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Welcome to the 2021 ISSRNC online conference - Religion and Environment: Relations and Relationality.

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Thursday, February 18

9:00am MST

Official Conference Opening - Welcome Remarks
Welcome video from ISSRNC and ASU conference organizers.

avatar for Mark Peterson

Mark Peterson

Professor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Thursday February 18, 2021 9:00am - Sunday February 28, 2021 2:30pm MST
Online (Pre-recorded)

4:00pm MST

Tiffany King Keynote - Losing Faith in Work(s): Black and Indigenous Relations of Doing and Being With
Keynote Talk: Tiffany King – “Losing Faith in Work(s): Black and Indigenous Relations of Doing and Being With”

This 2021 Distinguished Environmental Humanities Initiative Lecture at ASU, cosponsored by the Global Futures Laboratory and the Initiative for Humanities Research, comes from King’s forthcoming book project Red and Black Alchemies of Flesh: Conjuring Decolonial and Abolitionist Presents.

Tiffany King is an Associate Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Georgia State University. Her research is situated at intersections of slavery and indigenous genocide in the Americas. King’s book The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native Studies (Duke University Press, 2019) argues that scholarly traditions within Black Studies that examine Indigenous genocide alongside slavery in the Americas have forged ethical and generative engagements with Native Studies—and Native thought—that continue to reinvent the political imaginaries of abolition and decolonization. King is also co-editor of an anthology titled Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism (Duke University Press 2020).

Q&A Moderator: Joni Adamson, ASU

avatar for Joni Adamson

Joni Adamson

Professor of English and Environmental Humanities & Director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative, Arizona State University

avatar for Tiffany King

Tiffany King

Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Georgia State University
Tiffany King is an Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Georgia State University. Her research is situated at intersections of slavery and indigenous genocide in the Americas. King’s book The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native S... Read More →

Thursday February 18, 2021 4:00pm - 6:00pm MST
Online (Live)
Saturday, February 20

11:30am MST

ISSRNC Business Meeting (Open to all)
Official ISSRNC member meeting. Open to all. Come socialize and meet other ISSRNC members and conference presenters.

Saturday February 20, 2021 11:30am - 12:30pm MST
Online (Live)

12:30pm MST

JSRNC Business Meeting (Open meeting - 12:30-1 pm, Closed meeting - 1-1:30 pm)
Official JSRNC meeting. The first half hour of this meeting (12:30-1pm) is open to all ISSRNC members who want to learn more about the JSRNC or have questions about publishing. The second half of this meeting (1-1:30pm) is a closed business meeting for JSRNC staff.

avatar for Amanda Nichols

Amanda Nichols

PhD Candidate, Department of Religion; JSRNC, Managing Editor, University of Florida

Saturday February 20, 2021 12:30pm - 1:30pm MST
Online (Live)

1:45pm MST

Native Responses to the Extinction of Animals
(LIVE conversation with presenters. Please watch session video beforehand.)

This session presents Native cultural responses to the local extinction of animal populations and some expressions of hope for their return. At the same time it serves to introduce an ASU Institute for Humanities Research funded project: "The Amazonian Social Relation to Nature: A Variable Pathway Digital Resource." Traditionally the presence of animals was attributed to their relational affinity with a human community that treated these animals with respect. Thus care was taken to maintain their presence by heightening social relations to animals through song and empathetic speech. Hunting, and fishing depended on these cultural arts for eliciting an empathetic animal response. Over the last 50 years the world has lost 65% of its animal population. This session presents responses to the departure of the animals by Laura Tohe, Navajo Nation Poet Laureate and several members of the Amazonian Kichwa and Andwa nations. For the native communities this collapse is not just the loss of a resource but represents a breakdown in interspecies social relations upon which life has depended for centuries. For this reason Native responses have included laments and songs directed to the animals and not only proposals for replacing a resource. Our panel also presents some Native thinking on the possible return of animals.

Tod Swanson, Chair
“Introduction to The Amazonian Social Relation to Nature: A Variable Pathway Digital Resource.”

This presentation briefly introduces “The Amazonian Social Relation to Nature: A Variable Pathway Digital Resource.” The project organizes 125 short Kichwa, Achuar, and WaoTededo language videos of elders on the social relation to plants, animals, water and land. The videos have subtitles in English and Spanish and are linked to interpretive essays. The presentation will introduce the cultural themes around which the site is organized and demonstrate some of the possible variable reading pathways. It will also show how the site is searchable by scientific or indigenous language names of species.

Laura Tohe, Navajo Nation, Poet Laureate, “Japanese Garden.”

A reflection on the departure of the animals. The poem will first be read in the Navajo language and then in English. Laura Tohe will also respond to the presenters from the Amazon at the end of the session.

Pedro Andi, Quijos Kichwa Nation, “A Paca Salt Lick Closed by the Master of Animals”

Elodia Dagua, Andwa Nation, “The Master of Animals Slams the Door”

Belgica Dagua, Andwa Nation, “On the Disappearance of the Animals”

Delicia Dagua, Andwa Nation, “On the Departure of the Peccaries” and “Singing with the Toucan’s Orphans”

Luisa Cadena, Andwa Nation, “The return of the animals and the dead”

Janis Nuckolls. “Bringing grammar to life: speaking and moving in Quichua-authentic ways.”

Current work in Anthropological Linguistics is attempting to redraw the margins of language (Dingemanse 2018) beyond the traditional limitations of linguistic science, and into a wider field that includes emotions, gestures, and a class of expressions called ideophones, which are imitative words depictive of sensory experiences. The use of such words is significant for Quichua speakers' cultural ecology because they allow nonhuman forms of life to articulate a perspective and a voice by means of linguistic sound. For this presentation, I analyze portions of narratives from elder experts, which demonstrate that speaking Quichua is not a matter of learning to articulate abstract concepts familiar to speakers of English. Rather, they show the necessity of thinking concretely with language, by reproducing sensory experiences, which are communicated by 'whole body speaking', incorporating gestures with sound-imitative ideophones. I will illustrate this with several 10 second videos of ideophones and gestures evoking Quichua relations with plants and animals such as how a speaker gestures movements of a bird as it makes deceptive sounds to human hunters. Although gestures are often considered ancillary to language, Quichua speakers' gestures reveal that they are integral to their language ecology and discourse culture.

Elizabeth Swanson-Andi, Quijos Kichwa Nation, “On the Importance of Preserving for Future"

Generations the Voices of our Elders Responding to the Animals.” This presentation articulates the perspective of indigenous young people on the importance of preserving in digital form the way in which our grandparents, uncles, and aunts have responded to the forest across generations. For so many of us generational continuity is being threatened either because of migrating to jobs, the loss of forest, the loss of our language, or the loss of our older relatives. As we seek to respond to our environment in a different time the ability to see our elders speaking and gesturing in response to our ancestral land, to hear and feel their emotions expressed in our own language brings back a flood of memories. Digital access is especially important for so many of our generation who have had to migrate to cities for education or jobs. The videos are also important as teaching tools in indigenous schools. These 4 memories of elders will live in us helping to preserve generational continuity as we teach future children and respond to the earth in changing times.

avatar for Tod Swanson

Tod Swanson

Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Senior Sustainability Scholar in the Global Institute for Sustainability, Arizona State University


Elodia Dagua

Andwa Nation

Belgica Dagua

Andwa Nation
avatar for Laura Tohe

Laura Tohe

Scholar of Indigenous American Literature, Navajo Nation Poet Laureate
Laura Tohe is Diné.  She is Tsénahabiłnii, Sleepy Rock People clan, and born for the Tódich’inii, Bitter Water clan.  She grew up at Crystal, New Mexico near the Chuska Mountains on the Diné homeland.

Pedro Andi

Quijos Kichwa Nation

Delicia Dagua

Andwa Nation

Luisa Cadena

Andwa Nation
avatar for Janis Nuckolls

Janis Nuckolls

Professor, Quechua Instructor, Linguistics, Brigham Young University
avatar for Elizabeth Swanson-Andi

Elizabeth Swanson-Andi

Quijos Kichwa Nation

Saturday February 20, 2021 1:45pm - 3:45pm MST
Online (Live)

4:00pm MST

Networking Session - Grad Students
Session Title: Networking session for graduate students.

Moderators: Georgina Drew and Elaine Nogueira-Godsey.

