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Anne's Reading Notes for "Changing Our Story"

Anne Dalke's picture

Abrams, Lindsay. “Study Reinforces Link between Autism and Pesticides: Living near farms and fields may put developing brains at risk.” Salon. June 23, 2014 [another much less cheerful example of relationality than those Haraway traces…]

Accomplices, Not Allies: Abolishing the Ally Industrial Complex. Indigenous Action Media. May 4, 2014 (suggested by Marian Dalke): challenges the commodification and exploitation of allyship in the “activism industry,” calls such support and solidarity “criminal,” a means of perpetuating colonialism--and offers the alternative of being an accomplice, “a person who helps another commit a crime,” becoming complicit in a struggle towards liberation..….


Allen, Paula Gunn. Kochinnenako in Academe: Three Approaches to Interpreting a Keres Indian Tale. The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986. 222-244.

Alley, Richard B. Earth: The Operator’s Manual
(Norton, 2011-- companion book for PBS documentary

The Burning Question:
* we have always used/always will use energy;
road we’re on now will get us into trouble
there are plenty of ways to get rich/
save the world by remaking our energy system
golden bullet is our collective cleverness
Learning While We Burn:
* our CO2 emissions will contribute to notable warming in the future: increasing droughts, floods, sea-level rise, suppression of food production, increasing threats of extinctions of rare species are projected
* en economically optimal response includes beginning now to reduce those emissions; so does consideration of national security, employment, catastrophic events, and ethical issues…
The Road to 10 Billion Smiling People:
solid science shows that our fossil-fuel burning will warm the climate and affect us in many ways; fortunately, we have a wealth of options to power 1 billion sustainably smiling people (stabilizing the composition of the atmosphere—will cost 1% of world economy/year; creating a distributed system, wiring large areas together into a “smart grid” to reduce fluctuations in renewable energy resources; solar energy, hydroelectric power; extracting energy from tides and currents; burning plants, geothermal energy; nuclear fission power, capturing and storing C02; saving energy; geo-engineering; some yet-to-arise game-changing technology)--and we know that we can reach that goal.


Anderson, Kevin and Alice Bows, Commentary: A New Paradigm for Climate Change, Nature Climate Change 2 (August 28, 2012--suggested by Don Barber @ the ENVS Fac'y Workshop, 5/14):

At the same time as climate change analyses are being subverted to reconcile them with the orthodoxy of economic growth, neoclassical economics has evidently failed to keep even its own house in order. This failure is not peripheral. It is prolonged, deep-rooted and disregards national boundaries, raising profound issues about the structures, values and framing of contemporary society....

Alan Greenspan...was 'in a state of shocked disbelief' at having 'discovered a flaw in the [free market] model.' This is not just a minor flaw; it undermines a central tenet (self-regulation) of the laissez-faire ethos. It is to market economics what Copernican heliocentrism was to Ptolemaic astronomy.....

Leave the market economists to fight among themselves over the right price of carbon — let them relive their groundhog day if they wish. The world is moving on and we need to have the audacity to think differently and conceive of alternative futures....


Boler, Megan. Chapter 7: “The Risks of Empathy: Interrogating Multiculturalism’s Gaze.” Feeling Power: Emotions and Education. Routledge, 1999 (from Jody's Multicultural Education class):

Who and what, I wonder, benefits from the production of empathy?...In what ways does empathy risk decontextualizing particular moral problems?...I am not convinced that empathy leads…to any shift in existing power relations…through modes of easy identification and flattened historical sensibility….”poetic justice” may simply translate to reading practices that do not radically challenge the readers’ world view….those “others” whose lives we imagine don’t want empathy; they want justice….encourage “testimonial reading”…an empathetic response that motivates action….in sympathy and empathy, the identification between self and other also contains an irreducible difference—a recognition that I am not you, and that empathy is possible only b virtue of this distinction….not a sufficient educational practice. At stake is …the ability…to recognize oneself as implicated in the social forces that create the climate of obstacles the other must confront….

The agent of empathy is fear for oneself. This signals the first risk…more a story and projection of myself than an understanding of you…to judge what “others need in order to flourish” is an exceptionally complicated proposition….Empathetic identification requires the other’s difference in order to consume it as sameness…social a binary power relationships of self/other that threatens to ….annihilate the very differences that permit empathy…

testimonial reading recognizes the…similarly exposed vulnerability. Rather than seeing reading as isolated acts of individual response to distant others, testimonial reading emphasizes a collective educational responsibility….what calls for recognition is not… the possibility of my misfortune, but a recognition of power relationships…The challenge to undertake “our own work” accepts a responsibility founded on the discrepancy of our experiences….active reading practice...involves challenging my assumptions and world views….[Felman ventures,] “if teaching does not…encounter either the vulnerability of the explosiveness of a …critical and unpredictable dimension, it has perhaps not truly taught”…I must learn to question the genealogy of any particular emotional response….As…alternatives to privatized and naturalized models of emotion, I offer two concepts of the analysis of emotion and power relations: “”economics of mind,” which refers to emotion and affect as models of currency in social relations; and as an alternative to theories of depth unconscious, I suggest we consider emotions as “inscribed habits of inattention.”


Bowers, C.A. (Chet). “Steps to the Recovery of Ecological Intelligence.” Ometeca 14-15, 43—
all good, but SO heavy-handed; now I only want playful elaborations of our main ideas!

calls for educational reform to slow environmental degradation, with rethinking in 3 areas:
1) transition from thinking of intelligence as attribute of autonomous ind’l to nourishing ecological intelligence (nourishing cultural patterns of moral reciprocity, with an understanding of the behavior of natural systems)
2) wider understanding of how language carries forward misconceptions, values of earlier non-env’l thinkers
3) revitalize the cultural commons/understand how they are being undermined/transformed into new markets
Ecological Intelligence: taking account of relationships, contexts, impacts, interacting patterns in interdependent cultural and natural ecosystems
key to transition to ecological intelligence: recognizing that there are no isolated events, facts, actions—
everything is part of larger system of information exchange
difficult source of resistance: way print marginalizes importance of contexts, tacit understandings, awareness of larger networks/culturally mediated embodied experiences [this seems significant; suggests we shouldn’t rely so heavily on print, do more engaged activities…]
need to examine genealogy of political metaphors in terms of hidden colonization
substitute “cultural and env’l commons” (interg’l knowledge, skills, and mentoring relationships that enable self-reliance and mutual support) for “community” (which is too limited to convey ecological complexities)

Brown, Stuart. "Play, Spirit, and Character." Interview: On Being, with Krista Tippet.
nice hour-long elaboration of the virtues of play, in creating flexible, empathetic humans;
sort of an aural version of the 2008 NYTimes article on
Taking Play Seriously

Bryn Mawr College Tree Tour

Butler, Octavia. “Bloodchild.”

