HumanNature podcasts

On day three of the Arts Letters and Numbers residency, we listened to podcasts from the Australian Museum’s ‘HumanNature: Connection and cooperation in a time of climate change’ series, (accessed through AM soundcloud account).

Bruce Pascoe’s excellent speculative fiction, predicting Australian life in 2023 if current social, cultural, political and environmental conditions continue as they are. Question time is worth listening to; he speaks for most of it.
“Bruce Pascoe’s ground-breaking research completely reconsiders the notion of pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians as hunter-gatherers. Explore and challenge the colonial myths that have often underpinned efforts to justify dispossession in this fascinating discussion. Reading the diaries of early explorers, both with and against the grain, Pascoe retells Aboriginal history and argues that it is time to take a new look at Australia’s past.”
“Aboriginal poet and novelist Tony Birch explores how First Nations ecological knowledge could help mitigate the impacts of climate change. In his urgent call to action, Birch identifies the powerful roles that First Nations ecological knowledge, environmental activism, scholarship and creativity can play in addressing the impact of climate change, particularly on vulnerable and disempowered communities suffering human rights abuses as a direct result. No less pressing, he argues, is the acceptance of personal responsibility towards forming respectful and humble relationships with country and the planet.”
“How does giving and receiving take form in, and give form to, our living world? While most discussions of gift-giving focus on exchanges between humans, Deborah Bird Rose is also captivated by the many forms of connectivity and flow that are integral to ecological processes. Drawing on her research with Indigenous people, Rose asks: what might it mean to understand gift giving as central to, and moving across and between, many systems of life; and what might it require of us, in this time of extinctions in which countless living forms and their possibilities for giving and receiving with others, are slipping away?”

I decided not to say much about the heartbreaking things that are taking place on Earth today. We’re in the midst of a great betrayal of life’s gifts. But I’ve chosen rather to praise life, and in this mode grief may be transmuted into advocacy. Along with mourning the loss, I’m asserting that in the shadow of death we’re called to defend life and to avoid despair.

Deborah Bird Rose, HumanNature lecture delivered at the Australian Museum, 2018
“Environmental martyrs put their bodies and lives on the line, risking imprisonment, violence or burial in a shallow grave in the dead of night. Some activists remain anonymous, while others gain posthumous fame and power, their deaths becoming a rallying call for others to join the cause. Rob Nixon, Professor in Humanities and Environment at Princeton University, and author of the award-winning Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, explores the surge in environmental martyrdom around the world over timber, water, land and mineral rights. Martyrdom is direct action in extremis, he says. But why are so many people sacrificing their lives? And what is the relationship between the fallen martyr and the felled tree?”

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