CONFERENCE APRIL 19 – 22, 2017
The colonization of nature under capitalism is rooted in an ethos that views human beings as separate to and above nature—Earthmasters for whom the Planet is an inexhaustible reservoir of natural resources to be exploited. With profit as the prime motive, the resources are denuded beyond sustainable limits for the disproportionate benefit of a wealthy few. Pollution and waste from this activity also is skewed in its impact, in this case to the substantial detriment of poor and marginalized people, indigenous communities, and biotic life. Capital’s colonization of nature has brought us to our current moment of grave ecological peril—climate change, Sixth Extinction, and other human-caused environmental crises that cumulatively and rapidly degrade Earth’s life-sustaining ecological fabric.
Decolonizing Nature has thus become an urgent priority if we are to progress toward a just and sustainable Earth for all living beings. How do we resist further ecological devastation? How do we achieve resilience in times of stress? How do we revitalize affected ecological habitats and communities? The University of New Mexico will host an interdisciplinary environmental justice public forum “Decolonizing Nature: Resistance, Resilience, Revitalization,” from April 19 through Earth Day, April 22, to address these and related issues.
The conference is free and open to the public. It will bring to Albuquerque thirty-three speakers from the fields of art, architecture, humanities, religion, science, and grassroots activists from across the US and from Mexico, Canada and Ecuador. The gathering will foster discussions on integration of knowledge across disciplines, practices across cultures, and social-environmental movements across geographies. It will convene in the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque (parking is extensive and free).
In conjunction with the conference, 516 ARTS will host a companion exhibition “Decolonizing Nature” from April 15 through 29; the University of New Mexico Art Museum will host a one-day film screening on April 18; and on Earth Day, April 22, the participants will have the opportunity to experience “Abrazos: A Community Celebration of Environmental Justice” at the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge.
The conference and the associated programming are sponsored by the Land Arts of the American West and Art & Ecology programs in the Department of Art at the University of New Mexico in partnership with the National Hispanic Cultural Center, 516 ARTS, UNM Art Museum, Friends of the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, Los Jardines Institute, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. The project is coordinated by Subhankar Banerjee, Lannan Chair and professor of Art & Ecology, University of New Mexico.
Organizers are grateful for the generous support provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the New Mexico Humanities Council, and University of New Mexico’s Office of the Vice President for Research, Center for Regional Studies, College of Fine Arts, and the Department of Art.
[ Conference image: Mexico/New Mexico borderland, NASA Landsat, courtesy UNM MAGIC]