Panel on The Environmental Humanities Islands in mind: on diversity, vulnerability and resilience

deadline for submissions: 
July 1, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
III INSULA International Colloquium Beyond Nature/Artifice Funchal | UMa-CIERL
contact email: 

This panel takes W.S. Merwin’s line “Day after day we wake to the Island” as motto and challenge to rethink islands not just as utopian and paradisiac places, but to understand them as specific places, in the context of the environmental crisis, and from the perspectives and methodologies of the Environmental Humanities.

The Environmental Humanities depart from the understanding that the environmental problems are not merely confined to the geological and biological spheres of the planet, but are also at their core, social and cultural problems, directly related to political and economic agendas. As Opperman and Iovino state, these multiple dimensions of environmental problems demand solutions on many dimensions including “building new environmental imaginaries, formulating new discursive practices, and making changes in economic and political structures” (Opperman and Iovino, 2017: 3). Therefore, the environmental crisis is critically understood and retold according to a more complete and complex vision of the contemporary world much like a vast net relating the geological, biological, historical, cultural and ethical dimensions. As Robert Brulle argues: “Questions about preservation of the natural environment are not just technical questions; they are also about what defines the good and moral life, and about the essence and the meaning of our existence. (...) These are fundamental questions of defining what our human community is and how it should exist” (apudClark, 2011: 1).

Accordingly, the Environmental Humanities promote the reconfiguration of the relations between human and non-human ecologies, by questioning the concepts of human, natural, artificial, materiality and agency, articulating several languages and methodologies from the natural and social sciences, the humanities and the arts.

Bearing in mind this theoretical framework, this panel invites all those who, from different disciplines, want to critically discuss islands as both geographic and mythic places within the context of environmental crisis. We challenge students and researchers from the humanities and the social and natural sciences; writers, artists and activists to critically think the naturaland artificial binomialand the manner in which it articulates with the idea of island(s). What environmental discourses create the island as a place and /or idea and what are the environmental consequences of those discourses? What are the environmental problems of islands and the solutions found for them? What is the function of islands in the environmental imagination? In what ways can the Environmental Humanities promote, as

Hayward points out, new narratives on sustainability of islands? What examples of methodologies and perspectives from the Environmental Humanities can lead to ethical, political and artistic practices that cultivate change, empathy and inclusion, and foster more sustainable island societies?

The panel welcomes different types of proposals and presentation formats about the following topics and others:

  • ●  Thinking the islands in the Anthropocene

  • ●  Islands as places of vulnerability and resilience

  • ●  Diversity of island ecosystems and cultures

  • ●  Narratives and discourses on islands from an ecocritical perspective

  • ●  Islands: geography and metaphor in the environmental discourse

  • ●  Natural, artificial and plastic islands

  • ●  Environmental justice and islands

  • ●  Island colonialism and environment

  • ●  Post-colonialism and islands – literary representations

  • ●  Thinking the islands from the perspective of environmental philosophy, history and


  • ●  Planning in the island space: architecture, landscape, environment

  • ●  Islands and new narratives on sustainability

  • ●  Travel, tourism, globalization and environmental ethics in the island space

    The working languages for this panel are Portuguese, Spanish, English and French. Abstracts should be sent until 1st July 2017to:
    Isabel Maria Fernandes Alves -
    Nuno Marques -


    Brulle apud: Clark, Timothy (2011). The Cambridge Introduction to Literature and Environment.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Hayward apud: Hay, Peter (2006). “A Phenomenology of Islands” in Island Studies Journal, 01 May 2006, Vol.1(1), p. 29.

    Merwin, W. S. Migration: New & Selected Poems. Port Townsend, Washington, Copper Canyon Press, 2005.

    Oppermann, Serpil & Iovino, Serenella (ed.) (2017). Environmental Humanities: Voices from the Anthropocene. London; New York: Rowman & Littlefield International.


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