Keynote presentation at the international workshop on “Relationality and More-Than-Human Storytelling”, University of Augsburg

Image credit: Sina Ribak, Being With Porifera, 2021, natural sponge & clay, photo by Uta Neumann.

Sponges – On collective worldmaking, toxic relations, evolution and coexistence

As an invitation to embrace the non-linear and changing world we live in, my keynote talk brings together biological facts and ethical values of socio-ecological justice around an usually unknown protagonist: the sponge.

For this international workshop on “Relationality and More-Than-Human Storytelling” organized by the Department of American Studies at the University of Augsburg, Germany, my suggestion is to look through the lens of coexistence as a counternarrative to extractivist practices that continue to poison our common ancestors, the beholders of both past knowledge and possible futures. Oceans are important sites of biological evolution, and sponge gardens can teach us about multi-kingdom becoming and the transformation of scientific understandings.

July 14, 2023.

Organized by: Ina Batzke, Milena Krischer, Linda M. Heß, and Fritz Bommas: The American Studies Department at the University of Augsburg has a long commitment to the environmental humanities as does the University of Augsburg overall, with the establishment of its Environmental Science Center in the early 2000s and the founding of the Center for Climate Resilience in 2021.