This roundtable session features a conversation with Georgina Drew and Elaine Nogueira-Godsey, who will discuss the importance and offer strategies for current graduate students on networking through social media and in conferences. Breakout rooms will be used to facilitate opportunities for more questions.

avatar for Georgina Drew

Georgina Drew

Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Adelaide
avatar for Elaine Nogueira-Godsey

Elaine Nogueira-Godsey

Assistant Professor of Theology, Ecology and Race, Methodist Theological School in Ohio

Saturday February 20, 2021 4:00pm - 5:00pm MST
Online (Live)

5:30pm MST

Thom van Dooren - Keynote Talk - In Search of Lost Snails: Storying Unknown Extinctions
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

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)
Sunday, February 21

1:00pm MST

Author Roundtable on Pandemic, Ecology Theology: Perspectives on Covid-19
(LIVE conversation with presenters. Please watch session video beforehand.)

This author roundtable is on the new book ‘Pandemic, Ecology and Theology: Perspectives on COVID-19’ (ed. Alexander J.B. Hampton, Routledge, 2020). The pandemic has demonstrated human creativity, and the resilience of the oft neglected presence of nature. Equally, it has exposed deep social inequities and structural deficiencies about the way we organize our civilization and our knowledge. The contributors, though differing in their diagnoses and recommendations, share the belief that this moment, with its transformative possibility, not be forfeit. Equally, they share the conviction that the chief ground of any such reorientation ineluctably involves our collective engagement with both ecology and theology.

Derek A. Michaud, “The Multidimensional Unity of Life, Theology, Ecology, and COVID-19”

The COVID-19 pandemic is a multidimensional crisis with biological, psychological, political, and spiritual dimensions. Efforts to address the crisis limited to a single dimension fail to promote holistic human health. For human flourishing, an adequate conception of humanity, the natural world, and the challenges we face as well as metaphysical grounds for hope to motivate long-term remediation efforts are needed. Paul Tillich’s multidimensional unity of life accomplishes all this by framing the ecological interdependence of all within a transcendent horizon and viewing all beings as participants in the power of the Ground of Being to overcome estrangement motivates eschatological hope.

Sean J. McGrath, “Eschatology in a Time of Crisis”

The perfect storm of COVID-19, international collapse, and climate change is an opportunity for the Church to remember her eschatological call. Through a reading of the Epistle of Barnabas and a retrieval of Heidegger's reading of Paul, eschatology is contrasted with teleology and utopianism and presented as an attitude for our time. This presentation will summarise the essence of eschatology in two theses: one concerning the uni-directionality or eventfulness of eschatological time, and a second concerning the futurity of justice. In the end I locate the heart of eschatology in the active-passivity of investing in this world while trusting in its divine transfiguration.

Willemien Otten, “The Recovery of Nature’s Religious Role in the Context of the Pandemic”

The coronavirus pandemic throws religion scholars for a loop. The magnitude of the pandemic shatters the classic defense strategy of theodicy, which justifies God's benevolent character in the face of natural catastrophe. This consideration advocates a holistic approach to nature by disentangling it from the grasp of scientific objectification. The article moves from premodern examples of natural agency to a focus on nature's role as ally in the modern thought of W. James and, especially, R.W. Emerson. Breaking through the nature-culture divide, Emerson provides us with a unique take on nature's otherness as inherently religious.

Lisa Sideris, “Listening to the Pandemic: Decentering Humans through Silence and Sound”

Religious and secular interpretations of nature frequently construe natural processes as a commentary on human wrongdoing. Some interpretations of the meaning of COVID-19 show a similar anthropocentric bias. This paper explores the possibility of locating meaning in and connection with nature in the midst of pandemic-induced stillness, without fixating on humans and our own egocentric preoccupations. Practices of attending to nature and natural soundscapes can function as a decentering spiritual exercise akin to prayer. Attunement to biophony, the sounds produced by living organisms, can pave the way for what might be termed biophany, the manifestation of nature's vital, sacred presence.

Alexander Hampton, “Ecology and the Unbuffered Self: Identity, Agency, and Authority in a Time of Pandemic”

This consideration characterises the crisis and opportunity of COVID-19 in three parts: First, it sets out the problematic conceptualisation of nature in the modern social imaginary by focusing upon the buffered self in terms of its sense of identity, agency and authority. Second, it sets out how the pandemic fundamentally disrupts these three facets of the self in terms of the fragilization of economic values, the notion of unique human agency, and the limitation of the authority of discursive reason. Finally, it concludes by outlining the opportunity for a renewed relationship with nature by proposing the recovery of the premodern concepts of metaphysical participation, teleology, and rational intuition. In doing so, the pandemic crisis is considered in the wider context of the ecological crisis of the modern age, and as an opportunity for rethinking our collective concept of nature, and the place of our selves within it.

avatar for Lisa Sideris

Lisa Sideris

Faculty, Environmental Studies Program, UC Santa Barbara
avatar for Derek A. Michaud

Derek A. Michaud

Lecturer of Philosophy, Coordinator of Religious and Judaic Studies, University of Maine
avatar for Sean J. McGrath

Sean J. McGrath

Full Professor of Philosophy, Memorial University of Newfoundland
avatar for Willemien Otten

Willemien Otten

Professor of Theology and the History of Christianity, University of Chicago Divinity School
avatar for Alexander Hampton

Alexander Hampton

Assistant Professor, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto

Sunday February 21, 2021 1:00pm - 3:00pm MST
Online (Live)
Thursday, February 25

5:00pm MST

Why Read the “Classics”? Exploring the Ambiguous Legacies and Contested Futures of Cornerstone Figures in the American Environmental Tradition
(LIVE conversation with presenters. Please watch session video beforehand.)

This roundtable will consist of authors whose papers are set to be published in the forthcoming special issue of the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture, “Ambiguous Legacies, Contested Futures: Reassessing Cornerstone Figures in the American Environmental Tradition.” In this special issue, authors critically examine how questions about social justice and equity complicate the American environmental tradition's most crucial thinkers--from Emerson to Fuller, Muir to Carson, Thoreau to Abbey--and the relevance these figures might have for the religion/nature/culture nexus going forward.

Crucially, rather than read a precis of their pre-published manuscript, participants in this roundtable instead will speak to how the figure they examine in their manuscript informs their answer to the question: What is the significance of cornerstone American environmental thinkers for us today?

Moderator: Rebecca Kneale Gould

Michael Putnam, “The Redemption of Matter: Margaret Fuller’s Fluid Ethics”

Despite her biographical proximity to figures such as Emerson and Thoreau, the nineteenth-century writer and editor Margaret Fuller is not often considered an environmentalist. Indeed, she is more often remembered for her contributions to political feminism than to environmentalism. I argue that in Fuller's writing, however, an environmental ethics emerges in conjunction with her questioning of the binary between "matter" and "spirit." In place of this binary, Fuller proposed fluidity. This is evidenced in her first book, Summer on the Lakes, a literary travelogue chronicling Fuller's journey through the West. With recourse to theoretical concerns in feminist new materialisms, I first demonstrate how her understanding of fluidity was influenced by the nineteenth-century vitalist theory of animal magnetism. I then turn to the ways that Fuller takes her encounters with the West's watery sites - its waterfalls, rivers, and lakes - as occasions to articulate an anticolonial environmental ethics.

Russell Powell, “John Muir, Sacred Value, and Environmental Justice: Moral Intuition’s Promise and Peril”

John Muir's inspired descriptions of nature continue to influence Americans to see the natural environment as irreducibly valuable, even sacred. Yet Muir's work is not without its shadow side. Specifically, Muir's writing is suffused with the racism of his day, especially against First Nations peoples. In this paper, I argue both the valuable and vile views inherent to Muir's moral vision are to some extent a result of the recourse Muir continually made to the power of his moral intuition. Applying insights from G.W.F. Hegel's epistemology, I offer an account of the roles that evaluative intuitions played in Muir's thinking so as to better contextualize the best and worst features of his moral thought. Hegel's epistemology, I argue, gives insight into the importance of cultivating the virtues and character traits necessary for addressing environmental justice concerns today.

Whitney Bauman & Amanda Nichols, “The Watery Depths of American Environmentalism: Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Rachel Carson, and Sylvia Earle”

The legacies of American environmentalism are grounded in androcentric and heteronormative narratives that have downplayed, and sometimes omitted entirely, significant contributions by women to the movements' growth and success. This article explores a re-narration of American Environmentalism through an examination of the lives and work of three pioneering women: Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Rachel Carson, and Sylvia Earle. For all three women, their work has been informed by a deep scientific knowledge of, and a sense of felt connection to, their local aquatic environments. Unlike other cornerstone figures, they understood humans as part of the interconnected biological ecosystem and drew early connections between local environmental processes and broader planetary systems and phenomena. Moreover, their life stories suggest that they each developed a unique 'nature spirituality' informed by a deep love of nature and a sense of wonder derived from their studies of the natural world. Herein, we show how gender and gender nonconformity can help us to re-imagine what we know about women, women's belief systems, and human-earth interrelations, as well as the contested legacies of American environmentalism.

