Explore UCD

UCD Home >
overlay image

Extractivist Landscapes: Humanities, Artistic and Activist Responses

PIs: Dr Sarah Comyn, Dr Megan Kuster

This project aims to analyse the entangled relations between the extractivist processes of mining and how artists and activists work to reimagine the potential futures of post-excavated landscapes. Working across a range of geographic, temporal, and imaginary sites in literary, visual art, historical and cultural works, our project investigates the transhistorical and transregional legacies of mining in Europe and the UK with a specific focus on mines and the post-mining communities that have developed on the sites of defunct mines, as well as on the communities resisting the development of new mining sites, in Estonia (oil shale), Ireland (peat) and Northern Ireland (gold).

Interested in the longevity and adaptability of historical extractivist and colonialist logics that are accelerating neo-extractivist development, the project focuses on methodologies for working with artists and activists trying to imagine futurities beyond these logics. 

The project includes three interrelated strands, designed to enable a transregional analysis across proposed and post-extraction sites at Europe’s eastern and western edges:

1) Methodologies

This strand focuses on transdisciplinary methods for analysing extractivism in places where extraction projects are being resisted and at post-excavation sites where futures are being re-imagined;

2) Site studies

This strand works at multiples scales to examine site-specific extractivist landscapes and investigate transregional approaches to re-imagining these landscapes; and

3) Creative dialogues

This strand expands opportunities for broad audiences to enter conversations about extractivism, focusing on the direct connections between creative practices arising out of histories of mining and extraction across sites in Ireland and Estonia.

The project includes a series of transdisciplinary workshops, site visits and commissioned artwork, as well as a creative collaboration event for students.

We plan to engage with colleagues across College and welcome anyone interested in knowing more to get in touch with us ((opens in a new window)megan.kuster@ucd.ie; (opens in a new window)sarah.comyn@ucd.ie).

“Extractivist Landscapes: Humanities, Artistic and Activist Responses” Workshop Series 2024
  • Workshop 1 | Monday, 26th February 2024 | 1.30-4.45pm, HI Seminar Room H204
    Professor David Higgins (School of English, University of Leeds): "Creative Public Engagement and Post-Extractivist Landscapes”
    This workshop will reflect on two UK-based research projects that enabled members of the public to develop creative responses to the more-than-human world, in the context of environmental crisis and nature disconnection. It will consider how such work can help to address both the past and the future of post-extractivist landscapes, such as nature reserves in former mining areas.

    V’cenza Cirefice (Dept. of Geography, University of Galway): "Counter-mapping as resistance to extractivism”
    This workshop explores extractivism and resistance through participatory mapping activities.  We will also explore the movement resisting gold mining in the Sperrin Mountains and anti-mining activism more broadly in Ireland. Counter-mapping asks us to explore other ways of relating to each other and the more-than-human.

  • Workshop 2 | Thursday, 23rd May 2024 | 1.30-4.45pm, HI Seminar Room H204
    Dr Conor Sweeney
    (School of Mathematics and Statistics, UCD): "Visualising Climate Modelling”
    Applied Mathematician Dr Conor Sweeney will lead an interactive working on climate modelling and precipitation patterns, focusing on the visual elements of these as well as the importance of communicating climate models in fostering public trust.

    Sarah Bracken Soper (Dublin Artist): "Making Impressions"
    Artist activist Sarah Bracken Soper will discuss several of her art and community-based projects and the relationship between art, activism and audience. Followed by a radical clay workshop, where participants get their hands into the material and explore the theme of the Sperrin Mountains.

  • Workshop 3 | Thursday, 20th June 2024 | 1.30-4.45pm, HI Seminar Room H204
    Professor Maeve Cooke
    (School of Philosophy, UCD): "Engaged Theorising”
    Philosopher Professor Maeve Cooke will lead a workshop on engaged theorising, focusing on how decentering canonical critical theory can contribute to contemporary responses to extractivism as part of a wider process of ecological devastation.

    Conor Nolan (Dublin Artist): "Wish You Were Here"
    Illustrator Conor Nolan hosts a workshop on postcard making which uses type and image to explore how we can capture the embodiment of a physical space using illustration. Students will make their own Sperrin-inspired postcard which they will then post from the site.

  • Workshop 4 (Optional) | First week in September (Date TBC) | Full day trip to the Sperrin Mountains
    V’cenza Cirefice re-joins us for this final workshop in the series, a visit with some of the local communities near the Sperrin Mountains of County Tyrone where the Dalradian Company is planning on opening a new gold mine.

Project PIs:

(opens in a new window)Dr Sarah Comyn(opens in a new window)
UCD School of English, Drama and Film
(opens in a new window)sarah.comyn@ucd.ie

Dr Megan Kuster(opens in a new window)
UCD School of English, Drama and Film
(opens in a new window)megan.kuster@ucd.ie

Image credit: ‘Goldmine: Germiston’, Natalie Fuller c.1928, with watercolour additions by S. Comyn. Used with kind permission by the owner D. R. Comyn

UCD Humanities Institute

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 4690 | E: humanities@ucd.ie |