About the PhD Research

PhD Research Overview

In 2019, I received a PhD in the Humanities grant awarded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). Here is a short description of my research.

Humanity has entered a new era, often labelled the Anthropocene -the human epoch- or Capitalocene -the era of capital*. Humanity and its exploitative relations of capitalism pose a significant threat to the ecological integrity of the planet, particularly through human-caused climate change. The abstract and complex nature of climate change makes it a topic that is often framed and visualized in scientific and negative ways. This research studies a promising alternative approach for imagining climate change from the visual arts in the 21st century. The visual arts have – amongst others – the potential to visualize the invisible or insensible, to render the remote proximate, to bring delayed impacts into presence, to foster human-nature relations. The visual arts also face certain challenges. The emerging and innovative field of the Environmental Humanities has started to investigate the role of the visual arts in addressing climate change. This PhD research will expand this important work by asking:

  1. How is exhibited, climate-related art covered in news media?
  2. What are the goals and practices of art world agents making or exhibiting climate-related art?
  3. How are climate-related visual artworks imagining climate topics?
  4. What ‘impact’ can climate-related visual art have on our relation to nature and aesthetic experience?

* The terms ‘Anthropocene’ or ‘Capitalocene’ are widely used, yet not officially defined as geological epochs. Technically, we currently live in the Holocene.

Environmental Humanities Perspective

The Environmental Humanities can re-frame environmental problems, such as climate change, as not merely environmental, but also human, social and cultural. The modes of inquiry from the Humanities can help in addressing problems that frame human-nature relations, such as intangibility of and alienation from environmental issues, scientific framing, negative framing and separation of ‘environment’. Reflections on how humans and nature relate include concepts such as interspecies relationshipsentanglementsmesh between human and nature, countering notions of human/nature dualism, human control of nature and nature as something external. Such deep understandings allow a better understanding about how social and ecological crises originate.


  • Urgency of socio-ecological crises, climate change
  • Increase of artists addressing climate related topics
  • Role of art

Overview of Studies

  1. Content analysis of news articles
  2. Interviews with art world agents
  3. Visual analysis of artworks
  4. Reception study

This PhD project received funding from the PhD in the Humanities programme of NWO, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.

Project number: PGW.19.010/8366

Promoter: Prof. dr. F.R.R. Vermeylen (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Co-promoters: dr. P.P.L. Berkers (Erasmus University Rotterdam) / Prof.dr. K. Kwastek (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

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