Slower, incremental, and invisible environmental changes have been memorialised and remembered (in stone, bronze, wood, text, image, media and social networks) by communities for centuries and intangible memories of flood, drought, heatwave and scarcity have long provided stories, anecdotes and narratives for sustainable living.
WG5 will explore remembering as a longer, slower, sustained and inheritable process of remembering and learning to live with environmental change. However, there is also a sense of environmental crisis that appears utterly novel and without memory of “slow change.” Societies are newly conscious of suffering and trauma caused by environmental change and disaster – from the production of climate refugees, to the loss of lives and homes through wildfires, floods, and droughts.
We contend that this new environmental remembrance is inextricably interwoven with large-scale economic and social transformation processes and that we must seek to understand its effects in terms of memory politics. Engaging with our environmental crisis via the optics of memory politics will help inform and contribute to responses to this most urgent and topical of challenges.
A major challenge for WG5 will be developing an interdisciplinary dialogue and conceptual framework that can bring into focus the complex ways in which slow changes to the environment provide the memorial foundation for social relations.
WG5 will seek to conceptualise “environmental remembrance” by drawing on the expertise and experiences of local community groups and environmental action organizations, as well as dedicated museums, in order to develop a clear agenda and communication strategy for capturing memories of slow geological change. The impact goal here revolves around two interconnected elements.
First, by plotting the development of the climate emergency within a longer time frame and memory, we will be better placed to expose the magnitude of the crisis faced and encourage the requisite response.
Second, given the rate at which the world is changing as a result of environmental developments, we aim to provide a genuine engagement with, and charting of, what is being lost in order to future-proof policies and approaches to environmental change.