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Putting the Anthropocene on Display: An Inspiration Guide

Putting the Anthropocene on Display: An Inspiration Guide

Putting the Anthropocene on Display: An Inspiration Guide

Working Paper 2, WG5 “Transformation of the Environment”

Co-authored by Stef Craps, Rick Crownshaw, Deniz Gündoğan İbrişim, and Jenny Wüstenberg

This working paper presents a multifaceted examination of four innovative impact projects that address the challenge of memorializing the Anthropocene, the new geological epoch characterized by massive human influence on the planet. Authored by four members of the “Transformation of the Environment” working group of the Slow Memory COST Action, it delves into diverse initiatives spanning the realms of art, museum curation, commemoration, and tourism. Each project offers a distinct and unique approach to getting the public to engage with the realities, complexities, and complicities of living in a time of climate and ecological crisis.

Stef Craps discusses a climate-themed guided tour of the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent in Belgium that aims to initiate conversations about environmental change among museum visitors by interpreting historical artworks as climate witnesses. Rick Crownshaw proposes a new methodology for exhibiting the Anthropocene that seeks to transform encyclopaedic museum spaces such as the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, UK, into platforms for public reflection and education on humanity’s role in shaping planetary systems. Deniz Gündoğan İbrişim explores the Gümüşlük Academy Foundation’s “Garden” in Turkey’s ancient Aegean region, which serves as a nexus for interdisciplinary dialogue on the socio-environmental challenges of the Anthropocene. Finally, Jenny Wüstenberg introduces the MEMO Project’s ambitious endeavour to commemorate extinct species and foster biodiversity awareness through an immersive underground experience at the Eden Portland site on England’s Jurassic Coast, assisted by a mobile app that allows users to engage with this remote site from wherever they find themselves.

Together, these projects exemplify a variety of ways to put the Anthropocene on display that, we hope, will inspire other memory scholars and practitioners to develop novel creative practices of engagement with our environmental predicament.

A Climate-Themed Guided Tour of a Fine Arts Museum

Stef Craps

Today, museums are often negatively associated with climate and environmental issues. Museums such as the British Museum, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, the Louvre, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Royal Museum of Fine Art Antwerp have all been targeted by protesters urging these institutions to stop taking money from the fossil fuel industry. Climate activists have recently also started drawing attention to their cause by glueing themselves to world-famous works of art and/or pelting them with soup, mashed potatoes, or oil in museums including the Mauritshuis, the Groeninge Museum, the National Gallery, the Barberini Museum, and the Leopold Museum. As a result, museums have inadvertently become both subjects of and participants in public conversations around climate change.

The museum sector has so far mostly reacted defensively and dismissively, e.g. by issuing a joint statement calling on climate activists to cease such actions on the grounds that they allegedly underestimate the fragility of the targeted artworks (Avecedo et al.). In the spring of 2023, I approached the Museum of Fine Arts Ghent (MSK), the oldest museum in Belgium, with an idea for a more positive and constructive response to the climate crisis and the activist interventions and provocations that have propelled museums squarely into the heart of the climate debate.

Museum of Fine Arts Ghent (photo credit: Paul Hermans, via Wikimedia Commons)
Fig. 1: Museum of Fine Arts Ghent (photo credit: Paul Hermans, via Wikimedia Commons)

Convinced that museums are not fulfilling their public duty unless and until they actively participate in some form of climate activism themselves (in accordance with the new ICOM definition, which explicitly considers museums to be institutions “in the service of society” that “foster . . . sustainability” (International Council of Museums)), I offered to help them develop a climate-themed guided MSK tour that would interpret a selection of historical artworks—paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the mid-twentieth century—as climate witnesses.

