Winona LaDuke at UWS3

Winona LaDuke’s talk (at Under Western Skies 3) was, as always, powerful and empowering. Here are some quoteworthy lines from it.

“I’ve lived my entire life in the fossil fuel era. I’d like a graceful exit out of it.”

“I want to be able to walk out of my teepee into a Tesla.”

Continue Reading »

The keynote talks at this conference (including my own) are being videotaped and will be made available publicly sometime in the coming months, as I understand it, so I haven’t made any effort to document them here. But with Tim Ingold I couldn’t resist.

Anthropologist Ingold has been a prominent star in my intellectual sky since I first read, as a graduate student, the important 1988 collection he edited entitled What is an Animal?  Since then several of his articles — some of which later appeared in the book The Perception of the Environment — encouraged me to look to diverse sources for making sense of nature-culture conundra: sources including the ecological psychology of James J. Gibson, the Umwelt theory of Jakob von Uexkull, some of the specifics I had initially missed of Heidegger’s and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenologies, and a potpourri of out-of-the-mainstream anthropologists, geographers, and others who helped me conceptualize the theory underlying my dissertation and later my first book, Claiming Sacred Ground. (See more here.)

Ingold’s keynote speech here today was my first time to hear him speak in person. The following are my notes from it.  They don’t capture his warm and funny storytelling style nor his use of visuals (on a blackboard, to his insistence). But hopefully they convey a fragment of his ideas. Continue Reading »


I’ve been enjoying Under Western Skies 3: Environments, Technologies, Communities, which has featured a wonderful array of critical environmental theorists and practitioners — including among its keynotes Justice Thomas Berger (whose 1978-8 Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry Report was a classic of environmental legal innovation), the indigenous activist group Idle No More, historian and Center of the American West director Patty Limerick, religion and environmental scholar Bron Taylor, anthropologist Tim Ingold (speaking in a few moments), Winona LaDuke (tomorrow), and others.

But one of the unexpected revelations for me has been Brenda Longfellow’s Offshore, an interactive web documentary that offers powerful depictions of the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster in a stunning visual format.

The film’s home page is here. I recommend setting aside some time to explore its many features. Note that the page takes some time to load.

For those wishing to follow the conference, its Twitter hashtag is #uws2014, and the Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/uws2014. I will try to say more about it when I can.

OFFSHORE: Prologue from Helios Design Labs on Vimeo.








Writing in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science blog Auxiliary Hypotheses, widely published University of Exeter philosopher John Dupré recently announced a project entitled A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology (PROBIO).

According to Dupré, who is director of Egenis, the Center for the Study of the Life Sciences (formerly the ESRC Center for Genomics and Society), the project aims to “redress the balance” between substance based and processual views within the philosophy of science. Giving the example of the cellular structure of the human body — where 90% of a body’s cells are microbial symbionts —  Dupré notes that

“In general, it seems increasingly plausible that there is no unique way of distinguishing biological things from the multiple processes by which they are sustained, which supports the hypothesis that the ontology of biological things is less fundamental than that of living processes.”

Continue Reading »

The preliminary program is up for the third Under Western Skies conference, “Intersections of Environments, Technologies, Communities,” which will be held in a couple of weeks at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta.

And it looks fantastic. I think the biennial UWS gatherings are becoming one of the leading interdisciplinary forums for environmental thinking, critique, and engaged scholarship.

The topics cover a remarkable range: environmental politics, climate change activism, fossil fuel and resource conflicts (tar sands being prominently featured), indigenous struggles, eco-art and aesthetics, ecopoetics and literature, music and acoustic ecology, film and media, pedagogy, animals, ecophilosophy, e-waste, ecological economics, geoengineering, disaster planning and preparedness, health, food, and much more.

Keynotes and plenary activities cover a similar range, from indigenous activists Idle No More and Winona LaDuke (who will speak on the Keystone XL pipeline) to anthropologist Tim Ingold, western historian Patti Limerick, eco-religion scholar Bron Taylor (speaking on “Terrapolilitan Earth Civilization: Toward an Evolutionary and Naturalistic Environmental Ethics”), ecologist David Schindler, and Justice Thomas Berger (best known for his role in the Mackenzie Pipeline Inquiry). They even found a spot for my own keynote, entitled “From the Age of the World Motion Picture to the Archive, the Cloud, and the Commons.”

Continue Reading »

The following is a guest post by Clive Hamilton, professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra, Australia. It continues the Immanence series “Debating the Anthropocene.” See herehere, and here for previous articles in the series. (And note that some lengthy comments have been added to the previous post by Jan Zalasiewicz, Kieran Suckling, and others.)









The Anthropocene: Too Serious for Post-Modern Games

by Clive Hamilton

Continue Reading »

[Note: This post has been edited slightly since it was first published, to clarify the difference between sound waves and radio waves.]

Everything new under the sun begins as an anomaly; but not everything thought to be new is genuinely new. Everything new and anomalous, if studied in the right way, can be explained; but it may take years of creative trial and error before we know what that “right way” is.

Those might be the twin mottos of the research field known as anomalistics — a field I’ve been interested in, without necessarily knowing it, since I read J. Allen Hynek’s book The UFO Experience at about age twelve. Hynek was the astronomer and scientific skeptic appointed to consult the U. S. Air Force on their Project Blue Book, started in 1952 to scientifically analyze UFO-related data and determine whether they indicated any threat to U. S. national security. Over the course of a few decades, Hynek came to believe in the reality of something he called the “UFO experience,” while never quite accepting the main explanations of that experience ascribed to it by the majority of its experiencers. (Briefly, the two predominant explanations are known as “ETI,” or the Extraterrestrial Intelligence explanation, and “EDI,” or the Extradimensional Intelligence explanation.)

The anomaly I’ve become particularly interested in recently is one known by some as “the Hum,” or “the Global Hum,” and it is one that I believe is somewhere on the trajectory of going from anomalous to explained. It’s also one that I believe has implications for how we think of the Anthropocene.

Continue Reading »

Kieran Suckling’s post Against the Anthropocene, originally posted here on July 7 and subsequently shared with the International Commission on Stratigraphy’s Anthropocene Working Group by Andy Revkin, has elicited a round of emailed back-and-forths from some noteworthy individuals, including paleobiologist Jan Zalasiewicz and paleoecologist Anthony Barnosky.

As this debate would be of interest to readers of this blog (and because it hasn’t been shared elsewhere), I’ve decided to share some of that conversation by permission of the individuals involved.

Tony Barnosky first sent around his article Palaeontological evidence for defining the Anthropocene, referring to it in a response to Suckling as follows:

Continue Reading »

The following is a guest post by Kieran Suckling, Executive Director of the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity. It follows the discussion begun here and in some AESS conference sessions, including Andy Revkin’s keynote talk (viewable here) and responses to it (such as Clive Hamilton’s). 



In considering why the name “Anthropocene” has been proposed, why it has been embraced by many, and what might make a better alternative, it is instructive to look at how geologists have named previous epochs. From such a view, “Anthropocene” immediately stands out as an anomaly.

Continue Reading »

I’ll be the guest speaker at the Environmental Studies colloquium at the Antioch University New England Graduate School tomorrow.

Title of my talk: “Culturing Nature: Ecology, Gaia, and the Parliament of Lively Things.”

Continue Reading »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »