Please revisit this website throughout the late summer and early autumn for updates on the upcoming symposium, including information on hotels, local transportation alternatives and how to find the symposium venues.
A preliminary version of the Counter Nature(s) program as well as further information for confirmed active participants can be accessed on this webpage.
Queries concerning the Counter Nature(s) event should be directed to the symposium’s principal organizer and convener, Steven Hartman ( steven.hartman[at]engelska.uu.se ).