The museum welcomed my proposal and took me up on my offer. Over the next few months, two guides set out to create a new guided tour along these lines, with input and feedback from me (and some UGent colleagues with relevant expertise with whom I put them in contact) throughout the process. Since the autumn of 2023, two versions of the tour—one for adults and one for secondary-school students—have been offered to the public, which can now make a reservation through the museum’s website (“Rondleiding”). Eight guides have been trained to provide the tour, which is proving particularly popular with schools.

Fig. 2: “Can Art Save the Climate?” guided tour; painting: Xavier De Cock, The Meersstraat in Ghent, 1862 (photo credit: Stef Craps)
Fig. 2: “Can Art Save the Climate?” guided tour; painting: Xavier De Cock, The Meersstraat in Ghent, 1862 (photo credit: Stef Craps)

Titled “Can Art Save the Climate?,” the tour aims to get museum visitors to engage with the climate crisis by alerting them to the manifold ways in which the artworks in the museum’s collection can be seen to bear witness to global warming. The idea for such a tour had first occurred to me while I was visiting a temporary MSK exhibition on a once famous but now largely forgotten Ghent artist, Albert Baertsoen, who specialized in painting the local cityscape around the turn of the twentieth century. I was struck by the frequency with which Baertsoen depicted views of Ghent under a blanket of snow, as this has become a rare sight by now due to climate change. In fact, he also painted factories belching out smoke in Belgium’s industrial heartland, which directly contributed to the processes that account for the decline in snowfall that we have been seeing over the last few decades.

The guided tour highlights several artworks that depict phenomena, species, ecosystems, or landscape features that have vanished or declined since the artist painted them. By drawing visitors’ attention to environmental change in this way, the tour raises awareness of and counters environmental generational amnesia (Kahn) or shifting baseline syndrome (Pauly), i.e. the gradual normalization of diminished environmental conditions over time, leading successive generations to accept a degraded environment as the new normal.

Fig. 3: Emile Claus, The Skaters, ca. 1891 (public domain)
Fig. 3: Emile Claus, The Skaters, ca. 1891 (public domain)

In addition to discussing the representational content of the artworks, the tour also pays attention to their materiality (e.g. pigments or support used), underlying ideas (e.g. ecocentric vs. anthropocentric worldview), symbolism, formal features, etc. Moreover, it uses the artworks as a means to enhance viewers’ environmental literacy, introducing them to such hardcore scientific topics as the Anthropocene, deep time, the greenhouse effect, deforestation, desertification, urban heat islands, and nature-based solutions.

However, the goal is not so much to impart scientific knowledge as to promote dialogue about climate change. After all, as the climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe argues, “[t]he most important thing you can do to fight climate change” is to “talk about it.” Moreover, by creating a space for affective and embodied as well as cognitive responses, the museum tour enlists art as a form of creative climate communication that goes beyond merely conveying information and filling knowledge gaps.

Fig. 4: “Can Art Save the Climate?” guided tour; painting: Peter Paul Rubens, Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata, ca. 1633 (photo credit: Stef Craps)
Fig. 4: “Can Art Save the Climate?” guided tour; painting: Peter Paul Rubens, Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata, ca. 1633 (photo credit: Stef Craps)

In doing so, it helps create active behavioural engagement in a way that traditional modes of science communication have so far largely failed to do (Boykoff; Corbett and Clark). Harnessing the power of ways of knowing beyond the strictly scientific one, a climate-themed guided tour of an art museum can effectively reach and motivate a diverse audience, potentially fostering a more widespread embrace of environmental care throughout society.

Museums as Witnesses to the Anthropocene

Rick Crownshaw

Most characteristically, the Anthropocene is expressed in terms of the climate crisis (measured in extreme weather events), eco-systemic collapse and species extinction, pollution and toxicity, and resource scarcity. The transition to this new epoch is measurable in the species’ various inscriptions in the Earth’s strata: geological signatures of human impact on the planet.

