Harriet Hawkins | Imagine! Creating Earth Futures?

How do you imagine the environment? 
Where does this imagination come from? 

In recent times the imagination has offered both a means to understand the origins of our current environmental predicament and a proactive response to it. In other words, can some responsibility for environmental crisis be laid at the doorstep of failures of a Western imagination of human-environmental relations? Whether these failures be a diminished imagination unable to provide the basis for modes of respectful living with the Earth, an imagination inadequate to the spatial-temporal complexities of climate change and the Anthropocene, or an overlooking of other imaginations of the environment already present in the world. Accepting such failures might however, also direct us to the possibilities of the imaginary realm, not only for imagining new Earth Futures, but also, for forging foundations for living onwards otherwise. This talk sets out to explore these possibilities and their pitfalls through probing a series of artistic-academic projects that fall under the rubric of the GeoHumanities. Revisiting the troubled inheritances of the idea of the imagination, discussion of these projects will consider where the resources for less flawed environmental imaginations might come from, what the form of such imaginations might be, but also, what understandings of the imagination itself they demand. 

Related Reading

Geography, Art, Research: Artistic Research in the GeoHumanities (2020) (Routledge: London)

Creativity: Live, Work, Create [Key Texts in Geography Series] (2016) (Routledge: London)

For Creative Geographies: Geography, Visual Art and the Making of Worlds (2013) (Routledge: London)

About the Speaker

Harriet Hawkins is Professor of GeoHumanities, and the founding Co-Director of the Centre for GeoHumanities at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research is focused on the advancement of the GeoHumanities, a field that sits at the intersection of geographical scholarship with arts and humanities scholarship and practice. Empirically, she explores the geographies of artworks and art worlds, and is interested in the elaboration of core humanities concepts of aesthetics, creativity and the imagination from a geographical perspective. Harriet’s current research focuses on the subsurface as a site of much needed new environmental imaginations, and explores the potential of arts and humanities scholarship and practices to both understand and help shape these new imaginations.  

Collaboration underpins Harriet’s research practice, and alongside her written research she has produced artist’s books, participatory art projects, performance works and exhibitions in collaboration with individual artists and a range of international arts organizations including Tate, Arts Catalyst, Iniva, Furtherfield and Swiss Artists in Labs.

Harriet is the author of For Creative Geographies (2013) and Creativity (2016), and co-editor of Geographical Aesthetics (2014) and Geographies of Making Craft and Creativity (2017). Her latest monograph exploring practice-based research in geography, Geography, Art, Research: Artistic Research in the GeoHumanities was published in 2020. 

Harriet’s research and collaborations are funded by a range of bodies including the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), The Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy, the Arts Council, and the National Science Foundations of the U.S., Switzerland and China.

Harriet is currently serving as the Director of techne, an Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership that supports almost 200 PhD students. She is also editor of the journal cultural geographies and associate editor of GeoHumanities: Space, Place and the Humanities and from 2020-2022 she was a member of the sub-panel for Geography and Environmental Studies for the UK’s national research assessment exercise, The Research Excellence Framework. 

About the Series

The Raymond F. West Memorial Lecture series was established in 1910 by Mr. and Mrs. Frederic West of Seattle in memory of their son, a student at Stanford University.

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