Free public lecture. Killing Nature to Save It? Ethics, Economics and the Trophy Hunting of Black Rhinoceros. Dr Mike Hannis; Senior Lecturer in Environmental Humanities, Bath Spa University.


A BSU Environmental Humanities Research Centre Public Lecture. Free to attend. Drinks, nibbles and chats after

Wednesday December 13th, 6.30-8.00 pm, Newton Park, Commons 225/226


Supported by large conservation NGOs, the US government has recently reaffirmed its support for the counter-intuitive practice of raising funds for conservation by selling rights to shoot individuals of the very species being conserved. This talk explores discourse generated by the controversial trophy hunting of an endangered black rhinoceros in Namibia by a wealthy US hunting enthusiast. Consideration of the conflicting ethical arguments, illustrated by hypothetical analogous cases, suggests that what initially appears as a triumph of utilitarianism over other ethical approaches may be better understood as a triumph of economics over ethics.

Mike Hannis is Senior Lecturer in Environmental Humanities at Bath Spa University. His academic background is in environmental ethics and political theory, and recent publications include a Routledge research monograph entitled Freedom and Environment: Autonomy, human flourishing and the political philosophy of sustainability. This talk is based on work undertaken as part of the AHRC-funded research project Future Pasts (, led from BSU by Prof. Sian Sullivan.


Mike Hannis Poster

PDF of poster Mike Hannis Talk Poster

Climate Sci-Fi Short Story competition; Arizona State University

Via H-Net  posted by Paul Hirt

Arizona State University has a multi-disciplinary Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative, which seeks to involve scholars and lay people in using creative thought about possible futures in order to illuminate climate challenges and potential adaptations and solutions. This may seem an odd topic for a historians’ listserv but I have had the pleasure of teaching courses on how past societies imagined the future. (Thanks to Michael Egan for the original inspiration in his course “The History of the Future.”) Reading about how luminaries like Edward Bellamy, HG Wells, Charlotte Perkins Gillman, Jules Verne, George Orwell, and others have imagined the future and the ways their creative fiction was shaped by social context is a very productive and stimulating exercise in historical thinking. Students love it. Some of you may remember the Smithsonian Institution created a traveling exhibit in the early 1990s titled Yesterday’s Tomorrows. There is a book by that title profiling the exhibit that you can still buy on used books websites.

If you are interested in creative writing and futurism, or if you know someone who is, please share the information below about ASU’s second climate fiction writing contest:

Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest, Arizona State University

We are looking for stories that illustrate, explore, or illuminate the impact of climate change on humanity and/or the Earth. We invite submissions in all genres of short fiction. Work will be judged by renowned science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson. The winning story will receive a $1,000 prize, and nine finalists will receive $50 prizes. Selected work will be published by Arizona State University in an online anthology, which will be free to download, read, and share. Submissions must be 5,000 words or less, and must be original, previously unpublished work. The deadline for submissions is February 28, 2018. Learn more and enter at

Free Public Lecture: Poetic Technologies: Exploring Hebridean renewable energy production through poetry- sculpture collaboration; Lila Matsumoto, University of Nottingham

November 15 14.00-16.00

Commons 226, Newton Park Campus

Lila Matsumoto, University of Nottingham:

Poetic Technologies: Exploring Hebridean renewable energy production through poetry- sculpture collaboration

This talk centres around the question: what special knowledge can poetry give us about our natural and built environments? Over the last two years, I have worked with visual artist Hannah Imlach to explore how the conceptualisation and processes of sculpture-making can galvanise the writing and reading of poetry. Our collaboration has taken us to two locations in the Hebrides, the isle of Eigg and the Monach Islands in the Outer Hebrides, to learn from local models of renewable energy production that benefit communities physically as well as socially. In my talk, I will share some of the outcomes of these fieldtrips, before moving on to discuss poetics as a technology which holds out the potential of reconfiguring everyday experience. I will draw on the work of Val Plumwood, Nicole Boivin, and Gaston Bachelard to bolster my thinking about poetry’s coalescence with matter, and the ways in which poetry can engage with environmental thought.

Lila Matsumoto is a poet, researcher, and lecturer in poetry at the University of Nottingham. Her poetry pamphlets include Soft Troika (If a Leaf Falls Press) and Allegories from my Kitchen (Sad Press). A collection of poetry, Urn and Drum, is forthcoming from Shearsman in 2018. Lila is interested experimental forms of production and performance of poetry, and often collaborates with visual and sound art practitioners. Her current research explores the theme of women’s work and gendered divisions of artistic labour. Lila co-edits the poetry and arts magazine FRONT HORSE ( and is a member of the music collective Food People.

