Research topic: From the margins to the mainstream: Imaginations of human-environment relationships in policy, art, and agriculture
Research pathway: Human Geography
Host institution: Swansea University
As societies come to terms with issues such as climate change and species loss, and following a widespread loss of faith in the notion of “sustainable development”, there is an urgent need to reframe debates about what constitutes a sustainable future. My PhD contributed to this endeavor by critically examining imaginaries of social and ecological transformation generated by various projects in Wales. The Welsh Government’s pioneering Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015) provides the context for the research, and the thesis presents the first critical analysis of this new legislation and the imaginaries associated with it. Alongside this analysis, the study also takes more marginal projects and practices seriously as alternative ways of doing things, including in the arts and alternative agriculture. Significant findings are discussed via three main themes: time and futurity, human–environment relations, and the role of art. In particular, the research highlights how notions of complexity, non-linearity, and more-than-human agency emerge as important ideas (often in unexpected or overlooked places) with which to approach environmental challenges in the 21 st Century.
As an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, I am building on my PhD research in order to think more broadly about how human-environment relations are imagined, and possibilities for how they might be imagined otherwise. In particular, I am extending my research on the roles of art and storytelling, and how these can help us to think and live differently in response to environmental crises. During the fellowship year I will be writing about my research for academic and non-academic audiences, attending training in order to develop my creative writing skills, and will spend a month as a visiting researcher at the Environmental Humanities Lab at KTH University in Stockholm.