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Un/Building the Future: The Country and The City in the Anthropocene

Un/Building the Future: The Country and The City in the Anthropocene

14, 15 & 16 June 2023 | University of Warwick, UK

 Conference ProgrammeLink opens in a new window (updated 12/06/2023)

Conference ScheduleLink opens in a new window

Conference registration is now closed. Thank you for your interest!

Keynote Speakers

Dr Amy ButtLink opens in a new window (School of Architecture, University of Reading, UK)

Dr Fabienne VialaLink opens in a new window (School of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Warwick, UK)

Dr Tim WatermanLink opens in a new window (The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, UK)

The climate crisis is inextricably bound up with the divide between the country and the city. It is no accident that the burning of fossil fuels and the urbanisation of the world have advanced in lockstep in recent centuries, while the demands of agribusiness, especially livestock farming, have simultaneously displaced sustainable farming practices and contributed to the emission of greenhouse gasses. The imagination of climate futures is also shaped by the shifting contours of the urban and the rural. Whether it be visions of flooded cities or scorched forests, the future seems to hold destruction for both the city and the country.

Just as the climate crisis has disturbed some of the other dualisms of the modern world (human/nonhuman, nature/culture, and so on), the dichotomy between the city and the country also seems to be increasingly precarious. One thinks of climate fiction imaginaries of abandoned cities being slowly rewilded or experiments in new modes of living (like urban community gardening) that introduce the rustic into the town. Moreover, the conventional connotations of the urban and rural are coming under strain in the Anthropocene; it appears that neither the modernity associated with the city nor the tradition of the countryside will survive the encounter with the wild weather of the future unscathed.

Our interdisciplinary conference, Un/Building the Future: The Country and the City in the Anthropocene, will explore the co-constitution of the urban and rural in the face of the Anthropocene. Raymond Williams’s iconic The Country and the City (1973), which our title alludes to, scrutinised how the emergence of capitalism in the nineteenth century capsized ingrained narratives of urban and rural life. Un/Building the Future is concerned with whether the shifting environmental contours of the twenty-first century are having a similarly radical effect.

We are interested in contributions that examine how the unfolding environmental catastrophe is disturbing and reforming the symbolisations of the country and city, producing new locales, both real and imaginary, that are not quite contained by our traditional spatial horizons. How are the categories of the country and the city morphed by the ecological crisis? What does thinking these concepts together help us to understand about current climate trajectories? Are these ideas of the urban and the rural even viable, or must they be radically rethought? How are the spatial imaginaries of the Anthropocene approached from different perspectives in the field, whether that be feminist, queer, anti-racist, decolonial, Marxist or posthumanist?

Possible topics include but are not limited to:
• Post-apocalyptic spaces
• Climate resilience
• The rural and the (neo)pastoral
• Suburbia and suburban futures
• The future city; eco- and/or smart-cities
• Multispecies design, including urban design and wildlife corridors
• Cultural representations of un/built futures, including in climate fiction, science fiction/speculative fiction, solarpunk, Afro- and African futurism, Indigenous futurism, Chicano futurism, etc. in any media (novel, short story, graphic novels, podcasts, videogames, fanfiction, fine art, etc.)
• Gender and sexuality, race, dis/ability, class, and/or national identity and the un/built environment
• Un/built environments in utopias and dystopias, including ecodystopias
• Food systems and their relationship to the country and the city
• Digital infrastructures and their relationship to built infrastructure
• Energy futures and the built environment
• Green transitions/transformations
• Collapse and breakdown


Dr Emrah AtasoyLink opens in a new window

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow (EUTOPIA-SIF COFUND), University of Warwick

Dr Nora CastleLink opens in a new window 

Early Career Fellow, IAS, University of Warwick

Dr Joe DavidsonLink opens in a new window

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University of Warwick

Emellyne Forman

Sustainable Cities GRP, University of Warwick

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