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International Symposium on “Affective Anthropocene:
Contextualizing Feelings and Environments under Climate Change”
(in mixed mode)


SDG Goals:


Program on 1-2 June (HKT)


DAY ONE - 1 June (Thursday)

9:00 am Coffee and Refreshment

9:30 am Welcome Speech by the Executive Associate Dean of the Arts Faculty, Prof. Stuart Christie


Panel 1  Feeling Queer and Affective Meanings

Moderator: Timmy Chih-Ting Chen

9:40 am (Colorado 7:40 pm, 31 May, Wednesday, UTC -8) Scott Slovic, Emotion and Meaning in the Anthropocene      

10:00 am  Jeroen de Kloet, Queering Our Way Out of the Anthropocene – On the work of Zheng Bo

10:20 am (PacificTime 7:20 pm, 31 May Wednesday, UTC-7)  Alvin Wong, Queering the Anthropocene: An Affective Impression

10:40 am Wai Ping Yau, Affective Anthropocene: The Geographical Imagination of Far Far Away

11:00 am Discussion


Panel 2  Multi-Species’ Affective Connections

Moderator: Howard Choy

2:10 pm Michael Bachmann, Between Bios and Anthropos: Plant-Human Relationships in Conceptual Art

2:30 pm Fiona Law, Polar Bears without Iceberg: Mediating Affective Apathy between the (In)Visible and the Viral

2:50 pm Haomin Gong, Of Feces and Blood—Affective Connection and Symbolic Differentiation

3:10 pm Emily Zong, Dark Humour and Eco-comic Storytelling of Invasive Species

3:30 pm Discussion


Panel 3  Passions for Land-scapes

Moderator: Daisy Tam

4:20 pm (Glasgow 9:20 am, Thursday, UTC +1) Minty Donald, Erratic Drift

4:40 pm (Finland 11:40 am, Thursday, UTC +3) Zimu Zhang, Death in the Cryosphere, Mourning the Anthropocene Loss

5:00 pm (Glasgow 10:00 am, Thursday, UTC +1) Carl Lavery, Getting a Taste for Landscape: An Argument for Enthusiasm

5:20 pm (Czech 11:20 am, Thursday, UTC+2) Jessica Yeung and Ahmet Hojam, Nostalgia and the Uyghur Identity: A Way Forward to a Less Anthropocentric Ethos?

5:40 pm Eric Feng, Sanmenxia: Visual Memories of an Era of Euphoria and Excitement

6:00 pm Discussion

DAY TWO-2 June (Friday)

Panel 4   Affective Commons Beyond Words

Moderator: Emily Zong

10:00 am Victor Fan, Interbeing and Ontogenetic Diversity

10:20 am Gladys Chong, Failure of the Commons? From Green Olympics to Beijing Mushrooms in China’s Call for Ecological Civilization

10:40 am Simon Estok, Moved Beyond Words: Anthropocene Affect Beyond Narrative

11:00 am Kwai-Cheung Lo, Feeling in Control of Happiness: Watering Down Xiong’an, the Utopian City in China

11:20 am Discussion


7:00 – 10:00 pm

Screening at CVA104, 1/F, Communication and Visual Arts Building

Solidarity According to Women (dir. Marta Dzido and Piotr Sliwowski, 2014)



In June 2020, Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu reopened after three months of Covid-induced lockdown. A string quartet performed Giacomo Puccini’s Crisantemi (1890) not in the presence of a human audience, but to 2,292 plants that occupied all the seats of the grand opera house. The event, called Concert for the Biocene, was recorded and made available to human spectators via the internet. Hence, it was not primarily a “concert for plants,” even though advertised as such. The performance was ultimately directed towards a human audience, as a “symbolic proposal” for “a new era that finally puts life at the centre”, according to artist Eugenio Ampudia. Plants have an ambivalent status in Ampudia’s proposal. On the one hand, they act as criticism of the Anthropocene: Through their sheer presence as embodied, living beings, they de-centre the human in favour of a more inclusive concept of bios. On the other hand, this criticism remains firmly within the order of the anthropos. As spectators in an opera house, the plants are anthropomorphised—e.g., when wind rustles through their leaves, mimicking applause—and their presence is a symbolic proposal to change human behaviour.
My paper investigates this ambivalence of plant life between bios and anthropos by comparing a series of artworks, all of which feature living plants and are located—like Concert for the Biocene—at the intersection of performance and conceptual art. Analysing work by Vaughn Bell, Pierre Huyghe, and Abbas Akhavan, I argue that their art seeks to navigate this ambivalence in order to establish affective plant-human relationships that propose different, post-anthropocentric ways of living



Dr Michael Bachmann is Senior Lecturer in Theatre Studies at the University of Glasgow. He is a theatre and media historian, with a focus on the nineteenth and twentieth century and on contemporary European performance. His research interests include cross-media dramaturgies as well as the relationship of theatre and performance to other art forms and institutions (including radio, film, literature, museums/archives, legal discourse and the digital).



