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H20: Life & Death

An international symposium hosted by the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice
September 15-16th, 2017, Hartley Concert Room

Waters are contested entities at the centre of most scientific discussions about sustainability. Discourse around water management underlines both the serious absence and devastating overabundance of water: rising sea levels compete against desertification; hurricanes and floods follow periods of prolonged drought. As we increasingly pollute, canalise and desalinate waters, the ambiguous nature of our relationship with these entities becomes visible. From the paradisiac and pristine scenery of holiday postcards through to the devastated landscapes of post-tsunami news reports, images of waters surround us. And while we continue to damage what most sustains us, collective precarity grows. It is therefore unsurprising that shifting our understanding, and subsequent use, of water has been described as one of the biggest—and most pressing—challenges of our time.

This conference aims to question and potentially re-imagine our cultural construction and representation of waters by asking: how can we explore and re-make what waters mean to us? We are interested in examining water as a simultaneously scientific and symbolic, material and imaginary, practical and aesthetic medium within lived communities.

Download the full programme.

To buy tickets to attend the conference as a guest or to register for any of the FREE public events associated with this conference, please visit:

Dr Jenny Newell (Australian Museum) will give a FREE public lecture entitled Water Thinking: Caring for Oceans and Sharing Connections in a Time of Climate Crisis on Thursday 14th September at the Hartley Concert Room. For more information on this event, please see our flier.

On Friday 15th September, 5pm at the Hartley Concert Room delegates and the general public are invited to join us for film screenings and a musical performance about the role of waters in shaping European identity. For further information, please see our flier.

The conference and the cultural events evening in this conference are generously supported by the EU Centre for Global Affairs.

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The J.M. Coetzee Centre
for Creative Practice

School of Humanities
Schulz Building, Level 6


T: +61 8 8313 9164
JM Coetzee Centre