Humanities for the Environment: Integrating knowledge, forging new constellations of practice, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Humanities for the Environment

Integrating knowledge, forging new constellations of practice, 1st Edition

Edited by Joni Adamson, Michael Davis


262 pages | 28 B/W Illus.

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Humanities for the Environment, or HfE, is an ambitious project that from 2013-2015 was funded by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project networked universities and researchers internationally through a system of 'observatories'. This book collects the work of contributors networked through the North American, Asia-Pacific, and Australia-Pacific observatories.

Humanities for the Environment showcases how humanists are working to 'integrate knowledges' from diverse cultures and ontologies and pilot new 'constellations of practice' that are moving beyond traditional contemplative or reflective outcomes (the book, the essay) towards solutions to the greatest social and environmental challenges of our time. With the still controversial concept of the 'Anthropocene' as a starting point for a widening conversation, contributors range across geographies, ecosystems, climates and weather regimes; moving from icy, melting Arctic landscapes to the bleaching Australian Great Barrier Reef, and from an urban pedagogical 'laboratory' in Phoenix, Arizona to Vatican City in Rome. Chapters explore the ways in which humanists, in collaboration with communities and disciplines across academia, are responding to warming oceans, disappearing islands, collapsing fisheries, evaporating reservoirs of water, exploding bushfires, and spreading radioactive contamination.

This interdisciplinary work will be of great interest to scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences interested in interdisciplinary questions of environment and culture.


Humanities for the Environment presents the work of researchers, drawn from the global HfE Observatories network, challenging the parameters of research in the traditional humanities with a view to developing more engaged, more effectively communicative modes of scholarship in response to the overwhelming environmental tumult and tragedies of our time. These are thinkers – some Indigenous, many involved in Indigenous collaborations - working at the limits of imagination and passion in an effort to bring modern civilization back from its blind brink to some semblance of ecological maturity, morality and sanity.

Freya Matthews, Latrobe University, AU

Humanities for the Environment (HfE): Integrating Knowledge, Forging New Constellations of Practice is a vital, necessary, project-building collection enacting the transdisciplinary relevance of the humanities to environmental knowledge and ecological crisis. It is humanist in the deepest planetary and historicist ways, burrowing into multi-sited tactics, indigenous resources, worlding literatures, and networked practices that command imagination and solicit action under the horizon of the Anthropocene as a time when ‘science’ as such needs to come to terms with dangers, risks, hopes, and damages of being human.

Rob Wilson, University of California at Santa Cruz, USA

Drawing upon indigenous cosmologies, environmental pedagogy and grassroots activism, Humanities for the Environment, admirably decolonizes the fraught term, Anthropocene, and compassionately advocates with engaging and critical yet deeply felt narratives for ‘new constellations’, or gatherings of lifeways, practices, and disciplines. The aim is to put 'this world back together' for all living beings. We would do well to heed this clarion chorus.

Subhankar Banerjee, Lannan Chair and Professor of Art & Ecology, University of New Mexico, USA

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: "Integrating Knowledge, Forging New Constellations of Practice in the Environmental Humanities" Joni Adamson

Section I: Integrating Knowledge, Extending the Conversation

2. "Backbone: Holding Up Our Future" Linda Hogan (Chicaza)

3. "Country and the Gift" Deborah Bird Rose

4."Introduction: Backbone and Country" Michael Davis

Section II: Backbone

5. "Twilight Islands and Environmental Crises: Re-writing a History of the Caribbean and Pacific Regions through the Islands Existing in their Shadows" Karen N. Salt

6. "Seaweed, Soul-ar Panels and Other Entanglements" Giovanna Di Chiro

7. "Is it Colonial Déjà Vu? Indigenous Peoples and Climate Injustice" Kyle Powys Whyte

8. "Gathering the Desert in an Urban Lab: Designing the Citizen Humanities" Joni Adamson

