As chair of the awards committee for the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture, I’ve had to start thinking about the best scholarly books published in the last couple of years. Given the overlap between “the study of religion, nature, and culture” and this blog, I thought I’d throw out some names of books and other things I’ve been impressed with recently that make important contributions to the study of nature/culture in their many intersections and blurrings. The following are really just those closest to the top of my head right now. The list can certainly be expanded, and the exercise is even a little perverse, since there are many books I’ve been wanting to get to but haven’t yet (such as Tim Morton’s Ecology Without Nature, Steven Shaviro’s Without Criteria, and Graham Harman’s new book on Bruno Latour, The Prince of Networks). Other suggestions are welcome. (And if you have anything you’d like the Religion/Nature/Culture awards committee to know about, please feel free to send information, or even copies, to my institutional address.)

Best book in nature/culture (ecocultural) studies

Arturo Escobar, Territories of Difference: Place, Movements, Life, Redes (Duke University Press, 2008)

Stefan Helmreich, Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas (U. of California Press, 2009)

Joachim Radkau, Nature and Power: A Global History of the Environment, translated by Thomas Dunlap (Cambridge University Press, 2008; orig. 2002)

Nicole Shukin, Animal Capital: Rendering Life in Biopolitical Times (University of Minnesota Press, 2009)

Best (most inviting) collections in ecoculture studies

(books that understand the importance of allure for disseminating ecocultural thought/art/work)

David Carrasco and Scott Sessions, ed., Cave, City, and Eagle’s Nest: An Interpretive Journey through the Mapa de Cuahtinchan No. 2 (University of New Mexico Press, 2007). (This could be in the first category above as well.)

Paul Waldau and Kimberley Christine Patton, eds., A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics

(Columbia University Press, 2007).

John O’Brian and Peter White, Beyond Wilderness: The Group of Seven, Canadian Identity, and Contemporary Art (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007).

Best environmental blog

Dot Earth

Runner-up: WorldChanging

Best philosophical blogs in nature/culture theory

Well, this one’s difficult because I wouldn’t want to offend those I don’t mention, but my favorites of late have been Frames /sing, Larval Subjects, and The Pinocchio Theory.

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