11 Abr 2024 - 15:00

The Environmental Humanities: European Perspectives on How the Field is Addressing Twenty-first-Century Global Challenges

Steven Hartman

As an intellectual enterprise and as a scholarly community of practice the Environmental Humanities (EH) is a field still very much in the making. Its bounding structure continues to grow, undergirded by a common foundation (variously historical, philosophical, aesthetic, social critical and anthropological) that itself continues to branch out in ways that would have been unimaginable even two decades ago. New rooms and even wings of this EH house undergo augmentation by the year. This structure is evolving not only in response to newly shared and learned methodologies, theories and educational practices across established disciplines, but also in response to growing cultural, social and political cognizance of the precarity of social-ecological systems in the 21st century. The full potential of the Environmental Humanities as an evolving field lies at the intersections of endogenous influences and exogenous developments erasing lines of demarcation between the higher education and research sector, on the one hand, and fraught systems of life and death on the other.  Extractive exploitation tied up in dominant systems of production and consumption are now widely perceived and understood as manifestly unsustainable. This lecture offers a brief tour of the Environmental Humanities in Europe, with a particular focus on environmental justice, material ecocriticism and integrated environmental humanities as humanistic disciplines and subject areas intersect with and contribute to the field of Sustainability Science.


Perfect Strangers: Neandertals and Modern Humans in Ice Age Europe

Trenton W. Holliday, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA

We know from ancient DNA analyses that via interbreeding Neandertals (Homo neanderthalensis) contributed genes to modern humans (H. sapiens) – genes that remain with us today. While this is now established fact, many unanswered questions remain: how frequent were interactions between these two species in late Pleistocene Europe, and what was the nature of these interactions? Answering this question is made difficult because of uncertainty surrounding which species is/are responsible for the European Initial Upper Paleolithic (IUP) industries, as well as questions surrounding the absolute dating of the latest Neandertals in Iberia. Here genetic data are discussed in light of the European archaeological record from ca. 54,000 to 40,000 years ago. In the end, we know that we are here and Neandertals are not, but is it possible to answer the question of why this is the case? This is one of the oldest and perhaps most interesting questions in paleoanthropology.


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