Winged Geographies: Birds in Space and Imagination
Winged Geographies will address the question of our evolving spatial relationships with bird life. The presence of birds and their song has long shaped human experience and conceptualisation of the skies, the countryside as well as urban and domestic environments.
Birds have been collected, traded and re-contextualised across territories. Their migrations have inspired new kinds of human connections, both psychic and physical. How have birds been part of human efforts to make sense of terrestrial and avian spaces and places? Such a question implicates all kinds of actors: gardeners, scholars, pilots, naturalists, children, writers and philosophers. Aristophanes’ play The Birds saw two frustrated Athenians join with the birds to build a utopian city in the clouds, a new republic where ‘Wisdom, Grace and Love pervade the scene’. Steven Feld’s work with the Kaluli people of Papua New Guinea showed that the avian voices heard in the forest defined an entire cultural and spiritual realm. Today, birds increasingly draw attention as indicators of environmental crisis. In the Anthropocene, are the much-loved imaginative and metaphorical readings of bird life still culturally productive or dangerously retrograde?
We encourage papers of all kinds but you may want to consider these themes:
Flight and space: seeing with the eyes of a bird, escape from terrestrial boundaries, aviation
Soundscape: bird song and calls in defining spaces and places
Shared space: habitats and landscapes of co-existence and extinction
Proximity: birds in captivity, birds in the home and garden
Mobility and borders: trading, watching, mapping, territory and identity
Imaginative avian geographies: ideas from art, literature and music.
International scholars from geography, history, animal studies, anthropology, ornithology, environmental humanities, STS and cultural studies are encouraged to participate, although all disciplines are welcomed.