Editor: Mădălina Diaconu
Argument: Eco-phenomenology is a recently emerged discipline that aims to constructively rearticulate the relationship of phenomenology with natural sciences based on the assumption of a situated and embodied subject. The concept of eco-phenomenology was introduced in 2001 by David Wood in connection to an approach that mediates between ecological phenomenology and phenomenological ecology. Shortly afterwards, it was adopted by Charles S. Brown and Ted Toadvine. Since then, the list of contributions to a more or less critical phenomenology of the environment has been substantially enriched, proving the fertility of phenomenological reflection and its potential to cope with pressing issues regarding the environmental crisis. However, already in the 20th century and despite the programmatic resistance of phenomenology to naturalism, its exponents had integrated theories of biology (von Uexküll) or environmental psychology (Gibson), to name just a few relevant scientific disciplines. The interdisciplinary dialogue is expected to gain in importance in the future and include the atmospheric sciences and Blue Humanities.
The field of eco-phenomenology is not confined, though, to attempts to engage in a dialogue with natural sciences (e.g., Böhme & Schiemann). Classical concepts of phenomenology, such as physis, Earth and sky, fourfold (Heidegger, Held), fūdo (Watsuji), and even “face” (Levinas), were reinterpreted in the light of present environmental issues. Maurice Merleau-Ponty was particularly influential on phenomenologists who were committed to environmental issues (Toadvine, Abram, Berleant), but other phenomenological approaches might be equally inspiring, as, for example, Gaston Bachelard’s theory of elements, Mikel Dufrenne’s ontology of a poetic nature, Eugen Fink’s cosmological philosophy, Heidegger’s phenomenology of care and concern, etc. Relevant in this context are also the phenomenology of place (Relph, Casey, Seamon) and the New Phenomenology of atmosphere (Schmitz, Böhme, Hasse, Griffero, etc.).
The present CfP conceives eco-phenomenology in the broad sense of the plethora of experiences that are related to dwelling on Earth (oikos) but specifically welcomes subjects related to the present environmental crisis and possible contributions of phenomenology to mitigate it. Beyond enriching the sphere of phenomenological approaches, we are interested in raising the question of how the phenomenological emphasis on experience can contribute to a critical environmental philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics.
Possible topics are:
- Analyses of senses which are crucial for the experience of the environment and have hitherto benefitted from little attention (e.g., the sense of temperature, the experience of electricity, magnetism, echolocation, the place-making and place-disrupting capacity of odors, etc.).
- Eco-sensitivity and the new everydayness in the Anthropocene. This includes negative experiences related to pollution and toxic atmospheres, as well as dysfunctions of sensitivity: abnormal place experience (Fletcher’s “dystoposthesia”), the general discomfort caused by exposure to chemical substances, etc.
- The disenchantment of landscape. Experiences of landscape beyond contemplative constitution (Smuda), Romantic fusion (Schmitz), and topophilia (Tuan). What happens when the “lived landscape” (Waldenfels) becomes inhabitable? Experiences of deserted, haunted, devastated, nuclear, and in general uncanny (Trigg) “landscapes.”
- The subject’s immersion in the atmosphere or being sky-bound. Experiences of weather phenomena and meteo-sensitivity have been occasionally described by human geographers (e.g., Craig) but have only seldom drawn the phenomenologists’ attention so far (Ogawa, Diaconu).
- Environmental experiences in non-Euro-American contexts. How do environmental factors such as climate and vegetation, but also cultural traditions and beliefs, modulate the category of landscape? Does the understanding of landscape change in tropical forests or during the arctic winter? Are the “sentient landscapes” (Cruikshank) in the indigenous cultures compatible with the legacy of phenomenology? Can/should the sources of phenomenographies be extended to traditional ecological knowledge?
- Phenomenology of crisis, threat, loss, and precariousness. Has the ecological crisis contributed to the recent shift of emphasis away from the subject’s intentionality? The “pathic” subject (Hasse) is responsive and vulnerable, subject to contingent encounters, being affected by the resonance with an environment that appears itself as fragile (Waldenfels, Wiesing, Böhme, Rosa). Analyses of moods that come to the fore in the present environmental context: anguish, nostalgia and mourning, shame, guilt, etc.
- Poly-temporal structures and new experiences of temporality:
- The value of ephemerality and the “celebration of finitude” (Wood).
- Rhythmicity and periodicity. The “natural” resonance between body rhythms and natural rhythms, but also their increasing dissonance at present due to technology and climate change (light pollution, disturbances of seasonality, etc.).
- Deep time and intergenerational experience. Traditionally, phenomenology focused on immediate individual experiences; however, climate change is a diffuse “hyperobject” (Morton). Slow decay, remote pollution, or invisible contamination transcend the experiential evidence and the horizon of hic et nunc perception, engaging the memory of losses and the fear of future destruction. How can phenomenology account for middle- and long-term developments that require comparisons between generations? Can it integrate collective memory and even the deep time that is crucial in geology and climatology? Can the experience of temporal sublime (Toadvine, Brady) motivate eco-friendly patterns of thinking and behavior?
- Orientation towards future. Phenomenology has often been infused with hermeneutic analyses, while the environmental crisis requires visionary thinking and constructive alternatives. Can traditional phenomenological concepts (e.g., Heidegger’s “projection”) or phenomenological interpretations of imagination support a future-oriented environmental philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics?
- Phenomenology of sustainability and care. How are material things experienced along the axis desire-use-discard? Can the category of “thinghood” be extended to raw materials (resources) and leftovers of consumption? How can waste challenge the phenomenological horizon of signification and value? Can the regeneration and restoration of environments become a subject of phenomenological analyses, and can phenomenology’s concern with everydayness integrate practices of care (maintenance, repair, recycling) (Saito)?
- Stepping beyond anthropocentrism. Can phenomenology accommodate the nowadays widespread requirement to overcome an (if not epistemic, at least moral) anthropocentric perspective? How can its first-person account cope with the present tendency to extend agency beyond human subjects?
- Eco-phenomenology, critical phenomenology, environmental activism. What is “Critical Ecophenomenology” (Toadvine)? Can phenomenology, understood as a praxis of critical reflection, be converted into a resource for action, resistance, and empowerment? Does its awareness-raising function have a transformative potential beyond academic circles? Can its emphasis on the subject’s unavoidable bodily emplacement enhance the general sense of interconnectedness?
- Analyses of ecological art and environmental art, place-making practices in architecture, landscape/city planning and everyday life, etc.
Deadline: March 30, 2024.
Submission Guidelines: https://zetabooks.com/library/journals/studia-phaenomenologica/
Contact: The papers should be sent to email@example.com (subject title: Studia Phaenomenologica 2025).