In the last five to ten years, the museum sector has begun to confront the Anthropocene, albeit mostly through the representation of climate change. However, exhibitions tend to focus on capturing the present impacts of climate change rather than on exploring the myriad histories of the Anthropocene, histories that museums may already house in implicit ways. These are histories that encompass colonialism in the Americas and the institution of New World slavery, which in turn catalysed forms of extractive capitalism and globalization; the Industrial Revolution; and, from the mid-twentieth century, the nuclear age and the Great Acceleration.

These histories of conjoined social and environmental harms and their terraforming planetary effects are often implicitly captured by encyclopaedic or “universal” museums, which aim to tell the story of humanity and the nonhuman world by showcasing objects from around the world. In terms of registering planetary change, the natural-historical and ethnographic collections of such museums are rooted in imperialism; the display of the history of science, technology, and industry celebrates the Industrial Revolution and extractive, fossil-fuelled capitalism and prefaces the nuclear age; and, typically, Earth-science displays introduce the concept of deep time needed to measure epochal change, and representations of previous extinction eras presage current and future losses.

Working at the intersections of museum and heritage studies, the recent ecological orientation of memory studies, and the current emphases on the environment in curatorial practice, the proposed project, The Anthropocene in Museums (TAIM), will develop a new, theoretically informed methodology for exhibiting and increasing public knowledge about the Anthropocene. Using the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), in Exeter, UK, as its pilot project, TAIM will demonstrate—subject to British Academy funding—that the Anthropocene is already a potential and uncanny presence in such encyclopaedic museums that date from the Victorian era.

This project will design and create a digital and physical exhibition of the Anthropocene by repurposing, re-narrating, and re-constellating objects from its existing collections, displays, and archives. Debates in the humanities, social sciences, and Earth sciences have located the epoch’s inception (conflictingly) in the colonization of the so-called New World and the inauguration of transatlantic slavery, the Industrial Revolution, the mid-twentieth-century Great Acceleration, and the beginnings of the nuclear age. RAMM’s combination of collections across the natural sciences, social history (from the ancient to the modern period), and science and technology implicitly captures the imprint of the Anthropocene at those key moments of its unfolding.

TAIM’s digital and physical exhibition will reorganize and reaccentuate the objects of RAMM to disrupt conventions of preservation and heritage in which unsettling pasts have often been contained and kept at a distance, or subsumed by a narrative of progress that positions the museum visitor as a beneficiary. By re-presenting 30 to 40 artefacts, these exhibitions will narrate the history of the epoch’s causes, demonstrating these objects’ implications in inextricable environmental and social harms.

Visitor expectations of objects usually perceived as generic, benign, and belonging to naturalized narratives of modernity will be disrupted. Unmoored, museum objects will become defamiliarized, revealed as implicated in the Anthropocene, and, as such, will reflect the museum visitor’s own potential contributions to epochal change and its repercussions. Provoking an expansive imagination that relates exhibited objects to socio-environmental catastrophes in the wider world, TAIM aims to inculcate in its audiences a sense of planetary citizenship and collective responsibility for the Anthropocene. The following two examples (Figs 5 and 6) are representative of TAIM’s artefactual re-narration.

Fig. 5. Sugar tongs, made of silver, manufactured in London (ca. 1750-1760) (© Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter City Council)
Fig. 5. Sugar tongs, made of silver, manufactured in London (ca. 1750-1760) (© Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter City Council)

In the sweetening of tea and coffee in Britain and Europe in the 1700s, this object was used to handle finely ground sugar, the source of which was sugar cane, grown on plantations in the Americas by slave labour. The ornamental nature of the utensil cognitively distances the commodity’s consumer from the brutal conditions of sugar’s production and points to the regimes of dissociation and forgetting upon which British and European fashionable consumption and planter-class wealth were predicated. Already exhibited by RAMM in the context of slavery, TAIM would reaccentuate this object to signify the Anthropocene in terms of the origins of the epoch in colonialism and slavery and the consequent terraforming of the Americas and the Caribbean through colonial ecocide and the institution of the plantation system; the ways in which the environment was co-opted in racialized violence, the legacies of which continue to be felt today; and transatlantic slavery’s expansion of globalization and its environmental repercussions.

