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Conferences Archive (2017-2018)


Political Ecology as Practice:  A Regional Approach to the Anthropocene

November 3-4, 2017

Location: Jane Addams Hull House, 800 S. Halsted Street

Organized by Ömür Harmanşah, UIC Art History and Molly Doane, UIC, Anthropology

This workshop will investigate the reciprocal relationship and the disjunction between the metropolitan theories of the Anthropocene, climate change, and the global environmental crisis on the one side; and the experience of local ecological conflicts in various micro-regions around the world, on the other. The central research question to be collectively addressed will be whether the current vibrant theories of the academic/metropolitan center derive from or get inspired by the multiplicity of regional ecological conflicts experienced today. Conversely we ask, in what particular ways, these theories impact various human communities in their relationship to their land, its resources, biodiversity, and heritage. The workshop will invite participants to discuss global theories of the Anthropocene and its new ontologies of time and materiality, while investigating their links to regional practices and discourses. The workshop includes presentations by UIC faculty and graduate students who will present comparative studies of place-based politics of the environment in regional contexts, delivering the results from their fieldwork in diverse landscapes. These fieldwork initiatives are developed from existing projects of graduate students and faculty at UIC and the collaborating institution(s).

The workshop is designed in conjunction with a Humanities Without Walls award and a joint invitation to Bruno Latour, leading figure in Science and Technology Studies and Professor at Sciences Po (Paris), by the UIC Political Ecologies Working Group and the UIC School of Art and Art History.  The workshop takes place following a Master Class by Bruno Latour and is meant to complement the conversations and the collaborative work taking place.


Sponsored by a Humanities Without Walls Consortium Grant, and UIC units:

Institute for the Humanities; Office of the Dean, ADA College;English; Art and Art History;the Department of Anthropology

Nov 3, 2017

9:00 Welcome and Opening Remarks

Mark Canuel (UIC, Director Institute for the Humanities) – Welcome Remarks

Ömür Harmanşah (UIC, Department of Art History) – Introduction: Political Ecology as Practice: A Regional Approach to the Anthropocene 

9:15 AM – 12:00 PM Plenary Session:  Four Analytical Frameworks for the Anthropocene

Molly Doane (UIC, Anthropology) Chair and moderator-Political ecology from a sociocultural anthropology perspective

David Wise (UIC, Biological Sciences and Institute for Environmental Science and Policy) Ecological Perspectives of Space and Place in the Anthropocene: An Example from Socio-Ecological Research 

Beate Geissler (UIC, Art) – Hopium Economy 

Ralph Cintron (UIC, English and Latin American and Latino Studies) – Mine-Yours-Ours-Theirs: A Preliminary Inquiry into Property Relations in the Anthropocene 

Panel discussion – moderated by Molly Doane

1:30 Reporting from the Field I: Agriculture, Land, and Climate Change

Tannya Islas (UIC, Latin American and Latino Studies) – Working in and through Climate Change: Agricultural Landscapes in Coamiles, Nayarit, Mexico.

Charles Corwin (UIC, Urban Planning and Policy) Knowledge Production and Practice in Industrial Row Crop Farming, Northern Illinois 

Katy Dye (UIC, Department of Anthropology) Climate Change as State Discourse: Conjuring Climate in Bolivia’s Water Crisis. 

Molly Doane (UIC, Anthropology) – Cultivating Chicago: Gardens as Ecological Infrastructures.

2:30 Discussant: Christopher Boyer (UIC, History and Latin American and Latino Studies)

Panel discussion moderated by Christopher Boyer

3:30 Coffee

4:00 Intervention I: Challenges of the Anthropocene

Tracey Heatherington (University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Anthropology) – Assisted Abundance: Viable Ontologies for a Climate Resilient

Max Berkelhammer (UIC, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences) The challenges of detecting global change: Examples from the land, sea and air 

Panel discussion 

 Nov 4: Saturday Morning

9:00 Reporting from the Field II: Disposable Landscapes

Javairia Shahid (UIC, Art History) – Place, Heritage and Resistance in the Wakhan Corridor, Pakistan 

Ian Baird (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Geography), Kanokwan Manorom (Ubon Ratchathani University), Aurore Phenow (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Sirasak Gaja-Svasti(Ubon Ratchathani University), What about the Tributaries of the Tributaries? Fish Migrations, Fisheries, Dams and Local Knowledge along the Sebok River in Northeastern Thailand. 

Alize Arıcan (UIC, Anthropology), The Third Bridge and Northern Forests of Istanbul: A Case of Ecological Resistance. 

