The ethos of SymbioticA is that ideas are discussed and shared openly and the Friday Seminar Series is designed to allow an open forum to disseminate artistic, scientific, ethical and philosophical research and practice of resident researchers, visiting artists and scholars. Our Friday Seminar Series are held salon style, in our studio space and commence at 3:00pm on Fridays. These seminars are open to the public.
For updates on our seminar series please check SymbioticA's Facebook page.
1 October 2021
Speaker: Anna-Katharina Laboissière
Scientists are breeding “super coral” in the experimental breeding tanks of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, as breathlessly reported by articles covering recent marine conservation advances. While the term’s sensationalism is unwarranted, the selective breeding of heat- and acidity-resistant corals species – either by mixing genomes within one species or by attempting various hybridisations – marks a decided break with usual practices of marine conservation. This seminar will explore some of the implications of this form of assisted evolution, which goes beyond simulating the potentialities contained within abstract and abstracted experimental objects and intervenes into the social assemblages and temporal collaborations that may or may not sustain the survival of corals reefs – making and unmaking present and future time-scapes, in and outside the laboratory.
Anna-Katharina Laboissière recently obtained her PhD from the École Normale Supérieure and Curtin University, and is currently a postdoctoral research associate at the Faculty of Humanities of Curtin University. Her research explores the speculative, cosmopolitical and neoliberal aspects of conservationist interventions, and the transformation and recuperation of death and fallowness in contemporary scientific practices. Her current and upcoming work can be found at Cultural Studies Review, Cultural Anthropology, NebulX and Ohio University Press.
Date: 15th October 2021
Speaker: Matthew Chrulew, School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry, Curtin University
The woolly mammoth has often appeared as a figure of lost connection, of ecological immersion and reciprocity from which we have become alienated. Its distinctive significance lies both in its prehistoric overlap with emerging humans, and its centrality to scientific controversies around questions of extinction, geological time and climate change. Debates over the cause of Pleistocene megafauna extinctions weighed up theories of overkill (human hunting), overchill (climate change) and overill (disease), informed by differing conceptions of the extent and limits of human agency within the natural world. Current rewilding projects (such as the ecological experiment of Siberia’s Pleistocene Park) and de-extinction projects (seeking to clone and breed extinct animals back into existence) draw heavily on perceptions of culpability for the disappearance of the mammoth and other species. Fictional encounters with mammoths (such as Stephen Baxter’s science fiction Mammoth trilogy (1999-2001) and Eleanor Arnason’s alternate history novella Mammoths of the Great Plains (2010) have drawn upon these themes, exploring both human environmental destructiveness and vulnerability to climate, histories of colonisation and survival, and the capacity for ecopolitical remediation, repair and redemption. A burdened subject of anthropological and ecopolitical speculation, the mammoth can be considered a totem animal of the Anthropocene. What can we learn from the stories we tell about the mammoth—both scientific, and science fictional? What animates this reanimation?
Matthew Chrulew is Senior Research Fellow in the School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry at Curtin University, where he leads the Posthumanities, Animalities, Environments research program in the Centre for Culture and Technology. He co-edited the books Extinction Studies: Stories of Time, Death, and Generations (2017) and Foucault and Animals (2016), and was founding associate editor of the journal Environmental Humanities. He is editor of the new book series Animalities (Edinburgh UP). His current research focuses on the history and philosophy of zoo biology, ethology and conservation biology. His recent short fiction has appeared in Westerly, Cosmos, Stories of Perth and Ecopunk!