Fig. 6. Scrimshaw / carved whale’s tooth (nineteenth century) (© Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter City Council)
Fig. 6. Scrimshaw / carved whale’s tooth (nineteenth century) (© Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter City Council)

Ostensibly, this curiosity represents the artisanal craft of whalers: labour, skill, and creativity not subsumed by the industry of whaling but memorializing labouring lives. TAIM would place this object in an ecology and economy of energy. The harvesting and processing of whale oil—a precursor to the extraction of crude oil and the production of petroleum—for machine lubrication and lighting contributed to the Industrial Revolution and the illumination of modernity. Whaling anticipates more fully-fledged stages in the Anthropocene—the intensification of fossil fuel use—while also presaging the charisma attributed to modern energy sources for their ability to transform physical realities through their compressed power. The consequent fetishization of and addiction to energy was correspondent with the encounter with a living, evasive resource, the pursuit of which threatened (and still threatens) extinction and oceanic eco-systemic degradation and was inextricable from colonialism.

The exhibitions will be created in consultation with RAMM’s curatorial team, will incorporate community input via the museum’s public-outreach programmes, and will be grounded in the Principal Investigator’s (PI’s) onsite archival research to elicit histories of the provenance and social life of selected material. The conceptualization of TAIM’s exhibitions will be informed by the PI’s prefatory research on existing, implicit and explicit, museum engagements with the Anthropocene (mostly in the form of climate change), which will enable a better understanding of the representational challenges posed by the complexities of our geological epoch. Subsequent publications will include a commentary for the museum studies community on the processes of putting concepts of the Anthropocene into exhibition practice at RAMM, and (with RAMM) a co-authored policy brief and methodological toolkit for the museum sector. This concluding publication will advise museums on recycling their existing collections to engage with the urgency of planetary environmental crisis and its histories, discussing challenges of conceptualization, design, and implementation.

The Garden as a Space of Relationality in the Anthropocene: A Case Study from the Ancient Aegean

Deniz Gündoğan İbrişim

The Gümüşlük Academy Foundation, nestled twenty kilometres away from Bodrum in the historical city of Gümüşlük, Turkey, occupies a significant place in the ancient Carian settlement of Myndos, immortalized in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Perched on a hillside adorned with oak trees, the Academy offers stunning views of old mills at sunrise and Myndos Bay at sunset. It spans fifteen acres of land and proudly bears the mantle of a public “Garden,” blending social responsibility with a global environmental ethos.

Since its official establishment on 7 July 1996 by the esteemed Turkish author Latife Tekin, the academy, formally known as “Gümüşlük Akademisi Sanat, Kültür, Ekoloji ve Bilimsel Araştırmalar Merkezi Vakfı,” has remained committed to fostering innovative ideas encompassing humanity, society, art, and nature. Supported primarily through donations, its overarching goal is to cultivate an ecologically conscious space where individuals can collectively contribute to its essence and purpose. Here, gatherings under the canopy of oak trees often include a diverse array of companions—dogs, cats, birds, butterflies, and more.

Fig. 7. Gümüşlük Academy Foundation, the Garden (courtesy of the Gümüşlük Academy)
Fig. 7. Gümüşlük Academy Foundation, the Garden (courtesy of the Gümüşlük Academy)

Within this expansive garden, visitors find dedicated studios for painting, ceramics, and sculpture, alongside inviting lounges and a well-stocked library housing diverse texts and art from literature, philosophy, and environmental studies. Each year, a central theme is carefully chosen to guide the Academy’s activities, with tailored programmes designed to explore and expand upon it. Overseen by the dedicated team at Gümüşlük Academy and complemented by experts from Turkey and beyond, these programmes provide enriching experiences for all who participate.