Cameron, Jenny , Stephen Healy, and J.K. Gibson-Graham,
Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide to Transforming our Communities (University of Minnesota, 2013--suggested by Giovanna DiChiro @ the ENVS Fac'y Workshop, 5/14):

begins by imagining the economy not as a market, but as a community garden.... "each economy reflects decisions around how to care for and share a commons, what to produce for survival, how to encounter others in the process of surviving well together, how much surplus to produce, how to distribute it, and how to invest it for the future. These decisions are made under varying conditions of plenty and scarcity…."

Take Back the Economy challenges some of the key beliefs that currently guide our economic actions--that growth is good, that private enterprise is privileged, that private ownership is valued—and substitutes instead "habits of reflecting on our interconnections with others," who are "jointly encountering a future of unknowns and uncertainties."

What it proposes, in short, is a “community economy”...

Chase, Steve. “Changing the Nature of Environmental Studies: Teaching Environmental Justice to ‘Mainstream’ Students.” The Environmental Justice Reader: Politics, Poetics, and Pedagogy. Ed. Joni Adamson, Mei Mein Evans and Rachel Stein. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2002.

"we have focused on the symptoms, not the causes of biotic impoverishment. The former have to do with the vital signs of the planet. The latter have to do with the distribution of wealth, land ownership, greed, the organization of power, and the conduct of public business." (David Orr)
the professor suggested that the environmental movement is best understood as a continuing argument between...the romantic wilderness preservationism championed by Muir and...the pragmatic, professional approach to natural resource management supported by Pinchot.....I mentioned Mothers of East Los Angeles, a grassroots Chicana group that had successfuly blocked the construction of a giant incinerator project in their already polluted neighborhood....the professor said, "That's not an environmental group"....he dismissed the legitimacy of the enviormental justice movement...environmental problems were all too often discussed as if the human community were uniform...without differences in power or access to material influence (351-2).
seven key educational principles:
Principle 1: Start from Reality--all learning must be based on the needs, interests, experiences, and problems of the participants.
Principle 2: Activity--learning must be active
Principle 3: Horizontal communication--dialogue, mutual respect
Principle 4: Developing the ability to be critical
Principle 5: Promoting the development and expression of feelings
Principel 6: Promoting participation
Principle 7: Integration (of head, body and heart)


Daly, Herman E. “The Steady-State Economy: Towards a Political Economy of Biophysical Equilibrium and Moral Growth”
(suggested by Michael Rock @ the ENVS Fac'y Workshop, 5/14):

Environmental degradation is an iatrogenic disease induced by economic physicians who treat the basic malady of unlimited wants by prescribing unlimited economic growth. British economist, D. H. Robertson, once asked the illuminating question: What is it that economists economize? His answer was "love, the scarcest and most precious of all resources”… "How"? Mainly by maximizing growth. Let there be more for everyone year after year so that we need never face up to sharing a fixed total… one purpose of economic theory is to make those who are comfortable feel comfortable….

Di Chiro, Giovanna. Teaching Urban Ecology: Env’l Studies and the Pedagogy of Intersectionality.” Feminist Teacher 16, 2 (2006): 98-109
[don’t need/want to teach it, but another great example of “contact zone” @ the heart of this work]
teaching the interdependence of human health, ecological integrity, and social justice
intersectionality comes from feminist studies: Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, Kimberle Crenshaw
mainstream env’lism presupposes human/env’t divide and focuses on protecting abstracted idea of nature separate from humans (wilderness); more inclusive idea definies env’t in much broader terms: not exotic elsewhere but in geographies of everyday life
perspective of everydayness of nature brings en’l issues home
new focus on urban ecology, bridging sustainability and social justice, presenting the concepts of “social nature” and “joined-up thinking”
community-based learning course in collaboration with Nuestras Raices,
traversing geographic, linguistic, epistemic, cultural borders to “meet our neighbors”—a “contact zone” experience, exchanging diverse socioecological knowledge systems; students designed an action research project to articulate connections between health problems and env’l contaminants, by doing historical and sociological study of Holyoke…

Edensor, Tim, Bethan Evans, Julian Holloway, Steve Millington and Jon Binnie. “Playing in Industrial Ruins: Interrogating teleological understandings of play in spaces of material alterity and low surveillance.” Urban Wildscapes. Ed. Anna Jorgensen and Richard Keenan. New York: Routledge, 2011
—LOVE this and would love to pair it with Robin Henig, Taking Play Seriously, New York Times (Feb. 17, 2008).
about ruins as exemplary realms for a critical perspective highlighting both the limitations and potentialities for play in urban spaces
key attributes of ruins:
1) lack of overt regulation—a space outside the strictures of ‘health and safety,’ systematic surveillance and material maintenance; missing the ordinary control of human/non-human; instant alterity—blurs distinctions between wild and tame, urban and rural, allowing wide scope of activities/actors prohibited/frowned upon elsewhere
2) material affordance within unfamiliar, unkempt env’ts that foster a multitude of opportunities for playful interaction with space and matter, confounding familiar forms of comfort and mundane sensual experience; usual conventions of property, commodity, value don’t pertain
types of play:
1) “destructive” (joyriding, burning, smashing): challenges notions of  what’s “acceptable”--transgressive delight in contravening restrictions, letting go of conventions, blurring distinction between productive/improving and destructive, willful, undisciplined, mindless
2) hedonistic (drinking, drug-taking, partying and sex):blurs line between pleasure and necessity—provides safe space for forbidden practices
3) artistic (graffiti and other interventions)
4) adventurous and expressive (action sports, urban exploration)
theorizing play in ruins:
dominant notions of play foreground its relationship with childhood, relying on its temporal/spatial separation from work, adulthood, production, ‘real life’; such notions rooted in neo-liberal ideals about productive responsible citizenship
problematic: commercial children’s play spaces, computer gaming, hen/stag parties blur leisure and work
ruins similarly defined as marginal, purposeless, wasteful, but are well-used sites of pleasure, leisure, spaces for productive/generative practices
ruins are entangled in a paradoxical geography of play space as both risky and ideally-suited to children’s play; associations between childhood playfulness/innocence and vulnerability produce contradictory understandings of playing in wild spaces; denial of access to wildscapes has a detrimental impact on children’s long-term development
but danger of romanticizing ruins, neglecting issues of danger, power (not accessible to differently abled bodies; others w/ no where else to go); playing can reinforce existing spatio-temporal relations and sediment existing power relations
over-emphasizing playful virtues of industrial ruins sets up dualism with smooth, regulated urban spaces
proliferation of playful activities in industrial ruins can divert us to recognize potential wildness, playfulness within managed spaces
play can make smooth spaces wild, disorder the street
relative freedom from direct retribution ess’l to playfulness in ruins: foregrounds affective, embodied, sensual qualities of playà
always potentially transformative/subversive of power/
‘ready to be sprung as revolutionary consciousness,’ ‘becoming other,’ with potential to shift actuality of moment

