Selection of talks, workshops, conferences and podcasts

Selection from 2023/24:-

River Islands: redefining the Anthropocene. Ashoka University, October, 2023. Keynote address: Jonathan Pugh. Negating Islands: Non-Relational Geographies. For discussion see here

October and November, 2023. Series of lectures to MA students at the Jersey International Centre of Advanced Studies (Jonathan Pugh).

December, 2023. Series of lectures to MA students at Trinity, Dublin (Jonathan Pugh).

January 2024, David Chandler and Jonathan Pugh will be recording a talk and discussion about ‘The World as Abyss’ with Foreign Objekt.

January 2024, David Chandler and Jonathan Pugh will be recording a podcast about ‘The World as Abyss’ with Lateral, the Cultural Studies Association’s journal.

January/February 2024, Jonathan Pugh will be taking part in a week of dialogues, directed by AbdouMaliq Simone, on ‘Popular Territories/Surface Blackness/Improbable Commons’.

Three Panels on ‘Critique After Relation’ - International Studies Association, San Francisco, April 3-6, 2024. Convenors: Jonathan Pugh (Newcastle University) and David Chandler (University of Westminster).

Abstract: For many of us, it appears that relationality is already at the centre of international studies. Neoliberal and neo-institutional frameworks of governance and policymaking, for example, depend precisely on ontologies of relation to explain and to legitimate differences in outcomes and rationalise the reproduction of inequalities and exclusions – as the relational and material sociologists (constructivists and actor network theorists) argue, anarchy or capitalism, or anything else, “is what actors make of it”. The swift move of many critical theorists from modernist ontologies of top-down transformation to bottom-up ones of relation, entanglement and emergence, of post- and more-than-human assemblages and sensitivities, are moves that shift the register from critique to affirmation. These relational approaches have come under a variety of critiques, which range from charges of appropriation to those of reinstating the (post- or more-than-) human at the centre, to starting from metaphysics rather than foundational cuts and worlding violences. For these panels – Critique Beyond Relation – we welcome inputs and contributions that seek to challenge the hegemony of relation, potentially drawing upon ideas of non-relation, of refusal, of withdrawal, of the infinite, of quantum superpositionality, of negation, spaces, voids, and the abyss, just to name a few potential examples.

Panel: Social Archaeologies and Islands. At the Society for American Archaeology Conference, New Orleans USA, 2024. Convenors: James L. Flexner, Scott Fitzpatrick, Sandra Monton-Subias, and Helene Martinsson-Wallin. Discussant: Jonathan Pugh.



Island archaeology has advanced significantly during the past two decades, from exponential increases in empirical data to new theoretical breakthroughs, particularly in ecological and evolutionary approaches. While these bodies of knowledge are essential for understanding islands, we propose that a predominance of “scientific” theoretical frameworks for interpreting islands could be complemented by more social understandings of life on islands in the past, with broad implications for islander presents and futures. Island studies in general have moved from using islands as laboratories to research of islands and islanders on their own terms. From the early 2000’s the field of Island studies have been growing vastly, mainly due to multidisciplinary studies of current global issues and phenomena from the perspective of islands and islanders. The studies of past island life and islanders’ maritime relationships can for example contribute in major ways to understanding current sustainability issues and conservation strategies.  This session brings together perspectives from islands around the world to engage with the diversity of social archaeologies that emerge from the perspective of smaller as well as larger landmasses surrounded by rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans. The session also highlights engagement with the water itself as a medium of human experiences in the past as they link to the present.

