Uprooting the Anthropocene: (re-)centring trees in tree-human relationships

uprooting the anthroponcene

logo © Eleanor Baker @EleanorMayBaker

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You will be contacted within 48 hours of the event with the Zoom link for this event. Please be aware tickets will close an hour before the event start time.

The developing climate crisis forces all disciplines to re-examine their core assumptions.  We face an imperative to reconsider, across timescales, relationships between humans and the environment. This conference invites researchers to develop new perspectives in light of this crisis and to draw inspiration from post-humanist approaches and from the work of indigenous scholars and artists. We will approach trees as trees - both as individuals and as collectives, prioritising their perspectives and arboreality within their distinct ecosystems and environments. Moving beyond previous work that has situated trees within human narratives, this conference will attempt to consider ‘tree-ish’ thinking within a broad range of subjects, from the Humanities to the Social and Natural Sciences. Taking this perspective will allow us to examine how trees, across space and time, have engaged with and formed networks alongside humans and nonhuman others.

Trees have been significant to many human societies, but seldom in the same way. In a Western context, they have spoken to communal cosmologies and stimulated scientific and personal discoveries, served as markers to establish imagined and practical boundaries, and acted as frameworks for representing emotions, genealogy, and human inter-connectedness. However alongside and within this, they have often been reduced to passive objects upon which human agency is enacted. Much of this can be attributed to the Western separation between nature and culture, and our disassociation from our surrounding environments. Our conference will explore the idea that trees and other nonhumans are active, cognisant, and intentional beings- an awareness that has all too often been lost.


9:00 - 10:00

Welcome & Panel Discussion

Laura Rival- University of Oxford

Monica Gagliano- Southern Cross University

Michael Bintley- Birkbeck University of London

10:00 - 10:45

Bo Zheng - the Political Life of Plants

10:45 - 11:00

Morning Break

11:00 - 12:00

Working with Trees

Sarah Abbott (University of Regina) - (Re)planting Tree-Human Relations: Respect, Reciprocity, Communication, Collaboration

Sumin Myung (Johns Hopkins University) - Enrooting Climate Change: Trees, Field Sciences, and Semiotechnologies of Life in South Korea

12:00 - 12:30

Creative Session

Ganga Limbu (KTK-BELT studio), ‘Library of Indigenous Knowledge’

Becky Lyon, ‘Bodies of Arboreal Time’

Christina Della Giustina (Slade School of Fine Art, UCL and University of the Arts, Utrecht), ‘You are variations: a provisional résumé’

12:30 - 13:00

New Approaches to Trees in the Humanities

Khanh Nguyen (Aarhus University), ‘Representing Otherness: Arboreal Temporality in Richard Powers' The Overstory’

Laura Pustarfi (California Institute of Integral Studies), ‘Phenomenology as a Way of Relating to Arboreal Others’

13:00 - 14:00

Lunch break

14:00 - 15:30


Amy Cutler (Goldsmiths University) - ‘The New Humanitrees: Empathy, Harm, and Forest Cities’

Rhea Shah - Decolonizing the Forest: Re-establishing the Solega’s Jungle

Varna Venugopal (Indian Institute of Technology) - ‘“A mangrove forest is a universe unto itself”: Relocating Swarmy Arborealities in the Anthropocene’

15:30 - 16:00

Trees in Oxford and Beyond

Beverley Lear (University of Oxford), ‘A Career in the Presence of Trees’

Alice Little (Writer in Residence, Wytham Woods, University of Oxford), ‘Woodland Words: creative writing at Wytham Woods’


16:00 - 16:20

Afternoon Break

16:20 - 17:20

Trees and Colonialism

Camilo Arango Duque (Universidad EAFIT) - ‘The Blow of the Axe and the Echo of the Forest: Revisiting colonial foundation myths from a critical environmental perspective’

Ram Shergill (University College London) – ‘The Critical Posthuman Tree’

17:20 - 18:00

Humans, Trees and Urban Spaces

Clare Blackwell (University of Oxford), ‘Street Trees: Isolation and Care in the Urban Forest’

Emma Kaufmann LaDuc and Lauro Nächt (Vienna University of Technology), ‘Indicative Ecologies’

Olga F. Koroleva (Global Research Network / QMUL), ‘Soft Forest’

18:00 - 19:00

Optional Additional Discussion Session


Click here to see the call for papers

logo © Eleanor Baker

Environmental HumanitiesTORCH Programmes