*POSTPONED* Activist Scholarship in the Environmental Humanities

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Activist Scholarship in the Environmental Humanities: Contradictions and Possibilities

Host: Environmental Humanities Network at UofT

*POSTPONED* When: Fri, 20 March 2020, 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT

Where: Jackman Humanities Institute, 170 Saint George Street, Room 614, Toronto, Ontario


In a moment marked by rising temperatures, resurging fascist governments, unlawful colonial occupations of Indigenous land, and more, it often feels like academic discourse in the humanities is taking place in a glass bubble. With the increasing momentum and scale of direct actions for environmental justice in Canada and worldwide, we ask ourselves: what is the point of acquiring and generating knowledge in the humanities while the planet burns?

This panel engages undergrad, post-grad, and faculty perspectives to ask if academic work can be a form of environmental action. We’ll pull at many tensions inherent in the academic/activist binary and ask: How do academics become activists or organizers and vice versa? What are the institutional or logistical barriers to organizing? Or, what are the barriers that exclude or discourage community organizers from entering academic spaces?

Our speakers, scholars and students in the environmental humanities and social sciences, will critique the term “activism” from their points of view as both academics and organizers who are fighting for Indigenous sovereignty, racial and migrant justice, and citizen empowerment in the era of climate emergency. Join us for this urgent conversation about the present and future of activism in the environmental humanities and beyond.

The panel will be held from 12-2 PM on Friday, March 20, in Room 614 of the Jackman Humanities Building at the University of Toronto. The building is wheelchair accessible with elevators. There are gender-neutral washrooms accessible from the building’s ground floor. The closest subway station is St. George Station, with an exit from the station directly across the street from the Jackman Bulding.

Panel Speakers:

Dr. Deborah McGregor: As a Canada Research Chair, cross-appointed with Osgoode Hall Law School and the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Professor McGregor has been at the forefront of Indigenous environmental justice and Indigenous research theory and practice. Over the years, she has achieved international recognition through her creative and innovative approach using digital and social media to reach Indigenous communities and the public. Her work has been shared through the IEJ project website https://iejproject.info.yorku.ca/ and UKRI International Collaboration on Indigenous research https://www.indigenous.ncrm.ac.uk/

Dr. Jennifer Baker received her doctorate in English Literature and Canadian Studies from the University of Ottawa in 2019. Her SSHRC-funded dissertation, “Like a Virgil: Georgic Ontologies of Agrarian Work in Canadian Literature,” focused on the georgic mode’s historical and present cultural intersections in Canadian literary representations of agricultural work and the technical and political actualities of agriculture in Canada. She currently works full time as the National Administrative and Communications Coordinator for the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, a national environmental charity working to empower people to protect and repair healthy ecosystems and shape effective environmental policy. She also works part-time as a professor at the University of Ottawa and as a poet. Her first chapbook, Abject Lessons, was published in 2014 by above/ground press and her creative writing and reviews have appeared in various literary publications including Dusie, Ottawater, The Bull Calf, and The Journal of Canadian Poetry and Canadian Literature. Her article, ““Resituating Kroetsch: Accident and the Provisional Georgic in Robert Kroetsch’s ‘The Ledger,’” was recently published in Kroetsch: Novelist-Essayist-Poet (2020).

Cricket Cheng is an uninvited guest on Dish with One Spoon territory. They are a student at the University of Toronto and organise with climate, labour, and migrant justice movements in the city, including Climate Justice Toronto and the Fight for $15 and Fairness.

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