Recorded at the Hallstrom Theatre at the Australian Museum on 1 November 2018


Environmental martyrs put their bodies and lives on the line, risking imprisonment, violence or burial in a shallow grave in the dead of night. Some activists remain anonymous, while others gain posthumous fame and power, their deaths becoming a rallying call for others to join the cause.



Rob Nixon, Professor in Humanities and Environment at Princeton University, and author of the award-winning Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, explores the surge in environmental martyrdom around the world over timber, water, land and mineral rights. Martyrdom is direct action in extremis, he says. But why are so many people sacrificing their lives? And what is the relationship between the fallen martyr and the felled tree?



Rob Nixon holds the Barron Family Professorship in Humanities and the Environment at Princeton University. He is the author of four books, most recently Dreambirds: the Natural History of a Fantasy and Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, which won numerous awards, including an American Book Award and the 2012 prize from the International Studies Association for the best book in environmental studies. Nixon writes frequently for The New York Times. His writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Nation, Chronicle of Higher Education, London Review of Books, the Huffington Post, and Critical Inquiry.


HumanNature is a landmark series of talks by a stellar line up of leading Australian and international scholars. They will share with us their insights from history, literature, philosophy, anthropology and art to examine the significant interplay between the humanities and the environmental crisis we face today.