Call for Papers: Cultivating Ecologies, RGS/IBG 2015

Cultivating Ecologies

RGS/IBG Conference 2015 (Exeter 1st-4th Sept) Session Call for Papers,

Session convenors: Stephanie Lavau (Plymouth University) & Franklin Ginn (University of Edinburgh)

Whether as fossil fuels, domesticated crops, weedy foot-soldiers of Empire, habitat for endangered species, cosmopolitan globalisers from below, carbon sinks, or indicators of climatic change, plants have been significant players in cultivating the ecologies of the Anthropocene. Cultivation, like domestication, is often narrated as the taming or appropriation of the wild through human practices of control, selection, categorisation, exploitation, privatisation, breeding, and tending. The consolidating field of plant geographies have shown the power of plants to exceed and subvert such narratives, as well as beginning to scrutinize the ties of labour, disease, affect and violence that bind human and plant communities. New plant science, meanwhile, has also demonstrated plants to be communicative, adaptive beings with a hitherto under-appreciated phenotypic plasticity. This has provoked sustained meditations on the challenges to received notions of personhood, ethics and vitality posed by vegetal life. Finally, if plants and their cultivation have led us into the Anthropocene, it remains to be seen how better ways to live after the Anthropocene might take root out of new ecologies of cultivation.

In this session and its accompanying field trip, we invite participants from across the discipline to disrupt monocultural accounts of cultivation and help produce a mixed crop of stories, including those that address:

  • Agencies involved in cultivating ecologies with, for, or against plants
  • Ecological work as practices of cultivation
  • Political ecologies of / resistance to the Gene Giants
  • Plants in imaginary, extra-terrestrial, or prehistoric ecologies
  • Prevailing ideas of domesticated/cultivated ecologies as either civilised or inauthentic versions of the wild
  • Ambiguities, accidents and exchanges that unsettle dreams of control and certainty

Topics could include critical geographies of horticulture, agriculture, silviculture, ecological restoration, rewilding, post-industrial ecologies, landscape management, botany, and gardening. We particularly welcome papers that combine empirical fecundity with theoretical speculation.

Please send abstracts of 200 words or less to franklin.ginn@ed.ac.uk and stephanie.lavau@plymouth.ac.uk by 18 February 2015.
References

Marder, M. 2013. Plant thinking: A philosophy of vegetal life. New York: Columbia University Press.

Hall, M. 2009. Plants as persons: A philosophical botany. SUNY.

Pollan, M. 2013. Plant intelligence. New Yorker

Head, L., J. Atchison and C. Phillips. 2014. The Distinctive Capacities of Plants: Re-Thinking Difference Via Invasive Species. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers.

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