Haraway, Donna. When Species Meet. Posthumanities, Vol. 3.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2008
[got to this from Rose’s essay about “Ravens @ Play”—and think it’s brilliant! Doubt we should teach it (too much academic in-fighting/backbiting w/ Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari) but I think she may offer us a GREAT structure for the class, around “patterns of relationality”—with rocks, microbes, plants, animals…from this perspective, “garbage land” and tracking your purchases pale…and play finds its way back into the course]
I. We Have Never Been Human
II. Notes of a Sportswriter’s Daughter
III. Tangled Species

Chapter 1: When Species Meet: Introductions
Two questions guide this book: (1) Whom and what do I touch when I touch my dog? And (2) How is “becoming with” a practice of becoming worldly? I tie these questions together in expressions…alter-globalisation and autre-mondialisation…not about antiglobalization but about nurturing a more just and peaceful other-globalization….we learn to be worldly from grappling with, rather than generalizing from, the ordinary….I love the fact that…90 percent of [my] cells are filled with the genomes of bacteria fungi, protists, and such…I become an adult human being in company with these tiny messmates…I love that when “I” die, all these benign and dangerous symbionts will take over and use whatever is left of “my body….my companion species…are my maker….When Species Meet …is about…the games in which those who are to be in the world are constituted in intra- and interaction. The partners do not precede the meeting; species…are consequent on a subject- and object-shaping dance of encounters.

Modernist versions of humanism and posthumanism alike have taproots in a series of what Bruno Latour calls the Great Divides between what counts as nature and as society, as nonhuman and as human…the principal Others to Man are…gods, machines, animals, monsters, creepy crawlies, women, servants and slaves, and noncitizens in general…these “others” have a remarkable capacity to induce panic….

Freud described the three great historical wounds to the primary narcissism of the self-centered human subject, who tries to hold panic at bay by the fantasy of human exceptionalism. First is the Copernican wound that removed Earth…from the center of the cosmos….The second wound is the Darwinian, which put Homo sapiens firmly in the world of other critters…The third wound is the Freudian, which posited an unconscious that undid the primacy of conscious processes….I want to add a fourth wound, the informatics or cyborgian, which infolds organic and technological flesh….these wounds to self-certainty are necessary….

There is no teleological warrant here, no assured happy or unhappy ending socially, ecologically, or scientifically. There is only the chance for getting on together with some grace. The Great Divides of animal/human, nature/culture, organic/technical, and wild/domestic flatten into mundane differences—the kinds that have consequences and demand respect and response—rather than rising to sublime and final ends.

…the category “companion species” is less shapely and more rambunctious than [“companion animals”]…less a category than a pointer to an ongoing “becoming with”…a much richer web… is the patterns of relationality and, in Karen Barad’s terms, intra-actions at many scales of space-time that need rethinking….The partners do not precede their relating; all that is, is the fruit of becoming with….

Companion comes from the Latin cum panis, “with bread”….As a verb, to companion is “to consort, to keep company”….Species, like all the old and important words, is equally promiscuous…The Latin specere is at the root of things here, with its tones of “to look” and “to behold.” In logic, species refers to a mental impression or idea…Referring both to the relentlessly “specific” or particular and to a class of individuals with the same characteristics, species contains its own opposite in the  most promising—or special—way….Species is about the dance linking kin and kind….

The word species also structures conservation and environmental discourses, with their “endangered species”…Species reeks of race and sex; and where and when species meet, that heritage must be untied and better knots of companion species attempted….companion species must learn to live intersectionally….To hold in regard, to respond, to look back reciprocally, to notice, to pay attention, to have courteous regard for, to esteem: all of that is tied to polite greeting, to constituting the polis, where and when species meet…In “Unruly Edges: Mushrooms as Companion Species, Anna Tsing writes, “Human nature is an interspecies relationship”…Species interdependence is the name of the worlding game on earth, and that game must be one of response and respect. That is the play of companion species learning to pay attention. Not much is excluded from the needed play…I am who I become with companion species, who and which make a mess out of categories in the making of kind and kind. Queer messmates in mortal play, indeed.

Rejecting the facile and basically imperialist, if generally well-intentioned, move of claiming to see from the point of view of the other…[we also] refuse the risk of an intersecting gaze….I would not for a minute deny the importance of the question of animals’ suffering…[thinking of Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals here] but I do not think that is the decisive question, the one that turns the order of things around,…how much more promise is in the questions, Can animals play? Or work?....can I learn to…respond to an invitation or recognize one when it is offered? [thinking of Sedgwick’s cat, laying a mouse before its owner: the near miss!] What if work and play…open up when the possibility of mutual response…is taken seriously as an everyday practice….What if a usable word for this is joy?

For help, I turn to someone who did learn to look back, as well as to recognize that she was looked at, as a core work-practice for doing her science. To respond was to respect; the practice of “becoming with” rewove the fibers of the scientist’s being. Barbara Smuts [also featured in The Lives of Animals]…began adjusting what she did—and who she was—according to the baboon’s social semiotics directed both to her and to one another….The result was that the baboons treated her more and more as a reliable social being….only through mutual acknowledgment could the human being and baboons go on about their business….Smuts had to enter into, not shun, a responsive relationship….in situated histories, situated naturecultures…all the actors become who they are in the dance of relating…full of the patterns of their sometimes-joined, sometimes-separate heritages both before and lateral to this encounter. All the dancers are redone through the patterns they enact….

I am instructed by Scott Gilbert’s critique of autopoiesis for its emphasis on self-building and self-maintaining systems, closed except for nourishing flows of matter and energy. Gilbert stresses that nothing makes itself in the biological world, but rather reciprocal induction within and between always-in-process critters ramifies through space and time on both large and small scales in cascades of inter- and intra-action….”the embryonic co-construction of the physical bodies…means that we were ‘never’ individuals”….

when species meet, the question of how to inherit histories is pressing, and how to get on together is at stake….My premise is that touch ramifies and shapes accountability….The point is not to celebrate complexity but to become worldly and to respond….still live metaphors for this work…”Multiplicity, oscillation, mediation, material heterogeneity, performativity, interference…there is no resting place in a multiple and partially connected world”…we are in a knot of species coshaping one another in layers of reciprocating complexity all the way down….It is a question of cosmopolitics, of learning to be ‘polite’ in responsible relation to always asymmetrical living and dying, and nurturing and killing.

