Cultures of Nature and Wellbeing
Disrupted Histories, Recovered Pasts
"Disrupted Histories, Recovered Pasts: A Cross-Disciplinary Analysis and Cross-Case Synthesis of Oral Histories and History in Post-Conflict and Postcolonial Contexts"
Funded jointly: Arts and Humanities Research Council, Care for the Future and LABEX Past in the Present research programmes;
Resilient people need resilient ecosystems (RESPiRES)
ESRC (via the Newton Fund and the Mexican Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia)
2019-2022: £540,000. Principal Investigator: Dr. Ian Thornhill.
Current PhD projects
Recipient of the Bath Spa Research Centre for Environmental Humanities inaugural PhD studentship
My practice-led research asks - what are the parameters of an arts practice which seeks to articulate located subjectivities that can disrupt dominant discourses surrounding climate change? The overall research seeks to critically develop creative language which might successfully embody the feminist subject-as-process as a critical testimony, and to ask of those embodiments how they can impact upon our capacity to address the political bias that defines the climate change narrative. How can different subjectivities be articulated within practice in ways that are specific, dynamic and with the potential to disrupt dominant discourses surrounding climate change? If the global-scale, technocratic perspective marginalises a plethora of significant issues and dimensions, can arts practices which focus on the subject and the location intervene? What is meant by location and locatedness that is expressed through practice and that is significant in the discourses surrounding climate change?
I trained as a painter and now work in moving image and sound, creating (sometimes silent) films and sonic drawings. My work has been exhibited widely, particularly over the last 2 years. Following inclusion in Raw Catalyst (Cambridge Sustainability Residency at Anglia Ruskin University July 2015) a sonic piece entitled ‘Underheard’ was selected by Theaster Gates to form part of Sanctum Bristol (Oct 15). I undertook a month long residency at Arts Quarter Budapest (Nov 15) to harvest material at the various thermal baths in Budapest. This work was screened at Fringe Arts Bath, Language, Landscape and Sublime (Schumacher College), Journeys and Transmission at University of Plymouth, Place Ecology & the Digital (University of Brighton) and as part of the Korean Biennale. The Fringe Arts Bath screening formed part of an exhibition I guest-curated bringing UK and Hungarian artists together on the theme of Liquid. (All 2016).
Liquid will be shown in Budapest in February 2017. In the Spring of 2016 I was commissioned by the Media Wall at Bath Spa University to produce a moving image piece entitled Submersive Testimonies. From December 2015 to July 2016 I was Artist in Residence at Plymouth School of Creative Art. I made contributions to Balance-Unbalance International Conference (May 2016), and Language Landscape and the Sublime at Schumacher College (June 2016) and Place Ecology & the Digital (University of Brighton Sept 16). A showcase of my sonic work was broadcast on Radio Revolten as part of the International Radio Art Festival, Germany, October 2016.
I broadcast regularly on Soundart Radio with two shows:
Artdotearth.fm – monthly broadcast bringing Artdotearth (Arts & Ecology at Schumacher College), CCANW (Centre for Contemporary Art and the natural world) and RANE (Research in Art, Nature and Environment, Falmouth University) together to explore threads and themes which bring the 3 institutes together. Sonic Drawing – monthly broadcast exploring sonic arts and acoustic ecology.
From January 2017 I start a 3 month residency in the town of Burry Port, Carmarthenshire. Working with teachers and students at Ysgol Glan Y Mor to develop digital creativity within the school, I will also produce a substantial body of work relating to the tidal environment of the town.
- Liquid II - group show curated by me, Arts Quarter Budapest, February 2017
- Art Language Location, Cambridge, October 2016
- Plymouth Art Weekender, September 2016
- Place Ecology & the Digital (University of Brighton Sept 16)
- Korean Biennale – one of 174 international artists showing work on the theme of Water. Aug 2016
- Liquid - group show curated by me, Fringe Arts Bath, June 2016
- Submersive Testimony - Media Wall, Bath Spa University May/June 2016
- Stratum II -Large scale projections/sound,Buckfast Church, March 2016
- Sanctum Bristol – sound installation ‘The Underheard’, Oct/Nov1015
- Plymouth Art Weekender – 2 moving image installations, Sept 2015
- Selected Artist (one of 8) for Arts & Sustainability Residency, Cambridge School of Art, July 2015
- Raw Catalyst Ruskin Gallery, Anglia Ruskin University July/August 2015
- From Cowboys to Astronauts: Exeter University, May/June 2015
- Just Add Water: Group Exhibition –Hannahs at Seale-Hayne: June 2015
Patricia Brien is the Principal Lecturer and Academic Manager of Fashion and 3D Design at the University of South Wales. Apart from working in Higher Education for the past 15 years, she has continued to be a freelance writer in the fashion and lifestyle area during this period. Her MA Design (Textiles) included the participatory and collaborative project Spiritus Loci which looked at fashion, textiles, ecophilosophy and ecofeminism during a span of one season in 2012-13 in Melbourne. Working with seven other practitioners the group worked individually with a chosen and meaningful ‘nature place’ as muse to create a body of work made from hemp and found materials. All participants observed and shared their experiences and outcomes with the group in self-designed rituals. The premise of this collaborative and reflexive practice with place and design informs the current PhD direction.
This research approaches material culture, in particular garments and textiles, seeking to develop and/or re-establish ‘invisible’ networks and interfaces as articulated in the fields of new materialism, ecofeminism, ecophilosophy, ecophenomenology and alternative spiritualities. Working within social-action and reflexive practice-led methodologies this project aims to craft and nurture an understanding of the more-than-human world and establish networks that respond and formulate deeper understanding of place, identity and being.
