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.

Organised by: Dr. Maja Fowkes and Dr. Reuben Fowkes (Translocal Institute / EAH), Dr. Alan Watt, (Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, CEU), Dr. Guntra Aistara, (Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, CEU), Dr. Hyaesin Yoon, (Department of Gender Studies, CEU) and (Dr. Marianna Szczygielska, Department of Gender Studies, CEU.) 

Workshop leaders: Christian Kosmas Mayer, Nick Garside,  Claude Oprea,  Kate Rich,  Gábo Bartha, Clara Dawson and Petra Bakos Jarrett

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?

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