The Diverse Environmentalisms Research Team (DERT) arises to challenge the idea that environmental studies is a singular, Western-scientific construct, and to foreground the different ways people conceptualize, experience, and shape their environments. We envision the cultural forms through which diverse environmentalisms are expressed and performed as pivotal to understanding their power.
DERT formed in the summer of 2016 when a core group of faculty and graduate students in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University invited colleagues from other universities to think together about how we might collaborate across our academic fields and different ethnographic settings to develop a comparative approach to the grassroots environmentalisms prevalent in our studies. We are now sustaining a conversation on local epistemologies and Indigenous ways of knowing, on traditional practices and traditional forms of expressive culture, and on environmental activism, with a focus on performing diverse environmentalisms in settings of ecological concern and environmental trauma.
Our goal is to integrate this focus on artistic performance in contexts of environmental debate and conflict into the environmental humanities, through research, curriculum design, and public education. And we seek to generate strategies for incorporating a more diverse range of human populations—and their knowledges and practices—into global conversations and activities focused on meeting the challenges of a warming planet.
DERT’s milestones to date are the 2017 symposium that launched our project, “Performing Diverse Environmentalisms: Expressive Culture at the Crux of Ecological Change,” and the 2021 edited book that signals an initial articulation of our project’s horizons, Performing Environmentalisms: Expressive Culture and Ecological Change (University of Illinois Press). We are primed to carry forward with this campaign to explore the role of expressive culture grounded in traditional ecologies, and welcome the participation of fellow travelers who share our concerns and who can enrich and expand the conversation.