The project will investigate specific human and non-human networks that converge in the development of textiles, dress and decoration, across time and geographies. These investigations will generate approaches for understanding experiences within a sentient environment where stuff (stoff: fabric) is an interface not purely surface. This body of research explores narratives of visible and invisible networks that exist around or create a textile interface that are intergenerational, intercultural, interspecies and interwoven into our experience of being and identity. It is acknowledged that there is a gap between our current experience of garments and textiles and themes of mythology, cosmology, ecospirituality, this project aims to reinterpret these networks.
Awarded the Environmental Humanities Fee Waiver 3-year Postgraduate PhD studentship
Charlotte's thesis explores the ways narratives about flooding provide an examination of environmental relations within the Anthropocene, defined here as the current epoch in which human activity has determined the Earth's geology. She terms ‘flood narratives’ as fictional novelistic and filmic accounts of flooding and flood related disasters that speak to the experience of climate and environmental change, while also developing questions around human vulnerability and culpability with respect to environmental catastrophe.
She considers late twentieth and twenty-first century Anglophone flood narratives, which includes a list of British, Australian and American authors such as Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From, Maggie Gee’s The Flood, George Turner’s The Sea and Summer, James Bradley’s Clade, Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being and Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones.
By investigating the relationships between contemporary flood narratives, she attempts to answer the following research questions:
- What do contemporary flood narratives reveal about human relationships with the rapidly changing hydrosphere in different socio-environmental contexts?
- What key features can we discern across twenty-first century flood narratives in how they relate to climate crisis?
- What sort of communities and modes of resistance and exchange are fostered by the different instances of flooding and flood narratives in this examination?
- How do narratological and mythical forms shape representations of flooding and ecological calamity?
She has presented on flood narratives at the ‘H20: Life & Death’ conference at the University of Adelaide, organized as part of GALA’s Lost Water series in 2017, and at the ASLE-UKI Conference to be held at Plymouth University (forthcoming). She also plans to publish articles as the project progresses.
Hazard, Risk and Disaster research group
HRD members span a wide range of complementary Earth and social science sub-disciplines. We are engaged in research that raises the visibility, articulates and challenges the complex problems afflicting society and environment. Our particular research foci include:
- Flood event histories, dynamics, impacts and responses in urban and mountain settings
- Upland sediment system hazard dynamics
- Climate change, variability and adaptation
- The diverse field of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), particularly in regard to the Indian Himalaya and Tamil Nadu (Southern India)
Our approaches seek the dissemination of knowledge and delivery of impact by:
- Embracing a spectrum of disciplinary to interdisciplinary methods;
- Encouraging public engagement; and
- Promoting collaboration with industrial partners (in research and consultancy) to achieve knowledge of value to society.
We apply new-cutting edge technologies in the capture and analysis of data (e.g. terrestrial laser scanning and UAVs), across a range of process environments, societal settings and heritage assets.
Forest and Outdoor Education
The project aims to help to establish a shared understanding of ‘Forest’ and outdoor experiences by drawing on literature and practitioner perspectives in settings in England, Denmark and the United States. Through this project, we aim to gain a deeper awareness of the different elements which are foregrounded, and to identify the ways in which different cultural perspectives may impact upon the interpretation and understanding of the benefits The project aims to help to establish a shared understanding of ‘Forest’ and outdoor experiences by drawing on literature and practitioner perspectives in settings in England, Denmark and the United States. Through this project, we aim to gain a deeper awareness of the different elements which are foregrounded, and to identify the ways in which different cultural perspectives may impact upon the interpretation and understanding of the benefits of forest and outdoor experiences. of forest and outdoor experiences. forest and outdoor experiences.
Education and Social Justice
An interdisciplinary research group interested in how knowledge and social justice interact.
This research group defines education broadly to include informal and incidental learning, capacity building and agency through community organising and knowledge creation and translation as well as the more traditionally considered avenues of schooling.
We are interested in how education, when done well, can contribute to social justice conceived as recognition, representation and redistribution, and how education can also act as a barrier to this.
Our broad scope encompasses a number of topics, for example issues of cognitive and epistemic justice that dictate what counts as knowledge and who says what stands as true; the emancipatory function of education to disturb stagnated imaginaries and forefront a politics of recognition; the interconnectedness of our social and natural spheres which demand the simultaneous consideration of environmental justice with social justice and how to educate and advocate for this; educational governance that represents a diverse range of practitioners and stakeholders at all levels of decision making, and much more.
There is also a focus on methodologies that contribute to social justice which are particularly prevalent and have a long heritage in educational research such as participatory methods, action research, popular education and co-produced research.
PhD candidate Raul Paez Cubides – Peace-building from Multiple Voices: Understanding the Potential of Education in the Transformation of Colombian Society
Institute for Education funded research project: The Role of Activist Research in the Modern University: a Theoretical Exploration
The Research Centre for the Environmental Humanities has been the recipient of a number of awards and grants from such funding bodies as the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the Templeton Foundation.
Find out more below how we used those funds to institute dialogue and change in our discipline.
21st Century Filipina Nature Writing for Sustainable Development and Environmental Justice
Arts and Humanities Research Council
November 2016 – October 2017
Mentor to early career researchers -
Human, non-human and environmental value systems: an impossible frontier?
September 2012 – June 2017
For further information, see our project website and blog.
Towards hydrocitizenship. Connecting communities with and through responses to interdependent, multiple water issues
Arts and Humanities Research Council, Connected Communities Environments and Sustainability Large Grant
2014 – 2017
For more information, see our project website.
Faith in Conservation
Principal Investigator - Ian Todd