9."Environmental Rephotography: Visually Mapping Time, Change and Experience" Mark Klett and Tyrone Martinsson

10."Integral Ecology in the Pope’s Environmental Encyclical, Implications for Environmental Humanities" Michael E. Zimmerman 

Section III: Country

11."Radiation Ecologies, Resistance, and Survivance on Pacific Islands: Albert Wendt’s Black Rainbow and Syaman Rapongan’s Drifting Dreams and the Ocean" Hsinya Huang and Syaman Rapongan

12. "Walking Together into Knowledge: Aboriginal/European Collaborative Environmental Encounters in Australia’s North-East, 1847-1850" Michael Davis

13. "‘The Lifting of the Sky’: Outside the Anthropocene" Tony Birch

14. "Literature, Ethics, and Bushfire in the Anthropocene" Kate Rigby

15. "Placing the Nation: Curating Landmarks at the National Museum of Australia" Kirsten Wehner

16. "The Oceanic Turn: Submarine Futures of the Anthropocene" Elizabeth DeLoughrey

About the Editors

Joni Adamson is Professor of Environmental Humanities in the Department of English, and Director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, USA.

Michael Davis is an Honorary Research Fellow with the Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney, Australia, and a Member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

About the Series

Routledge Environmental Humanities

The Routledge Environmental Humanities series is an original and inspiring venture recognising that today’s world agricultural and water crises, ocean pollution and resource depletion, global warming from greenhouse gases, urban sprawl, overpopulation, food insecurity and environmental justice are all crises of culture.

The reality of understanding and finding adaptive solutions to our present and future environmental challenges has shifted the epicenter of environmental studies away from an exclusively scientific and technological framework to one that depends on the human-focused disciplines and ideas of the humanities and allied social sciences.

We thus welcome book proposals from all humanities and social sciences disciplines for an inclusive and interdisciplinary series. We favour manuscripts aimed at an international readership and written in a lively and accessible style. The readership comprises scholars and students from the humanities and social sciences and thoughtful readers concerned about the human dimensions of environmental change.

Please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan ( to submit proposals

Praise for A Cultural History of Climate Change (2016):

A Cultural History of Climate Change shows that the humanities are not simply a late-arriving appendage to Earth System science, to help in the work of translation. These essays offer distinctive insights into how and why humans reason and imagine their ‘weather-worlds’ (Ingold, 2010). We learn about the interpenetration of climate and culture and are prompted to think creatively about different ways in which the idea of climate change can be conceptualised and acted upon beyond merely ‘saving the planet’.

Professor Mike Hulme, King's College London, in Green Letters

Series Editors:

Professor Libby Robin, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra; Guest Professor of Environmental History, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm Sweden.

Dr Paul Warde, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, UK.

Editorial Board

Christina Alt, St Andrews University, UK, Alison Bashford, University of New South Wales, Australia, Peter Coates, University of Bristol, UK, Thom van Dooren, University of New South Wales, Australia, Georgina Endfield, Liverpool UK, Jodi Frawley, University of Western Australia, Andrea Gaynor, The University of Western Australia, Australia, Christina Gerhardt, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, USA,□    Tom Lynch, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA, Iain McCalman, University of Sydney, Australia,    Jennifer Newell, Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia, Simon Pooley, Imperial College London, UK, Sandra Swart, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, Ann Waltner, University of Minnesota, US, Jessica Weir, University of Western Sydney, Australia

International Advisory Board

William Beinart,University of Oxford, UK, Jane Carruthers, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa, Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago, USA, Paul Holm, Trinity College, Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Shen Hou, Renmin University of China, Beijing, Rob Nixon, Princeton University, USA, Pauline Phemister, Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, UK, Deborah Bird Rose, University of New South Wales, Australia, Sverker Sörlin, KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, Helmuth Trischler, Deutsches Museum, Munich and Co-Director, Rachel Carson Centre, LMU Munich University, Germany, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University, USA, Kirsten Wehner, University of London, UK

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy