Emptiness

“Emptiness: Ways of Seeing” conference registration (past event)

Virtual project launch conference

28 Sep 2021-1 Oct 2021

Emptying as the disappearance or radical reconfiguration of material, social and political relations that have until recently constituted a place is an increasingly common global phenomenon. There are villages half-abandoned by labour migrants in Ukraine and Moldova, spaces of contested sovereignty in the post-Soviet periphery (e.g. Donbass and Transnistria), uninhabited ‘cities of the future’ in China, industrial ruins in the north of Britain, and decaying atomic weapons test sites in Russia. Explanations and representations of emptying – along with the kin concepts of ‘ruination’, ‘decay’, ‘abandonment’, ‘extinction’ and more – proliferate alongside emptiness itself. Some of them aestheticize emptiness, while others strive to reconnect emptying places to the world or reconstitute them from within. Remaining residents post images of dying towns and villages on social media sites, artists incorporate industrial ruins in their artwork, photographers produce coffee-table books about decaying modernist monuments, and local entrepreneurs turn abandoned churches into bingo halls or carpet warehouses.

Join us for an exciting online conference that will examine ways of seeing and experiencing emptiness. The conference will feature two roundtables with the participation of Johanna Bockman, Franck Billé, Martin Demant Frederiksen, Caroline Humphrey, Don Kalb, Madeleine Reeves, Alessandro Rippa, Natalia Ryzhova, and Saskia Sassen. Over three days and six panels, conference participants will discuss infrastructure and governance, politics and ideology, utopias and myths, lives and livelihoods, ecologies of emptiness, and war and displacement. There will also be an online art exhibition featuring film, photography, and discussions with artists, and on 28 Sep 2021 a workshop on emptiness in Latvia. (If you are in Latvia and wish to attend the conference in person, please register via Eventbrite by 12 Sep 2021 and tick the relevant box during registration. In-person attendance will need to follow Rīga Stradiņš University’s and the Latvian government’s COVID-19 regulations. Spaces will be limited.)

For more information, you can view the full conference programme here.

Register for the conference here. Registration is free, and the conference will take place via Zoom.

For the best experience, we recommend you download the app from the Zoom website and for added stability use a wired ethernet connection if possible. Please note that parts of the conference will be recorded, including Q&A sessions, and shared with registered conference participants for a limited period of time. If you have any queries or concerns, do contact us at emptiness@anthro.ox.ac.uk.

We look forward to seeing you at this conference!

Collaborate with us

If you would like to find out more about the project or contribute a blog on a resonant aspect of your own research to the Field Reports section of our website, please get in touch by writing to emptiness@anthro.ox.ac.uk.