Climate exodus: hope, refusals and acts of defiance during uneasy times

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The UON Environmental Humanities Network invites you to a screening of David Baute’s award winning film Climate Exodus (2020), followed by a seminar that seeks to explore localised responses to climate change and ruin.

We live in an uneasy time; a time marked by disasters, tragedy and ruin that challenges our relationships to place and time. Increasingly, a common awareness is emerging of how capitalist progress, growth and development walk hand in hand with experiences of dispossession, displacement and disjuncture. Climate change and environmental destruction are two consequences of the accelerated change that have followed neoliberal globalisation and left the world ‘overheated’ (Eriksen 2016) and unable to sustain life as we know it.

The UON Environmental Humanities Network invites you to a seminar that seeks to explore localised responses to climate change and ruin. The seminar will take as its starting point the ethnographic film Climate Exodus by David Baute, which narrates the tragedy of three women who have lost everything due to climate change and emigrate to start a new life. Drawing on the stories of the film, Hedda Askland will discuss how we can understand displacement in the context of climate change and the political implications of framing displacement in particular ways. This will lead to a panel discussion in which Hedda Askland is joined by Randi Irwin and Milo Kei in conversation about displacement, hope and defiance as it emerges across their three different research fields amongst coal affected communities in the Upper Hunter and Mid-Western regions of New South Wales, the self-managed Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria, and young climate activists in New South Wales and Victoria. We will ask the questions: what happens if we change our lens for a focus on ruin and destruction to hope and defiance? Is there hope and liveliness in contexts otherwise subsumed in an external diagnosis of ruiniation?

About the presenters:

Dr Hedda Haugen Askland

Dr Hedda Haugen Askland is a social anthropologist whose research centres on questions of exile and displacement, home, identity and belonging. Whilst her early work looked at how political and social conflicts in home countries shape everyday realities, communities and identities of former refugees, her current research focusses on the meeting between large-scale industry and small rural communities. Through ethnographic research, she investigates how mining, energy, land use and land use change relate to place, power, home and exile, paying particular attention to the intersection of mythology, ontology and ecology in the establishment of people’s experiences of self and other.

Dr Randi Irwin

Dr. Randi Irwin is a Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Newcastle. Her primary research, which was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), focuses on the political, legal, and financial contestation over natural resource ownership and decolonisation in Western Sahara. Her work has recently been published in Citizenship Studies, London Review of International Law and the Journal of North African Studies. Randi is a board member of the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology

Milo Kei

Milo is a PhD candidate, casual academic and Faculty Medal recipient in Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Newcastle. His ongoing research examines the prevalence of social stratification among School Strike for Climate activists, individual practices of political participation and levels of political engagement of young environmental protesters in the Hunter region. Connected to local community and environmental organisations, Milo’s research is driven by social concerns about the efficacy, accessibility and sustainability of social movements in Australia (and the globe).

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5 September 2022
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm AEST
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University of Newcastle
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