Building on the scholarship of commons inspired by Elinor Ostrom, Gibson-Graham, Pun &  Yang, this study seeks to explore, first, the ways in which the Chinese authorities have  defined, constructed and presented the commons in its call for ecological civilisation; and, second, if and what kinds of collective and collaborative practices have been generated by the  public to claim and sustain the commons, and what the commons are and how they are represented in these practices. The Chinese authorities have been actively mobilising the cosmopolitan discursive term – commons – which signifies sharedness, collectiveness and collaboration to accentuate its role in the increasingly interdependent world. This is especially relevant in the political doctrines of “Community of Common Destiny for Mankind” and its call for ecological civilisation, both promote sustainable development and the inseparable relationship between mankind and nature. The 2022 Winter Olympics, like the 2008 Olympics before, offered an important venue to orchestrate its political doctrines, materialising its infrastructural and political ambitions. In view of the structural impacts brought by the mega-event, Beijing22, a curatorial long-term project, was formed to investigate the urban changes in the five years leading to the Winter Olympics. This study will examine two sets of materials: the first will be the official promotion materials of the Winter Games, especially in relation to Green Olympics; and the second will focus on one of  the Beijing22 projects – Beijing Mushroom. The massive and long-term ecological damage has generated concerns and waves of critique globally. In ordinary daily life, people in Beijing are baffled, uncertain or even ‘indifferent’ to this state-orchestrated call for the commons in these political doctrines. This study suggests the tensions, discords, failure but also possibilities, albeit its evasive and irregular presence, in engendering localised collaborative efforts in claiming and sustaining the commons.    



Gladys Pak Lei Chong is Associate Professor of the Department of Humanities and Creative  Writing at Hong Kong Baptist University. She is the author of Chinese Subjectivities and the  Beijing Olympics (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2017), co-editor of Trans-Asia as Method: Theory and Practices (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2020) and Critiquing Communication Innovation: New Media in a Multipolar World (Michigan State University Press, 2022). Her recent journal articles are in Visual Studies, Science, Technology and Society, The Information Society, Chinese Journal of Communication. Her research on youth  aspirations, and technology, security, and risk are funded by the Hong Kong Research Grant Council.   



Human interrelationships with the lithic are complex, multiple, and contradictory: pragmatic, extractive, and sacred. For humans, stone has functioned as resource, shelter, weapon, tool, way-marker, monument, and deity. Human bodies comprise of lithic matter, in our teeth and bones. However, interrelations with stone, a material often considered in Euro-American thinking as ‘mundane’, ‘inert’, and ‘indifferent’ (Jeffrey Jerome Cohen) are, arguably, under-examined in the context of theatre and performance studies. 

This presentation uses documentary images and video to describe and reflect on Erratic Drift, an on-going performance project with lithic urban landscapes in Scotland and Spain, instigated by human protagonists, Minty Donald and Nick Millar. Donald and Millar acknowledge that their interrelationships with the lithic, and their approach in Erratic Drift, are informed by their European heritage.

Erratic Drift hinges around a suite of evolving performance scores. The scores aim to encourage human participants to attune to and (re)examine their relationships with stone (both ‘natural’ and anthropogenic/human-made). The scores are intended as playful but provocative prompts to enact or imagine seemingly simple and modestly scaled actions, which Donald and Millar call ‘micro-performances’. 

The presentation considers the potential of the Erratic Drift performative tactics in encouraging humans to develop affective relationships with stony matter. It asks whether attempts to recognise kinship with stone might function as strategies for examining humans’ extractive relationships with the lithic, considering global inequities and differences, and fostering more ‘reciprocal’ (Robin Wall Kimmerer) ways of inhabiting the Earth. The presentation reflects on the value of the Erratic Drift micro-performances in unsettling the human-exceptionalism engrained in Euro-American belief systems. And it muses on whether the unassuming, futile, and poetic micro-performances might afford humans a moment of resignation to their anticipated, self-induced, extinction; a moment of reconciliation to a world where we humans are outlived by the lithic.



Minty Donald (she/it) is Professor of Contemporary Performance Practice at the University of Glasgow. She/it is an artist-researcher who works with matter or entities often described in Euro-American cultures as other-than-human, most recently rivers and rocks. Minty’s practice-research is an attempt to both face up to and unsettle engrained human exceptionalism and its implication in extractive practices and climate emergency. Minty regularly works with (human) collaborator, Nick Millar. Recent public works include With These Hands… (2021), Erratic Drift (2019 - ongoing) and Aguas Ocultas, Aguas Olvidadas (2018-21)