Chapter 8: Training in the Contact Zone:
Power, Play, and Invention in the Sport of Agility
I knew about contact zones from colonial and postcolonial studies… In Imperial Eyes, Mary Pratt coined the term contact zone, which she adapted “from its use in linguistics, where the term ‘contact ‘language’ refers  to improvised languages that develop among speakers of different native languages who need to communicate with each other consistently….I aim to foreground the interactive, improvisational dimensions of colonial encounters so easily ignored or suppressed by diffusionist accounts of conquest and domination. A ‘contact’ perspective emphasizes how subjects are constituted in and by their relations to each other…It treats the relations terms of co-presence, interaction, interlocking understandings and practices, often within radically asymmetrical relations of power”….

Jim Clifford enriched my understanding of contact zones through his nuanced readings of articulations and entanglements across borders and among cultures…”contact approaches presuppose…systems already constituted relationally, entering new relations through historical processes of displacement.” I merely add natural cultural and multispecies matters to Clifford’s open net bag. I learned much of what I know about contact zones from science fiction, in which aliens meet up…and redo one another molecule by molecule….

I remembered that contact zones called ecotones, with their edge effects, are where assemblages of biological species form outside their comfort zones. These interdigitating edges are the richest places to look for ecological, evolutionary, and historical diversity…. Conservation projects have become important zones of encounter and contact shaped by distant and near actors. Such contact zones are full of the complexities of different kinds of unequal power that do not always go in expected directions. In her beautiful book Friction, anthropologist Anna Tsing explores …”weediness”…the contact zones of species assemblages….”What if we imagined a human nature that shifted historically together with varied webs of interspecies dependence?” Tsing calls her webs of interdependence “unruly edges…Human nature is an interspecies relationship”….The most of the transformative things in life happen in contact zones….


Hall, Stuart. "Who Needs 'Identity'?" [Kristin flagged this for our 360 on Identity Matters]:

"Throughout their careers, identities can function as points of identification and attachment only because of their capacity to exclude, to leave out, to render 'outside,' abjected. Every identity has at its 'margin,' an excess, something more. The unity, the internal homogeneity, which the term identity treats as foundational is not a natural, but a constructed form of closure, every identity naming as its necessary, even if silenced and unspoken other, that which it 'lacks'. . . If 'identities' can only be read against the grain--that is to say. . as that which is constructed in or through differance and is constantly destabilized by what it leaves out, then how can we understand its meaning and how can we theorize its emergence?"

The Human Microbiome project aims to characterize the microbial communities found at several different sites on the human body, including nasal passages, oral cavities, skin, gastrointestinal tract, and urogenital tract, and to analyze the role of these microbes in human health and disease-- The idea that ...friendly microscopic bugs are us plays against the traditional sense of self--mind-centered, egotistical, and laden with notions of personal identity, separation and integrity (spiritual and physical).


Jason, Mark. Conversation: Van Jones. Earth Island Journal 28, 2: 45-47.
"The arc of the moral universe is long," Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "but it bends toward justice."
...we have this myth that presidents lead great movements. What happens is that presidents ratify the achievements of great movements....They usually stand behind rising movements. You
What do you think are some of the explanations for why we haven't seen an ascendant movement that would create that political space for the president?
Well, I think that to the extent that climate solutions seem abstract and the concern of an intellectual elite, it makes the movement more vulnerable to being dismissed....very broad movement would have to be an eco-populist movement...pointing to solutions that would help ordinary people....
...the environmental movement continues to be very monochromatic....What will it take to have an environmental movement that really reflects the diversity of this country?
That may the wrong question. It may be that trying to figure out how to make the environmental movement more brown might not be the right question. It might be that the better question is:"How do we take these rising movements that are much more diverse already get them to be more green? Get them to hold ecological solutions much closer in their own hearts as they try to solve their economic problems. That might actually wind up being more fruitful....I think we should go fishing where the fish are. There is a lot of environmental sentiment in the rising majority already that we don't have to go fight for. The challenge is that those communities have a lot of other tough problems. So there's an intensity question

Kolbert, Elizabeth. Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. Bloomsbury, 2006.

Starts in Alaska, ends in Vermont: “Man in the anthropocene”: “Perhaps the most unpredictable feedback of all is the human one…It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.”

Kolbert, Elizabeth. Greening the Ghetto. The New Yorker 84, 44 (Jan 12, 2009). 22pp.
Activist and author Van Jones, the founder of Green for All, is profiled. Jones argues for an integrated approach to combating climate change, urban poverty, and racism by creating environmental public works programs for inner-city minority youth.

Kolbert, Elizabeth. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Henry Holt, 2014
Prologue: a shadowy beginning to the story of 13 chapters, each tracking a species emblematic of mass extinction to appreciate extraordinary moment in which we live
frogs, mastodons, penguins, ammonites, graptolites, ocean acidification,
coral reefs, tropical forests, forest fragment reserves, bats, rhinos, Neanderthals, ….
“In times of extreme stress, the whole concept of fitness…loses its meaning: how could a creature be adapted…for conditions it has never before encountered?...the rules of the survival game abruptly change”
“people process disruptive information…by forcing it into a familiar framework….data that did not fit commonly accepted assumptions would be discounted…crisis led to insight…the old framework gave way to a new one…the history of the science of extinction is one such paradigm shift…’long periods of boredom interrupted occasionally by panic’…the pattern of extinction is the pattern of life….The Big Five: when the rules of the game suddenly flipped, with consequences that will last forever; there is no general theory of causes”
“we have already left an indelible record…one of the ways we’ve accomplished this is through our restlessness…humans have rearranged the earth’s biota…”
“ocean acidification…global warming’s equally evil twin’”
“latitudinal diversity gradient: variety of life most impoverished @ the poles and richest @ low attitudes”
“Birnam Wood scenario—tress start moving upslope”
“in ecology, rules are hard to come by. One of the few that’s universally accepted is the “species-area relationship,’ or SAR…the closest thing the discipline has to a periodic table”—used to estimate extinction risk
“In other kinds of human disturbances there were always spatial refuges. Climate affects everything…’a revolution on the surface of the earth’”
“over the long term, a warmer world would be more varied. In the short term, though…things look very different. Virtually every species that’s around today an be said to be cold-adapted.”
“we don’t call it extinction, we talk about it as ‘biotic attribution,’ a nice euphemism…starts to look apocalyptic”
“islands tend to be species-poor, or, to use the term of art, depauperate”
“bleeding species is known by the surprisingly sunny term ‘relaxation”
“life is random: smaller areas harbor smaller populations, more vulnerable to chance”
“what distinguished islands: recolonization is so difficult”
“the jungle teems, but in a manner mostly beyond the reach of the human senses”
“diversity tends to be self-reinforcing…a natural correlation to high species diversity is low population density, and that’s a recipe for speciation—isolation by distance…also a vulnerability”
“extinction takes time…the ‘extinction debt’”
“variations on the theme of loss”
“there’s a dark synergy between fragmentation and global warming”
“One of the defining features of the Anthropocene is that the world is changing in ways that compel species to move, and another is that it’s changing in ways that create barriers—roads, clear-cuts, cities—that prevent them from doing so.”
“in the face of climate change…human activity has created an obstacles course for the dispersal of biodiversity”
“a demonstration of the rainforest’s logic: species so good at doing ‘exactly what they do’ that they’re extremely sensitive to any change that makes their particular form of doing more difficult”
“the whole series of interactions depends on constancy…in a place where the rules of the game remain fixed”
“Without human help, long-distance travel is for most species difficult, bordering on impossible. This fact was, to Darwin, central. His theory of descent with modification demanded that each species arise at a single place of origin…Given a long enough time, even a sedentary organism…could…become widely dispersed. But it was the limits of dispersal that made things interesting. These accounted for life’s richness and, at the same time, for the patterns that could be discerned amid the variety….physical isolation had been transmuted into biological disparity.”
“One of the striking characteristics of the Anthropocene is the hash it’s made of the principles of geographic distribution….global trade and global travel…deny even the remotest islands their remoteness….”
“the movement of species around the world is sometimes compared to Russian roulette…two very different things can happen…The …that the new arrival doesn’t survive…the vast majority of potential invaders don’t make it. In the seocn doptin..the introduced organism…survives and givers rise ot another generation. This is … known …as ‘establishment’….a certain number complete the third step in the evasion process, which is ‘spread’….estimated that out of every hundred potential introductions, somewhere between five and fifteen will succeed in s establishing themselves. Of these…one will turn out to be the ‘bullet in the chamber.’ Why some introduced species are able to proliferate explosively is a matter of debate. One possibility is that for species, as for grifters, there are advantages to remaining on the move. A species that’s been transported…has left many of its rivals and predators behind. This shaking free of foes, which is really the shaking free of evolutionary history, is referred to as ‘enemy release.’
“…[what invasive species have done is] precisely what Homo sapiens has done all over the planet: succeeded extravagantly at the expense of other species.”
“With introduced pathogens, the situation is much the same…Such ‘novel interactions’…can be spectacularly deadly….presumably it’s the ‘novelty’…that accounts for deadliness…”
“From the standpoint of the world’s biota, global travel represents a radically new phenomenon and…a replay of the very old. The drifting apart of the continents…is now being reversed…humans are running geologic history backward and at high speed…a souped-up version of plate tectonics, minus the plates…we are, in effect, reassembling the world into one enormous supercontinent…the New Pangaea.”
“If you count people as an invasive species…’arguably the most successful invader in biological history’—the process goes back a hundred and twenty thousand years or so…when modern humans first migrated out of Africa….”
“The immediate effect of all this reshuffling is a rise in what might be called local diversity….For the same reasons …global diversity has dropped….variety eliminated…by bringing long-isolated plants and animals into contact….’the eventual state of the biological world will become…simpler—and poorer’….the loss implied by complete interconnectedness….If we look even farther ahead…the biological world will…become more complex again…”
“Very big animals are, of course, very big for a reasons….so large that no animal dares attack them…beyond predation. Such are the advantages of being oversize…the ‘too big to quail’ strategy—that it would seem, evolutionarily speaking, to be a pretty good gambit….”
“What happened to all these Brobdingnagian animals?....’We live in a zoologically impoverished word, from which all the hugest, and fiercest, and strangest forms have recently disappeared,’ Alfred Russel Wallace observed. ‘And it is, no doubt, a much better world for us now they have gone. Yet is is surely a marvelous fact…this sudden dying out of so many large mammalia…over half the land surface of the globe.”
“’When the chronology of extinction is critically set against the chronology of human migrations….man’s arrival emerges as the only reasonable answer’ to the megafauna’s disappearance….when humans appeared, ‘the rules of the survival game’ changed….’a geologically instantaneous ecological catastrophe too gradual to be perceived by the people who unleashed it’….The Anthropocene is usually said to have begun with the industrial revolution….but the megafauna extinction suggests otherwise….it’s not clear that man ever really did [live in harmony with nature].”
“’the leaky replacement’ hypothesis: before humans ‘replaced’ the Neanderthals, they had sex with them. The liaisons produced children, who helped to populate Europe, Asia, and the New World….all non-Africans…carry somewhere between one and four percent Neanderthal DNA….’they are not totally extinct—they live on a little bit in us.’”
“…kids routinely outscored the apes in tasks that involved reading social cues….’the main difference is ‘putting our heads together’…. chimps…don’t have this kind of collaborative project.’”
“It’s only fully modern humans who start this thing of venturing out on the ocean where you don’t see land. Part of that is technology , of course; you have to have shipts to do it. But there is also…some madness there….Faustian restlessness is one of the defining characteristics of modern humans….[possibly] ‘some freak mutation made the human insanity and exploration thing possible….this little inversion on this chromosome…changed the whole ecosystem of the planet and made us dominate everything.’”
“One of the many unintended consequences of the Anthropocene has been the pruning of our own family tree.”
“I’ve been trying to…trace an extinction event…in the broader context of life’s history… extremely resilient but not infinitely so…very long uneventful stretches and very, very occasionally ‘revolutions on the surface of the earth’…[with] highly varied causes: glaciation…global warming and changes in ocean chemistry…an asteroid impact…’one weedy species’….the one feature these disparate events have in common is ..rate of change. When the world changes faste than species can adapt, many fall out….”
“people change the world…this capacity is probably indistinguishable from the qualities that made us huam to begin with: our restlessness, our creativity, our capability to cooperate to solve problems and complete complicated tasks…using signs and symbols to represent the natural world…pushed beyond the limits of that world….’Communication …allows humans to escape evolution.’”
“One possibility is that we, too, will eventually be undone by our ‘transformation of the ecological landscape…having freed ourselves from the constraints of evolution, humans nevertheless remain dependent on the earth’s biological and geochemical systems…disrupting those systems…we’re putting our own survival in danger….in life, as in mutual funds, past performance is no guarantee of future results….Paul Ehrlich: ‘In pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which is perches.’”
“Another possibility…is that human ingenuity will outrun any disaster human ingenuity sets in motion…’as long as we keep exploring, humanity is going to survive’…. Right now we are deciding…which evolutionary pathways will remain open and which will forever be closed…it will be our most enduring legacy.”

