Experimental Histories II: Uncanny Objects in the Anthropocene Symposium


A symposium interrogating how we critically, artistically and affectively approach historicised objects (including animals and non-sensate things).

Start Date

5th Jun 2017 9:00am

End Date

6th Jun 2017 5:00pm


Harvard Room 1, Centenary Building, Sandy Bay campus

RSVP / Contact Information

Enquiries: or 6226 1984


This two-day symposium will explore what the era of the Anthropocene means for how we critically, artistically and affectively approach historicised objects (including animals and non-sensate things). It interrogates present and future problems—species mass-extinction, climate change, anthropogenic environmental impact—in relation to how the past is re-imagined, interpreted, commemorated, subverted and displayed. The symposium therefore considers human history and its commemoration in museums, galleries, archives and historical sites in relation to the deep histories of nonhuman time and the more-than-human effects that a human centred approach have often ignored or hidden.

To attempt to know the materialised past ‘experimentally’ is to situate objects in the uncanny moment where the Anthropocene has rendered the familiar strange and the strange familiar. Taken for granted animal exhibits in museums become unmoored from their reassuring scientificism when extinct species are displayed. Items made from animals or plants in other times are now analysed for hints of how we might re-imagine the human/earth relationship. Objects that once authenticated other ways of life are now re-enlivened to expose alternative ways of knowing the past, to understand this anthropocentric present, and to find new ways to imagine the role of humans in shaping earth futures.

We invite papers from scholars, artists, curators and scientists that interrogate the new meanings of objects in the Anthropocene.

Guest speakers include:

  • Dr Pru Black, University of Sydney
  • Dr Fiona Cameron, Western Sydney University
  • Emeritus Professor Stephen Muecke, University of New South Wales
  • Dr Kate Wright, University of New England

We seek expressions of interest for new and unpublished work to be delivered as 15 minute papers on this theme.  Please email your 250 word abstract to Assoc. Professor Penny Edmonds by April 10th, 2017. One bursary is available for a UTAS (Launceston) postgraduate student. We anticipate the publication of a volume based on this new work.

‘Experimental Histories’ is cross-disciplinary research cluster and Strategic Theme Area of the College of Arts and Law, University of Tasmania, comprising humanities scholars, artists, and curators.