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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 (megan.kuster@ucd.ie; sarah.comyn@ucd.ie).

Project PIs:

Dr Sarah Comyn
UCD School of English, Drama and Film

Dr Megan Kuster
UCD School of English, Drama and Film

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.
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