CFP: Spring 2020
Global warming epitomizes a paradox in the relationship between humans and climate. Recognizing the anthropogenic causes of climate change also involves recognizing the immense collective human influence on the earth’s life system. The prevailing concept of the climate is, however, one in which human bodies and actions, cultures and societies play no significant role. The current “weather-biased understanding of the atmosphere” (Fleming/Jancovic 2011) has uncoupled climate from human experience and forms of life. Yet climate is omnipresent in the history of cultures and their aesthetic, political and scientific representation – as a condition and product of life, as responsible for and a threat to human existence (Hulme 2017). This themed section aims to retrieve case studies, readings, and theoretical reflections on the relations between cultures and climates. While the representation of climate change is currently being reexamined in fictional and non-fictional writing (Clark 2015, Johns-Putra 2018), we would like to broaden the topic to climate representations beyond climate change. This renewed attention to “human climates,” we believe, will illuminate vital dimensions of a crisis not only of climate and climate knowledge but of ecological relationships in general.
For this special focus section of Ecozon@, we invite scholars from all disciplines to elaborate and compare “cultures of climate.” This means observing interactions between bodies and atmospheres within and between fictional texts and other discourses. Understanding climate “culturally,” as Michael Hulme has recently argued (Hulme 2017), necessarily transcends disciplines, epochs, cultures, and types of knowledge.
We also wish to cast light on the historical conceptualizations of climate. Historically, “the definition of climate as a statistical index is an anomaly” (Fleming/Jankovic 2011). It is the product of a vast enterprise spanning the period between climate theories of the 18th century and computer simulations of 21st century climatology (Edwards 2010). While Buffon and Herder, for example, conceived of climate as a natural factor both influenced by and influencing human cultures, with the advent of institutionalized meteorological standards climate was abstracted and thus gradually removed from the realm of human experience. Climatology thus shed its anthropological dimension in favor of large-scale statistical analysis. “Bodily knowledge” of different climates and the genres and disciplines in which these climates were expressed yielded to institutionalized analysis beyond bodies and narratives (Coen 2011, Sörlin 2011).
Climate change calls for a new historical view on human-nature relationships. Among other things, this implies an approach to climate as “an intimate ground-level experience” (Fleming/Jankovic 2011), a joint history of humanity and nature (Chakrabarty 2009, a “history of scaling” (Coen 2016) and a “history of environmental reflexivity” (Locher/Fressoz 2012). Such contemporary approaches share the insight that older “cultural” notions of climate never vanished from cultural consciousness but need to be reconsidered and newly appreciated.
If climate change ushers in a new epoch in which climate has lost its function as a stabilizing concept (Hulme 2017), historical accounts of “human climate” are vital also for re-thinking the future. In this issue of Ecozon@ we wish to extend the horizon of this line of thinking. Narratives of succeeding and failing relationships between bodies and atmospheres will provide insights into the creativity and potential of climate cultures. Climate imagination beyond visions of technological feasibility need, we believe, to be integral to the debate. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
- (Re)introductions of bodies and bodily experience into climate narratives
- Confrontations of different scales (i.e. deep time and biographical time, global and local perspectives) and cultural criteria for climate (change)
- Traces of (changing) climates in specific bodies and vice versa in contemporary and historical narratives
- Rituals, myths, and other cultural practices connecting or disconnecting bodies and climate
- Imaginations of past, current, and future climates through and with (human and non-human) bodies
- Discussions of literary genre, rhetoric style, and/or narrative modes in respect to the mediation between bodies and climate (cultures)
- Synergies and conflicts between literary and scientific cultures of climate
Please direct any queries to Solvejg Nitzke (Solvejg.Nitzke@tu-dresden.de) and Eva Horn (Eva.Horn@univie.ac.at). Manuscripts of 6000-8000 words may be submitted via the journal platform as early as 15 May 2019 and no later than 15 July 2019. Authors must comply with the guidelines indicated on the platform. Title, abstracts, and keywords must be provided in the language of the article, English, and Spanish. MLA style should be used for citations. Permission must be obtained by the author for any images used, and the images should be included in the text. Manuscripts will be accepted in English, French, and German.
Though it is not an essential requirement, we highly encourage potential authors to make prior contact with the editors by submitting a preliminary abstract (approximately 500 words).
Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “The Climate of History. Four Theses.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 35, 2009, pp. 197-222.
Clark, Timothy. Ecocriticism on the Edge. The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept. Bloomsbury, 2015.
Coen, Deborah. “Imperial Climatographies from Tyrol to Turkestan.” KLIMA, special issue of Osiris, vol. 26, no. 1, 2011, pp. 45-65.
Coen, Deborah. “Big Is a Thing of the Past: Climate Change and Methodology in the History of Ideas.” Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 77, no. 2, 2016, pp. 305-321.
Edwards, Paul. A Vast Machine. Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming. MIT Press, 2010.
Fleming, Roger, and Vladimir Jankovic, editors. KLIMA, special issue of Osiris, vol. 26, no. 1, 2011.
Hulme, Mike. Weathered. Cultures of Climate. SAGE, 2017.
Johns-Putra, Adeline. Climate Change and the Contemporary Novel. Cambridge UP, 2018 (forthcoming).
Locher, Fabien, and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz. “Modernity's Frail Climate: A Climate History of Environmental Reflexivity.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 38, no. 3, 2012, pp. 579-598.
Morton, Timothy. Hyperobjects. Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. Minnesota UP, 2013.
Sörlin, Sverker. “The Anxieties of a Science Diplomat: Field Coproduction of Climate Knowledge and the Rise and Fall of Hans Ahlmann’s ‘Polar Warming.’” KLIMA, special issue of Osiris, vol. 26, no. 1, 2011, pp. 46-88.