(In)Equality and the Climate Emergency. Transforming Activism, Politics, and Visions of the Future

Venue: Campus of the University of Vienna („Altes AKH“), festival tent in Hof 1
Position of the tent: https://goo.gl/maps/8FjYQNtdnaUiKCcs6
Free entrance
Registration is required only for those wishing to participate via ZOOM broadcast.

Roundtable discussion with Eva Horn (University of Vienna), Sina Kamala Kaufmann (writer, Berlin), Melinda Martinus (Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore), Agnes Zauner (Global 2000 – Friends of the Earth Austria). Moderation: Lukas Becht (RECET)

The climate emergency is neither exogenous nor about-to-come. It is now and here. Rising sea levels, extreme weather conditions, loss of biodiversity as well as geological changes are already putting into question the stability of contemporary life and the planetary ecosystem as such, eliciting the sense of a great transformation. These changes, caused in complex ways by collective human (in)activity, are posing fundamental challenges to existing institutions, cultural perceptions, community structures, power asymmetries and economic systems.

When the ecological, socioeconomic and political can no longer be viewed as separate spheres, climate change has to be analyzed and practically addressed in conjunction with broader societal issues of justice and (in)equality—such as poverty, migration, health, entrenched historical forms of dispossession targeting particular communities, physical violence and racism. Multiple axes of inequalities both condition and amplify the climate emergency and ways of coping with it. The resulting crises call for a global transformation in relation to questions of justice and survival, forcing “us” to go outside of the confines of past and contemporary scripts of thought that still tend to insulate national or regional responses to global emergencies.

The roundtable aims at engaging scholarly, literary, political, and activist perspectives in a dialogue on how questions of justice permeate their perceptions and practices of addressing the climate emergency. By discussing how concepts of (in)equality as well as practical approaches to the climate and energy crises must recalibrate in order to work for a just transformation, the roundtable will also serve as a platform to address the (in)equalizing dimensions of the climate crisis in a way that engages the broader public.

Eva Horn ist Professorin für Neuere deutsche Literatur am Institut für Germanistik der Universität Wien. Ihre Forschungsgebiete sind u.a. Katatrophenimaginationen, das Verständnis von Klima in der Kulturgeschichte und das Anthropozän. Sie hat zusammen mit Hannes Bergthaller Das Anthropozän zur Einführung (Junius 2019) verfasst, und ist Autorin des Buches Zukunft als Katastrophe. Fiktion und Prävention (S. Fischer 2014). Derzeit arbeitet sie an einer Kulturgeschichte des Klimas.

Sina Kamala Kaufmann is a writer and activist who lives in Berlin. She co-edited the German language Extinction Rebellion handbook Wann wenn nicht wir (S. Fischer 2019). In her literary debut Helle Materie. Nahphantastische Erzählungen (microtext 2019) she is exploring future forms and institutions of social and individual responsibility. She has studied political science, philosophy, and public law in Bonn, where she also pursued a dance education. She has worked in the online gaming industry. In 2010, she published Politik im Web. Zwischen Wahlkampf und Netzpolitik (Bouvier), in which she reflects on her experience as an advisor for online campaigning.

Melinda Martinus is Lead Researcher at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies – Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS), Singapore, where she co-edits annual survey reports (the State of Southeast Asia and the Southeast Asia Climate Outlook), which serve as barometers to gauge geostrategic affairs, development, and sustainability issues in the region. Her research interests revolve around regional integration, sustainable development, smart city initiatives, digitalisation, institutional framework and policy for advancing climate ambitions in ASEAN countries. 

Agnes Zauner is Political Director of the environmental organisation GLOBAL 2000 – Friends of the Earth Austria, an independent Austrian environmental organization founded in 1982. Agnes’ work focusses on issues of environmental and climate justice, just transformation and political activism. She has former work experiences in Berlin and Kyiv after graduating as Mag.a. in International Development Studies from Vienna University and University of Warsaw.

Lukas Becht is PhD candidate in East European history at the University of Vienna and LMU Munich, and a fellow at RECET. He specializes in the history of futurology in Poland, past futures, planning, and the relationship between science and politics post-1945 East Central Europe. He studied political science, sociology, and philosophy in Freiburg im Breisgau and Warsaw. Afterwards he worked as an intern in the Polish parliament (Sejm). At RECET he is scientific coordinator of the international research project “Collectivism Old and New: Lessons from the Communist and Post-Communist Past”.