Feral Incursions

11-12 May 2018
Central European University, Budapest 

A two-day intensive exploring the polyvalent theoretical and practical facets of the feral through art, politics and ecology organized by the Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative (EAH) at Central European University, Budapest.

Christian Kosmas Mayer, The Life Story of Cornelius Johnson’s Olympic Oak and Other Matters of Survival, 2017. Photo Klaus Pichler.

This series of workshops sets out to interrogate the feral as a material and figurative entity that troubles the ordinary realms of arts, politics, and ecology. On the one hand, feral animals and plants are often accused of invading natural ecologies and civilized spaces, yet the zealous control of these organisms has also provoked tensions between environmentalists, pastoralists and agriculturalists, as well as economic and cultural agencies. On the other hand, the feral designation has often been deployed as a trope for those who cross geopolitical and sexual-racial borders – such as migrants, people of color, and people with disabilities – invoking a necessity to control their mobility, inhabitance and reproductivity.

 The feral has however been more affirmatively approached within streams of environmental thought that recognize its agency in reactivating dormant natural processes in denuded Anthropocene landscapes through planned or undirected instances of rewilding. The concept of feralizing has also been invoked as a device to critically reanimate wildness and reclaim liminality in feminist, queer, and other critical social theories. The feral has also been explored in artistic practices as a tactics to uncover mechanisms of fascist and colonial domination, as well as to test out post-capitalist forms of exchange. This kind of reclamation helps us to mobilize the ambivalence and tension that the feral entails as a potential space for transspecies and cosmopolitical reflections and alliances.

 This series of workshops led by artists, writers, political theorists and urban foragers investigates the feral as a transgressive force with the power to corrode and infract anthropocentric and patriarchal systems, as well as through the actual entanglements of ferality in the streams of artistic, political and ecological practice. Could ferality be a useful concept for theory and practice against species extinction? How can poetry provide a language to express this loss and imagine more-than-human futures? What is the place of the feral in the urban environment and how can it become a source of physical and spiritual nourishment? Could the excavation of a fragment of intertwined political and natural history trigger a critical stance towards the present? How can ferality be deployed to infiltrate and subvert economic networks? In what way could the concept of feral citizenship allow us to navigate the current political moment?

While there is no charge for participation, workshop numbers are limited, and pre-registration is required. To apply please send a short statement by Friday 27 April explaining why you would like to take part and how you would benefit to eah@ceu.edu

For more information see: http://translocal.org/feral/index.html


Friday 11 May

 9.00 Introduction


The Life Story of Cornelius Johnson’s Olympic Oak and Other Matters of Survival, 2017
Workshop leader: Christian Kosmas Mayer
EAH organisers: Maja and Reuben Fowkes

Christian Mayer travelled to LA to find the tree given as a potted plantlet to Afro-American high jump champion Cornelius Johnson, along with all the other gold medal winners, at the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Berlin. What could be the future of the saplings that the artist has preserved in-vitro?


Feral Citizenship:  Roving the Democratic Terrain
Workshop leader: Nick Garside
EAH organiser: Alan Watt

This workshop examines the intersection between democracy, desire and disruption, exploring feral citizenship as a hopeful and pleasurable way of occupying and creating democratic terrain.

Feral in the City: Exploring the Wild Edges and Valuing the Marginal in a Human-made Environment

Workshop leaders: Claude Oprea
EAH organiser: Guntra Aistara

 You are invited on a magical journey of discovery and connection with some of the wild plants in the city of Budapest. What can we learn from their untamed nature, resilience and healing powers to inform our present and write a better story for our futures?

Note: This workshop will take place both on the university site and around the city of Budapest.

Saturday 12 May


Feral Trade
Workshop leader: Kate Rich
EAH organisers: Maja and Reuben Fowkes

 Artist and trader Kate Rich has been playing with the nature of the feral in business over 15 years, primarily through the Feral Trade project, an artist-run grocery business trading coffee and other goods over social networks and outside commercial systems (http://feraltrade.org). She will report on her findings and invite a conversation into how we might extend the notion of the feral into how we do business more broadly.


