Christopher Anderson is a Ph.D. student in US history at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He uses religious and environmental history to explore changing expressions of spiritual ecology over the twentieth century. To this end, he is interested in gaining a better understanding of competing theories of environmental aesthetics. He holds master’s degrees in theology and US history from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and Northern Illinois University.
Alize Arican is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at University of Illinois at Chicago, where she is a University Fellow. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from Boğaziçi University and an M.A. in Anthropology from University of Chicago at Illinois. Her work lies at the intersections of urban transformation, securitization of cities, and multiple productions of gendered meanings of safety. She interrogates these issues through ethnographic methods in Tarlabaşı, a neighborhoods undergoing urban transformation in Istanbul. Currently, Alize is conducting her fieldwork, and is a Visiting Fellow at the Istanbul Studies Center in Kadir Has University.
Ian G. Baird is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is also affiliated with the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies and the Asian American Studies Program. Most of his research is in mainland Southeast Asia—particularly Laos, Thailand and Cambodia—where he sometimes takes a political ecology approach to examining the relationships between hydropower and irrigation dams and fish and fisheries, the social and environmental impacts of the development of large-scale plantation land concessions, the links between conceptions of indigeneity and nature-society relations, and the histories of various marginalized groups of people, as well as other topics.
Ionit Behar is an art historian, curator and critic. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago and her research focuses on 20th century Latin American and North American art, the history of exhibitions, sculpture after 1960, theories of space and place, and curatorial practice. She holds a Master’s degree in Art History, Theory and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Bachelor of Art Theory from Tel Aviv University, and a degree in Art Administration from the Bank Boston Foundation in Montevideo. She is the Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership and the Director of Curatorial Affairs for Fieldwork Collaborative Projects NFP (FIELDWORK), a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing cultural capital in Chicago by working collaboratively with the Chicago Park District, CTA, and Public Schools. She has served as a Research Assistant for the exhibition Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium at the Art Institute of Chicago and as a curatorial assistant at Gallery 400. She recently curated “More Strange Than True” at Pulaski Park’s Field House,”My Feet Have Lost Memory of Softness” at The Franklin, “Twin Rooms” at Julius Caesar, “Hinged Space” at Terrain Exhibitions and an online exhibition “¿Mañana será asi?” She served as a curatorial assistant at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago of the 2012 MFA Show and the 2013 Design Show, and co-curated with Julian Myers-Szupinska and Joanna Szupinska-Myers at Julius Caesar. She has held curatorial internships at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; No Longer Empty, NYC and Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Behar regularly writes for print and online publications including ArtSlant, the Chicago Reader, The Exhibitionist, La Pupila, and THE SEEN.
Leticia Bernaus is a visual artist from Argentina and currently lives in Chicago. She has a Bachelors degree in Film from the Universidad del Cine (Buenos Aires, Argentina). Her book of photographs and personal essay, titled Zoobiografía, was published in 2015. Her work has been exhibited in Argentina, Brazil, United States, Spain, England and Italy. Bernaus is the recipient of several awards including: IILA-FOTOGRAFIA 2017, Rome, Italy; Renaissance Photography Prize 2017, London, England; PHOTOALICANTE 2016, Alicante, Spain; Mosaicografía 2016, Porto Alegre, Brazil. In 2016, she was awarded a fellowship to participate in the Visual Artist’s Summer Studio Program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Bernaus is a graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts program (expected 2019) and recipient of the University Fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Kathleen Blackburn is a PhD student in creative writing and the environmental humanities, with an emphasis on militarization, national and infrastructural development, and ecological disruption. As of Fall 2017, she has been working as a full-time research assistant to Professor Rachel Havrelock in the UIC Freshwater Lab, where she is helping to develop a digital narrative about Lake Michigan that seeks to articulate current risks to the lake’s ecology and to represent the political, social, and cultural stakes that constitute the Great Lakes region. Her research focus is on the language, narratives, and infrastructural response to the redistribution of species – popularly referred to as invasive species. She is interested in how the discourse of migrant species and immigration overlaps and shapes response to both. She explores how these responses often manifest in infrastructural development (i.e. “walls” and “control points”). Her background is in creative nonfiction, particularly lyric essays. Her work has received the 2016 AWP Intro Award for Nonfiction, the UIC Goodnow Prize, and been listed as “Notable” in Best American Essays. Essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Bellingham Review, River Teeth, Sonora Review, and elsewhere.
