CFP: 'Art History, Theory and Practice for an Ecological Emergency' session at the Association for Art History’s Annual Conference 2020

Lucy Whelan's picture
Call for Papers
April 1, 2020 to April 3, 2020
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Environmental History / Studies, Fine Arts

Call for Papers

'Art History, Theory and Practice for an Ecological Emergency' 

A day-long session at the Association for Art History's Annual Conference 2020

Newcastle University & Northumbria University, Newcastle, 1 - 3 April, 2020
Deadline for proposals: Oct 21, 2019
Session Convenors: Andrew Patrizio (Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh), and Lucy Whelan (Humboldt University of Berlin)

How can we align art theory, history, and practice with an ontology that refuses to see human life as fundamentally set apart from nature? Art historians have recently started to respond to global environmental concerns with eco-critical approaches. Yet with the effects of abrupt climate breakdown already apparent, art history can afford neither to repeat the theoretical debates over the representation of nature explored in literary studies since the 1990s, nor to conceive the ecological as a transitory ‘turn’ or an additional category of analysis. Instead, a global existential crisis demands a wholescale rethinking of how art historians and practitioners write, curate, make, and teach. This interdisciplinary session builds on recent work by TJ Demos, Anna Tsing, Kathryn Yusoff and others, in moving towards an integrated ecological art history that is oriented towards the future, even as it examines the past. Key questions to explore may include:

  • Faced with the reality of environmental breakdown, how can different approaches to realism attend to the more-than-human reality always constraining and exceeding human constructions?
  • Taking a global, holistic approach, what new insights may be revealed by situating historical categories such as gender, race, or class in relation to the environment?
  • In turning our attention to ‘deep’ or geological time, or conversely to the critically shallow time left to reduce emissions, how might we change our approach to art’s temporality?
  • While some major museums have recently divested from fossil fuels, how can the art institution go further in resisting norms that are damaging the planet?

This session will comprise six, 25-minute papers, presented over a single day, as part of the Association for Art History’s 46th Annual Conference, co-hosted by Newcastle University and Northumbria University, 1-3 April 2020. In addition to three days of academic sessions and research papers in the vibrant city of Newcastle, the 2020 Annual Conference will include a mix of events including artists’ film screenings, performances, roundtable discussions, and site visits.

To submit a paper proposal for this session, please use the Proposal Form available on the Association for Art History website, and email it directly to the session convenors, and by the deadline of Monday 21 October 2019.
Proposals should be 250 words maximum, plus a title, for a 25-minute paper.

The Paper Proposal Form and further information can be found on the session's webpage:

Please make sure your title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper, as the title is what appears online, in social media and in the printed programme.

Contact Info: 

Lucy Whelan (Humboldt University of Berlin)

Contact Email: