Subhankar Banerjee

Andrea Polli headshot

Subhankar Banerjee

Founder and Director, Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities

Professor, Art & Ecology
Founder and Director, Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities

Subhankar Banerjee is a photographer, writer, curator and environmental humanities scholar. His creative, curatorial and scholarly efforts focus on biodiversity and climate crises, and on multispecies kinship, caretaking and justice. Since the turn of the century, he has worked closely with Indigenous Gwich’in and Iñupiat elders (who are among his most important teachers), and with scientists and environmental organizations, to defend significant biological nurseries from oil and gas development in Arctic Alaska, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Teshekpuk Lake wetland, and the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Editor of Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (Seven Stories Press, pbk 2013), coeditor (with T.J. Demos and Emily Eliza Scott) of Routledge Companion to Contemporary Art, Visual Culture and Climate Change (Routledge, pbk 2023), Subhankar most recently served as the director and cocurator (with Jennifer Garcia Peacock) of the award-winning project “a Library, a Classroom, and the World” which was included in the 2022 Venice Biennale art exhibition Personal Structures organized by the European Cultural Centre in Venice, Italy.

His photographs have been exhibited in more than fifty museum exhibitions around the world, including Seasons of Life and Land at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the American Museum of Natural History, the California Academy of Sciences and other venues (2003-2005); Resource Wars at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College; Where I Live I Hope to Know at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art (2011); 18th Biennale of Sydney: all our relations at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia (2012); True North at the Anchorage Museum; Rights of Nature at the Nottingham Contemporary in the UK (2015); Long Environmentalism in the Near North at the University of New Mexico Art Museum in Albuquerque (2017-2018); Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment at the Princeton University Art Museum (2018-2019); and Long Environmentalism at the University of New Mexico Harwood Museum of Art in Taos (2019-2020).

His scholarly writing have appeared in journals, including Environmental History, Third Text, Social Text online, Panorama, and the Scholar & Feminist online; in many anthologies, including the Alaska Native Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Duke University Press, 2009), Routledge Handbook of Religion and Ecology (Routledge, 2016), Photographers and Research (Routledge, 2016), Ecocriticism and Indigenous Studies: Conversations from Earth to Cosmos (Routledge, 2017), Global Photography: A Critical History (Routledge, 2020), Staying Together: Nature-culture in a Changing World (Rowman & Littlefield, December 2023), and the forthcoming River Delta Futures: Endangered Communities in Audiovisual Media (Bloomsbury Academic, 2024). His op-eds, book reviews, and letters have appeared in Counterpunch, TomDispatch, Common Dreams, Truthout, Nation, Salon, La Monde diplomatique, Mongabay, Scroll, Santa Fe New Mexican, Albuquerque Journal, Scientific American, The New York Review of Books, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. He wrote the Foreword in Audubon at Sea: The Coastal and Transatlantic Adventures of John James Audubon (University of Chicago Press, 2022).

Subhankar convened two national conferences, Decolonizing Nature: resistance, resilience, revitalization (2017), and the last oil: a multispecies justice symposium on Arctic Alaska and beyond (2018); co-curated (with Josie Lopez) the US-Mexico transnational exhibition Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande (2019); and co-convened (with US Senator Tom Udall) the UNM Biodiversity Webinar Series (2020).

Subhankar has received many awards for his conservation and scholarly contributions, including an inaugural Greenleaf Artist Award from the United Nations Environment Programme; an inaugural Cultural Freedom Fellowship and a Cultural Freedom Award from the Lannan Foundation; a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the New Mexico State University; and an inaugural Ovation Award from the University of New Mexico.

Subhankar is currently writing a three-volume book on shorebirds provisionally titled, Shorebirds in Modern Times; cowriting (with Finis Dunaway) a book on the global history of biodiversity and justice; and cocurating (with Josie Lopez) an exhibition to honor New Mexico’s biodiversity and human-nonhuman coexistence that will open at the Albuquerque Museum in 2026. He is also conducting field research in the Sundarban Tiger Reserve and the Biosphere Reserve in India, a part of the largest mangrove forest on earth, the Sundarban, which is situated in the largest river delta on earth, the Bengal Delta, which spans across coastal Bangladesh and West Bengal, India.

Subhankar serves as the founding director of the UNM Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities in the Department of Art, which he established with a grant from the Mellon Foundation. The Center’s activities are supported by a second grant from the Mellon Foundation.