Stella Brown is a Chicago based artist and curator. Through an interdisciplinary research-based art practice, her work explores narratives within natural history, geology, and culture using modes of collection, documentation and display appropriated from natural history museums, scientific collections and the model of the store. Her work often takes the forms of installations involving fabricated objects, illustrations and collected geologic specimens, artifacts and texts. Her recent work explores what it means to enter the Anthropocene epoch by applying the concept not only to geology, but to all aspects of the natural world and human culture. She is interested in the way that humans leave their mark on the geologic, botanical and ecological record and mankind’s role in the future of ecology. She has shown work at Goldfinch Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Triumph and Slow Pony Projects and Comfort Station in Chicago and the at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has presented curatorial projects with Efrain Lopez Gallery and Shoot the Lobster, among others.
Ralph Cintron holds a joint appointment in English and the Latino and Latin American Studies Program. His research and teaching interests are in rhetorical studies;ethnography, particularly urban ethnography; urban theory; theories of transnationalism; political theory, particularly the anthropology of democracy; and social theory. He is on the Executive Board of the Rhetoric Society of America. Research wise, he has been working ethnographically in specific Puerto Rican and Mexican neighborhoods in Chicago. Some of this work has occurred inside an alderman’s office where the focus is on housing issues. Other work in these communities has been focused on labor, immigration, the transnational political and economic forces that underpin these neighborhoods, and the evolution of political ideology. He is also associated with UIC’s International Center for the Study of Human Responses to Social Catastrophe. In association with the Center, he has done fieldwork in Kosova and co-authored essays on humanitarian interventionism and international state-building. During the academic year 2007-2008 he was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Prishtina, Kosova, where he taught political science and did fieldwork in the region. In addition, he is associated with the International Rhetoric Culture Project, which brings anthropologists and rhetoricians together, at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. He is scheduled to be a co-editor for a forthcoming volume on politics. He is also producing a single-authored book that theoretically and ethnographically critiques a few of the key topoi of democracy (transparency, equality, freedom, rights) in order to explore the ruses of liberalism. He is a former Rockefeller Foundation Fellow, and his book, Angels’ Town: Chero Ways, Gang Life, and Rhetorics of the Everyday, won honourable mention for the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing from the American Anthropological Association.
Casey Corcoran is a second year Ph.D. student studying rhetoric in the English Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research interests are in the rhetoric of the law; legal studies; and political ecology. He teaches undergraduate courses in writing and rhetoric. His work, then, focuses on connecting legal concerns and issues that have arisen from fields like property and environmental law to contemporary ecological issues in hopes that this may provide a new and useful approach to addressing matters of ecology and the Anthropocene from a rhetorical perspective. He is interested in investigating the relationship between the law as a regulatory system by which humans attempt to control both the physical and social environment and matters of the Anthropocene and human influenced ecological systems.
Charlie Corwin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Urban Planning and Policy. His work explores the interaction of knowledge networks and practice among row crop farmers in north central Illinois. Charlie uses both political ecology and actor network theory to frame his methodological and ontological approaches to research. He is interested in understanding the complexities of various types of knowledge networks and what such type of knowledge suggests about what a farmer does in the field. Specifically, Charlie engages with cover crop farmers and also wants to understand the role of the physical environment in knowledge creation and dissemination. More recently, Charlie is intrigued by farmers’ perceptions of climate change and how farmers’ practices address broader climate concerns but also meet local needs.
