CFP RGS IBG 2018 Excavating multispecies landscapes: temporalities, materialities and the more-than-human Anthropocene
Call for papers: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, Cardiff University, 28–31 August 2018
Excavating multispecies landscapes: temporalities, materialities and the more-than-human Anthropocene
Session organisers: Aurora Fredriksen (University of Manchester) and Charlotte Wrigley (Queen Mary, University of London)
Along with eroding coastlines (Matless 2017) and the ‘blasted’ ruins of capitalist development (Tsing 2017), nonhuman beings are key signals of the Anthropocene in landscapes. Changing migration patterns, novel colonisations, extinctions, adaptive mutations and hybridisations make legible the material transformation of landscapes through melting ice, warming seas, desertification, toxification. The current or threatened absence of once present species fold in remembered, forgotten and imagined pasts and alternately apocalyptic and redemptive futures into a present of haunted, spectral landscapes (e.g., Whale and Ginn 2017; Gan et al 2017: G1). This is evident in popular imaginaries of the Anthropocene as human induced environmental catastrophe – in visions of a ‘silent spring’ (Carson 1962), ‘insectageddon’ (Monbiot 2017), and coral reef ‘graveyards’ and ‘ghost towns’ – that foreground the absence of once present nonhuman beings in beloved landscapes. It is also evident in projections for a so-called ‘good Anthropocene’ that envision a near future in which technoscientific progress and human ingenuity are able to ‘turn back time’ and/or alter the future by returning long absent nonhuman species to landscapes through restoration, rewilding or de-extinction initiatives. As the Anthropocene invites a reassessment of humanity’s place in the geologic timescale, nonhumans become intricately entangled in these shifting temporalities: cryobanks stash endangered species’ DNA as a future safeguard against extinctions (Chrulew 2017) whilst melting ice reveals prehistoric carcasses and thousands of years of fossilised climate data.
Beyond total absence or abundant presence, there are smaller, sometimes stranger ways that nonhuman beings make the Anthropocene legible in landscapes: old trees calling out in flower for symbiont animal pollinators that are now absent, signalling a loss of synchronous time and cascading transformations of place (Rose 2012); hybrid polar-grizzly bears wandering the edge of exposed shores once covered in ice extending out to sea; a type of bacteria found only in the rectums of geese digesting toxic waste from mines (Hird and Yusoff 2018); and long dormant microbiotic pathogens from the deep past re-emerging as permafrost melts in arctic landscapes. In these and many other possible examples, carefully attending to the signs writ into landscapes by nonhuman beings can unsettle anthropocentric narratives of the Anthropocene centred on the history of Modern (western) humanity and its future dissolution or redemption, calling forth more ambivalent, multivocal narratives of multispecies worldings in flux (DeLoughrey 2015).
This session invites contributions that engage with the ways in which nonhuman beings signal the Anthropocene in landscapes. Potential themes include (but are not limited to):
• Changing and novel nonhuman agencies in response to the material transformation of landscapes
• Absence/presence of nonhumans and folded temporalities in haunted/spectral landscapes
• Landscapes as multispecies worldings
• More-than-human affects in landscape encounters
• Speculative futures for more-than-human landscapes
• Transmogrification and monstrous landscapes
We especially encourage contributions that unsettle anthropocentric and/or occidental readings of the Anthropocene in landscapes.
Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com by 5 February 2018.
Carson, R. (1962) Silent Spring. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Chrulew, M. (2017) “Freezing the Ark: The Cryopolitics of Endangered Species Preservation” in J. Radin and E. Kowal (eds.) Cryopolitics: Frozen Life in a Melting World, 283–305. Cambridge: The MIT Press.
DeLoughrey, E. (2015) ‘Ordinary futures: interspecies worldings in the Anthropocene’ in Global Ecologies and the Environmental Humanities: Postcolonial Approaches, edited by E. DeLoughrey, J. Didur, A. Carrigan. London: Routledge.
Hird, M. and Yusoff, K. (2018) [forthcoming] ‘Traversing Plateaus in Microbial-Mineral Relation’. The American Association of Geographers: Annual Meeting, April 10-14, New Orleans.
Gan, E., Tsing, A., Swanson, H., Bubandt, N. (2017) ‘Haunted landscapes of the Anthropocene’ in A. Tsing, H, Swanson, E Gan and N. Bubandt (eds) Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet. Minneapolis: Minnesota.
Whale, H. and Ginn, F. (2017) “In the Absence of Sparrows.” In A. Cunsolo and K. Landman (eds) Mourning Nature: Hope at the Heart of Ecological Loss and Grief, 92–116. London: Routledge.
Matless, D. (2017) ‘The Anthroposcenic’. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 42(3): 363–76.
Monbiot, G. (2017) ‘Insectageddon: Farming Is More Catastrophic than Climate Breakdown’. The Guardian, October 20. URL: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/20/insectageddon-farming-catastrophe-climate-breakdown-insect-populations.
Rose, D. B. (2012) “Multispecies Knots of Ethical Time.” Environmental Philosophy, Special Issue “Temporal Environments: Rethinking Time and Ecology”9 (1):127–40.
Tsing, A. (2017) The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
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