Week 21, SPAH Seminar Series: Red Natural History

A seminar by Dr Steve Lyons from Not An Alternative/The Natural History Museum

  • Thu 25 Feb 21

    15:00 - 17:00

  • Online


  • Event speaker

    Dr Steve Lyons, Not An Alternative/The Natural History Museum

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    SPAH Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Philosophy and Art History, School of

  • Contact details

    Hannah Whiting, School Manager

Philosophy and Art History run seminars every Thursday in term time on various topics for discussion.

Dr Steve Lyons from Not An Alternative/The Natural History Museum, is running a seminar, via Zoom, on Red Natural History.  


Steve Lyons is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics. He is also a core member of art/activist collective Not An Alternative, where he contributes to the ongoing project The Natural History Museum (2014-), a mobile and pop-up museum that highlights the socio-political forces that shape nature. The Natural History Museum collaborates with Indigenous communities, environmental justice organizations, scientists, and museum workers to create new narratives about our history and future, with the goal of educating the public, influencing public opinion, and inspiring collective action. Recent essays on art, left counter-power, and environmental justice have appeared in e-flux journal, Journal of Curatorial Studies, Museum Activism (Routledge, 2019), and The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture, and Climate Change (Routledge, 2021). He holds a PhD in Art History from Concordia University (2018) and was a FRQSC Postdoctoral Fellow at the Humanities Center of the University of Pittsburgh from 2018 to 2020.


What if we understood natural history not as an intrinsically colonial enterprise, but as the site of struggle between two incommensurate relations to the world—one governed by a logic of extraction and enclosure and another that relates to the world as a world in common that cannot be enclosed? This lecture sketches out a critical framework to examine this operative split in natural history, exploring the ideas, histories, and practices that form what Not An Alternative proposes to call Red Natural History: a natural history built not on colonial or capitalist relations, but on a comradely and reciprocal relation to land, life, and labor. 

Optional readings: 

“The Language in Common” (2020): https://www.e-flux.com/journal/113/359927/the-language-in-common/
“Museums in the Climate Emergency” (2019) 


If you would like to join this seminar, please email Hannah Whiting, School Manager, at hannah.whiting@essex.ac.uk for the Zoom link.


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