The 3-D glasses at the movie house allow the viewer to see beyond what the film actually narrates. The viewer is drawn into a world both separate and inseparable from the narrative. Few pieces of literature can achieve such an effect, and those that can have received dolefully scant attention. When Hemingway makes the reader feel the very breathlessness that the narrator is merely describing, or when Charlotte Perkins Gilman pulls readers into a rejection of two-dimensional banalities in favor of the three-dimensional realities of seething “patterns committing every artistic sin,” the reader is confronted with materials that tell their own stories and histories and that compel the reader to feel rather than passively hear. The told story can bounce off; the felt one is by its nature always already absorbed. Change comes from convictions, and convictions come from internalized data, from things known in the bone. Experiencing the seemingly hallucinatory vision of the stereogram that the wallpaper offers in “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “seeing behind the pattern” (rather than walking away from this and discussing only what we know we can see directly) allows us to fully appreciate the breadth of Gilman’s ethical visions and to know these visions in our bones. The silence of the trees and forests in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is deceptive. Gilman explodes their material histories into the reader, at once compelling both  a knowledge of environmental violence and abuse and a felt-understanding of arboreal rights. The full implications of aborted arboreal agency take full horrific form in this story, and through this Gilman challenges the reader to look hard at the continuing effects of patriarchal violence, to stretch the senses to their limits, to see and feel, metaphorically and literally, and to be mindful of the histories of paper. These histories, entangled as they are with patriarchal oppressions, force attention to the ethical treatment of both of plants and women in this story that moves so complexly beyond words.



Dr. Simon C. Estok is a full professor and Senior Research Fellow at Sungkyunkwan University (South Korea’s first and oldest university). He is editor of the A&HCI journal Neohelicon and is an elected member of The European Academy of Sciences and Arts. Estok teaches literary theory, ecocriticism, and Shakespearean literature. His award-winning book Ecocriticism and Shakespeare: Reading Ecophobia appeared in 2011 (reprinted 2014), and he is co-editor of five books: Anthropocene Ecologies of Food (Routledge, April 2022), Mushroom Clouds: Ecological Approaches to Militarization and the Environment in East Asia (Routledge, March 2021), Landscape, Seascape, and the Eco-Spatial Imagination (Routledge, 2016), International Perspectives in Feminist Ecocriticism (Routledge, 2013), and East Asian Ecocriticisms (Macmillan, 2013). His latest book is the much anticipated The Ecophobia Hypothesis (Routledge, 2018; reprinted with errata as paperback in 2020). It has been translated into Turkish (tr. M. Sibel Dinçel) and is currently being translated into Chinese and Korean. Estok has published extensively on ecocriticism and Shakespeare in such journals as PMLA, Mosaic, Configurations, English Studies in Canada, and others.  He is currently working on a book about slime in the Western cultural and literary imagination.



What does it mean by thinking ecologically and relationally? As Thomas Pringle argues, ecological thinking does not guarantee that we can address or resolve the sociopolitical and economic problems we now associate with the Anthropocene. In fact, historically, ecological thinking has been promulgated by the political right since the late nineteenth century to theorise and justify an assemblage of production and affective relationships that we now call the Anthropocene.

In my presentation, I analyse some of the key ecological frameworks that have been mobilised to constitute and justify governmentalities and modes of governance that imagine the society as a socioeconomic ecology that can be managed or controlled. What is at stake, I argue, is that even though these ecological models may have replaced dualism with pluralism, they still assume that pluralistic desires, productions, and energetic exchanges ultimately share a common ontological ground. Nonetheless, if we think relationally, there is no such thing as an ontological ground. Rather, actants and activities (including actions as well as energetic and affective flows) in an overall ecology are ontogenetically related.

Therefore, in order to think ecologically and relationally, we need to revisit how causality (and in the Spinozian sense, affectivity) is conceived in Euro-American philosophy. We need to put into question how affectus (Spinoza) or kamma/karma (Buddhism) operates ecologically and how we can reconceive the notion of interdependency with an acknowledgement of our ontogenetic diversity among all sentient and nonsentient beings and objects. For this purpose, I propose that the Buddhist notion of interdependent co-arising or what Thích Nhất Hạnh calls interbeing can help us rethink governmentality and governance ecologically and relationally. In fact, with Buddhism in mind, we must problematise the term ‘Anthropocene’ and its eco-logic.



Victor Fan is Reader in Film and Media Philosophy, King’s College London and a film festival consultant. He is the author of Cinema Approaching Reality: Locating Chinese Film Theory (University of Minnesota Press, 2015), Extraterritoriality: Locating Hong Kong Cinema and Media (Edinburg University Press, 2019), and Cinema Illuminating Reality: Media Philosophy through Buddhism (University of Minnesota Press, 2022). His articles appeared in journals including Camera Obscura, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Screen, and Film History.



The utopian fantasies permeated every corner of economic and cultural lives during China's Great Leap Forward Movement. People are hyper-optimistic that China has completed the transition to socialism, they must continue to devote themselves to the road to a higher stage of social development. The construction of paradigmatic hydraulic engineering landscapes such as mega dams and grand canals has been the focal point of this social development. 

Due to literary and artistic policies, the process of transforming nature became novel themes and objects of expression. As the first large-scale construction project on the symbolic Yellow River, Sanmenxia thus became an important theme for Chinese art during this era of euphoria and excitement (1958-1961). Under such a large social background, all problems (both human and nonhuman) are shielded by ideological limitations. Such double-edged hydrological interventions, oscillating between flood control and non-sustainable water management, have not only profoundly altered the ecosystems of the region, but also brought a drastic change in people’s collective affect. While the construction process generated euphoria, the eco-migration in the following decades of its completion brought despair. 

