Environmental Humanities and New Materialisms
The Ethics of Decolonizing Nature and Culture
8th Annual Conference on the New Materialisms
7-9 June 2017, Paris
Environmental Humanities and New Materialisms share an ethic of decolonizing nature and culture, as they depart from anthropocentric and constructivist positions. Our call is to consider ourselves as permeable, part of the ebb and flow of the Anthropocene, part of the “stuff of the world” (Alaimo, 2016). It is a call to investigate how climate change and the sixth great extinction are captured as scientific data, and to inhabit an environmentally ethical sense of matter within a world caught in the throes of change.
New Materialist concepts of living matter upset conventional distinctions between matter and life, inorganic and organic, passive object and active subject (De Landa, 2000). In Barad’s “agential realism” (2007), material agency does not privilege the human, just as for Bennett, “thing power” (2004) emphasizes the shared material basis and the kinship of all things, regardless of their status –human, animal, vegetable, or mineral. It is through this sense of mutual implication that the New Materialisms can contribute to an ecological ethos.
Our call is to consider the New Materialisms as an opportunity to enrich pre-existing conjunctions across environmental philosophy, environmental history, ecocriticism, cultural geography, cultural anthropology, and political ecology, including their debates as captured by the environmental humanities. These fruitful alliances could help build environmental posthumanities, as environmental humanists, activists and stewards work to reveal and reshape the flows of material agencies across regions, environments, animal and human bodies.
The conference Environmental Humanities and New Materialisms: The Ethics of Decolonizing Nature and Culture wants to tap into as well as contribute to such debates.