Emily Dumler-Winckler, “The Virtues of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Anthropology: From Foil to Fertile Soil for Ecological and Social Justice”

Until recently, the popular presumption and scholarly consensus has been against Emerson as a constructive resource for environmental ethics. So too, Emerson's views of race and gender and his activism in the abolitionist and women's movements of the nineteenth century have been a source of debate. At a time when concerns about social justice and equity, particularly regarding race, gender, and class, have rightly become prominent in environmental ethics, scholars of religion and ecology may wonder whether Ralph Waldo Emerson is best used, if at all, as a foil. Emerson's anthropology and his reception history are both at points deficient. Nevertheless, his anthropology provides resources for an environmental ethics that has justice at its core, and for moving beyond the false binary between anthropocentrism and ecocentrism that has long characterized ecocriticism.

Caleb Murray, “‘Dash me with amorous wet, I can repay you’: Relational Ethics, Queer Ecology, and Walt Whitman’s Poetics of Trans-human Kinship”

Walt Whitman's poetry is famously full of "self" and self-contradicting: "Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)" The scholarly attention to paradox and contradiction often takes the form of an attention to various "binaries" in Whitman's prose and poetry; well-trod binaries include body-soul, sacred-profane, nature-culture, and woman-man. However, a queer attention to the poetic construction of such binaries reveals them to be fluid and ultimately non-binary. Whitman and his speakers construct binaries that relate to religion, gender, and nature, but in poeticizing the construction of binary logic (e.g. man-woman), Whitman and his speakers reveal such purportedly self-contained and discrete domains to be open, fluid and co-constituting. Recognizing the poetic performance of "binary" logic will reshape the reader's understanding of ethical and political implications of Whitman's queerly relational nature ethics.

Christy Call, “Edward Abbey’s Ambiguity in the Anthropocene”

The writer Edward Abbey extoled the beauty of nature but resorted to racist and xenophobic measures of protection and preservation. His outlook was anchored in a dualistic view that imagined the natural world as separate from the social. Such an outlook is undermined by crosscut realities of the Anthropocene. A view that detaches from social entanglements for the health of the natural world registers as incoherent when we understand environmental and social justice to be linked. I reevaluate Abbey's legacy in light of the challenges of the times. I especially focus on Abbey's treatment of immigration in a time of forced displacements from climate change. Abbey's essay "Round River Rendezvous: The Rio Grande" provides an analytic of the densities of relation from a physics of interconnection. Ultimately, I argue that ascendant concepts of nature, individuality, freedom, and rights must be replaced by more ecologically-tuned conceptualizations of ecology, collectivity, responsibility, and ethics.

avatar for Rebecca Gould

Rebecca Gould

Associate Professor, Environmental Studies, Middlebury College

avatar for Russell Powell

Russell Powell

2020-21 Core Visiting Assistant Professor in Environmental Theology and Ethics, Boston College
avatar for Amanda Nichols

Amanda Nichols

PhD Candidate, Department of Religion; JSRNC, Managing Editor, University of Florida
avatar for Caleb Murray

Caleb Murray

PhD Student, Department of Religious Studies, Brown University
avatar for Emily Dumler-Winckler

Emily Dumler-Winckler

Assistant Professor of Constructive Theology, Theological Studies, Saint Louis University
avatar for Whitney Bauman

Whitney Bauman

Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Florida International University
avatar for Michael Putnam

Michael Putnam

PhD Student, Department of Religious Studies, Brown University

Thursday February 25, 2021 5:00pm - 6:30pm MST
Online (Live)
Friday, February 26

4:00pm MST

Migration, Relationality, and Food: Ecologies of Labor and Human Movement
(LIVE conversation with presenters. Please watch the session videos beforehand.)

Building on the conference call to engage the intersection of environmental issues with the religious dimensions of migration and asylum, the three papers gathered here raise a set of overlapping questions related to human movement, food systems, relationality, and bodily and environmental health. The presenters draw upon both ethnographic and theological methods to approach these questions on multiple scales: from a micro-level exploration of the meal practices asylum seekers engage in as they organize, survive and resist the realities immigration detention, to the religious dimensions of food production and farm labor, to the broader themes that interlace human trafficking and environmental degradation. Taken together, the papers ask us to reflect upon the mutually constitutive nature of personhood and environment as they play out in situations of displacement, confinement, and labor exploitation.

Yvonne Zimmerman, “To Hear the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor: Human Trafficking and the Environmental Crisis”

This paper explores the connections between human trafficking and the environmental crisis. Human trafficking is an umbrella term for forced and exploited labor, and for the purposes of this paper, focuses on migrants and immigrants as a specific population that is disproportionately vulnerable to experiencing human trafficking, whether in the process of migrating and/or after arrival in their destination country. The environmental crisis refers to humans' systemic and sustained degradation and destruction of the environment to the extent that the earth's habitability for human and nonhuman life is being decisively undermined. I draw on the work of Christian social ethicist Beverly Harrison and Pope Francis's 2015 encyclical Laudato' Si to argue that these two issues share common structural ground, and sketch a framework that makes visible the social, economic, and political dynamics that connect them. I conclude by indicating what resistance to these entwined crises might look like.

abby mohaupt, “Eating and Working Through Our Faith”

In Good Food, Jennifer Ayres creates a practical theology of food that sees the "goodness" of food as intricately connected to the goodness of each part of the food system. She explores the theology of food through the health of the soil, the labor of the workers who grow and harvest our foods, and all the secular and sacred relationships created around and with food. Seth Holmes in Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies hones in on the relationships between the health of migrant farmworkers and broken food systems, using anthropological and medical lenses to trace the lives of real farmworkers. Each of these authors write from a white US framework, leveraging their identities as privilege in ways that center the food and the worker. This paper puts these two texts in conversation, arguing that our reliance on food for life gives us multiple times each day to make theologically sound choices about our food and live out a just religious environmentalism. I write this paper from a perspective of a white US farmer and Protestant theologian, incorporating a methodology of theological groundedness born from learning to work on a farm and discovering the joy of eating food that has been hard-grown.

Leah Sarat, “Where the Institution Becomes Flesh: Fasting, Feasting, and Resistance in a For-Profit Immigrant Detention Center”

When asked about the challenges encountered in Eloy, a private, for-profit immigrant detention center in Arizona, newly released individuals most frequently speak of food. Food marks the point where the institution becomes flesh, where the cost-cutting measures enacted by the facility's managing company, CoreCivic, enter and transform the cells of the men and women detained. As such, food practices serve as a powerful entry point for exploring questions of embodied religious experience and resistance within detention facility walls. Whereas CoreCivic's national leadership promotes a chaplaincy model centered on repentance and transformation of the individual soul, food practices among those detained, including fasting, hunger strikes, and the pooling of resources to produce impromptu shared meals, reveal a relational ethic dedicated to collective survival and liberation. By contrasting these food-related and ritual practices generated by and for detainees with the official chaplaincy model, we gain a window onto broader questions about personhood and relationality as they unfold within the U.S. immigration and carceral landscape.

avatar for Yvonne Zimmerman

Yvonne Zimmerman

Associate Academic Dean, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Methodist Theological School in Ohio
avatar for abby mohaupt

abby mohaupt

PhD Student, Drew Theological School
avatar for Leah Sarat

Leah Sarat

Professor, School of Historical, Philosophical & Religious Studies, Arizona State University

Friday February 26, 2021 4:00pm - 4:45pm MST
Online (Live)

5:00pm MST

Book Panel on Alda Balthrop-Lewis’s Thoreau’s Religion: Walden Woods, Social Justice, and Political Aestheticism
(LIVE conversation with presenters. Please watch the session video beforehand.)

This panel gathers leading scholars of religion and literature (Rebecca Kneale Gould, Middlebury College), religion and ecology (Whitney Bauman, Florida International University; Courtney O'Dell-Chaib, Parish Episcopal School), religion and race (Elaine Nogueira-Godsey, Methodist Theological School in Ohio), and religious naturalism (Carol White, Bucknell University) to discuss the contributions of Alda Balthrop-Lewis’ (Australian Catholic University) new book, Thoreau's Religion: Walden Woods, Social Justice, and Political Asceticism (Cambridge University Press, 2021). Russell Powell (Boston College) will moderate.