Since 2020, the Garden has been actively involved in endeavours aimed at examining the cultural and aesthetic ramifications of the Anthropocene  It serves as a platform for the exchange of diverse experiences and viewpoints, facilitating discussions on topics such as neoliberalism and the erosion of democracy, particularly pertinent to contemporary Turkey.

Fig. 8. From the “Ecofeminism and Environmental Grief” seminar; instructor: Deniz Gündoğan İbrişim, July 2023 (photo credit: Şule Tüzül)
Fig. 8. From the “Ecofeminism and Environmental Grief” seminar; instructor: Deniz Gündoğan İbrişim, July 2023 (photo credit: Şule Tüzül)

From 2021 to 2023, the Garden played host to numerous seminars, workshops, and performances centred around Turkey’s wildfires and the devastating earthquakes that struck the Turkey-Syria border region. In July and August 2021, Turkey experienced its most severe wildfire season on record, with over 1,700 square kilometres of forests and farmland in the Mediterranean region reduced to ashes by more than 200 wildfires. These fires were the result of decades of development in interface areas, widespread grazing, industrialization, timber extraction, and urban expansion along the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts, leading to changes in native vegetation and fire patterns since the 1950s.

The earthquake on 6 February 2023 and its aftershocks had a profound impact not only on humans but also on animals, plants, and other forms of non-human life. The tremors ravaged monuments of world heritage and religious significance in Antioch, an early centre of Christianity and a key Roman city. The southeastern city was transformed into a scene of destruction, with collapsed buildings, injured and displaced animals, debris-strewn streets, and clouds of dust and debris painting a grim picture of the aftermath.

In the summer of 2023, a gathering of national and international artists, practitioners, poets, journalists, and writers convened at the Garden to engage in critical and creative discourse surrounding Turkey’s recent anthropogenic disasters, including wildfires and earthquakes. Participants were invited to contribute projects to the foundation’s annual group exhibition and workshop. This event, among the first of its kind, centred on themes such as species extinction, declining biodiversity in the Aegean region, wildfires, earthquakes, and the broader global climate crisis. Particularly emphasised were issues of climate justice and a shared concern for grappling with ecological grief.

The exhibition, coupled with a three-day intensive workshop, explored the theme of “relationality”—a shift towards new ontologies that bridge the subject-object divide (Haraway 58). Scholars and artists, myself included, highlighted relationality as a framework for reconceptualizing and visually representing various forms of ecological grief—a multifaceted emotional response stemming from the loss or potential loss of cherished natural spaces, ecosystems, and species due to environmental changes (Cunsolo and Ellis 275-281). This approach also underscored the interconnectedness between humans and all non-human life forms in the Anthropocene era.

Fig. 9. Gümüşlük Academy Foundation “The Aching Pond,” 100x70x60 cm, wood sculpture; artist: Evren Erol, 2022 (photo credit: Deniz Gündoğan İbrişim)
Fig. 9. Gümüşlük Academy Foundation “The Aching Pond,” 100x70x60 cm, wood sculpture; artist: Evren Erol, 2022 (photo credit: Deniz Gündoğan İbrişim)
A Memorial to Extinct Species—and an Underground Learning Space about Biodiversity

Jenny Wüstenberg

In 2007, stonemason Sebastian Brooke was commissioned to create a sculpture of an extinct bird, which prompted his recognition of the enormity of the currently ongoing biodiversity loss. This led him to found the MEMO Project (variously decoded as Mass Extinction Memorial or Monitoring Observatory Project), and he has since advocated and fundraised to build a monument to commemorate the species recorded as extinct on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List. The ambiguity about MEMO’s name is in fact telling: the project sits at the intersection of the scientific biodiversity community and a growing number of artistic efforts to commemorate environmental loss, including Maya Lin’s online memorial What Is Missing?, the Remembrance Day for Lost Species (annually held on 30 November in Brighton, UK and virtually), and artist Marcus Coates’s Apology to the Great Auk.

