Beyond the Culture of Nature - Rethinking Canadian and Environmental Studies

February 1, 2012; September 29-30, 2012 at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Canadian and Environmental Studies are two fields in transformation. Initiated in part as emancipatory projects in the 1970s, seeking to define subjects and articulate their meanings, the two fields have diverged and been complicated by shifting ideas about nation and nationalism on the one hand, and the environment and sustainability on the other. Wilderness once stood as a central shared concern of the two fields, but constructivist critiques have highlighted its associations with race, gender, settler societies and social power, and the discourse of sustainability has transcended wilderness as a cultural and linguistic artifact, reliant on a binary vision of nature and culture.
This conference asks what has replaced the culture of nature that once provided common ground for Canadian and Environmental Studies? How do area and interdisciplinary studies intersect, and with what benefits and problems? Does a shared agenda remain? This conference seeks to bring Canadian and Environmental Studies scholars together to discuss and debate the relations of their two fields and imagine the intertwined futures of Canadian and Environmental Studies.

Possible conference themes include:

  • The place of nature in Canadian Studies
  • The place of Canada in Environmental Studies
  • What’s left of wilderness and the culture of nature?
  • Understanding Canada, regions and places in a world of global flows and environmental processes