CFP Autumn 24 "Disruptive Encounters. Concepts of Care and Contamination out of Control"
Co-Guest Editors: Solvejg Nitzke (TU Dresden), Kirsten Jüdt (TU Dresden), Svenja Engelmann-Kewitz (TU Dresden).
“For living things, species identities are a place to begin,
but they are not enough: ways of being
are emergent effects of encounters”
Encounters are often hailed as a solution to the alienation of humans from nature. It is thus easily healed: national parks and wilderness reserves all over the world advertise encounters with nature as a cure to alienated life in the city and offer Auszeiten (time off and/or away in mountain and sea-side resorts, yoga retreats and survival exercises just long enough to fit in a professional’s holiday) in which one can decelerate and re-encounter mainly oneself. The problem with this simplified concept of healing encounters is that neither ‘nature’ nor ‘wilderness’ can exist in the present as anything but an other to the real world. That is, human interaction with global ecosystems is so pervasive, that any ‘outside’ (see Diederichsen/Franke 2013) of the alienated every-day world is necessarily a fiction. However well-intended, these types of encounters are in effect stabilizing instruments of the very culture they seem to criticize. They work as supposed moments of relief in which ‘we’ get to witness our own (human) and our (nonhuman) environment’s instant restoration – observable, for example, in the ubiquitous hashtag #NatureIsHealing during the first phase of the Covid 19-pandemic. The promise behind this type of healing encounter is that of a quick fix that allows the status quo to continue with only minor adjustments. It helps to brush over violent scenes such as Nastassja Martin’s encounter with a bear (Croire aux fauves, 2019) or Val Plumwoods encounter with a crocodile (Being Prey, 1996) as well as stories of hostile alien ‘nature’ such as the environments in Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy (2014) and the ‘contact scenes’ of colonial destructions which ‘alienated’ aboriginal peoples all over the world from ‘country’ (see, for example, the collection Heartsick for Country ed. by Morgan/Mia/Kwaymullina 2008). Infectious encounters of human and nonhuman bodies with viruses, parasites and even anthropogenic technologies from within (Alaimo 2010) remain out of reach, too.
In this special themed section, we invite explorations and conceptualizations of disruptive encounters – whether gentle or violent, fictional or factual – which challenge the cause-and-effect logic of quick-fix remedies. Building on Anna Tsing’s concept of the transformative effect of “unpredictable encounters” (Tsing 2015, 20), we are interested in disruptive encounters that challenge and transform dominant (alienated) human-nonhuman relationships. Our concept of ‘disruptive encounter’ builds on but is not limited to three major sites of disruptive encounters which we believe engender practices of care, contamination and surrendering control over (nonhuman) environments:
- Science-Art-Worldings: Donna Haraway (2016) understands them as models for multispecies thinking which produce a ‘critical zone’ (Haraway 2016) in which humans and nonhumans are co-present. We are inviting contributions which explore such worldings as sites where arts and sciences “are part of the emergence of narratives about the ways in which we live in the world” (Davis 2016: 65). This includes projects such as the Long-term ecological research programme at H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon (cf. Brodie et al., 2016) and re-readings such as Cal Flynn’s Islands of Abandonment (2021).
- Forced Nurture: Tsing’s empowering concept of contamination as well as Haraway’s concept of sympoiesis (Haraway 2016: 58) offer perspectives on encounters from within that turn scary and often marginalized relationships into productive (if messy) collaborations. In order to not romanticize the unwanted and often disorderly contact within bodies and environments, toxicity, parasitism and symbioses can be valued and evaluated under the umbrella of involuntary care or forced nature. Science fictional encounters such as those in Jeff Vandermeers Southern Reach trilogy or the fungal contaminations in Aliya Whiteley’s The Beauty (2018).
- Gentle Encounters: Resisting the logic of dominance that so often overshadows encounters, gentle encounters re-imagine and practice human-nonhuman contact as “matters of care” (Puig de la Bellacasa 2017). While alienation translates humans and nonhumans into resources (Tsing 2015: 133), resistance to this form of ‘disentanglement’ comes from indigenous and marginalized voices. Where, e.g., Robin Wall Kimmerer talks of ‘gift economies’ in which “cultures of gratitude” rather than private property relations shape encounters (Wall Kimmerer 2013: 187), female hunters in Norway attempt to express what Tim Ingold frames as an appreciation of the “animal kind” (see Ingold 2011: 71) through hunting practices. Counterintuitive at first, both harvesting and killing thus become sites of gentle encounters.
We invite contributions in English, German, and French. Essays for the research article section should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words long (including abstract, keywords, and bibliography) and will be submitted for peer review through Ecozon@. Completed manuscripts are due January 15, 2024 via the Ecozon@ website, which also provides a style guide. Please don’t hesitate to contact the editors (email@example.com , Kirsten.firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com ) should you have any questions. We particularly welcome proposal abstracts sent directly to the editors by September 2023.
Brodie, Nathaniel, Goodrich, Charles, and Frederick J. Swanson (Eds.): Forest Under Story: Creative Inquiry in an Old-Growth Forest. Seattle: University of Washington Press 2016.
Davis, Heather: „Art in the Anthropocene“. In: Rosi Braidotti, Maria Hlavajova (Hg.): Posthuman Glossary. London Oxford New York New Delhi Sydney: Bloomsbury Academic 2018 (= Theory), S. 63–65.
Diederichsen, Diedrich, Anselm Franke (ed.) The Whole Earth: California and the Disappearance of the Outside. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2013.
Haraway, Donna J.: Staying with the Trouble. Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham (NC): Duke University Press 2016.
Ingold, Tim: The Perception of the Environment. Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London: Routledge 2011 .
Lowenhaupt Tsing, Anna. Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 2015.
Morgan, Sally, Tjalaminu, Mia, und Blaze Kwaymullina. Heartsick for Country: Stories of Love, Spirit and Creation. Sydney: Read How You Want/Accessible, 2008.