Standing in place: Thinking with plants, corals, macro algae and fungi, and other (mostly) sedentary beings

How are species adapting to increasing environmental change and how is this transforming concepts of mobility, belonging, and connection to place?

A growing body of work in the environmental humanities and multispecies studies is grounded in the understanding that “passionate immersion” in the lives of other species might provide a foundation for the new ethical and political imaginaries needed in these Anthropocene times. SEI’s 2023 Environmental Humanities Visiting Scholar, Professor Sebastián Ureta, will join us for this special workshop which will focus on a select group of organisms to foreground questions of mobility, belonging, and connection to place. Participants will share stories of plants, corals, macro algae, fungi, and other organisms that are, in one way or another, rooted in place, and as such tend not to move around very much in their life cycles.

How could the fields of environmental humanities and multispecies justice be expanded by focusing on creatures who don’t travel around a landscape as part of their daily lives? What forms of adaptation and transformation, including inter-generational movement, are these more sedentary organisms exploring, and what are the consequences for their larger more-than-human communities?

If you’re interested in presenting your research at this event, please contact Thom van Dooren (thom.van.dooren@sydney.edu.au) to discuss. We’d like this to be a generative workshop with plenty of time for feedback and discussion, so work-in-progress papers are particularly encouraged. If you would like to come along to be part of the audience and discussion, please register via Eventbrite.

This event was held at the University of Sydney on Tuesday 16 May 2023.


Sebastián Ureta, sociologist

Sebastián Ureta is Professor at Departmento de Sociología, Universidad Alberto Hurtado. Using STS and environmental humanities conceptual frames, he studies the frictions of environmental governance in the Anthropocene. He is the author of Assembling Policy: Transantiago, Human Devices, and the Dream of a World-Class Society (MIT Press 2015) and, along with Patricio Flores, Worlds of Gray and Green: Mineral Extraction as Ecological Practice (UC Press 2022).

Thom van Dooren (Chair), environmental humanities expert

Thom van Dooren is an Associate Professor in the School of Humanities and Deputy Director – Member Engagement at the Sydney Environment Institute. His research is situated in the broad interdisciplinary field of the environmental humanities and focuses on some of the many philosophical, ethical, cultural, and political issues that arise in the context of species extinctions and human entanglements with threatened species and places.


Header image: Image by Adrien Converse via Unsplash.

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