Two panels on: Island Studies: critique beyond the relational turn

Internatonal Geographical Union Congress, 24-30 August 2024, Dublin, Ireland. Convenors: Sarah Nimfuehr and Jonathan Pugh

[1]. Islands of Negation

In recent decades much island scholarship has been dominated by the relational turn which has sought to generatively think with islands as sites for developing relational ways of being and knowing, aiming to challenge the violent hubris of top-down modern and colonial reasoning, the human/nature divide, and a telos of linear progress. These two sessions aim to examine the limitations of this turn at the current juncture of debate in island scholarship. The first session asks, as discussion heightens around colonalisaton, problematising the appropriative hand in its many manifestations, what does this do today to challenge the relational turn? Are relational ontologies and epistemologies increasingly being understood as too productivist, framing the island and islander as all-too-available, whether for instrumentalization or for a well-meaning ethics of care for the Other? It would seem that a range of discontents are emerging: from developments around opacity, fugitivity and marronage on islands, to understandings of island cultures as desedimenting the delineations of projected ontological framings, to re-readings of how the figure of island in Western philosophy, from Nietzsche to Heidegger, Derrida and Deleuze, has long strained against the projection of human concepts over the world. This session seeks to explore the possibilities of a contemporary development and we welcome both conceptual and empirical papers which engage islands through such tropes as negation, opacity, refusal, the nongenerative, non-relation, and withdrawal.

[2]. Islands and Time: Caribbean Temporalities of Refusal

The second session continues to explore critique beyond the relational turn by foregrounding how, whilst the spatial has been frequently opened-up and interrogated in relational approaches, islands and islanders often still tend to be understood as available through a modern, linear notion of time. Thus, whilst Caribbean islands are often observed to have preserved linguistic elements and cultures (e.g., archaic dialects, customs and religious traditions, gender roles, etc.), these are frequently anchored in a modern chronology. Recent work in Black Studies turning to the Caribbean has foregrounded a multitude of different ways of thinking about time, not as linear, but through such tropes as the ‘hold’ of the slave ship (Spillers, 2003; Harney and Moten, 2013), ‘suspended’ time (Philip, 2021) and the ‘quantum’ (Da Silva, 2022), which all work to problematise and refuse modern time. Saliently, this raises the further question as to how to engage the Caribbean in terms of a place where multiple understandings of time itself meet. What work do different understandings of time, of recall, memory, futurity, the temporal’s relationship to ontology, materiality, and spirituality, or otherwise, do? In raising these questions, we welcome papers which engage how different notions of time are framed in contemporary work on the Caribbean, how they problematise and refuse islands understood through a modern, universalistic, linear temporality.

Selection of previous …

On 16th February, 2021 David Chandler and Jonathan Pugh discussed Anthropocene Islands with the Forum Internationale Wissenschaft Bonn lecture series on 'Ecology and the Metamorphosis of Modern Society' (University of Bonn, 2020-2021) See here

On 15th March, 2021 David Chandler and Jonathan Pugh discussed Anthropocene Islands at a virtual coffee morning, University of Westminster. See here

On 6th September 2021 David Chandler presented ‘Islands and the End of Modernity’ for Philosophy in Our Times, see here

On 22nd September, 2021 Jonathan Pugh was interviewed by Laureline Simon for the online magazine Tero. The interview will be published later in the year.

On 23rd September, 2021 Jonathan Pugh was interviewed by Phil Hayward for the ‘Island Conservations’ Podcast Series of the SICRI (Small Island Cultures Research Initiative) network. The podcast can be found here on the SICRI network website.

On 28th Sept 2021 Jonathan Pugh was interviewed by Erica Angliker (ICS-London) and Lilian Laky (University of Sao Paulo). The interview launched the publication of the volume "Questions of Insularity" in the journal Mare Nostrum. It was also be transmitted though the youtube channel here.

On 1st December, 2021. Jonathan Pugh discussed ‘Anthropocene Islands, Entangled Worlds’. Amor Mundi: Multispecies Seminar Series. Chiang Mai University. A YouTube of the talk and discussion can be found here

On 7th May, 2022 the podcast station ‘A Correction’ did an interview with Jonathan Pugh on islands and the Anthropocene. The podcast can be found here

Taster of the book ‘Anthropocene Islands’ (34 mins)

Longer talk on ‘Anthropocene Islands’ (1 hr 18 mins)