Molly Doane received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the Graduate Center of CUNY in 2001. She is Associate Professor of Anthropology, Associate Head and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the UIC Anthropology Department, Affiliated Associate Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies, and Adjunct Curator at The Field Museum. Dr. Doane’s research concerns environmental politics, alternative markets, organic and sustainable production, and social movements in Mexico and the United States. Her book, Stealing Shining Rivers: Agrarian Conflict, Market Logic, and Conservation in a Mexican Forest won an award “best book published in the social sciences on Mexico in 2012” from the Latin American Studies Association. She is currently finishing a second book, Meaningful Markets: The Culture and Politics of Fair Trade Coffee, concerning fair trade coffee produced in Chiapas, Mexico and marketed in the Midwest and the UK. Her research and writing on these topics has been supported by: the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the Institute for the Humanities at UIC. In addition, she has carried out research projects on organic agriculture, local food, and the politics of scale in Wisconsin; and is currently working on a project on community gardening in Chicago. She is co-editor of the book series “Critical Green Engagements: Investigating the Green Economy and Its Alternatives” for University of Arizona Press. She serves on the editorial boards of the journals Environment and Society and North American Dialogue, and is a consulting anthropologist for the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. She is co-organizer (with Omur Harmansah) of the Political Ecologies Working Group and a co-PI on the Humanities Without Walls grant, “Political Ecology as Practice: A Regional Approach to the Anthropocene.” The HWW grant initiative explores the theme of “The Work of the Humanities in a Changing Climate.”
Caitlyn Knecht Dye is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I hold a B.A in Anthropology, Spanish, and Latin American studies from Cornell College. My research interests lie at the intersection of political ecology, the anthropology of the state, and critical securitization studies. My dissertation research explores these themes as they unfold through the re-scaling of water governance currently being undertaken in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and its attendant state discourse of ‘water security’ in the context of climate change. I am interested in moving beyond the framework of denial versus acknowledgement which predominates in U.S. discussions of state response to climate change in order to theorize the technologies and rationalities of rule that emerge as states govern in the name of climate.
Stephen Engelmann is Associate Professor of Political Science at UIC. His teaching and research interests are political theory (historical and contemporary), social and economic theory (historical and contemporary), English political thought, and Bentham Studies. He is author of Imagining Interest in Political Thought: Origins of Economic Rationality (Duke University Press, 2003), editor of Selected Writings: Jeremy Bentham (Yale University Press, 2011), and a member of the editorial board of History of the Human Sciences. His current manuscript, Skeptical Engineers: Evolution, Character, and the Politics of Counterrevolutionary Enlightenment, received early support from a National Endowment for the Humanities University Faculty Fellowship; it looks back at the common origins of social and life sciences in nineteenth-century England to think a bit differently from how others have about the political work of new naturalist engagements in the social sciences.
Beate Geissler is Associate Professor of Art at UIC. She was born in Germany and lives and works in Chicago. She received an MFA from the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe, Germany. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in museums, galleries and alternative spaces including The Renaissance Society, Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, the NGBK (New Society for Visual Arts) Berlin, the Fotomuseum Antwerp, Museum Ludwig, Köln and the Fotomuseum Winthertur in Switzerland. She has been the recipient of a number of prestigious grants and awards: the Videonale Award, Museum of Art, Bonn, Germany; Herman-Claasen-Award Cologne, Germany; the Dean’s Research Prize, School of Art and Design, University of Illinois at Chicago, and more recently, grants from the Elizabeth Cheney Foundation and the Graham Foundation, Chicago.
Nathan W Green is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. In my doctoral research, I explore the relationship between land and finance in rural Cambodia. Since the country emerged in the late 1990s from decades of war and political unrest, the Cambodian government has pursued a path of neoliberal development funded by foreign aid and investment. In this context, I focus specifically on the connection between the recently implemented land titling system and the for-profit, global microfinance industry. I use ethnographic methods to answer questions such as: How does the formal titling system make land investable for global financial capital? How does microfinance change the way that farmers use and access rural land? In what ways does land privatization, household debt, and out-migration change interfamily relations of social reproduction? By answering these questions, my doctoral project aims to contribute to larger debates about finance capital and nature-society relations within agrarian political ecology, feminist economic geography, and science and technology studies. My doctoral research has been funded by the US Fulbright Student Program, the Center for Khmer Studies, as well as the University of Wisconsin’s Raymond J. Penn Fellowship and Mellon Foundation Area and International Studies Fellowship. In addition to my doctoral research, I have written about the political ecology of hydropower dam resettlement in Laos, the history of antimalarial drug resistance on the Thai-Cambodian border, and people’s memories of local environmental change in rural Cambodia.
