creative commons image of child walking through flood waters

Call for Presentations: Gender, Environment, and Crisis

September 3, 2020

Organizing Board Applications due November 1st, 2020
Abstracts due December 1st, 2020

“The environment,” Stacey Alaimo argues, “is not located somewhere out there, but is always the very substance of ourselves.” The environment is materially inextricable from human bodies. But as climate crisis changes environments, climate-related events transform what bodies are. Furthermore, in the context of climate change, environmental risk and harm are unevenly conditioned by racial, class, and gender bias. As Laura Pulido argues, “racism is a process that shapes places.” Racial and gender bias not only affect the distribution of climate-related risk and harm, they also impede coalition building in the pursuit of climate justice. As Ayana Elizabeth Johnson argues, “racism derails our efforts to save the planet.” In the context of climate change, how the environment shapes bodies is always in conversation with systems of racialized and gendered power that determine the uneven contours of climate crisis as it structures and becomes everyday life.

Feminist engagements with geography, science and technology studies, ecocriticism, queer and trans theory, Indigenous studies, and critical race studies have argued for a reconceptualization of how social, cultural, and material systems constitute one another. Working toward environmental justice requires changing how we describe human-nonhuman relations, and also how we produce, manage, extract, maintain, repair, and use built and nonhuman resources and environments. At the same time, climate crisis changes what constitutes human-nonhuman relations, and what it means to advocate for justice on and between the grounds of race, gender, sexuality, and disability.

This GSWS symposium seeks to curate a discussion among undergraduate and graduate student researchers at Penn that takes up the question of what gender and sexuality studies must be in the context of climate crisis. We welcome abstracts from all disciplines and interdisciplinary conversations that share an interest in feminist, queer, and trans analysis.

This remote symposium will take place April 8-10th and will feature undergraduate and graduate research by Penn students. Participants will be asked to pre-record their presentations. Presentations will be available asynchronously during the three-day period of the conference. Each panel will have a synchronous, moderated discussion section. The conference will also feature a keynote lecture and performance. Prose and performance-based submissions are welcome. Please use this form to enter your submission by December 1st.

If you are an undergraduate or graduate student interested in serving on the organizing board for the conference, please fill out this application by November 1st. Members of the organizing board will commit to attending two or three remote meetings in the fall, and two or three remote meetings in the spring, and will be involved in soliciting abstract submissions, organizing panels, and advertising the conference. Please direct any questions to