The recent social media meme listing 10 concerts people have attended accompanied by one they didn’t (“find the lie!”) has incited me to complete a list that started out as a “50th anniversary of the concept album” brainstorm over drinks one night last year. The question here is a little different: What are the most formative and significant albums of the album era?  Continue Reading »

I’m happy to see that The Variety of Integral Ecologies: Nature, Culture, and Knowledge in the Planetary Era, an anthology co-edited by Sam Mickey, Sean Kelly, and Adam Robbert, has finally been published by SUNY Press. It is, to my knowledge, the first scholarly anthology that both assesses the Integral Ecology developed by Sean Esbjorn-Hargens and Michael Zimmerman from Ken Wilber’s integral theory (examined in a series of posts and cross-blog discussions here) and, at the same time, proposes a wider set of reference points for the very idea of integral ecology (or ecologies, rather). The editors’ introduction is excellent and many of the chapters look very good. Congrats to the editors!

My own chapter is a development of a paper I had been invited to give at UC Davis’s Environments and Societies colloquium series. Much of it can be read at the book’s Google page. It’s also woven into the book I’m currently finishing up. More on that soon.

While the French elections arguably offer little choice for those looking for radical eco-political options, there is a tendency to see in them — as in other recent political shifts — something that is altogether more negative than it need be.

Slavoj Zizek, for instance, argues that the choice between Macron and Le Pen is a “false choice” and that the reasonable thing to do is to abstain from it altogether. (Yanis Varoufakis provides a powerful response here.)

But the choice in these elections Continue Reading »

The American Anthropological Association’s publication yesterday of guidelines on public scholarship marks a significant advance in the recognition of public scholarship within academe.

Anthropology may have good reasons to be in the forefront with this, but it is not the only field in which public scholarship and community engagement are valued and recognized. Numerous efforts have been made toward this end, particularly in the field of community engaged research, which is arguably more advanced in gaining recognition in the tenure and promotion process than the kinds of public outreach referred to in the AAA’s guidelines.

Some useful resources for publicly engaged scholars include Continue Reading »

May Day (Beltane, Walpurga’s Day, et al.) is a good time for reflecting on politics, ecology, and possibility. The following can be considered part of a series on this blog.

When neoliberalism is understood as the alliance between economic liberalization and social liberalization — that is, between those who would “liberate” capitalist markets (who sometimes get called fiscal conservatives, but who are always economic globalists) and those who would liberate us, individually, from the rigidity of communal social norms — then it becomes understandable why the primary popular alternative on offer today is the kind of “populism” that would defend “traditional” social values while claiming (even if mostly just pretending) to also want to reign in market forces. Thus the popularity of Trump, Farage, Le Pen, and their ilk.

The left’s decline is due in no small part to Continue Reading »

Opening the ISSRNC conference on Mountains and Sacred Landscapes with a set of images from anti-pipelines and indigenous solidarity events, Karenna Gore (daughter of Al and founding director of the Center for Earth Ethics) said something that struck me as an evocative distillation of what’s really at stake in the world.

The Trump administration’s Inquisition-like demolition of environmental governance, she suggested, is “no match for a metaphysics of humanity interconnected with its sacred landscapes.”

Let’s think about this for a bit. What’s at stake, she is saying, is metaphysical.

Continue Reading »

We all know the media ecosystem has been changing rapidly, with media scholars scrambling to understand how and where things are headed. “Fake news” and “post-truth” are the glib catchwords of the day; “filter bubbles,” “echo chambers,” “ideological segregation,” “information cascades,” “algorithmic filtering” (along with the all-encompassing “Algoricene“), and “meme magic” are among the more, or less, helpful technical terms being proposed. Exactly when the post-truth era began is harder to pinpoint — as is the point at which “fake news” becomes (real) “information war.”

An interesting forthcoming article by University of Washington researcher Kate Starbird examines the “alternative media ecosystem” by focusing on the production of the kinds of narratives that are fairly exclusive to the “alternative,” as opposed to mainstream, “media ecosystem.” Continue Reading »

Paul Kingsnorth’s “The Lie of the Land: Does Environmentalism Have a Future in the Age of Trump?“, published in last Saturday’s Guardian, has elicited some interesting responses, for interesting reasons.

Kingsnorth is a well known novelist and environmental public intellectual, a back-to-the-land “dark ecologist,” former deputy-editor of The Ecologist (which for decades played an indispensible, if politically ambiguous, role in global environmentalism), and co-founder of The Dark Mountain Project. The article includes a public admission of his pro-Brexit stance.

Some of the reactions I’ve seen to it are typified by novelist Warren Ellis’s “Poisonous Little England” rejoinder, where Ellis equates Kingsnorth’s eco-localism with a

“creepy Heideggerian dasein that… actually means being in a familiar landscape surrounded by lovely white people with no connection to the wider culture, preferring localism over multiculturalism and not being disturbed in your eternal idyll in the black forest (or on the dark mountain) by any of those nasty foreign types.”

Whoa. Let’s start from the beginning.

Continue Reading »


Not that this blog has been very active recently, but with Inauguration Day upon us, a little reflection on our situation seems warranted…

So, here’s where I see us.

If a Clinton-led Democratic administration would have brought to power a coalition of neoliberal plutocrats and social and environmental progressives (with the balance probably tilting towards the former group), a Trump administration is bringing us a coalition of neoliberal plutocrats, right-wing populists (like Trump himself), and social and environmental radical regressives, with the balance leaning towards the latter group. Those who fail to see the difference are a good part of the reason for how we got here.

Continue Reading »

Here’s the abstract I’ve just sent in for the keynote I’ll be giving at the Reassembling Democracy: Ritual as Cultural Resource conference in Oslo in February:

Continue Reading »

Returning to Sedona


Three things have drawn me repeatedly to the red rock landscape around the small north-central Arizona city of Sedona.

First, and most obvious, is the landscape itself, which counts among the most distinctive and stunningly beautiful in the world. Second is the set of processes that landscape has set in motion in the conditions of late capitalist modernity — specifically, these include the recreational and spiritual impulse among those who visit it, with earth- or land-based spirituality being a crucial part of that; the voracious appetite of the tourism and real estate industries, which have dominated politics in the city for decades; and the various conflicts these have set the town up for. It is this concatenation of forces that were the primary focus of my book Claiming Sacred Ground: Pilgrims and Politics at Glastonbury and Sedona (and see update here).

Continue Reading »


So, Donald Trump will be president of the United States and both Congress and Senate will be dominated by Republicans. Environmentalists and social justice activists, almost universally, find this idea horrifying. But there are silver linings to be found amidst the wreckage. Let’s explore a few of them.

Continue Reading »

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