ASLEC-ANZ’s 2019 began with the Grounding Story
conference at UNE, convened by Jennifer Hamilton, Stephen Harris, Kate Wright, and our immediate past-president Grace Moore. The conference had a fantastically rich program (see Jen Hamilton’s Aus VP report for more details about the wonderful array of keynote and plenary speakers), and delegates were privileged to attend a great array of evening events (including the Surviving New England: Our Koori Matriarchs
exhibition at the Armidale Aboriginal Community Garden, a walkshop between two very special gardens, and a screening of Soda Jerk’s Terror Nullius
). Huge thanks to the convenors, UNE, everyone who presented, and the Armidale community for welcoming us.
At the conference, a plenary round-table remembered the life and work of Deborah Bird Rose, one of the world’s most influential, careful multispecies ethnographers, and a friend and mentor to many scholars in our region. ASLEC-ANZ will continue to celebrate her work through the establishment of a biennial Deborah Bird Rose Early Career Prize. Graduate researchers and early career scholars will be invited to submit essays emerging from papers given at the biennial ASLEC-ANZ conference: these should reflect in some way the legacy of Deborah Bird Rose’s scholarship. The winning essay will be awarded a monetary prize and published, subject to editing, in ASLEC-ANZ’s journal. Thanks to Grace Moore for her initial suggestion of such a prize, to Thom van Dooren for his advice, and to Deborah’s family for their support of this initiative.
One of the great joys of 2019 has been witnessing the reincarnation of ASLEC-ANZ’s journal, formerly the Australasian Journal of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology
– soon to reappear as Swamphen
, a homage to the pukeko/Australasian swamphen native to both Aotearoa and the Australian continent, to swamps, pens, and The Goose
, journal of the Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada. We are thrilled to have the journal stewarded by an energetic team of brilliant scholars and writers: Kate Middleton, Alanna Myers, Christine Howe, Robyn Pickens, Hayley Singer, and coordinating editor, Susan Pyke (see Sue’s report for more on the journal).
ASLEC-ANZ currently has just over 100 members. Our membership is diverse and comprises scholars, artists, writers and practitioners, united by a shared interest in the environmental arts and humanities. While our membership tends to be concentrated in the eastern seaboard of Australia, we have members across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand (and a few from further afield). Since this time last year, we have welcomed 29 new and 10 renewing members. This increase is partly due to it being a conference year, as all presenters at this year’s ASLEC-ANZ conference were required to be ASLEC-ANZ members.
Going forward, memberships will now operate in 6-monthly blocks and there will be two renewal periods a year, June 30 and December 31. So, if you pay for a 1-year membership in November 2019, your membership will be active until 31 December 2020. You are still welcome to join or renew at any time.
If your membership is due for renewal this December, you will soon receive an email from our Managing Coordinator, Alanna Myers. That includes about 40% of you, so do keep an eye out for this email. This year we have implemented an online payment function on our website using PayPal, so the renewal process is now much easier. You are also still welcome to pay your membership fees by direct bank transfer or cheque. If you would like to check on your membership, please email Alanna: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to everyone in the executive for their massive contributions to ASLEC-ANZ, particularly Alanna, who as Managing Coordinator has done virtually all the day-to-day work of the organisation. Jessica White is doing a wonderful job editing the monthly newsletter. Victoria Team has continued as our much valued and longstanding treasurer. As general editor of Swamphen
, Sue Pyke has been generously involved in executive matters. I’ve also been so grateful to our past president, Grace Moore, whose leadership of ASLEC-ANZ over the past two years was absolutely foundational to all the great things that have happened this year, and who is an active, very useful, kind and wise presence on the executive. Finally, special thanks to our vice-presidents, Jennifer Hamilton (Aus) and Anna Boswell (NZ), whose creative energy and careful thinking have been vital to our planning. I’ll be taking a couple of months away from the presidency in honour of a new baby, and am deeply indebted to Jen for kindly agreeing to act as president over that period (thank you!).
As we move towards 2020, we are looking forward to engaging more with early career and graduate researcher members to find ways to support emerging work and workers in our field (we look forward to electing a new postgraduate representative to the executive!). We’re in the process of finding a home for our 2020 conference, which we hope will be in Aotearoa. As so much of eastern Australia burns this month, we’re also thinking through ways to do the social, collaborative, place-specific work that we do without damaging the very places we’re attending to. We would love to hear members’ thoughts about this, and of course about any aspects of your work.
Wishing you all a safe end to this year,