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Symposium: "Eco-temporalities and Geo-politics"
October 13 & 14, 2022 (U of Cologne)

The workshop "Eco-temporalities and Geo-politics" takes place in cooperation with MESH and is co-funded by the Competence Area IV, University of Cologne, and the AG Eco Media. 

Organizers: Verena Wurth, Friederike Ahrens, Sarah Mund, Lorenzo Gineprini, Felix Lussem (members of the Environmental Humanities Reading Group of a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School)

Venue: a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne, Room Skyfall

For Zoom login, please contact ehrg-artes@uni-koeln.de

Conference Program

First day: Thurday 13 of October

9:30 - 10:00

Coffee and registration

10:00 - 10:45

Opening and greetings by Kate Rigby (MESH) and Andreas Speer (a.r.t.e.s.)

10:45 -  11:00


11:00 - 12:30 

Panel Eco-Aesthetics I

  • Max Walther and Shirin Weigelt (Bauhaus- Universität Weimar): "Singing along a multiplicity called mountain - Etel Adnan’s poe-politics of Mount Tamalpais"
  • Astrid Schrader (University of Exeter): "Caring with Haunted Marine Microbes"
  • Gregorio Tenti (Università degli Studi di Torino): "The Untimely Earth: Geotraumatics for Terraformers"

12:30 - 13:30 

Lunch at Bistro Lindenthal - Herbert-Lewin-Straße 650931 Köln

13:30 - 15:00 

Panel Eco-Conflicts

  • Katie Kung (Rachel Carson Center, Munich): "Fatberg: The Monstrosity of Immediacy"
  • Christoph Lange (Universität zu Köln): "Mediterranean Critical Zones: Lines of Contradiction: Ecological and Social Collapse in the Mediterranean"
  • Alessandro Volpi (Università Vita e Salute San Raffaele): "Beyond Neoliberal Presentism: An Eco-Temporality for the Anthropocene"

15:00 - 15:30 


15:30 - 17:00 

Keynote Lecture by Michelle Bastian (University of Edinburgh): Engaging with phenology to sense more-than-human climate change temporalities

17:00 - 17:30 

Closing session


Second day: Friday 14 of October

10:00 - 10:30


10:30 - 12:00

Panel Eco-Justice

  • Kylie Crane (University of Rostock): "Absences, Presences, and Nuclear Detonations"
  • Grace Garland: (University of Edinburgh): "Exposing and resisting the inevitable destruction of other-than-human beings in climate justice theory"
  • Lakshmi Chithra Dilipkumar (Universität Augsburg) and Grinjo Joseph (University of Tezpur): "Temporal Spectres and Spatial Violence: Slow Violence, Environmental Injustice and the Supernatural in Samanta Schweblin's Fever Dream and Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar's The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey"

12:00 -  13:00

Lunch at the "Skyfall" room

13:00 - 14:30 

Panel Eco-Aesthetics II

  • Noa Levin (Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin): "Walter Benjamin’s Ecocriticism and Catastrophic Temporalities"
  • Maxime McKenna (Freie Universität Berlin): "Neo-Noir’s Strange Loops: Infrastructure and the (Filmic) Past in Chinatown and Who Framed Roger Rabbit"
  • James Dorson (LMU Munich/Freie Universität Berlin): "Beyond Resilience: Ecopoetics and Its Limits in Juliana Spahr’s The Transformation and Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future"

14:30 - 15:00 


15:00 - 16:00

Recap and closing remarks



“This is an age in which new ghosts, new monsters, new fears, new hopes haunt the imagination of what used to be called ‘the future’ but is actually ‘the present,’ above all for peoples of all living species and other Terran entities who endure in a large part of the world now.” (Eduardo Viveiros de Castro 2019: S296)

“The Anthropocene has reversed the temporal order of modernity: those at the margins are now the first to experience the future that awaits all of us.” (Amitav Ghosh 2016: 62-63)


Our current eco-social crises are rooted in a progressivist and productionist temporality, a narrative that often entails restless techno-capitalist advancements and a blinkered focus on future profits on a global scale. In our workshop “Eco-temporalities and Geo-politics”, we seek to develop different modes of thinking about and engaging with these discourses.

In our workshop we want to consider these ideas intersectionally and connect them with past, present and future aspects of environmental racism as well as human and nonhuman displacement beyond nationalist imaginaries of climate migration. What humans might experience as slow violence can, in geological timescales, be a sudden intrusion that entangles human history with planetary history in unforeseen ways. With “anthropogenic” climate change, the earth system itself - or Geos - has transformed from a stable background for human action to a political actor on all imaginable scales. In this sense, we understand geo-politics not as territorial interests of nation-states but as a terrestrial endeavor. What can a politics of “Nonlife” (Povinelli 2016) and “animacies” (Chen 2012) look like beyond the solutionist tunnel vision of technical feasibility? Can we go beyond linear understandings of time by framing eco-social crises as cyclical, repetitive catastrophes? Can slow arts of noticing temporal diversity (Tsing 2015) and paying attention (Stengers et al. 2013) contradict the urgency to act that is imposed on us by the geological crisis? How can we accurately account for the tensions between figurations of the “bigger picture” and localized problems, and vice versa? In our workshop we will explore how the Environmental Humanities can contribute to these questions and how they can include the geological/terrestrial along the ecological/environmental.