Moderator: Russell Powell (Boston College)

Alda Balthrop-Lewis, author

Rebecca Kneale Gould, discussant

Whitney Bauman, discussant

Courtney O’Dell-Chalib, discussant

Elaine Nogueira-Godsey, discussant

Carol White, discussant

avatar for Russell Powell

Russell Powell

2020-21 Core Visiting Assistant Professor in Environmental Theology and Ethics, Boston College

avatar for Courtney O’Dell-Chaib

Courtney O’Dell-Chaib

Faculty, Middle and Upper School Religious Studies & Ethics, Parish Episcopal School of Dallas
avatar for Elaine Nogueira-Godsey

Elaine Nogueira-Godsey

Assistant Professor of Theology, Ecology and Race, Methodist Theological School in Ohio
avatar for Rebecca Gould

Rebecca Gould

Associate Professor, Environmental Studies, Middlebury College
avatar for Whitney Bauman

Whitney Bauman

Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Florida International University
avatar for Alda Balthrop-Lewis

Alda Balthrop-Lewis

Faculty, Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, Australian Catholic University
avatar for Carol White

Carol White

Senior Fellow, Humanities College
Presidential Professor of Philosophy of Religion

Friday February 26, 2021 5:00pm - 6:30pm MST
Online (Live)

6:45pm MST

ISSRNC Virtual Reception
ISSRNC virtual reception. Open to all participants. BYOB ;-) 

Friday February 26, 2021 6:45pm - 8:30pm MST
Online (Live)
Saturday, February 27

8:00am MST

ISSRNC Morning Mingle -Everyone is invited!
Informal ISSRNC networking mixer. Bring your own coffee or tea and join us.

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 →

Saturday February 27, 2021 8:00am - 9:00am MST
Online (Live)

9:00am MST

Case Studies of Buddhism
(LIVE conversation with presenters. Please watch the session video beforehand)

Dan Smyer Yü, Moderator

Kalzang Dorjee Bhutia, “The Forest as a Garden to the Forest as a Supermarket: The Vagaries of the Biography of Uncle Chilly”

In recent years, Dhale Kursani chilly has become popular throughout India for its distinctive flavour hit. It has moved from being considered as a Sikkimese, and more generally, Northeastern delicacy, to become a mass-distributed spicy commodity. Its exotic status does not acknowledge its history as an agent in Sikkim's multispecies landscape, especially as a forest being. In this context, Dhale Kursani is known as Akubari, Uncle Chilly, and in west Sikkimese Bhutia-language speaking communities his name is invoked as a descriptor for bad tempered people, but also a healer who is effective for dealing with stomach-related illnesses. Sikkimese practitioners of Green Medicine (Bhutia: nyoman), a system of knowledge that synthesizes Indigenous and Buddhist traditions, relate to the forest as a garden of healing, but also exchange, with specific guidelines that direct sustainable use for humans and spirits. Akubari was one of the forest's many powerful spirits, but the arrival of Indian Ayurvedic food company Patanjali had led him to be mass-planted in kitchen gardens and sold for export. This paper will trace the changing economies of value and scale around Uncle Chilly, and consider how these new forms of cultivation and consumption impact the networks of relatedness he centers.

Kira Cooper, “Mindfulness and the Coronavirus Pandemic: A Catalyst for Sustainability Transformations?”

The COVID-19 pandemic has surfaced concerns around humanity’s increasingly precarious relationship with the biosphere, specifically, by illuminating the consequences of extensive environmental degradation, including extreme privation and deepening inequities. Far from being an isolated emergency event, this pandemic arises from and compounds the global ecocrisis that threatens the long-term viability of Earth’s biocultural systems. As conventional approaches to solving these complex challenges fail, alternative pathways towards collective wellbeing are urgently needed. This paper considers the largely unexplored question of how mindfulness and sustainability could be linked in a mutually supportive, enhancing, and necessary relationship. For a world navigating the uncharted waters of a global crisis and beginning to plan for a post-pandemic future, even tentative answers to this question may help us identify useful alternative pathways to desirable transformations.

avatar for Dan Smyer Yü

Dan Smyer Yü

Kuige Professor of Ethnology, School of Ethnology and Sociology and the National Centre for Borderlands Ethnic Studies in Southwest China, Yunnan University


Kalzang Dorjee Bhutia

Grinnell College
avatar for Kira Cooper

Kira Cooper

PhD Candidate, School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, University of Waterloo

Saturday February 27, 2021 9:00am - 9:45am MST
Online (Live)

10:00am MST

Author Meets Critics: Darren Dochuk’s Annointed with Oil
(LIVE conversation with presenters. Please watch the session video beforehand.)

Though religious energy ethics has a long history of scholarship, the proposed panel discusses one of the first major academic publications on social histories of religion and energy, Darren Dochuk's Anointed With Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America. This will be structured as an "author meets critics" session, with responses to Dochuck's monograph from four scholars each representing different disciplinary and methodological perspectives. Dochuk will then have an opportunity to respond, offering synoptic remarks to his 'critics'. In addition to their shared focus on Anointed With Oil, these responses will be linked by the underlying question, "what are religion's relationships to hydrocarbon energy?" This positions the session in direct relationship to the conference theme of "Relations and Relationality" and develops linkages between religious studies and cutting edge scholarship in the energy humanities.

Terra Schwerin Rowe

Schwerin Rowe will explore the nexus of the unthinkability of oil and the incomprehensibility of climate change. Dochuk's research compellingly conveys the breadth and scope of the intertwining of religion, oil, and politics in the US--a perspective which makes the originality of his contribution all the more surprising. Yet, in the narrative of Anointed with Oil the gendered and racialized aspects of oil remain marginal or obscured. Rowe will highlight the extent to which the material oddities of oil have resonated with realms rendered beneath or outside the scope of modern thought, and explore the impact of oil's unthinkability on the ability to recognize and respond to climate change.

Evan Berry

Berry will explore some theoretical dimensions of Anointed With Oil. Specifically, he will examine the theoretical challenge presented by the interplay between natural resource exploitation and religious change over time. How are scholars to understand the impacts of resource extraction--infrastructure, toxicity, the mobilization of capital, etc.--on theology, and, vice versa, how are scholars to understand the influence exerted by theological tradition on the social and economic infrastructure surrounding hydrocarbon production.

Tina Asmussen

Asmussen will examine Darren Dochuk's book from a diachronic perspective and emphasize the role of emotions and affects in modern and early modern extractive industries. Coming from a disciplinary background in early modern mining history, her paper will focus on hope as both economic affect and Christian virtue.

Brent Crosson

Crosson will discuss how Anointed with Oil provides the resources for plumbing the merits and limitations of an Evangelical framework for understanding religion, oil, and energy. He will speculate on how the book suggests alternate approaches that focus on the ways race, religious difference, and US imperialism intersect with issues of energy and religion. He will also consider the south-south connections that energy economies foreground and how this affects conceptions of religious transnationalism outside a US-centric paradigm.

Darren Dochuk

Dochuk will respond to panel critics and join their conversation about the challenges and value of embedding religion in the study of energy and energy humanities. His book, Anointed With Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America, charts the deep intersections of faith, petroleum, and oil's culture war politics from the 1850s to the present day. In offering this expansive chronicle he attempts to demonstrate the need for scholars to take seriously not just how individuals and institutions of faith helped fuel U.S. petroleum's global expansion in the "American Century" (and benefited financially and politically from their investment in the carbon industry), but how the American oil patch itself is a unique landscape that coheres around peculiar notions of worship as well as work, eschatology and family values as much as the laissez-faire capitalist drive for crude.

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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 →
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Terra Schwerin Rowe

Assistant Professor, Philosophy and Religion Department, University of North Texas
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Tina Asmussen

Professor, Ruhr-Universität Bochum / Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum
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Brent Crosson

Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Texas at Austin
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Darren Dochuk

Andrew V. Tackes College Professor of History; Director of Graduate Studies, University of Notre Dame

Saturday February 27, 2021 10:00am - 10:45am MST
Online (Live)

11:00am MST

Complicating Kinship in the Study of Religion & Nature
(LIVE conversation with presenters. Please watch session beforehand.)

Although the term Animism has problematic roots in the study of religion, it is now widely use by religionists and scholars alike to refer to “perceptions that natural entities, forces, and nonhuman life-forms have one or more of the following: a soul or vital lifeforce or spirit, personhood (an affective life and personal intentions), and consciousness, often but not always including special spiritual intelligence or powers. . . Animism generally enjoins respect if not reverence for and veneration of such intelligences and forces and promotes a felt kinship with them.” These kinship feelings “are often accompanied by ethical mores specifying the sorts of relationships that human beings should have, or avoid having, with nature’s diverse forces and beings” (Taylor, Dark Green Religion, 15).

While there has been increasing scholarly attention to such perceptions and their diverse forms, and from a growing number of disciplines, there is much left to critically examine and discuss. The purpose of this session is to show that such perceptions and related practices are far more common and diverse than is usually recognized while also raising new questions and ethical conundrums that arise both from such phenomena, scholarly analyses of them, and various lacunae in the study of them. The titles and abstracts for the presentations that follow this overview illuminate some of the phenomena to be examined and the ethical claims to be advanced and discussed. It would be tautologically to repeat them here. But they do reveal the richness of the proposed session.

