Contemplative Ecologies 8

I posted much less last week, because I was at the American Association of Geographers (AAG) conference in New Orleans and a symposium on Ecological Civilization in New York. So, this week’s top 5 posts will include more excerpts:

1. Last week, the BBC reported that “You’re more microbe than you are human’… Human cells make up only 43% of the body’s total cell count. The rest are microscopic colonists… [which] includes bacteria, viruses, fungi and archaea.” At AAG, I attended sessions on postgenomics, which is an emerging way of thinking about living organisms as open, malleable, responsive multiplicities based on sciences like epigenomics and microbiomics. The image below is from an article reviewing epigenetic influences from various environmental sources.

2. Yes! magazine published an article on decolonizing environmentalism. Here’s an excerpt:

“…the U.S. forcefully re-engineered tribal governments to facilitate extractive industries. This understanding is key if one’s goal is to undermine the levers of power that undermine Indigenous self-determination and well-being today… The conservation movement has been as damaging to Indigenous peoples as extractive industries. National parks, ecological restoration projects, conservation zones, and even the uses of certain terms—especially ‘wilderness’—are associated with forced displacement of entire communities, erasure of Indigenous histories in education and public memory, economic marginalization, and violations of cultural and political rights. Though certain sectors of conservation have improved greatly, newer movements, such as the international UN-REDD+ Programme, still repeat harms of the past. Almost every environmental achievement in the U.S.—such as the Clean Air or Clean Water acts—has required Indigenous peoples to work hard to reform these laws to gain fair access to the protections… A decolonizing approach to allyship must challenge the resilience of settler privilege, which involves directly facing the very different ecological realities we all dwell in.”

3. I read a translated text on eco-singularity. “‘Eco-singularity is the event, when our (growing) capacity to solve the totality of the anthropogenic problems is superseded by the volume of the (growing) totality of the anthropogenic problems’… the ecological singularity could be defined as [a] period in time that will see an end to the global development of humanity and the beginning of declining living and health conditions… Profound, yet progressive, transformations will ensue and affect all aspects of human life: cultures, ways of thinking, scientific methods, religious beliefs and spirituality. It is of course impossible to anticipate how these transformations will occur… Apprehending the ecological singularity is a highly ambitious intellectual endeavour and is not incompatible with self-improvement and the search for a new spirituality.”

4. Refusing the World: Silence, Commoning, and the Anthropocene is a great article on the #ContemplativeCommons. The article “establishes silence as an ethical-political response to the Anthropocene. Silence is key to the making of commons, which frames the reinvention of ways of living and relating as a necessary response to the Anthropocene moment. Drawing from and intervening in autonomist Marxist debates on communicative labor, recent interdisciplinary work on Anthropocene ecologies, and writing on the violences of ongoing colonialism, the essay shows how silence in its diverse forms can be used to expand what commons might mean and what they might come to do in the present era. Mindful of the ambivalences of silence, it contends that the tensions inherent to its politics foster the suspension of assertions on how the world is, or how it should be. In this way, silence is argued as crucial to making spaces in which the proliferation of different ways of being can occur and from within which resistance against forms of cognitive capitalism, neo/colonialism, and the ecological destruction of the earth can take place.”

A friend tipped me off to a similar article published in 1982 by Ivan Illich, called Silence is a Commons.

5. After my presentation at the AAG, I discovered two earlier articles on the more-than-human commons, called Commoning With/in the Earth: Hardt, Negri and Feminist Natures and The More-than-Human Commons: From Commons to Commoning. Here’s an excerpt from the latter:

“…it is far from clear what [the commons] consists of or how we are supposed to identify and describe it when the intellectual and analytic tools available are so insufficient – unsurprising when they are largely inherited from a liberal epistemological framework and aesthetic tradition that is literally unable to see these worlds. As Rowe rightly points out, ‘[b]efore we can reclaim the commons we have to remember how to see it’ (Rowe 2001). However, there are new and rich fields of empirical and theoretical work that can help us to decipher what is going on in the more-than-human commons. These include the work of anthropologists examining indigenous cosmologies and relations with nature and territory (De la Cadena; Viveiros Castro 1998; Tsing 2015; Rose 2004), as well as post-humanist and vital materialist theory (Barad 2003; Bennett 2010; De la Bellacasa 2010, 2012; Papadopolous 2010, 2010a) that help shift the methodological and epistemological lens away from subjects and objects to the relata, the relations that constitute our world (Barad 2003). These rich literatures can help us disrupt the liberal humanist epistemologies that both individualize and place humans at the centre of world-making processes.”

If you haven’t read it, I  recommend Neera Singh’s wonderful article, called Becoming a commoner: The commons as sites for affective socio-nature encounters and co-becomings. My latest article explores these themes from a Buddhist-posthumanist perspective.

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


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