“Haunting Ecologies” talks, exhibit to explore feminist and Indigenous approaches to forest fire

Pictured are Sarah Grew, Jon Bellona, David G. Lewis, Kari Marie Norgaard, Joe Scott, and Michelle Murphy.

CSWS is excited to announce, "Haunting Ecologies: The Past, Present and Future of Feminist and Indigenous Approaches to Forest Fire," a two-week event series April 24–May 4, 2023, at the University of Oregon. The project is presented by CSWS in collaboration with the Environmental Initiative's “UO by Environmental Justice” (UOxEJ) events.

“Haunting Ecologies” events feature the 2023 CSWS Acker-Morgen Memorial Lecture, “Desire in the Aftermath of Environmental Violence,” by invited scholar Michelle Murphy, professor of history and women’s and gender studies at the University of Toronto. In this talk, Murphy asks how we might “start with desire, rather than damage,” in the aftermath of environmental destruction. “Ongoing environmental violence not only disrupts life changes, but chemical exposures can also perturb the very bodily development of human and non-human sexed being,” Murphy says. The talk weaves together Indigenous feminist methods and trans-ecology concerns “to look for ways of building queer anti- colonial futures and frames for sexed being in the wake of ongoing environmental harm.” Murphy is Métis from Winnipeg, Manitoba, a citizen of the Red River Métis, as well as French Canadian.

“Haunting Ecologies” events also include “Native Ecologies,” a panel discussion on Indigenous histories and approaches to fire management, knowledge production, and ecological stewardship. Panelists include traditional ecologist Joe Scott, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and Curriculum Director for the Traditional Ecological Inquiry Program; David G. Lewis, a member of the Grand Ronde Tribe and assistant professor of anthropology, ethnic studies, and Indigenous studies at Oregon State University; Amada Lang, a Karuk, Wiyot, and Konomihu Shasta Native and the Klamath Basin coordinator for Rios to Rivers as well as an intern for Save the California Salmon; and Kari Marie Norgaard, a non-Native professor of sociology and environmental studies at University of Oregon who has also worked as a consultant for the Karuk Tribe on tribal environmental policy since 2003. Moderating the panel is Kirby Brown, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, associate professor of English, and director of Native American and Indigenous studies at the University of Oregon.

The panel discussion and lecture are presented in conjunction with “Ghost Forest,” an exhibition by Eugene artist Sarah Grew at the LaVerne Krause Gallery. Following the devastating 2020 wildfires in Oregon, Sarah Grew collected black coals from the fires that she then used, through extensive research and experimentation, to create carbon prints of recorded images of the forests themselves. Her process and its resulting prints, with their frilled edges and torn emulsion, echo the way natural fire cycles can surmount devastation to provide nutrients to the soil, force a pinecone to disperse its seeds, or shape the landscape, in contrast to the extreme intensity and size of the fires that are now common. The photographs show us the beauty being lost to human negligence and the climate crisis. Printed as lantern slides, the forest memory is held captive on sheets of glass accentuating both the fragility of life and our precarious position. Hung at various heights the viewer is invited to move through the “Ghost Forest,” witnessing a range of natural elements.

The “Ghost Forest” exhibition also incorporates Jon Bellona’s sound installation “Wildfire”—a 48-foot-long speaker array that plays back a wave of fire sounds at speeds of actual wildfires. An instructor of audio production in the UO School of Music and Dance, Bellona hopes the installation will allow viewers to embody the devastating spread of wildfires through an auditory experience.

“Haunting Ecologies” events are scheduled as follows:

  • Ghost Forest exhibit and Wildfire sound installation, April 24–May 4, LaVerne Krause Gallery, Lawrence Hall. Open hours Mon–Fri, 9 am–6 pm.
  • Native Ecologies panel discussion, 4–6 pm Tuesday, April 25, 115 Lawrence Hall. Ghost Forest exhibit opening reception immediately following in the Lawrence Hall lobby.

For more information on the events and speakers, go to the CSWS website.

“Haunting Ecologies” is a collaboration of CSWS and the UO Environment Initiative and is cosponsored by the CAS Program Grant, Center for Environmental Futures, College of Design, Native American and Indigenous Studies, Just Futures Institute, and the Barbara and Carlisle Moore Chair in English.

Image Pictured is Amada Lang.
Pictured is Amada Lang.