Samenxia and other hydraulic engineering projects during the Great Leap Forward Movement have generated an enormous variety of visual representations, such as paintings, prints, photographs, and films, which document, praise, or criticize the waterworks ’interventions in landscapes and people. They show how artistic subjectivity changes the artist's thinking. On this point, we can find many clues from the perspective of iconography and analyze the choices of painters at that time in the historical context. This extensive archive of visual memory reveals a political iconography: an enormous quantity and variety of images represent and codify the human-made intent to control nature, and how nature is used as a tool for one group of people to manipulate another. 




Dr. Eric Fan Feng is an artist, and project officer at the International Research Centre for Cultural Studies (IRCCS) at the Education University of Hong Kong. He is a principal researcher of a transdisciplinary, collaborative project “Comparative Cultures of Care”. Before joining EduHK, he was an Associate Professor of Art, at the Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University. His work is in several public collections and has produced numerous public art commissions around China. In 2015, he was awarded the “East Asia Fellowship” by ARIAH (The Association of Research Institutes in Art History).



This essay discusses two critical moments in two Chinese eco-films to exemplify the politics of affective connection in the world of symbolic differentiation. The first is in Stephen Chow’s Mermaid (2016) when Liu Xuan, a real estate tycoon, is driven to vomit and excrete waste when he chooses to experience the sonar system that is used to drive sea creatures away from their habitats. This sonar system, a symbol of technological advancement, targets a specific species with a fixed electronic frequency, embodying environmental racial differentiation and discrimination. Liu Xuan’s choice to experience the power of the sonar system, which leads to his understanding of the pain that the targeted sea creatures suffer, marks a turning point in his attitude toward the species “other.” Liu’s vomit and feces exemplify a pre-symbolic affective bond between humans and non-human creatures. However, in this film that is characterized by carnivalistic linguistic de-anchoring, the affective moment is incorporated into overall sentimentalism, a consumer cultural ordering that features melodramatic narrative with the Chow-style “nonsensical” wordplays.

The second moment is in Jean-Jacques Arnold’s Wolf Totem (2015) when Chen Zhen, a Han educated youth in Inner-Mongolia grassland, is bitten to bleed by the wolf cub he raises. The bleeding irritates Chen but also brings to his momentary awareness that he, as a human, can also fall into a prey of wolves and that wolves have their own nature. Moreover, the blood also brings Chen’s culturation of the wolf back into physicality and corporeality, which offers an opportunity for an affective connection. However, this possible affective moment is immediately followed by Chen’s intuitive curse that exposes linguistic stereotyping. The Sino-French co-production, aiming at the international market, substitutes complicated historical and political tensions as a product of ethnic, class, and gender differentiations, with a more “humanist” story of coming of age. As a result, the affective connection between humans and non-human creatures is overwhelmed by a Hollywood-style anthropocentric sentimentalism.

Nevertheless, these two affective moments, ephemeral as they are, reveal the ideological and political caesura in the two films, and urge us to reflect on the potential of affective connection in the context of large symbolic differentiation.



Haomin Gong is an Associate Professor of Chinese at Lingnan University, Hong Kong. His most recent publications include Ecology and Chinese-Language Cinema: Reimagining a Field (co-edited with Sheldon Lu, Routledge, 2020) and Essays on Chinese Ecocinema (co-edited with Sheldon Lu, Wuhan University Press, 2017). He is currently working on a project on the relationship between ecology and ethnicity.



Debates over climate change are, as this workshop’s outline describes, haunted by a binary thinking that often juxtaposes an utopian perspective with an apocalyptic one. The debate is equally haunted by a hard science discourse, saturated with numbers, facts, statistics. If we manage to reduce our CO2 level by x%, and limit the rising temperature by y%, then our future may be secured. Such approaches not only smack of a strong belief in science and related technological fixes; they also remain profoundly anthropocentric, in which once again human beings – be it farmers, scientists, citizens, politicians, etcetera – are called upon to save the planet. The voices within this debate are furthermore predominantly Euro- and Anglo-centric, repeating deeply ingrained colonial patterns of the unequal distribution of knowledge production.


The work of Hong Kong-based artist and scholar Zheng Bo circumvents any utopian or dystopian narrative, as it steers away from a scientific discourse. Instead, it queers nature, and it, how to say, ‘natures’ queer cultures. In his ongoing work Pteridophilia, that started in 2016, Zheng Bo is, in his words, “[c]onnecting queer plants and queer people, [it] explores the eco-queer potential.” We see six young men – half of them BDSM practitioners in their daily lives – entering a forest and engaging in sexual movements with ferns. In the words of the artist: “They establish emotional and physical relationships with the plants, relying on their bodies rather than words.” Ferns and human beings become entangled in a bodily, affective, sexual assemblage, sperms are related to spores, tongues to pistils. In my paper I want to explore how this queer imagination of living with and among nature offers a way out of current dominant binary and scientific eco-critical modes of thinking.