Ömür Harmanşah (UIC, Art History)- Disposable Landscapes, Disposable Lives: The Political Ecology of Water in Central Turkey 

10:00 Discussant: Sinan Erensü (Northwestern, Buffett Institute for Global Studies)

Panel discussion moderated by Sinan Erensü

10:45 Coffee

11:00 Final Remarks and Keynote Speech

Bruno Latour (Sciences Po, Paris) Brecht: The Life of Lovelock (40 minutes)

12:15 Lunch

Saturday November 4th, Afternoon

1:00 Field Trip to Southeast Environmental Task Force (South Side of Chicago) and the Calumet River, Petcoke Site

Intervention II: Ecology, Art, and Activism

Conversation at Southeast Environmental Task Force: Petcoke: Tracing Dirty Energy

Speakers: Peggy Salazar (Southeast Environmental Task Force) Brian Holmes (artist) and Terry Evans (artist) (40 minutes)

Moderator: Beate Geissler (UIC, Art)

Guided Walk: Calumet River Industrial Landscape and the Petcoke Site



Critical Theory, Psychoanalysis and the Politics of the Archive in Spanish Cinema”
Organized by Steven Marsh, Hispanic and Italian Studies

Friday, 11/10 9:00 AM to Friday, 11/10 5:00 PM

This workshop will to bring a group of leading scholars currently working on contemporary Spanish visual culture and particularly film to UIC. Its intention is, firstly, to discuss and debate questions of national cinema in an age of globalization. However, it also seeks to defend a theoretical approach to film at a moment when such approaches are under attack within the disciplinary framework of Hispanic Studies. Precisely at a moment in history when the status of the moving image – its indexical relation to reality is being questioned, is when a complex engagement with the materiality of film seems most necessary. The technological changes in the evolution of the filmic image – the so-called digital revolution – raise all kinds of philosophical and political issues regarding filmic representation.

Furthermore, Spain is a country still experiencing the painful and unresolved aftermath of the lengthy dictatorship that followed a brutal civil war. This in turn has led to intense debate around the question of the politics of memory, as expressed through national cinema. These debates have extended to an interrogation of the value of trauma theory and psychoanalysis in ways that establish a division between the psychic and the social, between subjective and shared experiences. In Archive Fever, Jacques Derrida argues that history, tradition and culture already depend on the way the archive is inhabited by specters. Consigned to the spectral, the archive is never only a place of remembering, but is equally oriented towards modes of forgetting. The archive does not catalog history as much as “write” it, an unconscious impression. The archive perpetuates authority and questions it, monumentalizes the past and reveals haunting traces of the past that carry a promise in an unpredictable future.

This workshop seeks to explore the validity of such approaches to Spanish cinema in the context of post-dictatorship Spain and the legacies of political violence that the country has inherited.


9:00 to 1:00

Julián Gutiérrez-Albilla (U. of Southern California) — Bracha Ettinger’s Contribution to Feminist Film Theory.    Response — Sasha Lindskog

Teresa Vilarós (Texas A & M University) — Still Time, Revolution, and the Vampire: Pere Portabella and Albert Serra.  Response — Lucas Plazek

Sarah Thomas (Brown University) — Innocent Creatures: Child as Commodity and Animal in Mercero’s La guerra de papá (1977) and Tobi, el niño con alas (1978). Response — Daniel Sánchez Bataller

Cristina Moreiras (University of Michigan) — The Look of Betrayal and the Knowledge  of the Symptom: Pa negre in Text and Image. Response — Lina Hoyos

1:00-2:00        Lunch


Camila Moreiras (New York University) — Three Theories on Being Imaged; Or, Notes on the Journey Film.  Response — Lisa James

Patty Keller (Cornell University) — Archive, Exergue, and the Longue Durée. Response – Gianfranco Languasco

Steven Marsh (UIC) — Filmic Form and the Female Gaze Revisited in Virginia García’s El Jurado (2015). Response — Yanire Márquez

Yanire Marquez
Lisa James
Daniel Sánchez Bataller
Lucas Plazek
Lina Hoyos
Sasha Lindskog
Gianfranco Languasco


May 3, 2018

“Stories of Illness: Building Health Humanities Cases for Medical Training”

“Stories of Illness: Building Health Humanities Cases for Medical Training” will engage invited health humanities experts and UIC faculty in charting a new frontier for health humanities education in medical school. Health Humanities, also known as Medical Humanities, is an interdisciplinary field of humanities, the arts, and qualitative social sciences that deals with humanities content and applies each discipline’s methods and concerns to health professions education and healthcare practice.

Medical training is largely based on case studies that primarily address the clinical, biomedical aspects of a patient’s medical issue. Intended to assess students’ clinical reasoning skills, these fictitious cases center around a specific disease or symptom and therefore tend to gloss over the complexity of patients’ illness experiences. As a result, they fail to prepare students for the complicated, often messy dilemmas patients bring to clinical encounters.

Our project starts with the premise that case-based medical education needs to be more humanities driven and therefore deliberately tied to the contextual, ethical, and affective aspects of illness experiences, a process that demands a critical examination of storytelling itself. We expect humanities perspectives will be more attuned to the complex interplay of bodies, history, and culture that inform patients’ experiences of healthcare, to the different ways that health and illness generate meaning in patients’ lives, and ultimately to the ambiguity that practicing medicine entails. We want to lay the foundation for reinventing the “case” by purposefully structuring it around a social theme, rather than a disease, and by starting with a first-person patient story that will act as the springboard from which all scholarly analysis follows. Here the case consists of the story paired with humanities scholarship (of one or more disciplinary perspectives) that unpacks and situates the wider social, political and cultural forces the story depicts.

Presentations by:

Ellen Amster, Department of History at McMaster University

Gretchen Case, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical Ethics and Humanities, University of Utah School of Medicine

Rebecca Garden, Center for Bioethics and Humanities at Upstate Medical University, Syracuse

Organized by:

Sandy Sufian, Health Humanities and Disability Studies, and History

Michael Blackie, Medical Education