Latour,  Bruno. “Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene.” New Literary History 45, 1 (Winter 2014): 1-18
[this would be a great addition to Kolbert, I think, about “how to tell the story,” the geostory—it places the current crisis nicely in the history of Galileo in front of the Inquisition…and makes the whole world full of agency (which science denied in valorizing “objectivity”)]

There is no distant place anymore….gone as well [is] an older notion of objectivity that was unable to take into account the active subject of history…the very notion of objectivity has been totally subverted by the presence of humans in the phenomena to be described…The many important nuances between facts, news, stories, alarms, warmings, norms, and duties are all mixed up….Especially when we are trying to understand how we could shift from economics to ecology…

[Serres:] “The immemorial, fixed Earth, which provided the conditions and foundations of our lives, is moving, the fundamental Earth is trembling”…those new emotions with which the Earth is now agitated in addition to its usual motions….agitated through the highly complex workings of many enmeshed living organisms…Gaia, a very ticklish sort of goddess…now become an agent of history…of our common geostory. The problem for all of do we tell such a story?

…the new Inquisition (now economic rather than religious) is shocked to learn that the Earth has beomce—has become again!—an active, local, limited, sensitive, fragile, quaking, and easily tickled envelope…After having moved from the closed cosmos to the infinite universe, we have to move back from the infinite universe to the lcosed cosmos—except this time there is no order….literally no ‘cosmos,’ a word that means a handsome and well-composed arrangement. Let’s give this new situation its Greek name, kakosmos!

[Serres:] “as of today, the Earth is quaking anew…it is being transformed by our doing…it depends so much on us that it is shaking…we too are worried by this deviation from expected equilibria. We are disturbing the earthy and making it quake!”…To be a subject is…to share agency with other subjects that have also lost their autonomy….the Earth…cannot be put at a distance…Human action is visible everywhere….

“Trait” is…the word…that Serres uses to designate this trading zone …”the first great scientific system, Newton’s, is linked together by attraction…the same trait, the same notion. The great planetary bodies grasp or comprehend one another and are bound by a law…the spitting image of a contract.., in the primary meaning of a set of cords. The slightest movement of any one planet has immediate effects on all the others…through this set of constraints, the Earth comprehends, in a way, the point of view of the other bodies since it must reverberate with the events of the whole system”…How extraordinary to claim that the best example of a contractual bond is Newton’s law of gravitation!

Through a complete reversal of Western philosophy’s most cherished trope, human societies have resigned themselves to playing the role of the dumb object, while nature has unexpectedly taken on that of the active subject! Such is the frightening meaning of “global warming”: through a surprising inversion of background and foreground, it is human  history that has become frozen and natural  history that is taking on a frenetic pace.

As long as they act, agents have meaning….Storytelling of the many consequences of being thrown in a world that is, by itself, fuly articulated and active….the ‘scientific worldview’ has reversed this order, inventing the idea of a ‘material world’ in which the agency of al the entities making up the world has been made to vanish…The great paradox of the ‘scientific world view’ is to have succeeded in withdrawing historicity from the world. And with it..the inner narrativity that is part an dparcel of being…’with the world”…we should abstrain from denaimating the agenices that we encounter at each step.

it’s the division between the realm of necessity and the realm of liberty…that has made politics impossible, opening it very early on to its absorption by The Economy…. The point of living in the epoch of the Anthropocene is that all agents share the same shape-changing destiny, a destiny that cannot be

followed, documented, told, and represented by using any of the older traits associated with subjectivity or objectivity. Far from trying to “reconcile” or “combine” nature and society, the task, the crucial political task, is on the contrary to distribute  agency as far and in as differentiated a way as possible…

The prefix “geo” in geostory does not stand for the return to nature, but for the return of object and subject back to the ground —the “metamorphic zone”—they had both believed it possible to escape: one by deanimation, the other by overanimation. Only then will the Earthbound have a chance to articulate their speech in a way that will be compatible with the articulation of Gaia.

LeGuin, Ursula. Vaster than Empires, and More Slow. The Wind's Twelve Quarters: Short Stories.  New York: Harper and Row, 1975. 148-178.

LeGuin, Ursula, The Ones Who Walk Away from Ormelas (19) and

Elizabeth Povinelli, The Child in the Broom Closet: States of Killing and Letting Die
(South Atlantic Quarterly107, 3 (2008): 509-530 --both recommend by Josh Moses @ the 2014 ENVS Facy' Workshop):

Le Guin rejects the ethics of empathy. Instead, the ethical imperative is to know that your own good life is already in [the suffering child in] her broom closet, and as a result, either you must compromise on the goods to which you have grown accustomed (and grown accustomed to thinking of as “yours”) or admit that these goods are more important to you than her suffering....

Even tsunamis, earthquakes, and hurricanes that generate terrific waves of empathy and generate moral capital for those who demonstrate outrage leave in their wake a nonplussed public. When the waters recede and the ground stops shaking, empathy also evaporates as ethical sense settles back into doxic accounts of poverty, its causes and consequences. Cost reemerges as a central issue for how to calculate who can or should be protected, relocated, cared for. Here we see how prescient Le Guin’s suspicion of the ethics of empathy is. Empathy asks us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.

What would it be like to be them? To be in this tidal wave, that fetid broom closet, that cultural condition? And yet, this very act—this ethical gesture—initiates a separation between you and me....Le Guin’s basic point [is] that all goods are generated in a system of distributed misery...[which is] close to liberal reality."

Josh: I gave them that assigment for several reason. Since I'm new here, I wanted to find out what students would do with an open-ended assignment, one with little criteria. As I mentioned, I gave them the story and simply asked: where did they go and what does this have to do with the themes of the class? Also, there were 4 main writing assignments for that class: 1. interviews with 3 generations on their views of climate change (class came collectively devised questions; 2. choose an an environmental organization, analyze its structure, how it situates itself politically, what might some of the theory we have been reading illuminate the organization's stated goals;3. paper/presentation on ideals utopian as defined by the student. The Le Guin piece was not meant to make them feel trapped in this rotten nexus, though surely some felt that way, as I do at times, but rather to think about what it means to check out of the "system," fantasies of escape, creating alternatives that do not engage politics in conventional sense vs. sticking around and trying to change things. Is the whole deal rotten to the core? Should we get outta dodge, or are there things worth save/changing? At what scale do you want to work, to engage the dynamics of "living in the anthropocene." How do we take this seriously--not as a college course, but as a living/dying proposition? The papers were very good and wide ranging. My own view: there is really nowhere else to go. Any attempt to escape the reach of the state will entail dealings with the state. We can't get out. Our/their imaginations, then, are up against the wall--high stakes--and no one to make the change but them (and us). But escape narratives, fantasies of getting off the grid, have embedded in them a powerful politics, and a yearning we do well attending to. Perhaps that's what I wanted them to reflect on, a sense of responsibility, but also to find freedom of imagination leading them towards different ways of being in that responsibility. Thank you for your question. Useful for me to reflect.