Bookings here

This  free public lecture is jointly presented by Intercultural Communication through Practice Research Group from 

Future Pasts project film shortlisted for Arts and Humanities Research Council’s prestigious 2017 Research in Film Awards

A film made by the Future Pasts research project  led by Professor Sian Sullivan of the Bath Spa University Research Centre for Environmental Humanities has been shortlisted for the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s prestigious 2017 Research in Film Awards.

The film ‘The Damara King’s Festival’ was made in collaboration with Namibian film organisation Mamokobo, the Damara King’s Festival Organising Committee, and UK academic partners at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies and the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for African Studies.

DAMARA KING’S FESTIVAL 2016 (29 mins) from Future Pasts on Vimeo.

The film, recently showcased  in the exhibition ‘Future Pasts: Landscape, Memory and Music in West Namibia’, has made the shortlist for the International Development Award.

Hundreds of films were submitted for the Awards this year and the overall winner for each category, who will receive £2,000 towards their filmmaking, will be announced at a special ceremony at 195 Piccadilly in London, home of BAFTA, on 9 November.

Launched in 2015, the Research in Film Awards celebrate short films, up to 30 minutes long, that have been made about the arts and humanities and their influence on our lives.

There are five categories in total with four of them aimed at the research community and one open to the public.

Principal Investigator for the Future Pasts research project, Sian Sullivan, said:

‘We are delighted at this news. This is the first filmed record of a unique event in which music, dance and oratory combine to honour Damara pasts, presents and cultural landscapes. Blending long-term ethnographic research with the visual intuition of Namibian film-maker Andrew Botelle, the film offers a window into an intimate celebration of identity by a rich but historically marginalised indigenous culture. This recognition will help us to share the film more widely within Namibia, and to support the Festival Organising Committee in future events.’

Mike Collins, Head of Communications at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: ‘The standard of filmmaking in this year’s Research in Film Awards has been exceptionally high and the range of themes covered span the whole breadth of arts and humanities subjects.

‘While watching the films I was impressed by the careful attention to detail and rich storytelling that the filmmakers had used to engage their audiences. The quality of the shortlisted films further demonstrates the endless potential of using film as a way to communicate and engage people with academic research. Above all, the shortlist showcases the art of filmmaking as a way of helping us to understand the world that we live in today.

A team of judges watched the longlisted films in each of the categories to select the shortlist and ultimately the winner. Key criteria included looking at how the filmmakers came up with creative ways of telling stories – either factual or fictional – on camera that capture the importance of arts and humanities research to all of our lives.

Judges for the 2017 Research in Film Awards include Richard Davidson-Houston of Channel 4 Television, Lindsay Mackie Co-founder of Film Club and Matthew Reisz from Times Higher Education.

The winning films will be shared on the Arts and Humanities Research Council website and YouTube channel. On 9 November you’ll be able to follow the fortunes of the shortlisted films on Twitter via the hashtag #RIFA2017.

Our next public lecture: Merle Patchett; University of Bristol; School of Geographical Sciences; From Sexual Selection to Sex And The City: The Biogeographies of the Blue Bird-Of-Paradise; Wednesday October 18th  6.30 pm -8.00 pm 


Merle Patchett; University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences 

Wednesday October 18th  6.30 pm -8.00 pm inc discussion, wine and snacks; Newton Park Campus; Commons Building; Room 225; this is a free event but please book a place through Bath Spa Live here 

Abstract. This paper takes as its starting point an encounter with a preserved blue bird-of-paradise skin. Though rare, the bird became wildly famous after it perched atop the head of Carrie Bradshaw during Sex and the City: The Movie. For those handling bird-of-paradise skins the ethereal beauty and luxurious quality of their plumage is immediately felt, making it easy to understand why birds-of-paradise have “for millennia been ornaments, commodities and gifts”. [i]  Yet as Darwin’s theory of sexual selection tells us, the birds’ exuberant plumage evolved entirely for their own pleasure. This paper will therefore chart the blue bird-of-paradise’s biogeographies of excess: from sexual selection to Sex and the City. Tracing the lively geographies of this dead bird from New Guinea rainforests to New York streets offers the opportunity of narrating collective natural and cultural change over time and space. This is because the blue bird-of-paradise can be thought of as a “telling example” of the millions of Paradisaea that were hunted, traded, shipped and lusted after since their earliest forms of commodification. Moreover, with the Paradisaea now said to be on a “flight to oblivion” the paper will conclude by outlining how the blue bird-of-paradise offers a way of working towards transspecies histories and therefore multispecies recuperation.


Merle Patchett is a cultural-historical geographer by training. Her research broadly focuses on theories, histories, and geographies of practice. This focus has led her to engage empirically with a range of specialised skills (e.g. taxidermy and plumasserie), practitioners (e.g. artisans, artists and architects), and places of practice (e.g. museums, galleries and archives) and to develop practice-based methodologies. See Merle’s staff pages here

 Image result for Merle patchett