See also:


Jeroen de Kloet is Professor of Globalisation Studies at the Department of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. He is also a professor at the Communication University of China in Beijing, and currently a visiting professor at the Department of Humanities and Creative Writing of Hong Kong Baptist University. Publications include a book with Anthony Fung Youth Cultures in China (Polity 2017), and the edited volumes Boredom, Shanzhai, and Digitization in the Time of Creative China (with Yiu Fai Chow and Lena Scheen, Amsterdam UP 2019) and Trans-Asia as Method: Theory and Practices (with Yiu Fai Chow and Gladys Pak Lei Chong, Rowman and Littlefield, 2019). See also



This paper looks at what it may mean to get a ‘taste’ for landscape in the Anthropocene. To do so, two things need to be explained. First, the idea of landscape; second, the notion of taste – two concepts that have long and contested histories within western thinking. This paper provides an alternative ‘take’ on these terms by stressing their relationship with a ‘cosmic earth’, an earth that is open to its outside and always in movement, an earth, moreover, that, to paraphrase Gilles Deleuze, we have lost all ‘belief’ in. To rediscover that belief, to ecologise it, I have little interest in citing already formed imaginaries or discourses that would represent it as an object or text that one can know or grasp as a concept; rather, I am concerned with how taste, defined as an opaque process, an enigmatic event, can provoke a ‘more than linguistic’ attachment to the earth, founded on an enlarged and reconfigured experience of the Kantian sublime as a type of terrestrial enthusiasm. To concretise that enthusiasm, I will focus on several contemporary performances – of different sorts – that transmit ‘a taste for landscape’, implicating spectators in passionate acts of what I call ‘planetary transference’.



Carl Lavery is Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Glasgow. He has published numerous essays and books on theatre, performance and ecology, including Rethinking the Theatre of the Absurd: Ecology, Environment and the Greening of the Modern Stage (2015), Performance and Ecology: What Can Theatre Do (2017), and An Idea of a Theatre Ecology (2023). He is currently working on two new books, Getting a Taste for Landscape Through Performance: Politics and Ecology and Constellations of the Anthropocene.



We are living in the age of the Anthropocene where digital culture, mediated images, anthropocentric and ecocentric narratives do not only loom over social connection or public circulation of thoughts and information, but also triggers affective engagement and disengagement -- these two modes of sensory response dialectically engender sentimentality and apathy at the same time. For example, internet images about several individual polar bears have struck people’s attention about the Anthropocene: while a skinny polar bear is staggering for food on the desolate, ice-less Arctic landscape, other bored ones are surrounded by fun-seeking consumers in flamboyantly decorated hotel and shopping mall in China.  Amidst the viral circulation of these images, human beings do not only recognize themselves as significant agents of massive destruction and minor damage to the climate, landscapes, and the household, but also powerless mediators of the visual.  Yet, what is at stake is not only a recognition of the anthropogenic / anthropocentric impacts on the nonhuman species in terms of their survival and wellbeing, or questions of responsibility from the ecocentric perspective, but how the technosphere intersects with narratives of the everyday and ethics of care, forming virtual communities that entangle a cry for rescue and a cry for contempt against extinction and progress.  The Anthropocene is not only a term that describes the epoch of human actions, but a gigantic, viral manifestation that triggers transient imaginations of the end and the invisibility (or to-be-seen-ness) of horror.  Human curiosity co-exists with lethargy when affective ephemerality and finitude is mediated through the electric screen that ambivalently motivates and retards transformations.  Exploring selected visual narratives of cross-species encounters, this paper attempts to investigate how the dynamics of compassion and indifference, action and inertia, and the excessive and the minimalist have allowed us to rethink the ecological (dis)connection between narrative medium and agency when the iceberg is melting on the plastic wasteland. 


Fiona Y.W. LAW is a lecturer in Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong. Her research interests include Hong Kong culture, film studies, and animal studies in the Asian context, with a particular focus on the relationship between cinematic and literary representations, healing narratives, visual cultures, animal welfare, and urban culture. Her writings can be found in Archiv Orientální, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Animal Studies Journal, and Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, among others. 



Authoritarian regimes love to promise their governed subjects happiness in return for their un-freedom and deliver the promised happiness in a top-down manner without taking into consideration the feeling of the receivers. In the top leader’s envisioned futuristic city, Xiong’an New Area, such happiness must be created by the party state while the subject who enjoys such happiness is required to be relegated to passivity. Power domination limits the capacities of bodies to affect and be affected in unexpected ways.


