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Welcome to the 2021 ISSRNC online conference - Religion and Environment: Relations and Relationality.
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Saturday, February 20 • 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Thom van Dooren - Keynote Talk - In Search of Lost Snails: Storying Unknown Extinctions

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Keynote Talk: Thom van Dooren, “In Search of Lost Snails: Storying Unknown Extinctions”


The Hawaiian Islands were once home to one of the most diverse assemblages of terrestrial snails found anywhere on earth, 754 described species. Today, however, the majority of these species are extinct and most of those that remain are headed swiftly in the same direction. But this is just the crisis that we know about. Here, and all over the world, a diversity of species—many of them invertebrates—are being lost while they still remain entirely unknown to science. In fact, for every described species that blinks out—perhaps not even with any fanfare, simply recognized as a species, and therefore as an extinction, even if only by a handful of people—roughly another five extinctions likely take place entirely unknown to us. This article focuses on the particular case of Hawai‘i’s snails and the efforts of taxonomists to catalogue them as a way into this broader unknown extinction crisis. Snails have particular lessons to offer in understanding and responding to this situation. This article seeks to draw out those lessons, thinking through some of the challenges for storytelling in summoning up these unseen others and opening up a space for ethical encounters with living and dead beings that must remain beyond the edges of our knowledge.


Thom van Dooren is Associate Professor and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry and the Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney, and Professor II in the Oslo School of Environmental Humanities, University of Oslo. His research and writing focus on some of the many philosophical, ethical, cultural, and political issues that arise in the context of species extinctions and human entanglements with threatened species and places. He is the author of Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction (2014), The Wake of Crows: Living and Dying in Shared Worlds (2019), and co-editor of Extinction Studies: Stories of Time, Death, and Generations (2017), all published by Columbia University Press. His current major research project focuses on extinction in Oceania and includes both field philosophical work and a series of public environmental humanities collaborations that are working to produce a multimedia living archive of extinction stories from around the region. Van Dooren was founding co-editor of the journal Environmental Humanities (Duke University Press). He has held visiting positions at the University of California at Santa Cruz, USA (2005, 2010) the KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory in Stockholm (2014), the Department of Anthropology at MIT (2018), the Centre for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa (2018), and has been a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center, Munich (2014-16, intermittent). www.thomvandooren.org

Speakers
avatar for Evan Berry

Evan Berry

Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities, Arizona State University
Evan Berry is assistant professor of environmental humanities in the School of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. He has previously taught at American University and Lewis and Clark College. His research examines the relationship between religion... Read More →
avatar for Thom Van Dooren

Thom Van Dooren

Associate Professor and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney
Thom van Dooren is Associate Professor and Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry and the Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney, and Professor II in the Oslo School of Environmental Humanities, University of Oslo... Read More →



Saturday February 20, 2021 5:30pm - 7:00pm MST
Online (Live)