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Archive for the ‘Eco-theory’ Category

The following post elaborates on some comments I made this week at the Ritual Creativity conference at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Deep thanks to conference organizers Katri Ratia and François Gauthier for inviting me to what turned out to be an immensely rewarding event, and to my co-panelists Graham Harvey, Sarah Pike, and Susannah […]

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Some of the best art exhibitions today show that the socially engaged art world is undergoing two shifts that some of us in the environmental humanities have been advocating for some time: they ecologize and they decolonize. An excellent example of this is the second edition of the Toronto Biennale of Art, currently wrapping up […]

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Mark Bould’s new book The Anthropocene Unconscious makes more or less the same argument as I made in my 2008 New Formations article “Stirring the Geopolitical Unconscious: Toward a Jamesonian Ecocriticism,” later expanded in the “Terra and Trauma” chapter of Ecologies of the Moving Image, but he applies it to literature rather than film. The […]

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“Trust your immune system.” One often hears this slogan, or some version of it, from people who are against vaccination. But what does it mean, or what should it mean for an intensely social species like ours, living in a microbiologically fluid and creative environment like Earth’s biosphere? We can only trust something if we […]

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In my writing about media, I’ve been using the words “ecology” and “ecosystem” fairly liberally. In a new piece called “The Limitations of the ‘New Ecosystem’ Metaphor,” The Columbia Journalism Review’s Lauren Harris argues that this metaphor is misguided. She interviews media scholar Anthony Nadler, who has claims that the metaphor “naturaliz[es] current trends in the diffusion and development of news practices.” Its use “suggests ‘spontaneous, self-ordering principles’ in the news market obscuring all the social, political, and economic decisions that undergird the status quo.”

I want to respond to that argument here by presenting the case that “ecology” is not a metaphor imported from biology, but that it’s more like the other way around: “media ecology” is a description of the world of media as much as it is a description of the world of biology. Both media and biology are constituted by the actions and processes of their constituents. In this sense, it is not a metaphor but a way of seeing, and it’s more important to ensure we understand what it is we are looking at.

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I will be making parts of my “Advanced Environmental Humanities” course open to the EcoCultureLab community and a limited broader public. Technical details remain to be worked out, but I’d like to make our readings and discussions open, so as to include interested participants from outside the university community. The course is a graduate and […]

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What better way to understand ecological perception than by applying it to a study of the music of Radiohead, right? Okay, I’ll explain. “Ecological perception” is not what you might think. (And it isn’t what I, in my writing, call “perceptual ecology.“) It is a psychological theory that studies the perception of an organism (such […]

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French philosopher and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari, in his The Three Ecologies, was the first to articulate the threefold nature of ecology, but he failed to provide a clear articulation of why there should be three and only three ecologies — not two, not one, not four or more. What is the ontological justification for this […]

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How best to characterize the past decade in books? This list focuses on three themes: attempts to grapple with the nature of the climate and extinction crises, the “ontological” and “decolonial” “turns” in cultural and environmental theory, and efforts to map out the “multispecies entanglements” that characterize our world and the acute challenges we face.

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Shadowing the Anthropocene: Eco-Realism for Turbulent Times arrived in the mail today. It’s published by punctum books, an open-access academic and para-academic publisher I’ve found to be a real delight to work with. Eileen Joy deserves a medal for her leadership of punctum, and Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei’s cover and book design is beautiful. The book […]

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When I began my involvement with environmental politics in the 1980s, the main currents of radical or critical thought were represented by deep ecologists (or biocentrists), social ecologists (gathered around Murray Bookchin and his Institute for Social Ecology), and ecofeminists, and they seemed more at odds with each other than united. Marxists and socialists (especially around […]

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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, […]

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