Poetry, Birds, and the Feral from Medieval to Modern
Workshop leaders: Clara Dawson and Petra Bakos Jarrett 
EAH organisers: Hyaesin Yoon and Marianna Szczygielska

This workshop will take a series of poems across the centuries, including ancient Greek, classical Arabic, medieval and modern British poetry, which feature birds inhabiting the borderline between human and animal, between the civilised and the wild. What can these poetic birds tell us about how attitudes to the feral have changed across the centuries?

Feral Intensive Roundup


Reflexive Ecologies of Post-Internet Art

 Central European University Budapest

Nádor utca 13, room 516A
17.30-19.30, 13 February 2018

With Joana Moll, Inga Lāce and Áron Fenyvesi, introduced by Maja and Reuben Fowkes

 Perpetual connectivity and the incorporation of the internet into the habits of daily life, the intercession of social media in personal communications as well as in interactions with the natural world constitute critical elements of post-internet art practice. This seminar investigates the reflexivity of such approaches in relation to the environmental aspects of the underlying infrastructure, ecological footprint and conflicting materiality of online transactions. How does contemporary art impact a post-internet ecology that confronts the wastefulness of built-in obsolescence and challenges the transformation of the internet into a monetised space of surveillance and manipulation? What are the prospects for the emergence of post-human, entangled and non-dystopian relations between people, species and the natural world?

This seminar is part of the programme of the Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative at Central European University and is organised in collaboration with Translocal Institute for Contemporary Art.

For speaker biographies and abstracts visit:


Call for participants for a workshop:
June 1st-2nd, 2017
Linköping University, Sweden

Keynote speakers:
Catriona Sandilands (York University) and Michael Marder (University of the Basque Country)

“Plantarium: Re-Imagining Green Futurities” addresses the question of plant-human relationships in the context  of pressing environmental issues. We invite participants to foster new ways of thinking (with) plants as a way of re-positioning the human as part of the surrounding natural-cultural environment, creating tools to seek out alternative green futures.

For more information see:

Conference on "Connecting with a low-carbon future – the challenges for the arts and humanities"

Where: University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom
When: 19 and 20 April 2017
Deadline for Papers: March 24 2017

This conference is part of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Network in the Arts and Humanities "Connecting with a low-carbon Scotland", and is hosted by the University of Stirling Centre for Environment, Heritage and Policy.

The conference will discuss key issues in the transition to low-carbon societies. The dominant disciplines in the field so far have been the STEM subjects and social sciences such as economics and psychology. But there is growing recognition that moving successfully towards a low-carbon future requires fundamental social and cultural change. In this context, arts and humanities disciplines have distinctive and potentially powerful contributions to make. Working together, they can develop understanding of the key socio-cultural influences which affect peoples' perceptions of the challenges involved in moving to a low-carbon future, and of how to connect with them more effectively.

The conference therefore has panels for literature and theatre; law and politics; visual arts and media; and history and philosophy. The challenges to be discussed include, but are not limited to:

  • identifying barriers to achieving low-carbon transitions, and how they can be addressed;
  • achieving ethically just low-carbon transitions; and
  • understanding and influencing political power.

In addition, drawing on the work of the Royal Society of Edinburgh network and the conference panels, there will be the opportunity to contribute to the development of interdisciplinary narratives across the arts and humanities in a roundtable discussion.

Vegetal Mediations: Plant Agency in Contemporary Art and Environmental Humanities

Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative
Central European University Budapest, 5-6 May 2017
Deadline: 24 February 2017Fokus Grupa, Herbarium, 2013-ongoing. Courtesy the artists.Plants have always played powerful roles in social and ecological systems. Rather than mere passive bystanders to history, plants act as agents, mediating relations both among people and between people and their environments, knowledge, markets, and politics, as well as serving as mediators in non-human spheres. Recent findings by biologists have challenged prevalent assumptions that reduce them to ‘photosynthesising green machines’ (Marder) and revealed the complex social life of plants in their ability to act on their environment by controlling the microbiota on their roots, send biochemical messages to insects, recognise kin and share information about droughts and other threats. The deteriorating living conditions facing plants as a result of accelerating anthropogenic changes to the Earth System, from the effects of climate change to genetic modification, have also engendered responses and reflections from artists, writers and theorists that consider vegetal non-cognitive thought and non-representational memory, plant ethics and rights, and the relationship of humans and plants in the Anthropocene. Exploring the various social, ecological, and political mediations of plants can allow us to explore deeper understandings of the intersection of nature and culture, human and non-human, and matter and thought.

