Speaker: Sverker Sörlin Professor of Environmental History, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
The Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies and the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge are pleased to host the Arctic Environmental Humanities Workshop Series.
As the Arctic gains greater visibility among academics and diverse publics, we see an urgent need for humanities scholars to help shape the current debates and research priorities too often limited to the natural and social sciences. This rise in awareness of Arctic issues coincides with widespread academic initiatives in the emerging interdisciplinary field of environmental humanities. These growing interests in the Arctic and in the environmental humanities are in turn both catalyzed by the climate crisis; the urgency of this crisis is central to, but not exhaustive of, our collective commitment to Arctic environmental humanities (AEH).
In the first two decades of the present century, we have seen a growth of what has been called the “integrative humanities.” Looking back at the politics of frugality and various symptoms of crisis, humanities scholars and institutions around the world have looked for new agendas. These have varied, but a common feature has often been the idea that relevance and a sense of purpose have increased when different strands of humanities have organized themselves into intellectual and issue-oriented alliances around, for example, environment, climate, natural resources, rights issues, health, and sustainable development. In this respect, the Arctic, or the Poles, may be seen as an issue area, rather than as just a region among other regions, or as just the object of a set of disciplinary practices, like any topic. Arctic knowledge production remains dominated by the sciences while the issues that are looking for answers are, by and large, societal and cultural, and indeed also political. This talk will explore how the humanities can articulate the desire for a stronger presence in polar research and, despite some progress (mostly limited to certain disciplines), illustrate how we have not yet reached as far as we can.