Lewis, C.S on Suffering and What It Means to Have Free Will in a Universe of Fixed Laws (from The Problem of Pain, 1940):
There is no reason to suppose that self-consciousness, the recognition of a creature by itself as a “self,” can exist except in contrast with an “other,” a something which is not the self. . . . The freedom of a creature must mean freedom to choose: and choice implies the existence of things to choose between. A creature with no environment would have no choices to make: so that freedom, like self-consciousness (if they are not, indeed, the same thing), again demands the presence to the self of something other than the self....
People often talk as if nothing were easier than for two naked minds to “meet” or become aware of each other. But I see no possibility of their doing so except in a common medium which forms their “external world” or environment. Even our vague attempt to imagine such a meeting between disembodied spirits usually slips in surreptitiously the idea of, at least, a common space and common time, to give the co- in co-existence a meaning: and space and time are already an environment. But more than this is required. If your thoughts and passions were directly present to me, like my own, without any mark of externality or otherness, how should I distinguish them from mine? And what thoughts or passions could we begin to have without objects to think and feel about? Nay, could I even begin to have the conception of “external” and “other” unless I had experience of an “external world”?...
What we need for human society is exactly what we have — a neutral something, neither you nor I, which we can both manipulate so as to make signs to each other. I can talk to you because we can both set up sound-waves in the common air between us. Matter, which keeps souls apart, also brings them together. It enables each of us to have an “outside” as well as an “inside,” so that what are acts of will and thought for you are noises and glances for me; you are enabled not only to be, but to appear: and hence I have the pleasure of making your acquaintance....
If matter is to serve as a neutral field it must have a fixed nature of its own. If a “world” or material system had only a single inhabitant it might conform at every moment to his wishes — “trees for his sake would crowd into a shade.” But if you were introduced into a world which thus varied at my every whim, you would be quite unable to act in it and would thus lose the exercise of your free will. Nor is it clear that you could make your presence known to me — all the matter by which you attempted to make signs to me being already in my control and therefore not capable of being manipulated by you.
Again, if matter has a fixed nature and obeys constant laws, not all states of matter will be equally agreeable to the wishes of a given soul, nor all equally beneficial for that particular aggregate of matter which he calls his body. If fire comforts that body at a certain distance, it will destroy it when the distance is reduced. Hence, even in a perfect world, the necessity for those danger signals which the pain-fibres in our nerves are apparently designed to transmit. Does this mean an inevitable element of evil (in the form of pain) in any possible world? I think not: for while it may be true that the least sin is an incalculable evil, the evil of pain depends on degree, and pains below a certain intensity are not feared or resented at all. No one minds the process “warm — beautifully hot — too hot — it stings” which warns him to withdraw his hand from exposure to the fire: and, if I may trust my own feeling, a slight aching in the legs as we climb into bed after a good day’s walking is, in fact, pleasurable.
Yet again, if the fixed nature of matter prevents it from being always, and in all its dispositions, equally agreeable even to a single soul, much less is it possible for the matter of the universe at any moment to be distributed so that it is equally convenient and pleasurable to each member of a society. If a man traveling in one direction is having a journey down hill, a man going in the opposite direction must be going up hill. If even a pebble lies where I want it to lie, it cannot, except by a coincidence, be where you want it to lie. And this is very far from being an evil: on the contrary, it furnishes occasion for all those acts of courtesy, respect, and unselfishness by which love and good humor and modesty express themselves. But it certainly leaves the way open to a great evil, that of competition and hostility. And if souls are free, they cannot be prevented from dealing with the problem by competition instead of courtesy. And once they have advanced to actual hostility, they can then exploit the fixed nature of matter to hurt one another. The permanent nature of wood which enables us to use it as a beam also enables us to use it for hitting our neighbor on the head. The permanent nature of matter in general means that when human beings fight, the victory ordinarily goes to those who have superior weapons, skill, and numbers, even if their cause is unjust....
In a game of chess you can make certain arbitrary concessions to your opponent, which stand to the ordinary rules of the game as miracles stand to the laws of nature. You can deprive yourself of a castle, or allow the other man sometimes to take back a move made inadvertently. But if you conceded everything that at any moment happened to suit him — if all his moves were revocable and if all your pieces disappeared whenever their position on the board was not to his liking — then you could not have a game at all. So it is with the life of souls in a world: fixed laws, consequences unfolding by causal necessity, the whole natural order, are at once limits within which their common life is confined and also the sole condition under which any such life is possible. Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.

Maniates, Michael. "Teaching for Turbulence." State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible? The Worldwatch Institute. Chapter 24.
  (suggested by Josh Moses @ the ENVS Fac'y Workshop, 5/14):
Too many ESSE programs...."“suffer from muddled goals, disciplinary hodge-podge, and an educational smorgasbord of course offerings"....incoherence...“multidisciplinary illiteracy”....the college student of today will graduate into a world that will be singularly
defined by turbulence...of climate instability, ecologic decline, and attendant economic and political dislocation, with winners,
losers, and persistent inequality. Merely sharpening the focus of programs built for placid waters will not be enough.

Three patterns of teaching and learning emerge from today’s mélange of programs. The first is a general trend toward urgency and alarm, coupled with a focus on the inability of prevailing systems of economic accounting and political decisionmaking to address looming environmental ills.

ESS programs turn to applied research and hands-on problem solving. This second pattern of teaching and learning is perhaps
the most essential feature of ESS...the acquisition of problem-solving approaches and research skills....more than any other higher-education field of study, ESS understands and justifies itself as a problem-solving discipline....

By and large, though, this work occurs without any systematic assessment of how it fits into a larger mosaic of political power, cultural transformation, and social change.

...slow-motion crises risk evoking three dynamics that ESS graduates are poorly prepared for. One is ...“insecure affluence”...[another is] a politics of anger...[and the third is] a desire...for greater government power and control.

A Curriculum for Turbulence:
First, ESS programs must stay true to their founding passions and intent...
Second, early courses in ESS programs might ask students to think critically and imaginatively about human nature and the nature of crisis, separately and together....
An important curricular a rigorous course or courses that interrogate overlapping and competing theories of political and cultural change. The successful integration of this third curricular element will produce students whose thinking about social change will transcend the “small and easy” frame that is so unproductive to enlightened and empowering action...
To teach for turbulence, ESS programs could expose students to more-contentious environments and create classroom moments that foster strategic thinking about managing—and even taking advantage of—a politics of anger or the anxiety that comes with insecure affluence. In advancing this fourth curricular element for turbulence, ESS programs might also consider how to draw on campus resources around conflict management and resolution....
Finally, teaching for turbulence means providing students with the theoretical background and classroom practice to explore how they can best pursue their passions in rough water....

