Earth(ly) Matters

deadline for submissions: 
June 12, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Sheffield Hallam University Postgrad Research Students' Society

It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts think thoughts, what descriptions describe descriptions, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.

– Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble

In the face of unprecedented, anthropogenic chaos in the natural world and in a time that has been further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are asking what matters on Earth and how Earth matters. What role can the humanities and social sciences play at a time of climate breakdown and a catastrophic decline in wildlife? This year we are taking our annual Sheffield Hallam Postgraduate Society Conference online! We welcome abstracts from local and international postgraduates/ECRs. For all the details check out our site:

We want to open up a wide-ranging and imaginative conversation. Bearing in mind the influential writer Amitav Ghosh’s claim that the current environmental crisis is “also a crisis of culture, and thus of imagination,” we encourage you to play around with the theme and its words—What’s the matter? What matters? Mind over matter, matters of the heart, in a matter of hours, matter as material, or is that a completely different matter? Earthly matters versus divine matters? No matter what’s the matter in question it is often tied to our existence here on earth and that matters.

 Roots, Rebellions, & Resolutions

Roots: How did we get here? What heritage are we bringing with us? Are there lessons to be learned from past crises in the UK or globally? Can the origins of crises be traced through developments in culture? What role has social policy played in this or other significant crises?

Rebellions: What kind of responses might make a difference in the face of political inaction? How have ordinary people brought about change in the past? What radical new ways of thinking might we need in order to avert catastrophe? 

Resolutions: The changes that scientists say we need to make are so far-reaching as to be almost unimaginable. What role has imagination played in the resolution of past crises? Could cultural interventions bring about radical changes in individual thinking and behaviour? What kind of social or educational policies might we need to ensure lasting change?

 Submit your abstract

This is a free event for speakers, presenters, and attendees.

We welcome proposals from postgraduate students and ECRs (within five years of completing their PhD).

Abstracts should be 250 words and submitted to:, along with a 100-word academic biography. 

Final day to submit: 12th of June 2020

Possible topics may include but are by no means restricted to:

  • The ‘material turn’ in social sciences and the humanities
  • Human-animal relations
  • The role of speculative fiction in crises past and present
  • Environmental justice and decoloniality
  • Religion and spirituality in times of upheaval
  • Interdisciplinarity and collaboration
  • ‘The personal is political
  • People, power and politics: who decides what matters? 
  • What’s the matter? Manifestations of mind and body in culture

    These are just a few examples, the scope for this conference is very broad, propose a paper that matters to you! / @shsuprss_conf /@shsuprss