The MEMO Project is distinctive for a number of reasons, though it remains, as yet, unrealized. From the beginning, Brooke had an impressive set of supporters—including the Royal Society, the famous biologist E. O. Wilson, and the billionaire Michael Bloomberg. The late Prince Phillip agreed to become MEMO’s “Royal Patron” and hosted two fundraising dinners at Buckingham Palace. In 2010, MEMO was present at the UN General Assembly’s inauguration of the Decade on Biodiversity, and then again in December 2022 at the Convention of Biological Diversity’s COP15 in Montréal, indicating considerable backing from the international biodiversity “scene.” The well-known architect David Adjaye was so taken by the project that he drew up a memorial design at low cost. It is inspired by the shape of an ammonite—the fossil that has become the ubiquitous logo of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, the UK’s only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site (Figs 10 and 11). The Isle of Portland is located on this coast, and it is where MEMO envisions the memorial. While the remoteness of Portland may make it an unlikely location for a memorial to the global challenge of species extinction, in other ways it makes intuitive sense: the island is high in biodiversity and natural beauty, and its centuries-long history of stone quarrying links it directly to the development of geology and palaeontology. Moreover, the use of Portland stone for gravestones and monumental buildings such as St Paul’s Cathedral, London, and the United Nations Headquarters in New York City connects it to human traditions of individual mourning and monumentalization of cultural significance.

Fig. 10. The interior spiral structure of the planned MEMO Project / Eden Portland with extinct species carved in stone (© Adjaye Associates)
Fig. 10. The interior spiral structure of the planned MEMO Project / Eden Portland with extinct species carved in stone (© Adjaye Associates)
Fig. 11. A model of MEMO / Eden Portland on the Jurassic Coast (© Adjaye Associates)
Fig. 11. A model of MEMO / Eden Portland on the Jurassic Coast (© Adjaye Associates)

MEMO’s core idea links directly to the challenge the Slow Memory COST Action has identified: that slow-moving change is not felt acutely by humans in the same way as violent or spectacular events are. As the project website states: “We have read about biodiversity loss. Words have not been enough. This story must be touched, smelt, experienced and shared. It must catalyse celebration, reflection and action.” So the problem is not one of lacking scientific knowledge about ecological change, but one of a lack of emotional connection, which results in environmental amnesia. The memorial design proposes to set-in-stone extinct species, up close and personal. MEMO thus adopts a conventional modus of commemoration: creating a sense of the enormity of loss of this mass extinction event and simultaneously recasting particular species with a sense of individual dignity.

Despite the early support received and the evocative approach, MEMO has not been able to raise the funding needed to start construction. One potential reason for this may be that biodiversity loss has not yet achieved the same level of public urgency that climate change now has. Another is that Brooke’s initial vision was overly focused on mourning and loss and so perceived as “hopeless” and “depressing.” In recognition of these challenges, Brooke and his supporters have shifted strategy and have entered a partnership with Tim Smit’s Eden Project—an extraordinarily successful example of environmental entertainment/tourism that helped revitalize a former clay mine in Cornwall and the entire region around it. Eden Portland, as it is now called, will be created in the first instance as a fun and unusual underground space in a former stone mine—donated by the Albion Stone company—devoted to biodiversity education. The availability of this space means that Eden Portland can start on a much lower budget. The memorial component has not been abandoned, but the plan is now to have this constructed gradually by stone masonry apprentices. The memorial’s slow growth and the gradual addition of extinct species will form part of the attraction of the site.