This presentation looks at how Xiong’an, a utopian city still under construction and a key part of the “thousand-year plan of national significance” (qiannian daji), represents the state’s ambitious synthesis of cutting-edge technology, environmental protection, and traditional Chinese cultural elements to showcase China’s high-quality development. Located 100 kilometers southwest of Beijing, Xiong’an is not a blank page built from scratch. The place has been a clothing manufacturing center for decades with several low-tech industries. When the project was announced on 1 April 2017, speculative capital flooded to invest in properties, causing real estate prices to skyrocket. Though the government immediately banned property sales, the flock of state-owned enterprises, research institutes, and government offices to Xiong’an drove the rent and living costs to a level unaffordable to local residents. As environmental quality is a primary part of the project, its Baiyangdian wetlands, northern China’s largest freshwater lake, were planned to be revitalized through pollution removal and ecological restoration. The fishing and aquaculture ban began there to protect fishery resources and biodiversity. More than 700 aquaculture farms were ordered to stop operating and hundreds of thousands of fish stocks had to be evacuated in a short period of time. The financial loss of the local fish farm owners and workers was not adequately compensated by the authorities, but the officials comforted them that there would be a better future ahead.


Kwai-Cheung Lo, Professor and Head of the Department of Humanities and Creative Writing, at Hong Kong Baptist University, is the author of Excess and Masculinity in Asian Cultural Productions (State University of New York Press, 2010), and Chinese Face / Off: The Transnational Popular Culture of Hong Kong. He is the co-editor of Chinese Shock of the Anthropocene: Image, Music and Text in the Age of Climate Change (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), and the editor of a Chinese-language anthology entitled Re-Sighting Asia: Deconstruction and Reinvention in the Global Era. Currently, he has completed a book manuscript on ethnic minority cinema in China.



Psychologists have learned in recent decades that there are various cognitive reasons for our collective inaction in the face of urgent humanitarian and environmental crises, ranging from the struggles of refugees to the daunting specter of global climate change. At Decision Research, an independent research institute in Eugene, Oregon, we refer to this complex of cognitive paradigms that describe human insensitivity to vital information, as the Arithmetic of Compassion, alluding to a line from Polish author Zbigniew Herbert’s poem “Mr. Cogito Reads the Newspaper.” Our failure to respond emotionally to information about serious crises is fundamentally linked to the human insensitivity to numerical information, especially to quantities of victims exceeding very small numbers—what this means is that the more significant a crisis is (i.e., the more human or nonhuman victims it involves), the less we care. Despite our worrisome tendency to be insensitive to information and desperately slow to respond to crises, we have many skilled communicators—journalists, literary artists, photographers, filmmakers, and others—who have developed strategies for piercing our emotional shells and investing potentially numbing statistics and technical descriptions with meaningful poignancy. In this talk, I will introduce the key ideas from my 2015 book with psychologist Paul Slovic, Numbers and Nerves: Information, Emotion, and Meaning in a World of Data, and our efforts to apply such concepts as psychic numbing, pseudoinefficacy, the prominence effect, the trans-scalar imaginary, and the singularity effect to important contemporary challenges on our website My talk will illuminate some of the foibles of human cognition and point to potential solutions, as illustrated in the work of journalist Nicholas Kristof, environmental writers Marybeth Holleman and Jane Goodall, visual artist Chris Jordan, and others.


Scott Slovic is University Distinguished Professor of Environmental Humanities at the University of Idaho, USA, and a Senior Research Associate at Decision Research in Eugene, Oregon. He served as founding president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) in the early 1990s and from 1995 to 2020 was the editor-in-chief of ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, a central publication in the field of ecocriticism. He has written, edited, or co-edited thirty-one books, including the recent volumes Nature and Literary Studies (Cambridge University Press, 2022) and The Bloomsbury Handbook to the Medical-Environmental Humanities (Bloomsbury Academic, 2022).



The Anthropocene generally refers to “the unprecedented fact that humanity has come to play a decisive, if still largely incalculable, role in the planet’s ecology and geology…in which human impacts on the entire biosphere have achieved an unprecedented and arguably dangerous intensity” (Clark 2015: 1). While feminist and queer ecocriticism by Greta Gaard emphasizes the related logics of domination against Nature, women, racialized minorities, and queers in a system of capitalist exploitation and extraction (2004), Timothy Morton’s concept of “queer ecology” (2010) moves away from any logic of nature as uncontaminated and salvable. Engaging with this strand of feminist and queer turn in the environmental humanities, I suggest that one productive way to think through the monstrous intimacies between the human, the non-human, animals, machines, biopower, and thing-power is through an affective impression. Extending Sara Ahmed’s concept of affective economies, I show how contemporary films about cyborgs, climate change, the non-human, and disaster capitalism (e.g. the K-Zombie genre) mobilize a diverse range of emotional categories and affective intensities. In the disaster film Pandora (dir. Park Jung-woo), the South Korean government’s attempt to curb a nuclear meltdown leads to a narrative of climate heroism in which the male protagonist Jae-hyeok Kang must sacrifice his life to save the rest. Similarly, another disaster/K-Zombie film Train to Busan (dir. Yeon Sang-ho) involves a narrative of acknowledging the ecological guilt of the protagonist Seok-woo (played by Gong Yoo), who has a hand in developing the virus that ultimately infects all the passengers on the train. The romantic comedy film The Mermaid (dir. Stephen Chow, 2016) likewise depends on audience’s identification with the property tycoon Liu Xuan’s rise of consciousness in his complicity of oceanic destruction, which ultimately leads to the killing of the merpeople. While these films revolve around the ecological guilt of a heteronormative male hero, other films such as Ex Machina (2014) and Fruit Chan’s 2018 film on prostitution, Three Husbands, imagine queer and feminist embodiments that disturb the binary divide across the human, the non-human, the cyborg, male, female, and the non-binary. Specifically, Three Husbands, while seemingly unconcerned with the Anthropocene and ecology, offers a provocative queer feminist positionality that is sexually insatiable, while the ending of the film with the queer female protagonist Ah Mui sailing nowhere on the sea with her “three husbands” gestures towards an affective nonresolution that ultimately disrupts the triumphant narrative of the Greater Bay Area and Hong Kong’s postcoloniality. Overall, my talk provides a reading of queer ecology informed by the recent affective turn in queer theory.