Respondent: Jace Weaver

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, “Curanderos Kinship with Sentient Ancestor Mountains in Northern Peru: Combining the Senses with Local Science”

Curanderos or healers in La Libertad, Northern Peru recognize apus as ancestor mountains who have human faces and have the capacity to sense and feel. These feelings of kinship with mountains are linked to a worldview whereby humans belong to the earth and their destinies are inextricably linked to the actions of the earth. In some instances apu control the access to water, life, health, and fertility to ameliorate the destruction of the Earth’s biodiversity in the face of mining expansion. In other instances, apu acquire punish humans’ greed and the indiscriminate destruction of the earth and human health through mining with floods, mudslides, illnesses, and death. Curanderos read the actions of apu ancestors both through their senses and local science. They meld the agency of apus expressed through floods, mudslides, tsunamis, dreams, and visions with scientific discourses and their own observations of rising temperatures and changes in the movements of currents, winds, and animals and in the blooming patterns of plants. As poor mestizos have seen the connections between actions of apus, curanderos’ biometric readings, and environmental science, they have also understood the consequences of overexploitation simultaneously in environmental, moral, and social terms.

Kyle Powys Whyte, “Kinship and Consent”

Theories of kinship are moving in the direction of furnishing greater detail on the operation of relationships of responsibility. One particular moral quality that I would argue is part of kinship is consent. Consent can actually be tied to what are often understood as spiritual aspects of kinship, especially animacy. The presentation will argue that consent is connected to animacy, self-determination, and freedom, as these moral concepts are discussed in different kinship theories. Consent also has systematic relationships with other kinship qualities of responsibility, including reciprocity and trust. The presentation engages Anishinaabe intellectual traditions, in dialogue with Indigenous intellectual traditions from other peoples and cultures.

Robin Wright, “Covid 19 and the Yoopinai: Predatory Relations with Enemy Spirits”

In Northwestern Amazonia, relations of humans to the spirit worlds are understood in two ways – spirits who are generous and provide humans with what they need, and the Yoopinai spirits who predate on humans and transform them. With the outbreak of COVID19, the ancient wars with the latter, as remembered in creation stories, have now re-emerged. Spirit attacks in the cities have become prominent in the form of suicide and deaths from COVID19. How the pandemic transformed relations of humans with the Yoopinai spirits is the focus of my contribution. I will broaden my discussion to include other indigenous peoples of the Brazilian Amazon and their struggles to make sense of the pandemic.

Dina Gilio-Whitaker, “Beyond Leopold: Toward a Transformational Land Ethic”

Aldo Leopold is perhaps best known for his book A Sand County Almanac and the “Land Ethic” chapter in particular. While Leopold articulated a land ethic we might identify as relational (i.e., between the human and non-human world), he was silent on the ethics of human-to-human relations within the particular context of the United States, a country founded on the eradication of one group of humans (Indigenous peoples) for the benefit of other humans (settlers). Taking a cue from the celebrated Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday who articulated a different kind of “American land ethic,” this paper argues that an American relational land ethic that favors nonhuman life while being silent on Indigenous eradication is problematic at best, and at worst perpetuates the eliminative impulse of U.S. settler colonialism. I make the case instead that a land ethic must reckon with this history of genocide and dispossession if it is to be just. It does so by acknowledging unearned settler privilege accumulated through these violent processes, the nationhood of Native peoples, as well as drawing from Indigenous epistemological frameworks accumulated through millennia of land tenure.

Sarah McFarland Taylor, "'God’s Original Prescription for Social Distancing': A Media Analysis of Christian Forest Therapy’s Knotty Adaptations of Japanese Shinrin-Yoku to the North American Cultural Context"

In Your Guide to Forest Bathing (2017), Amos Clifford emphasizes that “forest therapy helps us remember our place in a kin-centric network of relationships with all beings.” Clifford, U.S. based Buddhist and prominent forest guide also contends that “forest bathing” (the anglicized term for the Japanese practice of “Shinrin-Yoku” or mindful forest immersion), provides a critical foundation for citizens’ ecological awareness and forest activism. By contrast, “Christian Forest Therapy” (CFT), a nascent movement in the U.S. that modifies Shinrin-Yoku for “biblical Christians,” struggles to demarcate between CFT and kin-centric “nature worship.” Forests provide ideal locations to communicate with God and appreciate God’s creation but with CFT the relationship is one less of kin-centrism and more of godly authority. Conservation advocacy is also less present, at most, expressed in CFT as vague references to “stewardship.” During the Covid-19 pandemic, proponents cast CFT in terms of human/divine communication, identifying forests as “God’s original prescription for social distancing,” trees as “God’s media,” and the forest as a “spiritual cinema of strength.” Drawing on media theorist Limor Shifman’s work on memes in digital culture, this multimedia presentation argues that CFT media constitute a negotiated “secondary layer of language,” tactically remaking and remarketing Shinrin-Yoku within a resonant Christian rhetoric.

Lisa Maria Madera, “The Empathy of Birds: Lessons from Pacha Mama in the Face of Despair”

In 2008, Ecuador’s congress passed a new constitution encompassing a multi-cultural, plurinational state reflecting Andean and Amazonian cosmological connections to the Earth. As the first constitution in the world to establish and prote

avatar for Jace Weaver

Jace Weaver

Director of the INAS, Franklin Professor of Native American Studies and Religion, and Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Georgia

avatar for Bron Taylor

Bron Taylor

Professor of Religion, Nature and Environmental Ethics, University of Florida
avatar for Gretel Van Wieren

Gretel Van Wieren

Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Michigan State University
avatar for Lisa María Madera

Lisa María Madera

Independent Scholar
avatar for Sarah McFarland Taylor

Sarah McFarland Taylor

Associate Professor, Program in Environmental Policy and Culture, Northwestern University
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Dina Gilio-Whitaker

American Indian Studies Lecturer, California State University San Marcos
I am a Native American studies scholar and writer who lives in a Southern California beach town and surfs. You can talk to me about anything relating to indigenous cultures/politics and surfing. I co-authored a book titled "'All the Real Indians Died Off' and 20 Other Myths about... Read More →
avatar for Robin Wright

Robin Wright

Associate Professor of Religion and Anthropology, University of Florida
avatar for Kyle Powys Whyte

Kyle Powys Whyte

George Willis Pack Professor of Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan
Citizen Potawatomi Nation
avatar for Ana Mariella Bacigalupo

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo

Marta Sutton Weeks Faculty Fellow, Stanford University

Saturday February 27, 2021 11:00am - 12:30pm MST
Online (Live)

12:45pm MST

Networking Lunch
Bring your own lunch informal networking.

avatar for Lisa Sideris

Lisa Sideris

Faculty, Environmental Studies Program, UC Santa Barbara

Saturday February 27, 2021 12:45pm - 2:00pm MST
Online (Live)

2:00pm MST

Ecotheology Down Under
(LIVE conversation with presenters. Please watch the session video beforehand.)

Christian theological reflection on human relationships with the non-human are deeply contextual. Such discourse is dependent upon land/seascape, climate, culture, which in turn shapes how biblical texts are written and embodied. The climate crisis brings a sense of urgency to these conversations in the southern hemisphere. Bushfires have always shaped the Australian landscape, but the climate crisis has resulted in catastrophic bushfires which demonstrate a break in the relationship of humans and country under colonisation. The people of Pasifika have had a close cultural relationship with the ocean, which now in the form of sea level rise threatens those relationships.

This session explores this contextuality in southern hemisphere theological discourse with scholars from Australia and Pasifika. It examines ideas of relationality to climate change related disasters, traditional cultures, and their understanding of climate change and typical texts, and ways of thinking about Sabbath as working with and relating to the non-human.

Chair: Mick Pope

Mick Pope, “Sabbath rest for the land: Mutual obligation and the agency of creation”

Western Christianity can struggle to accommodate ideas such as the personhood of the nonhuman or understand our relationship with them in other than utilitarian terms. The Holiness school of the Hebrew Bible offers a perspective from which to develop such ideas. The first creation story is an aetiological account of both the Sabbath and as such the creation of sacred time. Sabbath observance is a way of maintaining order in creation, mimetically re-enacting the initial ordering acts of God. However, Sabbath observance is not for Israelites alone. The land of Israel itself has a relationship to God prior to the covenant relationship between Israel and God. It too has its own rights and obligations to enjoy Sabbath rest. Grounded in a creation narrative, the mutual Sabbath obligations of land and people may be extended to humanity and the whole earth.

