Sustainable Materialism: An Environmentalism of Everyday Life

Co-presented with the Sydney Network on Climate Change and Society in partnership with the Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law and the Environmental Humanities Group at the University of Sydney


Watch the event courtesy of SlowTV.

29 November

What is sustainable materialism? Do our choices about what we eat and where, how we get about everyday, and where we live matter … and to whom? How does sustainable materialism affect us as individuals, as a society, locally and globally?

In this panel we bring together distinguished international scholars to ask them what they think about these tough questions. From Iceland, Gisli Palsson brings years of research into sustainable fishing and knowledge of European efforts to instill these practices in policy. Eric Enno Tamm manages a highly original traceability scheme in Canada, which ties fishers together with big retail, and consumers. John Meyer comes to us from the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität where he is working on a practical politics of sustainability. Together with University of Sydney professors David Schlosberg (Politics) and Elspeth Probyn (Gender & Cultural Studies), they will outline ideas about how to embed environmental sustainability in everyday life.

Professor Gisli Palsson

Gisli Palsson – University of Iceland
Gisli Palsson is Professor at the University of Iceland and (formerly) at the University of Oslo. He holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Manchester, England (1982). He has written extensively on a variety of issues, including human-animal relations, fishing, arctic exploration, biomedicine, genomics, genetic history, and environmental discourse. He has done anthropological fieldwork in Iceland, the Republic of Cape Verde, and the Canadian Arctic. He is the author, editor, or co-editor of several books, including Nature and Society: Anthropological Perspectives, co-edited with Philippe Descola, (1996); Anthropology and the New Genetics (2007); and Biosocial Becomings; Integrating Social and Biological Anthropology, co-edited with Tim Ingold, (2013).

Professor John Meyer

John Meyer – Humboldt State University
John Meyer is a professor in the Department of Politics at Humboldt State University in the USA. His research focuses upon the ways in which environmental concerns might be the basis for effective social criticism. This has led him in several directions, including a critical analysis of the liberal concept of property; reflection upon the possibilities - and limitations of - a democratic conception of sacrifice; and the tension between populist and paternalist appeals within environmental argument. He is particularly interested in the ways in which large-scale material practices in society including use of land, reliance upon automobiles, and dwelling in homes can create both opportunities and constraints for arguments regarding sustainability. More information.

Eric Enno Tamm

Eric Enno Tamm - Ecotrust Canada
Eric is team leader for Ecotrust Canada’s Traceability Initiatives and Thisfish.info. He is also an award-winning author and journalist.Beyond The Outer Shores: The Untold Story of Ed Ricketts, the Pioneering Ecologist Who Inspired John Steinbeck and Joseph Campbell, was a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book in 2005. Tamm holds a Masters in Journalism from the University of Southern California and a Masters in European Affairs from Lund University, Sweden. More information about Ecotrust.

Professor David Schlosberg

David Schlosberg – The University of Sydney
Professor Schlosberg's main research interests encompass environmental politics, environmental movements, and political theory, in particular the intersection of the three with his work on environmental and climate justice (most recently Defining Environmental Justice, Oxford 2007). He is a co-editor, with John Dryzek of ANU and Richard Norgaard of UC Berkeley, of The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society (Oxford 2011); the three are in the process of co-authoring a book on The Climate-Challenged Society (forthcoming from Oxford in 2013). He is at the beginning of a project examining the new sustainable materialist focus of many environmental movement groups on food and animals, energy, housing, crafting and making, and transportation. More information.

Professor Elspeth Probyn

Elspeth Probyn – The University of Sydney
Elspeth Probyn has taught media studies, sociology, and literature in Canada and the US, and is now the Professor of Gender & Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. She serves on the editorial boards of seventeen international journals across the fields of geography, cultural theory, media, cultural and gender studies, and the sociology of agriculture. Her work focuses on questions of identity, material, and cultural practices. Her current research brings together her interests in a new way – focusing on questions of food security, she is bridging paradigms of production and consumption through the study of fish, fishing and fishers globally and in regional Australia. More information.