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Joni Adamson | “What We Can Learn from Pink Dolphins: Key Tensions, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Environmental Humanities”

Event Type
Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities
IPRH Lecture Hall, Levis Faculty Center, Fourth Floor (919 West Illinois Street, Urbana, IL) 
Nov 15, 2018   4:00 pm  
Originating Calendar
Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH)

“What We Can Learn from Pink Dolphins: Key Tensions, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Environmental Humanities.” An Environmental Humanities Lecture by Joni Adamson (English and Environmental Humanities, Arizona State University)

In the Amazon basin, it is still common to hear stories about underwater cities of pink dolphins where fishes (and sometimes humans) live happy, luxurious lives. These stories are based on the lives of an endangered species of freshwater pink dolphin that lives in the Amazon River and is known for its friendliness and lack of caution. In this lecture, Joni Adamson will examine the presence of these dolphins in a genre of indigenous oral tale known as “Yakuruna” stories that played a role in winning the dolphin legal rights to survival in Bolivia in 2012, aiming to illustrate how the disciplines of literary criticism, history, and philosophy and other fields have, since the 1990s, been asserting the powerful communicative and transformative role of storytelling in addressing environmental perceptions, and how this focus has been central to the creation of the rapidly expanding field of the environmental humanities, or what she names “humanities of the environment.” Further, she will explore the idea of “humanities for the environment," a new movement in the field taking form in a 21st century, pluralist, experimental ethos as numerous research initiatives, funding schemes, journals, and teaching programs are being created around the world, and will outline some of the key tensions, challenges, and opportunities for this solutions-oriented, interdisciplinary, intergenerational, and publicly-engaged work for the environment.

Joni Adamson

Joni Adamson is Professor of English and Environmental Humanities and Director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University.  She is a 2018-2019 fellow at the National Humanities Center and served as the 2012 President of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE).  She currently serves as Convener of the North American Observatory, one of the international hubs of the Humanities for the Environment network.  She has written or edited seven books and special issues and over 70 articles, chapters and reviews including, most recently, Humanities for the Environment (Routledge 2017); Ecocriticism and Indigenous Studies—Conversations from Earth to Cosmos (Routledge 2017); and Keywords for Environmental Studies (New York University Press, 2016).

Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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