CFP Spring 2023 “Gardening (against) the Anthropocene”


Guest editors: Catrin Gersdorf (U Würzburg) and Catriona Sandilands (York U)

In his famous essay “Des Espaces Autres” (1967), translated into English as “Of Other Spaces” (1984), Michel Foucault writes that “the heterotopia is capable of juxtaposing in a single real place several spaces, several sites that are in themselves incompatible,” and that “the oldest example of these heterotopias … is the garden” (6). Gardens are, in his terms, both small, concrete pieces of the world that exist in specific times and places, and spaces that attempt to create the totality of a desired “other” world in microcosm for the sake of a present or future alternative. Gardens are, in other words, deeply both material and visionary places; they exemplify and reflect existing social, ecological, and political conditions, and they also attempt to reconstitute the world from these conditions into other, better forms.

In the Anthropocene (Capitalocene, Plantationocene, etc.), gardens are especially important heterotopic spaces in and with which to think. They have an ancient history, that Foucault references, of sacredness and worldliness. They have been idealized in specific ways in colonial visions that have done huge violence to Indigenous and other understandings of land and place (e.g., Terra Nullius). They have been used as justification and model for sprawl, enclosure, ostentation, and dispossession. At the same time, they have been understood, lived, and performed as spaces of resistance, restoration and resurgence for enslaved, working class, queer, Indigenous, and other people(s). As the COVID-19 emergency has underscored, gardens have been, and continue to be, important places of experimentation, imaginative practice, multispecies understanding, wonder, and personal/political nourishment.

For this special issue we invite essays that explore how gardens and gardening – histories, practices, experiences, memories, visions – have shaped the Anthropocene and, especially, how they may contribute to thinking and practising against it. How are gardens implicated in Anthropocenic histories, and how might gardening, done otherwise, contribute to reparative, restorative, and/or decolonizing forms of multispecies world-making? To the extent that gardens are not only material spaces but also enjoy a narrative, poetic, and/or iconographic presences in many cultures – both past and present, east and west, north and south – we especially encourage contributions that investigate literary and artistic uses of gardening and gardens in a broad variety of texts and images.


Topics may include, but are not limited to:

-  What is/makes a garden? How might different traditions answer this question? Why might these differences matter?

- What are gardens as opposed/in relation to plantations?

-  Can gardening serve as a paradigm/practice for living and thinking in a ruined world? (e.g., Chthulucene, Planthroposcene)?

-  How are gardens sites of poetic, aesthetic, and mythological or traditional presence/story? How are they imagined and practiced heterotopic places?

-  How are gardens sites of multispecies, material relationship in specific times and places? How are they sites of practice embodying plant, animal, insect, microbial, and/or soil encounters?

-  How are histories and traditions of garden writing sites of reflection about “second nature” and its importance to convivial (or other) ecological futurities?

-  How do gardens stage a dialectics of inclusion and exclusion, including public/private space and relationship?

-  What is the importance of histories of gardening as colonial practice, and of gardening as a mode of resisting colonialism (and other oppressions, e.g., gardens created by enslaved people/s)?

-  How are gardens sites of place-making: people finding/creating a “home” in difficult circumstances (e.g., immigrant and refugee gardens-making practices)?

-  Can garden ecologies serve as counternarratives to market economies, perhaps emphasizing co-creation and nourishment rather than extraction and consumption?

-  What is a garden in relation to other kinds of managed/cultivated landscapes, e.g., parks, protected areas, estates, forage forests, traditional harvest territories?

-  What are the affective ecologies of gardens? Why might they be important?

-  What role do gardens play in diverse pedagogies: colonial, developmental, scientific, moral, sexual, aesthetic, justice?

-  What role can imperial/colonial botanical gardens play in the work of decolonization?

We invite contributions in English, German, and French (please contact the editors in advance if you strongly prefer French to the other options). Please submit a 300-word abstract and 200-word biographical statement to the editors ( and by January 15, 2022.

Final essays for the research article section should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words (including abstract, keywords, and bibliography); we encourage both conventional and alternate modes of research presentation (by which we mean essays that combine academic research and writing with a more literary style). For the creative writing and art section we also welcome a range of works: fiction, poetry, photography, etc. Please contact the editors if your proposal is for a work that does not easily fit these categories. Completed manuscripts are due July 15, 2022 via the Ecozon@ website, which also provides a style guide.