Water Futures and Fictions: A Lecture on Climate Change and Speculative Fiction As part of the 2015-2016 Environmental Humanities Project seminar on Drougt, acclaimed science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson will deliver a lecture entitled "Water Futures and Fictions,” addressing themes of climate change and water in California. Robinson earned a Ph.D. in literature at the University of California San Diego. In addition to The Novels of Philip K. Dick, a work of criticism based on his dissertation, Robinson is the author of 4 novellas, 8 short story collections, and 17 novels. Many of these writings explore themes of ecological sustainability, the relationship between nature and culture, and the civic role of scientists. Robinson has won numerous awards for his prodigious work, including the Nebula Award for Red Mars (1992), and the Hugo Award for both Green Mars (1993) and Blue Mars (1996), the three books in his Mars Trilogy. He has been named, by publications ranging from The Atlantic to The New Yorker, one of the greatest science fiction writers living today. In the lecture, Robinson will read from “Sacred Space,” a piece of his climate trilogy, recently compressed into the 2015 volume Green Earth, and address the place of climate change in speculative fiction. Refreshments will be served at a reception to follow the lecture.
Free and open to the public. Please RSVP here.About the talk: My talk concerns aspects of the historical relationship between climates, of varyingdegrees of moisture and aridity, and human policies in two distinct regions of eighteenth- andnineteenth-century Qing China. I will consider some of the contrasting dynamics of very different water systems in case two studies, one from the water-rich lower Yangzi delta and one from the water-scarce Zunghar basin of Xinjiang. In the delta, I consider some of the social conflicts associated with the random fluctuations of sand flat siltage. In the basin, I consider some of the problems associated with the conversion of Torghut Mongol refugees from pastoralists to agriculturalists. In both cases, I want to show how water and climate, humid or arid, significantly established different possibilities and constraints to which state authorities had to adapt as best they could. These two studies form the core of my new environmental history project, Liquid Dependencies, that considers empire as a “multi-environmental” enterprise integrating both humans and their ecologies, rather than an exclusively multi-ethnic social construct.About the speaker: David A. Bello received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and is currently Elizabeth Lewis Otey Professor of East Asian Studies in the Department of History at Washington and Lee University. His main research interest is environmental and borderland history, involving relations between natural systems, ethnic identity and imperial space during China’s last dynasty, the Qing (1644-1912). His first book Opium and the Limits of Empire: Drug Prohibition in the Chinese Interior, 1729-1850, was published in 2005 by the Harvard Council on East Asian Studies. His new book, Across Forest, Steppe and Mountain: Environment, Identity and Empire in Qing China’s Borderlands, was published in 2016 by Cambridge University Press, as part of its “Studies in Environment and History” series. His work has also appeared in “Oxford Bibliographies (Chinese Studies),” The Journal of Asian Studies, Modern China, Late Imperial China, Environmental History and Inner Asia. His current project is entitled Liquid Dependencies: Water & Authority in Qing Borderlands (18th-19th Centuries).
Water in the West is a multi-year joint program of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Bill Lane Center for the American West. It is a place where faculty, staff and students from the natural, physical and social sciences, law, business and humanities who engage in interdisciplinary research and teaching about freshwater can meet and collaborate while tackling the challenge of water security affected by a growing population, collapsing ecosystems, crumbling infrastructure, evolving economies, conflicting values and a less predictable and more volatile climate. As part of that research and teaching the initiative produces reports, working papers, solutions briefs and other publications which they currently archive on their own website. The SDR offers a long-term preservation option for those documents and helps fulfill one of the key goals of the program; that of disseminating the information to the outside world to better inform policy- and decision-making on water issues.