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DARKNESS II

    Invisible Imaginaries

    20-23 January 2025, Nuuk, Kalaallit Nunaat/Greenland

    This multidisciplinary conference builds on the first Island Dynamics conference on DARKNESS in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, in 2019, with focus on darkness as a figurative or symbolic and material or embodied aspect of the environment. In material culture, darkness as partial or complete absence of light informs approaches to technological design, architectural spaces, domestic and public environments, and natural ecosystems at land and sea. Mythological narratives may present darkness as void and chaos, something destructive but also as a state from which light may emerge.

    Historically, colonial encounters with Indigenous societies and unfamiliar landscapes frequently resulted in the projection of fears and superstitions on new and strange cultures and ecosystems, especially when these coincided with experiences of literal darkness or lack of familiar, visual reference points—submarine and subterranean spaces and ecosystems, nocturnal environments, or journeys through landscapes during the long polar night. Darkness disturbs and questions ideas of progress and civilisation at the edge of the visible, the familiar, and the rational.

    In the history of science, exploration, and literary and artistic expression, the invisible imaginary of darkness thus constantly haunts ideas and ideologies of enlightenment rationality and knowledge. It oscillates between ideas of darkness as sanctuary on the one hand, and, on the other, as a destructive and threatening condition—between the diminishing spaces of wild ecosystems or environments outside the sphere of artificial light, and the murky underbelly of historical, social, and material systems of exploitation, extraction, and marginalisation. Present discussions on the development of forms of artificial intelligence both repeat some of these tropes and discourses, and highlight the manner in which the future of these emerging technologies reflects the values, cultural forms, and ideas of our culture and society.

    Abstract submission
    This academic conference invites contributions addressing these and related topics from a variety disciplinary perspectives and traditions. Presentations should aim at addressing darkness as material and perceptual, and as figurative and symbolic at the same time. 20-minute presentations are welcome on any aspects of darkness in culture and the environment. The deadline for abstracts 15 June 2024. You can submit your abstract online here: https://events.eventzilla.net/call-for-submission?eventid=2138635025&preview=638493562188829443. If you have any questions, please e-mail convenor Anne Sofia Karhio at anne.karhio@inn.no.

    About Nuuk
    Nuuk (population 19,600) is the capital and largest city in Kalaallit Nunaat/Greenland. This arctic city is a political, economic, and cultural centre, combining modern Nordic urban planning and forms with Indigenous Inuit values and lifeways. Although too far south to experience the uninterrupted polar night, Nuuk in January is a place strongly conditioned by its long nights and twilights.

    Conference programme and activities
    20 January: Meet in the afternoon for a walk around the town centre.
    21-22 January: Conference presentations.
    23 January: Four-hour boat trip out into Nuuk Fjord, with a trip planned to the island of Qoornoq. Walk and site visits in Nuuk.

    Registration
    The deadline for early registration is 31 August 2024, and the final deadline for registration is 31 October 2024. Delegates are able to sign up for one of three conference packages:

    Full Package: Includes all activities from the afternoon of 20 January through the evening of 23 January, including three lunches and four dinners. Price: US$870. (Note: Availability is limited, and the package will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.)

    Partial Package: Includes all activities from the afternoon of 20 January through the evening of 22 January, including two lunches and three dinners. Price: US$585

    Basic Package: Includes participation at the conference presentations and lunch and refreshments on 21-22 January. Price: US$300

    Some elements of the Full Package can only support a limited number of participants. As a result, the Full Package will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. Individuals who are accompanying delegates but will not participate in the presentations on 21-22 January are able to sign up for the Full Package or Partial Package at a US$100 discount.

    All activities are dependent on weather and other local conditions. In the January darkness, we cannot guarantee perfect weather for a boat tour.

    Publication opportunity
    Interested authors will have the opportunity to submit papers for a special section of the peer-reviewed journal Folk, Knowledge, Place (https://folkknowledgeplace.org). Papers will need to match the journal’s theme and scope. To learn more about journal publication, please contact co-editor-in-chief Adam Grydehøj at agrydehoj@islanddynamics.org.

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