Contemplative Ecologies 4

It’s been a busy week! I just completed 4 qualifying exams in 7 days (yippee!). And I still managed to curate plenty of content for y’all! Here are this week’s highlights:

1. Eurozine published a review of archaeological and anthropological data that contests fundamental assumptions about cultural evolution. The authors argue, “it no longer makes any sense to use phrases like ‘the agricultural revolution,’” considering that the transition “to a life based on food production typically took something in the order of three thousand years.” Even more surprising, they claim it “makes even less sense to talk about agriculture as marking the origins of rank or private property… Egalitarian cities, even regional confederacies, are historically quite commonplace… and there is absolutely no evidence that top-down structures of rule are the necessary consequence of large-scale organization.” These are bold claims, so I’m curious to learn more. A friend directed me to this manifesto explaining Foundations of an Anarchist Archaeology and this text on An Introduction to Anarchism in Archaeology, which I plan to read later. If you have other resources or opinions, feel free to post them in comments (below) or email me.

2. I discovered Harald Welzer’s essay exploring the interdependence of mental, material, and institutional infrastructures of growth and degrowth. Mental infrastructures of growth include our desire for novelty and consumption. They can also include cultural drivers of social acceleration (Hartmut Rosa) and the enterprising self (Ulrich Bröckling). “Against this backdrop, the psychologist Marcel Hunecke stresses that processes of reflection need to be embodied in order to support personal change. Moreover, he also highlights the relevance to connect these processes with positive emotions (Hunecke 2013: 32)… [and] he identifies the following resources: The capability to enjoy, self-acceptance, self-efficacy, mindfulness, [and] construction of sense and solidarity.” For more information, I recommend this summary of Welzer’s essay which includes several contemplative exercises for cultivating awareness of mental infrastructures.

3. In Yes! Magazine, Adrienne Maree Brown shared interviews from social justice activists who are inspired by nature’s wisdom. Quote: “Glaciers and rivers change my idea about the time span in which change happens. When it seems like nothing is moving, you could be changing the face of the Earth.” There is also a new book out called Imagining the Future of Climate Change that focuses on “movements, speculative fictions, and futurisms of Indigenous people and people of color.”

4. This article on plant music and the ethics of plant life introduced me to two new terms: plant blindness, which describes “the inability to see or notice the plants in one’s immediate environment,” and zoochauvinism, which describes “our bias towards animals… in particular toward large mammals with forward facing eyes.” The article introduces plant music as a way to explore an affective and aural ecology that puts us in touch with plants, so that we can extend greater understanding and care to them. This reminded me of the important connection between racism and speciesism, which Ghassan Hage also discusses in his book, Is Racism an Environmental Threat?

5. In closing, I would like to share a poem from Hydrofeminism (2012) by Astrida Neimanis in honor of World Water Day and Women’s History Month:

We are all bodies of water.

To think embodiment as watery belies the understanding of bodies that we have inherited from the dominant Western metaphysical tradition. As watery, we experience ourselves less as isolated entities, and more as oceanic eddies:

I am a singular, dynamic whorl dissolving in a complex, fluid circulation.

The poem comes from the Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology, which is a wonderful collective committed to ecologically oriented work that confronts, examines, and proposes alternatives “for neoliberal wor(l)dings, anthropocentrism (and too often its inherent white supremacy), scarcity-based economies, destructive discourses and toxic masculinities.” For more information, check out their website.

Questions, comments, or recommendations for future content? Please email <walsh_zack@yahoo.com>. Like what you see? Check out my personal Facebook page or scholarly publications. See you next Friday!

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