This conference seeks to open an interdisciplinary discussion of the manifold role of plants as mediators, both as agents and enablers of intra-human interactions and in terms of non-human communication and exchange. Topics to be addressed include: is it possible to think beyond an anthropocentric concern with the instrumental value of plants for nourishing our bodies, making the air breathable and stimulating our senses? What can we learn from the social life of the vegetal world that might guide our species in the search for viable solutions to ecological crisis? Do plants offer a model for coexistence and planetary being with relevance for human society, politics and economics? How might an engagement with plant agency affirm non-heteronormative ways of living and relating beyond the animal-centric perspective, in correspondence with feminist and queer critiques of the modern western notion of subjectivity? What can be learned from indigenous and ancient traditions about plants as co-members of the natural world? What can intellectual and sensorial encounters with vegetation reveal about its specific relation to temporality and what particular insights does contemporary artistic practice offer in the conceptualisation of plant agency?    

We invite proposals for papers and artistic presentations on the various ways in which plants mediate social and ecological relationships. Please send a 200 word abstract and short CV by 24 February 2017 to the organisers at eah@ceu.edu Accepted participants will be notified by mid-March.

This conference is organised by the Environmental Arts and Humanities Initiative at Central European University in collaboration with Translocal Institute. The Environmental arts and Humanities Initiative aims to create a common platform for academic researchers, artists, and ecological activists creatively negotiating planetary issues at the intersection between scientific and humanities-based approaches to the environment. For more information see: www.ceu.edu/eah

 Call for Papers: Themed Issue on Environment in Feminist Review

Deadline 2 January 2017

Feminism has a long and complex relationship to ‘nature’ and ‘the environment’. From critiques of the gendered nature/ culture binary to ecofeminism, feminists have alternatively rejected and celebrated women’s supposedly closer relationship to the natural world. Feminism has also long engaged critically with conventional definitions of humanism and ‘the human’, especially as derived from the exclusionist and violent definitions of the European Enlightenment. These activist and critical histories have been revised and revisited in recent years as part of a growing preoccupation in the social sciences and humanities with the environment as subject, as well as object, of study. Growing consciousness of human-induced climate change, with its vastly unequal impact on different human populations as well as the planet as a whole, adds special urgency to these concerns. Whether as part of the post-humanist critique of the humanities, the ‘animal turn’, or the ‘new materialism’, feminists and other scholar-activists are increasingly reconceptualising definitions of, and boundaries between, the human and other-than-human world.

Call for Proposals: Mutating Ecologies in Contemporary Art
MACBA Barcelona, 1 December 2016

Today, ecology is a prism through which artists are working with issues related to radical gardening and permaculture, sustainable bio-fuels, micro-economies, speculative design, open-source technologies, food access, biohacking, post-gender subjectivities and sustainable social practices. Papers are sought that seek to deep this notion of expanded ecologies by examining current transdisciplinary artistic, cultural and curatorial practices that provide different ways to understand, contest and interrogate our relation to the earth.  

FEST: Cultura/Natura Fotograf Festival
Prague, 1 October to 11 November 2016

Our aim is to introduce new perspectives regarding the dynamically developing discourse of the Anthropocene, and to map out the shifts in thinking that have been introduced at the start of the new millennium into the strongly politicised relationship between humankind and nature, not only in the fields of ecology and the natural sciences, but also and primarily in the arts and humanities, particularly anthropology and philosophy. One of the strongest programme themes of the festival is humankind’s relationship and approach to the planet Earth and the need to survive within a system that is driven by the political and economic interests of corporations and individuals. We will examine this framework through photographs and the visual arts. 

CONF: Stories of the Anthropocene Festival (SAF)
KTH Stockholm, 16-29 October 2017

As environmental humanities scholars, we believe that the Anthropocene is composed of layers of stories as well as CO2 emissions or atomic fallout. The Anthropocene is essentially a narrative about the interventions of humans on a planetary scale; it is a story written into the rocks and into the atmosphere. The Anthropocene has the ambition to overcome the dichotomized narratives of human societies versus nature, proposing a narrative embodied in the Earth.Scholars, artists, writers, filmmakers, and activists to propose a single story that can represent or encapsulate the Anthropocene.