Alvin K. Wong is Assistant Professor in Comparative Literature and Director of the Center for the Study of Globalization and Cultures at the University of Hong Kong. His research covers Hong Kong culture, the environmental humanities, Chinese cultural studies, Sinophone studies, and queer theory. Alvin is completing a book titled Unruly Comparison: Queerness, Hong Kong, and the Sinophone. He has published in journals such as Journal of Lesbian Studies, Gender, Place & Culture, Culture, Theory, and Critique, Concentric, Cultural Dynamics, Continuum, and Interventions and in edited volumes such as Transgender China, Queer Sinophone Cultures, Filming the Everyday, Fredric Jameson and Film Theory, and Queer TV China.



The anthropocene as an ecological crisis caused by developmentalism and other anthropogenic processes requires an opening up of an alternative future that inspires hope without easy optimism. This paper argues that the geographical imagination of Amos Why’s 2021 romantic comedy Far Far Away creates an ‘affective mapping’ in the sense used by Johnathan Flatley to refer to a fictional framework that allows audiences to suspend their usual experience and to experiment with an alternative affective setting. Moreover, it will be argued that Far Far Away can be usefully understood with reference to Brian Missumi’s idea that affectivity, in the Spinozist sense of ‘what [a body] can do as it goes along’, can create an ‘openness of situations’, an ‘margin of manoeuvrability’, a ‘sense of vitality or vivacity’, and an awareness of how ‘we inhabit uncertainty, together’. Far Far Away will be considered as a light-hearted but serious attempt to respond to the dominant and exclusivist use of space in Hong Kong, dictated as it is both by the logic of capital and the consequences of internal colonialism. In particular, it will be argued that Far Far Away seeks to counteract these anthropogenic forces not by creating utopian or apocalyptic scenarios, but by using film as cartography to provide an affective experience for the spectator as both voyager and dweller of lived and heterotopic spaces. As a cartographic film, Far Far Away shows not only inhabited places but also characters in search of habitable places, and in doing so suggests a sense of self as being shifting and unbounded. This affective, exploratory experience of environment offers a sense of agency that is reflective, anticipatory, and responsive to the uncertainty of the anthropocene without being moralistic or falsely optimistic.


Wai-ping Yau is Associate Professor in the Department of Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. His research interests include film, literature, translation intercultural studies. In addition to scholarly work on a wide range of topics, he has published the English translation, entitled Vivi and Vera, of volume one of the award-winning novelist Dung Kai-cheung’s trilogy on Hong Kong.



Many discussions of ethnic and national identities focus on the construction of identities in relation to modernity and postmodernity. This is also true in most discussions about the Uyghur identity. This is partly due to the theoretical tendencies in the discussions of identity, but in the Uyghur case, much also has to do with the modern Uyghur identity being constructed in the context of Soviet ethnic policies and Sheng Shih-Tsai’s imitation of such policies in the Uyghur homeland in the 1930s. (Brophy 2016)


Nowadays the Uyghur identity is being used in diametrically opposing discourses about the Uyghurs and their homeland. However, identities also serve many things other than nationalist impulses. An identity is also a network of social relations and a pattern of socialisation, and “the affective self-constitution of the agents”. (Campbell and Rew 1999: 2) In the Uyghur case, necessary practices which are “environmentally friendly”, to put it in the contemporary vocabulary, and help them cope with the region’s distinctive natural environment play a major role in the daily-life experience of being Uyghurs. These practices have been passed down for generations and acquired an affective dimension that in turn nurture a sense of belonging to their homeland. Although many of these practices are not exclusive to the Uyghurs and might also be practised by other Turkic and Central Asian peoples, their practice functions to mark the differences between the indigenous people and 20th-century immigrants in the Uyghur homeland, especially when the latter group is often attributed with the problems of over-farming and environmental destruction in the region.


It is observed that many Uyghur people continue to practise certain “environmental friendly” habits when their living environments have changed, such as when they live in diaspora. This paper tries to argue that such habits are practised as manifestations of their Uyghur identity. When the Uyghur people act out those practices, they are expressing the affective aspect of their identity which is nostalgia for a past before the arrival of modernity in their homeland which has been characterised by mass migration and environmental exploitation.