Ömür Harmansah is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Illinois Chicago’s School of Art and Art History. His current research focuses on the history of landscapes in the Middle East and the politics of ecology, place, and heritage in the age of the Anthropocene. As an archaeologist and an architectural historian of the ancient Near East, Harmansah specializes in the art, architecture, and material culture of Anatolia, Syria, and Mesopotamia during the Bronze and Iron Ages. He is the author of two monographs, Cities and the Shaping of Memory in the Ancient Near East (Cambridge University Press, 2013), and Place, Memory, and Healing: An Archaeology of Anatolian Rock Monuments (Routledge, 2015). Since 2010, Harmansah has been directing Yalburt Yaylasi Archaeological Landscape Research Project, a diachronic regional survey project addressing questions of place and landscape in Konya Province of west-central Turkey. He is currently the Principal Investigator for the 3-year multi-institutional collaborative project entitled “Political Ecology as Practice: A Regional Approach to the Anthropocene,” supported by the Humanities Without Walls consortium.
Dr. Rachel Havrelock is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she specializes in Environmental Humanities. She is the founder and director of the UIC Freshwater Lab, which focuses on the social contexts of fresh water and its infrastructure. The Freshwater Lab endeavors to train a new generation of water leaders, to communicate Great Lakes water issues to the general public, and to engage unaffiliated groups in water planning. The Freshwater Stories digital storytelling project combines her interests in humanistic approaches to public waters and folklore. Rachel’s focus on her native Great Lakes follows two decades of work in the Middle East. Dr. Havrelock is the author of River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing Line (University of Chicago Press) and numerous articles on water, borders, and oil in the Middle East. She received an alumni impact award from the U.S. Department of State Global Fellows Program and serves on the International Advisory Committee of the trilateral (Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian) NGO Ecopeace to link communities supported by the same watershed. Rachel’s interest in local waters includes the outward reach of water diplomacy.
Tannya Islas is currently a Ph.D. Student in Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine, and holds a MA in Latin American and Latino Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her interests are attuned to the issues circulating agricultural production in the age Anthropocene, and particularly in the embodied, affective, and sensorial experiences of agricultural labor in Nayarit, Mexico. Her current and future ethnographic projects look into the intimate relationships between a farmer’s land (as agricultural and agentic space) and body (as porous and ever-changing). By paying attention to such relationships, she hopes to break down what has been historically and conceptually dichotomized as “human” and “nature” in order to understand the Anthropocene and its fuzzy, inchoate, and — at times — uncomfortable status as both human and non-human.
Zhe Yu Lee is a second year MS student in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His Masters research looks at the current politics around forest and land tenure in Indonesian province of North Sumatra, especially as it relates to the (un)changing nature of the Indonesian forest and environment bureaucracy. He has broader longer-term interests in historicizing the dominance of technocratic approaches in contemporary global environmental governance. In part, this would entail exploring the relationship between the scientization of knowledges with regard to tropical agriculture and tropical forests in the 1950s-1970s and Third World visions of nation-building and internationalisms. His primary theoretical interests include science and technology studies, political ecology, global environmental history and critical development studies.
Andrew Osborne received an MA in Philosophy from The New School for Social Research in 2016. Currently, Osborne is a Ph.D. student in Rhetoric in the English Department of UIC. He is interested in the beginnings of a referential understanding of language, and the the impact referential theories of language have had on subject-object dualism. His primary research interest lies in how our de facto understanding of language came to be dominated by notions of reference (that is, in how we have come to think of language as being first and foremost a matter of correspondence with or accurate depiction of the world). What motivates this research is a desire to understand the relationship an individual finds themselves in with their environment.
Justin Raden is a Ph.D. student in the English department at UIC. His research interests focus on the philosophy of technology and the modernist novel. These interests center, on the one hand, on the relation between technics and scientific knowledge and the conception of the human (or posthuman) and further how narratives of this relation come to characterize modernity as well as Modernism’s particular “self-consciousness” of that modernity. And, on the other, he is interested in the economy of representational regimes that circulate through the Anthropocene discourse. His affinities lie with post-Bachelardian epistemological critique and with the post-Deconstructive work of people like Catherine Malabou and Bernard Stiegler.