Di Rayson, “Fire in the Hills: The Australian Black Summer of Bushfires, Ritual, and Relationality”

The 2019-20 summer in Australia was characterised by fire. After several years of prolonged drought, increased winter temperatures, and poor fire prevention (such as the inability to conduct small fire burn offs to reduce fuel loads), in June 2019 the first of hundreds of fires started--fires that would grow and combine and form massive firestorms, burning much of the east coast of Australia and affecting all states, burning until May 2020. At its worst, the air quality in Australia was the worst in the world, and smoke smudged the glaciers of New Zealand before circling the globe and again darkening the Australian sky. This paper will reflect on the experience of Black Summer and examine its religious and theological implications. It utilises the theology of relationality of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and insights from neuroscience and ecology, to reinterpret the place of humans in relation to other-than-human fellow creatures and landscapes. It draws on ritual and servant practices in the landscape, including shinrin-yoku and Indigenous fire practices, that might assist in re-establishing relationships and provide opportunities for healing after the trauma of the fires. Finally, it contextualises relationality in the Anthropocene and asks what Homo cosmicos citizenship might entail.

Clive Pearson, “All at sea with the Bible”

The low-lying islands of Kiribati and Tuvalu are deeply religious: they are 'Bible-conscious'. They are icons of climate change. They are all immersed in what has been described as 'the liquid continent'. In response to rising sea levels the default position has been to make use of the Noah story and the book of Job. This presentation proceeds upon the basis that this position needs to be re-examined for two reasons. The first has to do with a consideration of how these well-established textual referents are used. Is it right for sociologists and climate scientists to view the recourse to Noah, for instance, as a form of climate denial? Or does the text have a more positive dimension and effectively fulfils the role of being a counter-narrative and a protest against the alien language of climate science? The second reason has to do with the need for a broader range of biblical texts and themes to deal with the complex issues facing cultural identity, the prospect of forced displacement, and the capacity to speak into the geopolitical public domain. One aspect of this enquiry is the need to reconsider how appropriate are western-based discourses on the Bible and the sea.

Maina Talia, “Sabbath and Tuvalu Indigenous Knowledge (Muna o te Fale)”

Prior to the arrival of Christianity, the people of Tuvalu had their own traditional strategies for the caring of creation. On the island of Vaitupu  the local people observed a traditional lunar calendar determined by the faces of the moon.  These quarters, halves and full moons (in western thinking) indicate what the islanders should perform on a particular day. The island was also divided up into four main districts (the Pono o potu system) for the purpose of control and replenishment of their natural resources. There was no particular day  set aside for the island to rest; rather all activities were guided and informed by the traditional calendar. And so during the month of Fakafu (literally,  to be fertile) turtles, fish and trees begin to reproduce. This month is marked by the appearance of the star Melele at sunset at the sunset (in the east) while the star Mataliki sets. It fulfils the purpose of the Sabbath for us. It is not a specific day of rest but rather a set of informed activities outlined by the lunar calendar. This presentation examines this customary practice in the light of the biblical traditions to do with the sabbath.

avatar for Mick Pope

Mick Pope

MPhil Student, Theology; Professor in Environmental Mission, Missional University, University of Divinity

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Maina Talia

Researcher, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University
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Di Rayson

Adjunct Fellow, Public and Contextual Theology (PACT) Research Centre
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Clive Pearson

Associate Professor, School of Theology, Charles Sturt University

Saturday February 27, 2021 2:00pm - 2:45pm MST
Online (Live)

4:00pm MST

Careers Beyond the Academy Roundtable
Moderator: Kelsey Ryan-Simkins

This roundtable session features a panel of speakers who have applied their studies in religion, nature, and culture to careers in nonprofits, creative writing, and international research. Panelists will discuss their paths from graduate school to their current work and offer advice for current graduate students who are considering alt-academic career paths. The remaining 45 minutes of the session will be open to questions and discussion.

Roundtable participants:

Hayley Glaholt

Hayley earned her Ph.D. in Religion, Ethics, and Public Life from Northwestern University in 2014. Dr. Glaholt is an Accredited Family Mediator and she serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (Ontario). She is also Certified Ethnic and Religious Conflict Mediator through the International Centre for Ethno-Religious Mediation (ICERM). In addition to working in family mediation, Dr. Glaholt is the co-founder and Executive Director of Link Coalition Toronto, a non-profit dedicated to educating the public about the links among domestic violence, child abuse, animal abuse, and elder abuse. She lives and works in Toronto.

Gavin Van Horn

Gavin Van Horn is the Creative Director and Executive Editor for the Center for Humans and Nature. His writing is an entangled, ongoing conversation between humans, our nonhuman kin, and the animate landscape. He is the author of The Way of Coyote: Shared Journeys in the Urban Wilds, and co-editor of Wildness: Relations of People and Place and City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness. Gavin edits and writes for the City Creatures Blog and has published works of creative nonfiction and poetry in Emergence, Orion, The Learned Pig, Undark, Sky Island Journal, Belt Magazine, The Red Wheelbarrow Review, Everyone Quarterly, and Zoomorphic, among others.

Olivia Wilkinson

Dr. Wilkinson is the Director of Research for the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI), an international collaboration on evidence for faith actors’ roles in the humanitarian and development sectors. She directs JLI’s research work, collaborating with partners from UN agencies and governments, such as UNICEF and UNHCR, to faith-based organizations and NGOs, including Islamic Relief and World Vision, and in collaboration with universities such as the University of Leeds and University College London. Dr Wilkinson is a sociologist, working at the intersection of sociology of religion and humanitarian/development studies. She published her book, "Secular and Religious Dynamics in Humanitarian Response" with Routledge in early 2020, which unpicks how secularity is one of many privileges and biases in the humanitarian system that makes aid irrelevant and inappropriate. She co-edited a new volume also with Routledge called “International Development and Local Faith Actors: Ideological and Cultural Encounters,” which was recently released. She has a PhD and Master's in humanitarian action from Trinity College Dublin and Université catholique de Louvain respectively. Her PhD research focused on the response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and she has since conducted collaborative research work around the world, most recently with local faith actors in South Sudan. Her undergraduate degree in Theology and Religious Studies is from the University of Cambridge.

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Kelsey Ryan-Simkins

PhD Candidate, Ohio State University

avatar for Hayley Glaholt

Hayley Glaholt

Executive Director, Link Coalition Toronto
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Gavin Van Horn

Creative Director and Executive Editor, The Center for Humans and Nature
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Olivia Wilkinson

Director of Research, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI)

Saturday February 27, 2021 4:00pm - 5:30pm MST
Online (Live)
Sunday, February 28

8:00am MST

ISSRNC Morning Mingle - Everyone is invited!
Informal ISSRNC networking mixer. Bring your own coffee or tea and join us.

avatar for Norah Elmagraby

Norah Elmagraby

PhD Candidate, Emory University

Sunday February 28, 2021 8:00am - 9:00am MST
Online (Live)

10:00am MST

Tending to All (Academic and Political) Relations During (Socio-Ecological) Collapse
(LIVE conversation with presenters. Please watch session beforehand.)

How do ongoing social-ecological reorganizations and looming collapse impact relationality between disciplines in the Academy, and between the Academy and larger social-ecological world? This panel will address the conference theme of relationality through the context of changing climates, ecologies, educations, policies, social structures, and norms. We examine relationality and collapse through the adaptive cycle of resilience, looking specifically at the moments of shifting from Exploitation to Conservation, into Release and Reorganization. What does relationality mean given this inevitable reorganization trajectory upon which we tread? Each panelist will discuss where they think we (a global bio-ecological community, an Academy, and a field of scholarship) are within the adaptive cycle, and address the need for deeper relational integration within the Academy across disciplines; and between the Academy and society (and thus ecologies of place) at large.

Chair: Todd LeVasseur

For panel chair Dr. Todd LeVasseur, academic relationality must be geared towards responding to release and reorganization. Pulling on the anti-racism work of Dr. Ibram Kendi, Dr. LeVasseur argues academics must move from being public scholars, to actively undertaking public scholarship. This scholarship must be in service of biocultural sustainability, and religion and nature scholars have a key role to play in this. Yet we must also challenge how the Academy has been, and continues to be complicit with, Settler Colonialisms and social-ecological destruction. Here we must ask deeper questions of our students in the classroom; and our colleagues across disciplines, in various contexts, in service of creating resilient responses to collapse.