While the original idea to mourn lost species is still important, MEMO’s focal point has shifted significantly from “remembering” to “encountering deep time.” The act of walking through the underground space, seeing cracks and layers that are millions of years old, and linking it to past life on Earth through cutting-edge technology is envisioned as an emotive experience that will allow visitors and guides to have conversations about what it means to be present in the Anthropocene. In an effort to support this new iteration of MEMO, my colleagues at Nottingham Trent University and I have devised a mobile app that allows users to “make their mark” virtually (as opposed to carving in rock as a stonemason would do) (Fig. 12). The goal is a broad network of support, underpinning the notion that though Portland is just one place, it is symbolic of a global challenge. In future, the app is intended to be an accessible resource for educational material on biodiversity (to which the Slow Memory COST Action is contributing) as well as a tool for local eco-tourism. Making Eden Portland into an entertaining tourist attraction may finally convince public and private funders to back the project. It remains to be seen whether it can become a site of slow memory that starts conversations—and activism—about humans’ responsibility for biodiversity.

Fig. 12. MEMO Project logo and QR codes to download the “MEMO Project Inscription” app. Please download and make your mark! You can also go to the Google Play Store or the iOS Store.
Fig. 12. MEMO Project logo and QR codes to download the “MEMO Project Inscription” app. Please download and make your mark! You can also go to the Google Play Store or the iOS Store.

Authors

Stef Craps is a professor of English literature at Ghent University in Belgium, where he directs the Cultural Memory Studies Initiative. His research interests lie in twentieth-century and contemporary literature and culture, memory and trauma studies, ecocriticism and the environmental humanities, and postcolonial and decolonial theory. He is the author of Postcolonial Witnessing: Trauma Out of Bounds (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Trauma and Ethics in the Novels of Graham Swift: No Short-Cuts to Salvation (Sussex Academic Press, 2005), a co-author of the New Critical Idiom volume Trauma (Routledge, 2020), and a co-editor of Memory Unbound: Tracing the Dynamics of Memory Studies (Berghahn, 2017). He has also (co-)edited special issues of journals including American Imago, Studies in the Novel, and Criticism on topics such as ecological grief, climate change fiction, and transcultural Holocaust memory. Currently, he is co-editing a special issue of Memory Studies Review on climate witnessing and working on a study of ecological mourning as a creative and transformative process. Moreover, he co-chairs the “Transformation of the Environment” working group of the EU-funded Slow Memory COST Action.

Rick Crownshaw is a member of the COST Action on Slow Memory and teaches in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of The Afterlife of Holocaust Memory in Contemporary Literature and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan 2010) as well as numerous articles on American literature, memory studies, trauma studies, and climate change fiction. He is the editor of Transcultural Memory (Routledge 2014) and a co-editor of The Future of Memory (Berghahn 2010, 2013) and, with Stef Craps, a 2018 special issue of Studies in the Novel on climate change fiction. He is also a co-editor, with Stef Craps and Rebecca Dolgoy, of the forthcoming special issue of Memory Studies Review on the topic of “Climate Witnessing.” He is finishing a monograph, Remembering the Anthropocene in Contemporary American Fiction. Other current projects include The Anthropocene in Museums (above) and a monograph-length project on whaling in antebellum nineteenth-century American literature.

Deniz Gündoğan İbrişim is a literary scholar who specializes in cultural trauma and memory studies, gender and sexuality studies, postcolonial theory, 20th- and 21st-century Anglophone literature, ecofeminism, and environmental humanities. As a Fulbright fellow, she earned a PhD in Comparative Literature at Washington University. From 2021 to 2023, she was a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at Sabanci University, where she carried out her project on the artistic and literary representations of Anthropocene trauma in the global Middle East. Currently, she is a visiting assistant professor of literature at Kadir Has University (Istanbul). She is also an MC member of the Slow Memory COST Action. Her research focuses on how contemporary literature addresses questions of trauma, memory and racial, social, and environmental justice within cross-cultural interactions in the Global South. Deniz’s work has appeared in journals such as European Review, The Journal of World Literature, and Safundi as well as edited volumes including The Routledge Companion to Literature and Trauma; Animals, Plants, and Landscapes: An Ecology of Turkish Literature and Film; Women’s Subaltern Studies; and Mapping World Anglophone Studies. She is currently working on her first book monograph, entitled Toward a Slow Wit(h)nessing in Anglophone World Literature, which will be published by Routledge, Routledge Comparative Literature Series.