This paper is an attempt to probe into the above mentioned aspect of the contemporary Uyghur identity, but the purpose of this exercise extends beyond the Uyghur identity since this could potentially shed light on how the feeling of nostalgia might give us affective resource to find a way of life which is alternate to the environmentally destructive one that we are living now.


Jessica Yeung

Associate Professor of Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies. Her research interests focus on the cultural heterogeneity within the borders of contemporary China. She has published numerous essays about Hong Kong, Tibet and Chinese literature, theatre and cinema, and two monographs entitled Ink Dances in Limbo: Gao Xingjian's Writings as Cultural Translation, and 《香港的第三條道路:莫昭如的安那其民眾戲劇》 (The Third Way for Hong Kong: Augustine Chiu-yu Mok's Anarchist People's Theatre). Her present writing project is a monograph on Uyghur films.



Trained in History and Uyghur Language and Literature, Ahmet Hojam is currently Junior researcher at the Department of Asian Studies, Palacky University Olomouc, Czech Republic, and PhD candidate of Turkology Department, J. W. Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He has participated in international research groups to compile a 19th-20th century Turki-Uyghur-Chinese parallel corpus of government documents, and to create workshops in ethnographic research. He also specialises on projects that make use of his language skills in Chinese (Mandarin and classic), Manchu, Mongolic (classic and Oirat), Persian (Dari and Tajik), Arabic (classic) and Turkish (modern and Ottoman).



One of the most drastic indicators for global climate change is the thawing cryosphere. While the melting ice becomes the de facto visual register and even spectacle for climate news as usual, there are still the largely invisible deaths yet to be addressed and mourned from the cryosphere. From the Arctic glaciers to the Himalayan snow mountains, this presentation will engage with a collection of visual materials on the demise and loss of life in the cryosphere: a glacier’s declared death and funeral in Iceland in 2019 (news photo, documentary); a scientist death during an Arctic expedition (documentary Into the Ice, 2022), Seventeen mountaineers death in an avalanche in their attempt to summit the sacred snow mountain Khawa Karpo in Yunnan, China in 1991 (documentary series Khawa Karpo Epic; visual documentation of the incident aftermath)...Through these tragic cases and different cosmologies of mourning, I explore more-than-humans’ shared vulnerability (Butler 2004), under constant loss during the Anthropocene. Through making the more-than-human loss grievable, we are also acknowledging the culpability and accountability of our anthropogenic activities accelerating climate change (Cunsolo and Landman 2017). I will also further inquire what are more ethical visualizations and aesthetics when revisiting these deaths, in order to not reproduce spectacle and violence, but make the mourning part of a transformative and resistant experience. 



Butler, Judith. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. verso, 2004.

Cunsolo, Ashlee, and Karen Landman. Mourning Nature: Hope at the Heart of Ecological Loss and Grief. McGill-Queen’s Press-MQUP, 2017.


Zimu Zhang is an environmental humanities scholar specialized in visual culture, eco-cinema and ecofeminist arts. She completed her PhD research on Anthropocene (counter)visuality in contemporary Chinese visual culture with a focus on frontier geography in 2022 from School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. She is the recipient of the 2022 Landhaus fellowship at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU and 2023 VisitANTS fellowship in Critical Studies of Biodiversity and the Anthropocene Research at University of Oulu, Finland. Zimu is also an active filmmaker, curator and socially engaged art practitioner.



Biodiversity and extinction are as much ecological concerns as they are cultural narratives. Invasive species are a constitutive part of the stories we tell about loss, resilience, and cohabitation in the era of mass death. While popular imaginations of invasive species often mobilise emotions of dread and horror, occasionally humour is used to offer an alternative mode of storytelling beyond familiar templates of gloom and doom. This paper explores the ways that dark humour constructs an affective politics of invasiveness by analyzing eco-comic cartoons and documentaries from Australia that invoke parody, absurdity, and laughter to respond to ecological destruction caused by, for instance, cane toads and red foxes. The incongruity between comic feelings and the seriousness of extinction points to humour’s ambivalent potential for violence and subversion. I bring this ambivalence to bear on the postcolonial context of Australia where, on the one hand, invasive species humour can ridicule and relieve settler colonial anxiety, stress, guilt over species loss, and on the other hand, impart ecological perspectives that ironise human exceptionality and highlight more-than-human agency. These invasive species comedies also help raise further questions about eco-nationalist attitudes towards race and migration.


Dr Emily Zong received her PhD from The University of Queensland, Australia and is currently an assistant professor at Hong Kong Baptist University where she teaches the environmental humanities and climate change literature. Her research interests include Asian diaspora literature and culture, ethnic and migrant ecocriticism, and multispecies studies. Her publications appear in Critique, ISLE, ARIEL, LIT, JASAL, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Journal of Intercultural Studies, The Cambridge History of the Australian Novel, among other venues. 

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