Richard Carp

For panelist Dr. Richard Carp, the Academy is fundamentally destructive of social-ecological resilience. Dr. Carp argues the need for a fundamentally transformed paradigm of (higher) education intended to integrate persons individually, socially, culturally, and ecologically, transforming the relationships and the patterns of relationships that characterize the Academy. "It is not disciplines that need to be integrated with one another, but we who need to become integrated as human beings." A transformed Academy would be characterized by deep participation in places, multi-generational learning, embedded values of gratitude and humility, decentering Western culture and (white) male authority. Undertaking this transformation requires academics to enter into new relationships while exiting many existing ones. It is political and economic as well as existential, and includes substantial personal risk accepted on behalf of the larger community of beings within which we reside. It accepts that something is truthful only to the extent that it contributes to the long term resilience of the social-ecological pattern, which is the final judge of our knowledge proposals.

Garrett Boudinot

Panelist Dr. Garrett Boudinot is a multidisciplinary climate change researcher, with publications and ongoing projects in geological and climate science, philosophy of science, and the study of religion, nature, and culture. Dr. Boudinot has experience building relationality between disciplines, and particularly between the climate and environmental-focused natural sciences (geology, chemistry, Earth history) and the humanities (religious studies, philosophy), while also pushing to build relationality between such research and the broader community through policy and outreach. Dr. Boudinot will speak to the guiding frameworks of the adaptive cycle through the lens of the Academy as well as climate and environmental sciences, in regards to how they relate to broader ongoing social and environmental changes. Case studies will provide further exploration of what building relationality looks like "on the ground" - identifying barriers that stem from historical and cultural developments in the Academy and society, as well as opportunities for growth and improvements that researchers, educators, and interested scholars can use to tend to relationality.

Greg Cajete

Dr. Greg Cajete (Santa Clara Pueblo) is a Professor of Native American Studies and Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Cajete earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from New Mexico Highlands University with majors in both Biology and Sociology and a minor in Secondary Education. He received his Masters of Arts degree from the University of New Mexico in Adult and Secondary Education. He received his Ph.D. from International College – Los Angeles New Philosophy Program in Social Science Education with an emphasis in Native American Studies.

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Todd LeVasseur

Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences and Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Director, College of Charleston

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Richard Carp

Retired, Appalachian State University
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Garrett Boudinot

Research Associate, Cornell University
avatar for Greg Cajete

Greg Cajete

Professor of Native American Studies and Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies, University of New Mexico
Gregory Cajete, Native American educator whose work is dedicated to honoring the foundations of indigenous knowledge in education. Dr. Cajete is a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico. He has served as a New Mexico Humanities scholar in ethno botany of Northern New Mexico... Read More →

Sunday February 28, 2021 10:00am - 10:45am MST
Online (Live)

11:00am MST

American Evangelicalism and the Environment: Confronting the Past, Present, and Future
(LIVE conversation with presenters. Please watch the session video beforehand.)

This interdisciplinary paper session includes research on evangelicalism and the environment that examines or re-examines what we know about its past, present and future. Surprisingly little historical work has looked beyond stereotypes of evangelical environmental apathy to present a nuanced picture of how evangelicals' response to the environmental crisis has changed over time. At the same time, ethnographic work is only now beginning to provide a more textured analysis of why lay evangelicals in America tend to reject climate science. Even less is known about what role Christian nationalism plays in how Americans--evangelical or otherwise--regard the environmental crisis. In terms of its future, the evangelical tradition is both declining in size and also becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. Is evangelicalism in the process of becoming more "green," or green in a different way, as these demographic changes take place? From our different disciplinary perspectives--history, anthropology, religious studies, and human dimensions of natural resources--we envision and invite an interdisciplinary audience of scholars interested in the intersection of evangelicalism, politics, and the environment in the US and beyond to discuss the past, present and future of American evangelicalism.

Neall Pogue, “From Nature Stewardship to Anti Environmentalism: How Two Evangelical Organizations Supported then Rejected Environmental Protection, 1990-1994”

During the early 1990s, the two largest politically conservative evangelical organizations, that today make up much of the religious right movement, allied themselves with pro-environmental initiatives organized in part by Vice President Al Gore and scientists E.O. Wilson and Carl Sagan. In 1991, Richard Land, the new Christian Life Commission's Executive Director of the 15 million member Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) dedicated his division's seminar to environmental protection and later signed an environmental declaration with Sagan, Wilson and Gore. Simultaneously, the Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), Robert Dugan, joined the progressive Evangelical Environmental Network. By 1994, however, both Dugan and Land, along with their organizations, abandoned environmental efforts and opposed the groups they once supported. This paper explores the factors that led conservative evangelicals to largely act as a roadblock in the present against nature protection initiatives. Supporting sources come from various archives as well as interviews with the NAE's former Washington lobbyist Richard Cizik and the SBC's Richard Land. Such sources reveal that economics, conspiracy theories and in particular social and political pressure ultimately crushed a surprisingly eco-friendly push within the stereotypically militant and reactionary religious right.

Susannah Crockford, “Locating Religion in Conservative Christians' Rejection of Climate Science”

In this short presentation, I will assess the findings from interviews undertaken in Louisiana, Missouri, and Arizona with people who doubt the conclusions of climate science concerning anthropogenic climate change. Using a comparative frame, the reasons for climate denial or skepticism will be highlighted with a view to drawing out the location of religion in these reasons. End times beliefs and politically motivated denial are present, but a more significant theme running through the responses is a conceptual schema that excludes thinking of nature as extensively affected or able to be affected by humans. I will focus on the conception of nature among Conservative Christians in three states to answer the central question of why they reject climate science.

Robin Veldman, “Incivil Religion: The Environmental Politics of Christian Nationalism”

Evangelical Protestants have been the subject of significant focus among scholars of religion and the environment, but little attention has been paid to the related but distinct phenomenon of Christian nationalism. Comparing and contrasting the radio broadcasts and online materials of two sometime collaborators--David Barton and Glenn Beck--I highlight that the environment has been an underexamined but significant theme within Christian nationalist discourse. Specifically, Barton and Beck have both adeptly used media to reach audiences that were disengaged or disinterested in environmental politics, and to persuade their listeners and viewers not only that certain environmental policies threaten their way of life, but also that they threaten to erode the nation's Christian heritage. While Barton, a best-selling author, radio host and political activist, is well-connected with and best known among evangelicals, Beck, a former television host on Fox News and current host of the nationally syndicated "Glenn Beck Radio Program," speaks to a much broader audience. Understanding the appeal and impact of anti-environmentalism in a Christian nationalist register is key, I suggest, to achieving a more panoramic view of the landscape of religion and the environment in the United States.

Benjamin Lowe, “Generational Shifts in Climate and Environmental Attitudes and Engagement among American Evangelicals”

The relationship between Christianity and the environment has long been a contested subject, especially when it comes to evangelical Protestants in the United States. In recent decades, a growing number of evangelical leaders and institutions have spoken out in favor of greater climate and environmental action. At the same time, however, numerous studies find that American evangelicals continue to be among the most skeptical of climate and environmental problems and the least supportive of proposed solutions. Within this complex and polarized context, there is a growing narrative, including in numerous news media articles, that younger evangelicals may be shifting to be more concerned about these issues than their parents and grandparents. This paper draws on data from a mixed methods study--including surveys and interviews with students and faculty at thirty-five Christian colleges and universities across the United States--to identify and examine generational differences that may be emerging in climate/environmental attitudes and engagement among American evangelicals.

avatar for Robin Veldman

Robin Veldman

Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Texas A&M University
avatar for Neall Pogue

Neall Pogue

Senior Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Studies, The University of Texas at Dallas
avatar for Susannah Crockford

Susannah Crockford

Researcher, Ghent University
avatar for Benjamin Lowe

Benjamin Lowe

PhD Candidate and NSF Graduate Research Fellow, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Florida

Sunday February 28, 2021 11:00am - 11:45am MST
Online (Live)

12:00pm MST

Keywords in Religion, Nature, and Culture: A Lightning Round Discussion
(LIVE conversation with presenters. Please watch the session video beforehand.)

This lightning round discussion brings together an interdisciplinary panel of eight scholars of religion, nature, and culture, in order to discuss the keywords and concepts that have shaped our field. Drawing from particular episodes in their research, each scholar will briefly reflect on the ways their own scholarship has formed (or re-formed or transformed) their scholarly understandings of "environmentalism" and the kinds of things that are integral or peripheral to discussions of religion, nature, and culture. The goal of this session is to set out provocative ideas that will generate a lively discussion with the audience.

