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Message posted on 19/07/2022

CFP: Terraforming Terra

Call for Papers: Green Transitions Workshop at the Greenhouse, University of Stavanger, Norway

November 11-12 2022

Terraforming Terra

Organisers: Charlotte Wrigley (University of Stavanger); Adam Searle (Universit de Lige); Jonathon Turnbull (University of Cambridge)

Terraforming has traditionally been understood to refer to planets beyond Earth, and the processes necessary to make them habitable for human life. But as the climate crisis renders life on Earth increasingly precarious - desertifying agricultural lands, drying up water supplies and destroying ecosystems - what we understand to be a habitable planet needs rethinking. Some of the proposed solutions to the crisis can be defined as geoengineering: the practice of altering Earth processes to create a greener, more comfortable, and survivable planet for humanity; in other words, terraforming. Examples of terraforming might range from planetary wide - and irreversible - schemes such as solar radiation management, to smaller, gentler actions such as gardening.

Debate in the Environmental Humanities has largely - and correctly - pointed towards the ethical and political issues with geoengineering, and the hubris that so often accompanies the Anthropocenes designation of humans as top geologic agents (Buck, 2019; Hamilton, 2013). Who gets to decide which geoengineering technologies are implemented, and whose perspectives are incorporated (or not) into world building projects and technofix solutionism are of key concern, particularly to Indigenous Peoples whose terraformable lands have been colonised (Powys Whyte, 2018). Nevertheless, it is necessary to grapple with the uncomfortable reality that soon it will be too late to maintain a stable climate. Our future survival will likely (and, indeed, already does) depend on terraforming in some capacity; through this workshop, we wish to interrogate the potential tensions - or ways forward - of this future. What technologies could be sanctioned for Earthly terraforming, and how can we ensure they are implemented fairly and safely? How do we resist these technologies merely maintaining the status quo of unfettered capitalism, colonialism, and fossil fuel reliance?

We invite participants with a range of perspectives addressing the changing and contested nature of terraforming. By bringing together scientists and practitioners involved in its implementation, designers and artists speculating on future worlds, and humanities scholars revealing planetary heterogeneity, this workshop will facilitate critical and creative discussions on terraforming technologies. What can we learn from each other? What does it mean to make a planet habitable to terraform it? By holding these conversations through the workshop, we will foster connections and collaborations across disciplines, and find common ground for our common world.

We welcome papers that engage with the following non-exhaustive themes:

  • The ethics and politics of terraforming

  • Indigenous knowledges and perspectives on terraforming

  • Other-than-humans as terraformers

  • Terraforming of under and outer worlds

  • Geoengineering and technological fixes

  • Agriculture and food systems, including water, irrigation, and gardening

  • Rewilding and conservation

  • Terraforming experiments (biospheres, terrariums etc)

  • Blue terraforming and oceanic perspectives

  • Architecture and design - imagining the terraforming of the future

  • Creative approaches to terraforming - sci fi, speculative futures, art

This workshop will be fully funded (travel, accommodation, food) by the Green Transitions project at the University of Stavanger. Spaces are therefore limited, but we will be offering a hybrid format to improve accessibility. Please indicate if you would like to attend in-person or online, or would be willing to participate online if your abstract is not chosen for in-person attendance.

Send abstracts of no more than 250 words to by the 2nd September 2022.

Dr Charlotte Wrigley Postdoctoral research fellow in environmental history The Greenhouse, University of Stavanger, Norway Email: Twitter: @Wrigley_CA

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