Jenny Wüstenberg is a professor of history and memory studies at Nottingham Trent University and a co-chair of the AIMS (Advancing Interdisciplinary Memory Studies) initiative there. She is a co-founder and past co-president of the Memory Studies Association, as well as chair of the COST Action on “Slow Memory: Transformative Practices in Times of Uneven and Accelerating Change” (2021-2025). She is the author of Civil Society and Memory in Postwar Germany (Cambridge University Press 2017, in German with LIT Verlag/Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung 2020) and the forthcoming Slow Memory: Remembering Gradual Change in an Accelerating World (Oxford University Press). She is a co-editor, amongst others, of Agency in Transnational Memory Politics (with Aline Sierp, Berghahn 2020), The Routledge Handbook of Memory Activism (with Yifat Gutman, 2023), and De-Commemoration: Making Sense of Contemporary Calls to Remove Statues and Rename Places (with Sarah Gensburger, in English with Berghahn and in French with Fayard 2023). Her research interests concern the contentious politics of memory, memory and democracy, slow-moving change such as biodiversity loss, and the memory of family separation policies.

 

Bibliography

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Coates, Marcus. Apology to the Great Auk. 2017, https://www.marcuscoates.co.uk/projects/158-apology-to-the-great-auk.

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International Council of Museums. “Museum Definition.” ICOM, 24 Aug. 2022, https://icom.museum/en/resources/standards-guidelines/museum-definition/.

Kahn, Jr., Peter H. The Human Relationship with Nature: Development and Culture. MIT Press, 1999.

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“Rondleiding: Kan kunst het klimaat redden?” Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent, https://www.mskgent.be/programma/rondleiding-klimaat.

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Editors: Gruia Badescu, University of KonstanzMaija Spurina, Latvian Academy of CultureChristian Wicke, Utrecht University Cities have been studied as arenas of diverse memory politics, as well as palimpsests where long-term political and social changes can be uncovered through the purposeful illumination of multiple layers of memory (Huyssen 2003). Urban life has been long associated with...

On April 25th-26th, the WG1 “Transformation of Work” met in Warsaw for a workshop titled “European Trade Unionists’ Industrial Memories.” Nicolas Arendt, Stefan Berger, Natalie Braber, Irene Diaz, Paweł Downarowicz, Zoe Konsbruck, Ruben Vega, and Joanna Wawrzyniak discussed their interviews with unionists from Germany, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Spain. The workshop was followed...

The second episode of our Slow Memory podcast is now available on all major streaming platforms! In this episode, we introduce the work and ambitions of the Slow Memory COST Action. Memory Studies has been very much shaped by how societies remember extreme violence and sudden conflicts. However, Slow Memory researchers believe that the key social...

Dear members of the Slow Memory Community, We hope that you are enjoying spring time at the moment. This is the 5th instalment of the Slow Memory Bulletin, the newsletter to keep you in the loop regarding events, projects, publications, and more. The Action now has 295 individual members, so we do need this medium of...

Today – on the 81st anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising – the Antisemitism and Holocaust Education Team (University of Birmingham) launches a competition for students and teachers to learn about the history of the Holocaust and the Second World War in Europe’s East. Part of a project exploring the slow impact of these histories on...

Call for Contributions: Virtual Exhibition — Image(in)ing Slow Transformation Organized by Vjollca Krasniqi, Vicky Karaiskou, Isabel Machado Alexandre and Alice Semedo Transformation lies at the core of the Slow Memory COST Action. It is a keyword when solutions to challenges in politics, welfare, conflict, work, environment, and knowledge methodologies are required. It carries an immense...

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