Experimental Histories: Uncanny objects in the anthropocene


This symposium considers human history and it commemoration in museums, galleries, archives and historical sites.

Start Date

5th Jun 2017

End Date

6th Jun 2017


Harvard Room 1, Centenary Building, Sandy Bay campus

RSVP / Contact Information

E.; T. 6226 2352

Image of the symposium flyerThis 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.

Convened by
  • Penny Edmonds, Hannah Stark, Katrina Schlunke
Speakers include:
  • Dr Kate Wright, University of New England
  • Dr Prudence Black, University of Sydney
  • Dr Fiona Cameron, Western Sydney University 
  • Professor Stephen Muecke, University of Adelaide 

Download the symposium program (3.1MB PDF)

This symposium is supported by the Multidisciplinary Research Environment Group (MERG), the Institute for the Study of Social Change, and CAIA.