Climate Change: Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics – Launch conference of the new research centre, 28 April 2016

by Alice Dal Gobbo, 16/05/16

A new multi-disciplinary centre on Climate Change is taking form at Brighton University. The scholars taking part at the centre come from such different backgrounds as the social sciences, art and urban design. The launch conference reflected such diversity of research interests, and especially the three areas in which the group’s projects are divided: spaces, power and justice; environmental futures, communication and sustainability; embodiment, performance and process. The number of participants and speakers have been kept to a minimum in order for everybody to be able to listen to all of the engaging presentations.

In their diversity, the talks reflected the diverse issues that many climate change practitioners and researchers find themselves dealing with: how to communicate climate change? what are the barriers to behaviour change? what does it mean to act against climate change, and how to be more effective? what are the power issues that are necessarily involved in the politics of climate change? There were also reflections on the philosophical meaning of environmentalist discourses, such as an interesting Nietzschian interpretation of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything; as well as more psycho-social reflections on ecology.

I presented at the conference in a panel focused on “Communities of Resistance, Marginalisation and Change: Exploring Grassroots Voices and Everyday Practices”. I brought with me, by way of presentation, one of my participants’ photographs of their fridge of. I tried to show the ways in which it is possible to talk about desire, libidinal investments and enjoyment without talking about the psyche and interiority. Based on Deleuze and Guattari’s writings, I proposed a reflection on that fridge as part of a desiring assemblage that reaches from the present to the past and the future: connecting and dis-connecting materialities and expressive contents, the fridge became the focus for a reflection on dissidence and resistance practiced at the level of the everyday towards alternative, less consumption-intensive, life-styles. The presentation has very much interested and engaged the audience, who asked many thoughtful questions. This good response, I believe, is also related to the need to re-think small and banal practices not in terms of individuals and subjects (as often happens) but as part of wider societal assemblages.

To discover more about the centre:

https://www.brighton.ac.uk/secp/index.aspx