Where: Georgetown University
This one-day workshop will explore African Environments and their Populations. Humanistic approaches to the study of environments over the last several decades opened intellectual space for new fields of humanities and social science research on topics like climate change. Indeed, the anthropocentric approach dominates both environmental and climate studies in disciplines ranging from history to anthropology to critical theory. Consensus is growing around the value of concepts like the Anthropocene and the place of the humanities and social sciences in contributing to the research agenda undergirding policy about the environment and the changing climate. But, these developments have generally unfolded in isolation from other developments in the humanities and related fields that take seriously the study of non-human populations of environments, often in changing climate regimes. Scholars in a number of humanistic disciplines have recognized the need to study animals, pathogens, and even trees through humanities approaches. New thematic fields of research (and journals) are emerging for these approaches, of which the best known is Animal Studies. We seek to put into conversation traditionally anthropocentric approaches to the study of African environments—including under new and historical climate regimes—with emerging humanities approaches to the many other kinds of non-human populations that also live in African environments. We hope some of these connections will emerge in individual papers, while others will develop as we draw out links between papers during the workshop. We are thrilled to feature the scholarship of confirmed speakers Nancy Jacobs and Sandra Swart as well as the participation of a cohort of Georgetown colleagues who work in environmental humanities beyond the African context.