Events & Outings

The Last Oil

Upcoming Events
Date: 2018-02-21 08:00 AM - 2018-02-23 05:00 PM

The Last Oil

A multispecies justice symposium on Arctic Alaska

February 21-23, 2018

University of New Mexico (UNM), Albuquerque, New Mexico

Organizing Committee

Subhankar Banerjee, Lannan Chair and Professor of Art & Ecology, affiliate faculty, Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, and Sustainability Studies, UNM – convener

Joseph Cook, Professor of Biology, UNM – programming on science

Julie Decker, Director, Anchorage Museum – programing on art

Maria Williams, Associate Professor of Native Studies, University of Alaska Anchorage – programming on indigenous scholarship and creative practices


What happens in the Arctic doesn’t just stay up north. It affects the world, as the top of the Earth is the integrator of our planet’s climate systems, atmospheric and oceanic. At the moment, the Circumpolar North, including Arctic Alaska, is warming at more than twice the global average, a phenomenon whose impact is already being felt planetwide. Welcome to the world of climate breakdown. “Utqiagvik is warming so fast, NOAA computers removed the data because it seemed unreal” – was the headline of a Washington Post article published on December 12, 2017. Utqiagvik, formerly known as Barrow, is the northernmost settlement in the US, an Iñupiat community situated at the confluence of two great Arctic seas: Beaufort and the Chukchi.

But instead of instituting Arctic policy guided by science and traditional indigenous knowledge to mitigate climate change, the Trump administration has launched a war on environmental conservation and indigenous human rights -- with the slogan to make the United States "energy dominant" -- and apparently, "The only path for energy dominance is a path through the great state of Alaska," as Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke proudly claimed. The Department of Interior, the GOP-controlled Congress with leadership from the Alaska delegation and the State of Alaska – have been rapidly advancing legislations to open up previously protected places in northern Alaska -- biological nurseries and feeding grounds of global significance -- to oil and gas development, which also threatens food security and will violate human rights of the indigenous peoples.  

Alarmed by the misguided and potentially catastrophic Arctic energy policy, the University of New Mexico will host an interdisciplinary multispecies justice symposium “The Last Oil” scheduled for February 21-23, 2018. The conference will bring to Albuquerque more than twenty leading artists, activists, attorneys, scientists, scholars from humanities, and writers. Most speakers will visit from Alaska, with a significant number of indigenous activists, artists and scholars.  

Related Programming

The conference will coincide with Subhankar Banerjee’s ongoing exhibition on the Arctic “Long Environmentalism in the Near North: Activism | Photographs | Writing” at the UNM Art Museum on display through March 3, 2018.


The conference website is loaded with overview, speaker names with brief bios, the program, resources, and other useful information. 

The Last Oil follows the highly successful interdisciplinary environmental justice public forum “Decolonizing Nature: resistance | resilience | revitalization” that the University of New Mexico hosted in April 2017 (



All Dates

  • From 2018-02-21 08:00 AM to 2018-02-23 05:00 PM

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