Kaveh Rafie studies the intersections of art, technology and politics after the 1960s, with a focus in digital art, media studies, and cybernetics. His interdisciplinary project, “Arts of Dissent” (2016), in collaboration with Atef S. Said (Ph.D. in Sociology) is the recipient of the Interdisciplinary Collaboration in the Arts and Humanities Fellowship. He has presented at national/ international conferences, most recently at the Midwest Art History Society Conference (2016) and Art Practice and Research Conference (2016). His master’s thesis, “Aspects of Gaia: Roy Ascott’s Art and the Embodiment of Second-Order Cybernetics,” makes a case for Roy Ascott’s pioneering artistic aspiration to undo the division between the spectators and the artwork by drawing on cybernetics and Gaia theory.
Kevin Oliver Suemnicht is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I am interested in the politics of climate change. My work looks at environmental movements in the United States, and I explicitly want to focus my research on socialist responses to climate change. I am working on gaining access to a research site in the South where eco-socialists are attempting to build an economic and ecological alternative to capitalism at the grassroots. My research will problematize such grassroots environmentalism by exploring the ways in which such local initiatives are circumscribed and undermined by broader world-systemic tendencies of capital accumulation.
Tamara Becerra Valdez is a Mexican-American artist based in Chicago, Illinois. She utilizes artistic research through a personal and distinct photographic, sculptural and performative practice influenced by a close observation of everyday life. She restages artifacts, seizes overlooked moments and maintains a desire to honor forgotten information and expression found in the urban vernacular. The ephemeral nature of human behavior leaves an impression in her work. The acts of documenting — as photographing, sound recording, sorting and archiving are essential components to her art practice. Photography has been the foremost medium through which to capture the process and effects of duration, time and temporality in her performative works. In bridging disciplines of archaeology and visual arts, her practice blends intuition with inquiry and affect with historical and contemporary analysis. She is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in the Moving Image at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently a Graduate Research Fellow supporting artistic and creative direction in the collaborative project, “Political Ecology as Practice: A Regional Approach to the Anthropocene,” supported by the Humanities Without Walls consortium.
David Wise is Professor of Ecology and Evolution in the Department of Biological Sciences, and Associate Director of the Institute for Environmental Science and Policy, at UIC. Prof. Wise has an international reputation in the application of field experiments to reveal the structure and dynamics of terrestrial food webs, and has published a widely cited book on field experimentation with Cambridge University Press, Spiders in Ecological Webs. He has authored or co-authored over 90 peer-reviewed research publications, has given over 100 invited research lectures in 17 countries, and has mentored 24 doctoral and 10 postdoctoral students. Prof. Wise earned a B.A. in Zoology at Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. He joined the UIC faculty in 2006 after holding faculty positions in colleges of arts and sciences at the University of New Mexico and the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and in the College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky. He has been an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the University of Göttingen, a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Buenos Aires, and currently is a Research Associate at the Field Museum. Since arriving in Chicago Prof. Wise has been active in the Chicago Wilderness conservation alliance, and many of his students have conducted research on the results of ecological restorations and the impacts of invasive exotic species on ecosystems. At UIC he has forged research collaborations with social scientists from UIC, UIUC, the Field Museum and the USDA Forest Service. Prof. Wise was active in interdisciplinary graduate education at the University of Kentucky, where he taught a course on Religion and Identity in the Social Theory Program with faculty from the departments of Geography, English, French, and Philosophy and Religion. At UK he also taught a graduate seminar on Spiders and Insects in Poetry and Prose.
Pinar Üner Yilmaz studies contemporary art with a focus in global art, curatorial studies, and exhibition histories. Her dissertation focuses on the early history and emergence of Istanbul Biennials. Her research has been presented at the Inclusive Museum Conference, On Curating Conference at the European University Cyprus, University of Sussex, Istanbul Technical University, Mimar Sinan University, and other venues. She has participated in a variety of curatorial projects in the US, Europe, and Turkey. She holds a BA in Art Management and MA in Art and Design from Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey. She is a former recipient of Fulbright and TUBİTAK scholarships for graduate education, TEV (Turkish Education Foundation) scholarship for undergraduate education, SAHA scholarship for Independent Curators International’s Curating Now Program, and UIC’s Provost’s Award for Dissertation Research.