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Flows and Floods: Changing Environments and Cultures

An Interdisciplinary Conference at the University of Warwick
Saturday 22nd February 2020
Humanities Building (Ground Floor)
Keynote Address: Profs. Dominic Boyer and Cymene Howe (Rice University)
"Of Flood and Ice: Hydrological Globalization and the Rise of Water"
Funded by the Humanities Research Centre (HRC)

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This conference examines the relationship between cultural production and environmental change through the rubric of two related critical terms: flows and floods. A flow – a steady current or stream – is perhaps the defining metaphor of the contemporary world; academic and popular discourse alike is replete with references to the flow of goods, money, energy, information, wealth, resources, and cultures. These flows connect and shape people and places, states and societies, in uneven and unequal fashion. In the current Anthropocene era – where human activity has had significant geological and environmental impact – the stability of these flows is increasingly called into question. The world’s enmeshed currents of wealth, resources and biophysical processes over-flow into destructive literal and metaphorical floods. In times of crisis, flows of energy, people, commodities, and climate become oil spills, ‘tidal waves’ of migrants, flooded markets, and storms. Our conference, therefore, looks to generate discussions of the variety of ways literal and metaphorical flows and floods are represented, registered, and imagined in various forms of cultural production.

The conference will include papers that engage with the fields of environmental humanities, energy humanities, ecocriticism and/or postcolonial studies, as well as new and emergent interdisciplinary methodologies. Papers include but are not limited to the following topics:

  • Flows and floods in world-literature
  • The anthropocene, capitalocene, and world-ecology
  • Petroculture, extractivism, and energy crisis
  • Foodways, food systems, and food imaginaries
  • The shaping and limiting of flows in state-building and environment-making
  • Migration, borders, and boundaries
  • Environmental, energy, and cultural transitions
  • Green imperialism, sacrifice zones, and vernacular/indigenous environmentalism
  • Cultural geographies and histories of rivers, dams, pipelines, shipping networks, etc.
  • Financial flows, capital flight, and enclave zones
  • Oceanic studies and hydrocultures
  • Circulation, exchanges, and flows of culture and religion

Organised by: Nora Castle, Amul Gyawali, Harry Pitt Scott (Dept. of English and Comparative Literary Studies)

Three image collage showing different representations of floods and flows

flowsandfloods at gmail dot com

About the organisers:

Nora Castle works on food imaginaries and the environment in contemporary speculative fiction.

Amul Gyawali works on the environmental imaginaries of states and societies in South Asia.

Harry Pitt Scott works on energy and finance in world-literature.