Chair and Discussant: Amanda Baugh

Sarah Pike, discussant

Elonda Clay, discussant

Michael Pasquier, discussant

Eric Hoenes del Pinal, discussant

Dana Lloyd, discussant

Jane Caputi, discussant

Laurel Kearns, respondent

avatar for Amanda Baugh

Amanda Baugh

Associate Professor, California State University, Northridge

avatar for Sarah Pike

Sarah Pike

Professor, Department of Comparative Religion and Humanities, California State University, Chico
avatar for Elonda Clay

Elonda Clay

Director of the Library, Methodist Theological School of Ohio
Anti-Racism Resources for Theological LibrariesTheological Librarianship as Anti-Racist Work
avatar for Michael Pasquier

Michael Pasquier

Associate Professor of Religious Studies and History Jaak Seynaeve Professor of Christian Studies, Louisiana State University
avatar for Eric Hoenes del Pinal

Eric Hoenes del Pinal

Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, UNC Charlotte
avatar for Dana Lloyd

Dana Lloyd

Visiting Scholar, Lecturer, Program of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Stockton University
avatar for Jane Caputi

Jane Caputi

Professor, Center for Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Florida Atlantic University
avatar for Laurel Kearns

Laurel Kearns

Associate Professor of Sociology and Religion and Environmental Studies, Drew Theological School

Sunday February 28, 2021 12:00pm - 12:45pm MST
Online (Live)

1:00pm MST

Networking Lunch
Bring your own lunch informal networking.

avatar for Robin Veldman

Robin Veldman

Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Texas A&M University

Sunday February 28, 2021 1:00pm - 2:00pm MST
Online (Live)

2:00pm MST

Vital Ice: Perceiving Past, Present, and Future in melting Ice-scapes
(LIVE conversation with presenters. Please watch the session video beforehand.)

With this panel, we propose to think of ice bodies as a vital entity, or assemblage of interdependent relations. Glaciers and other ice bodies are sometimes considered as a nonhuman force, physical and symbolic 'vibrant matter' (as per Jane Bennett), or a web of relations whose emerging agency acts on humans. The vitality of ice bodies is also seen in their personhood, and with their recession, persons or entities vanish, along with their stories, histories, and knowledge. Ice masses can also be parts of assemblages that bring together different forms of life - human, nonhuman, and divine - which are linked by principles of reciprocity. Vitality is also a central element in how ice is known. These diverse perspectives and relationships with ice often hold up a mirror to the cascading loss of other vibrancies. The papers presented draw from a diverse array of work done in Iceland, the Alps, the Andes, and the Himalayas to document how people understand, and are responding to, the loss of glacial mass. Through seven pre-recorded lectures and a post-presentation discussion, the double panel will examine the cultural, environmental, religious, and spiritual implications of the vital ice that is being lost around the world.

Chair: Georgina Drew

Karine Gagné, “Beyond the (Geo)politics of Climate Knowledge: Sensorial Engagement, Materiality, and the Himalayan Cryosphere”

Examining narratives of encounters with glaciers by herders of Ladakh, this paper probes the (geo)politics of knowledge about glaciers in Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas. The ontological and epistemological work of the science of the Himalayan cryosphere is largely based on the construction, from a distance and through technologies, of ice as an epistemic formation. In Ladakh, this approach is partly favored due to geostrategic concerns. The politics of knowledge about glaciers is also linked to the authority of science. But what other forms of knowledge about ice exist outside the dominant discourse of science? Here, I analyze knowledge about glaciers as something that develops through mobility, sensorial engagement, interactions with nonhumans, as an affective experience, and as embodied in persons. I focus on herders' observations about the sonorous dimension of glaciers, which point at an intimate knowledge about the mountainous environment, including nonhuman others and divine beings. In doing so, I raise questions about the decolonization of climate knowledge through alternative narratives about climate change and earthly processes.

Arjun Sharma, “Whose glacier is it anyway? The perils of locality in promoting artificial glaciers as a climate change solution in the Indian Himalaya”

This paper examines the genealogy of the term 'local' as it is used in contemporary sustainable development discourse, and by the supporters of the Ice Stupa artificial glacier project in the Indian Himalayan border region of Ladakh. It argues that while this concept of locality was effective in framing the interests and motives of different actors - including a social reformer and Buddhist religious luminary - to create the internationally lauded Ice Stupa artificial glaciers; this understanding of the local diverged from Ladakhi villagers' place based understanding of the concept of 'waste', and the social role of irrigation technology. These findings suggest that those interested in helping mountain communities negotiate climate change, should critically interrogate the 'local' as a historically situated 'boundary concept' rather than a pre-existing geographical scale.

Austin Lord, “Ice, Disaster, and Vitality: Morphologies of Uncertainty in the Langtang Valley”

The Langtang Valley of Nepal is both one of the most important sites for glaciological research in the Himalayan region and the ancestral home for a community struggling to recover from a devastating glacier-related disaster. Glaciers are vital in Langtang, in that they can give and take life - and in 2015, a massive co-seismic avalanche came down from the life-giving slopes of Langtang Lirung, taking life at an unthinkable and unprecedented scale. As climate change increases the risk of similar events, a variety of people seek to understand these processes and describe uncertainties - reckoning future possibilities in the context of 'climate-related disasters in the Himalayan cryosphere' or in terms of the highly situated ethical relations that shape 'moral ecologies' in Langtang. As glaciologists and climate scientists establish new research stations and expand long-term monitoring programs, the Langtangpas are working to restore relations with local protector deities who can help them cope with the lived uncertainties of past and future hazards. As dialogue between groups and worldviews continues - complicated, alternately problematic and promising - questions of epistemological pluralism emerge alongside different narratives of what exactly is vital.

Mattias Borg Rasmussen, “Grappling with Change: Signification and Climate in the Andes”

Andean Peru has long been a hotspot for global climate change. This paper provides a reassessment of the dynamics of climate change in Peru's Cordillera Blanca. Based on qualitative and quantitative material, it reviews the impacts of climate change on rural livelihoods. It is particularly concerned with 'signification', that is, how people ascribe meaning to the changes and embed them into cultural understandings, and how this signification becomes part of community politics. We suggest that such processes of meaning-making hinge upon the mending and remaking of severed relations between the waterscape and people of the high Andes. The signification of climate change in the Andes filters into community politics, both as contests over the meaning of community itself, as a framework for inwards and outwards community action, and as a contested field of future-making.

Julianne Yip, “Can ice die?: Approaching ‘vitality’ from the perspective of sea ice”

Can ice die? This question frames my paper, which approaches the concept of 'vitality' from the perspective of Arctic sea ice. Taking up the 2019 funeral of Okj?kull glacier in Iceland as an empirical departure point, I ask: What does it mean to grant life (and the possibility of death), to icy forms, such as glaciers or sea ice? What does 'vitality' look like from the perspective of Arctic sea ice, the ice form that I followed for my anthropological fieldwork? These are pressing questions in a time of mass extinctions in which ice, itself, has been cast as an 'endangered species.' Adopting an ice-centric approach, this paper explores what sea ice demands of ethical responses, including storytelling, which do not ground in identity, shared mortality, or life itself.

Elizabeth Allison, “Life Without Ice: Glacier Extinction, Extinction of Experience”

Disappearing glaciers have been described as sentinels for a warming world: climate change is intensified at the high latitudes and altitudes, hastening the melting of glaciers and ice caps. Glacial decline has numerous documented geological, hydrological, atmospheric, and sociological consequences. What is not yet well understood are the consequences of complete disappearance, or extinction, of high-altitude glaciers. Glacial extinction is hypothesized to have a range of social consequences for mountain communities, including effects on water supply, fuel, and fodder, cultural identity and spirituality, aesthetics, and recreation. Glaciers are powerful cultural symbols, perceived as responsive to the human moral climate. Observing irrevocable change in one's home territory can lead to emotional responses such as loss and mourning, characterized as "eco-anxiety" or "solastalgia", and a generalized sense of insecurity. To develop resilient responses to climate ch

avatar for Elizabeth Allison

Elizabeth Allison

Associate Professor Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness Program School of Consciousness and Transformation (SCT), California Institute of Integral Studies
avatar for Karine Gagné

Karine Gagné

Assistant Professor, Sociology & Anthropology, University of Guelph
avatar for Arjun Sharma

Arjun Sharma

Postdoctoral Researcher, KU Leuven
avatar for Austin Lord

Austin Lord

PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Cornell University
avatar for Mattias Borg Rasmussen

Mattias Borg Rasmussen

Associate Professor, Section for Global Development, University of Copenhagen
avatar for Julianne Yip

Julianne Yip

2020–21 Canadian Science Policy Fellow, Mitacs
avatar for Georgina Drew

Georgina Drew

Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Adelaide

Sunday February 28, 2021 2:00pm - 3:30pm MST
Online (Live)

3:45pm MST

ISSRNC Virtual Closing
ISSRNC closing virtual reception. Open to all participants. BYOB ;-) 

Sunday February 28, 2021 3:45pm - 5:30pm MST
Online (Live)
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