[But (as my husband pointed out) the essay itself is very abstract;  it describes the environment only as something that, collapsing, will cause human disaster. In talking about a unified theory of teaching ENVS, to prepare for this disaster, it also lacks the concreteness of talking about particular students. It's not very "quantum-like"--more like the city planning of a Robert Moses rather than, say, that of Jane Jacobs. As Jody also observed, the essay actually falls into some of the traps it names, such as that strong impulse to seek certainty in the midst of turbulence...]

Matthews, Freyda. “
On Desiring Nature”, Indian Journal of Ecocriticism, 3, 2010, 1-9 [I like the passages below (and thought they might offer an eco-extension for Eve Tuck?) though the rest of the essay falls short; it’s in some way like David Sobel’s evocation of transcendent experiences…]

Desire is after all not such an easy thing to educate. Desire is inextricable from emotion: love and hatred, fear and aversion, anger and tenderness -all such emotions inform and are informed by complex textures of desire. Our desires are accordingly unlikely to be shifted unless our emotions are shifted, and emotion is not likely to be shifted in a fundamental way by science…..

…while an overall attitude of attentive love may induce us to limit our impact on nature, to conduct our own lives in ways that do no harm to nature, it is not calculated actually to reconfigure our desires, to re-pattern them in the radically new and creative ways that would be required if they were actively to replenish and serve the needs of nature. Attentive love…is unlikely to be powerful enough in its effects to bring about a complete transvaluation of desires, in accordance with the requirements of “fitting into nature”. It still leaves us, so to speak, on the outside of the system, looking in sympathetically, even cherishingly, but as spectators, rather than as actors within the system, shaped in our inmost impulses by its imperatives.

To situate ourselves psychically as actors within the system, with a view truly to “fitting into nature”, we need, I think, to take a further step, one that could be described in terms of synergy…the coming together of two or more parties in such a way that the self-meanings they bring to the encounter become mutually inflected and enlarged by the communication that takes place between them….Out of these enlarged self-meanings, new patterns of desire arise, patterns which bind into their texture the signatures of the other parties to the encounter…. allowing that the world is potentially communicative and responsive to us, we will have to imagine forms of address conducive to self/world encounter…one way it may be possible for us to address the world is via invocation…asking the larger scheme of things to manifest its self-meaning to us….

while the science of ecology, with its ethics of restraint, has defined the first phase of the re-negotiation of our relationship with reality, a cultural project of ontopoetics, with its goal of the wholesale transvaluation of desires, may be integral to the second, upcoming phase, of what can no longer be termed merely an environment movement, but must be revisioned as a revolution in the very context of meaning for human cultures.

Mugford, Kathy. “The Role of Wildscapes in Children’s Literature.” Urban Wildscapes. Ed. Anna Jorgensen and Richard Keenan. New York: Routledge, 2011
—don’t want to teach this, but it does spur the idea for an assignment on children’s fiction as modeling both play and problem-solving—thinking of Jack Halberstam’s evocation of Max and the Wild Things, in his introduction to The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study-- a call to dis-order, in a wild beyond to the structures we inhabit and that inhabit us…so this is related to education more generally]

selection of books for children supporting principles of adventure, experiment and development, to overcome barriers in accessing urban wildscapes: all offer env’t that challenges protagonists to act independently, developing character amid growing understanding of place within their landscape (includes His Dark Materials)
lack of supervision key to developing physical/mental strength, character and resourcefulness; works in tandem w/ lack of restriction in developmental play
implication is that children should be left alone to acquire the necessary life skills to deal with unforeseen circumstances, rather than being protected from exposure to risk and challenge through constant supervision (parents conspicuous in their absence here, replaced with surrogates parents and travelling companions; dangerous stranger predators are confronted resourcefully); children learn judgement, aim, balance and risk assessment; pride and satisfaction of risk taking
versatility and unpredictability of the nat’l environment vital to life experience; dirt is its by-product
in this literature, parent is a barrier to children’s access to challenging places, experiences, the space ot develop self-sufficiency

Rose, Deborah Bird. "Cosmopolitics: The Kiss of Life."
New Formations 76 (2012): 101-113--
[she's a "professor of social inclusion!'--this essay, though too full of detail to teach, puts me in mind of Rob Nixon's wonderful talk @ ASLE' 13 about "“The Anthropocene and Our Age of Disparity”--with its striking video of the lyrebird imitating human machines-- --and  the contrasting one @ of cutting down the olives trees in Palestine--not a planetary allegory, but a "sociospecific resource war."  This, Nixon said, was the "central tension in the story of the anthropocene," the contrast between homo species receiving an upgrade into the ultimate planetary superpower, and the  fractures w/in human agency, as the economic poles grow further apart. "Accelerating planet change is a definitive feature of our age, but so too is deepening inequality/the great divergence...As we cross the threshold, let us mind the gap." This is something we could works with contact zones, for sure...]

Rose, Deborah Bird, Stuart Cooke and Thom Van Dooren. "Ravens at Play
." --lovely, deep piece on multispecies possibilities for social interaction--would be great to use for Muddy Waters, though located "elsewhere"--and so maybe exoticizing "nature"? but VERY nice re: play....
corvids and coyotes are not exactly performing trust, but rather are testing possibilities of encounter:
"Perhaps, in the entangled agendas and motivations that come together when species meet, interactions cannot be organised out into dualised categories that put playing and hunting, or trust and suspicion, at odds with each other. Life and death, play and predation, are all possibilities in an emergent field of uncertainties where events and relationships erupt and are actualised....willing to test the possibilities of contact, but the same time suspicious of where our attention might lead."
"Was the best gift we could offer actually a restraint—that we would withhold ourselves, our food, our play? We couldn’t play in good faith, because while the game was a transient moment for us, it was a trajectory toward death for him...Suddenly, in that moment of encounter and address, we were forced to encounter ourselves as members of a species, other members of which have declared war on coyotes, ravens, tortoises and so many others. What we might become in the contact zone was thus constrained and our becoming moved toward withdrawal: diverse possibilities were both opened up and foreclosed by any kind of play we might choose or be able to engage in with others."

Royte, Elizabeth. Garbage Land; On the Secret Trail of Trash. New York: Little, Brown, 2006most interesting here is the punch line: that recycling has few env’l benefits…so now I’m wondering about the wisdom of having them track what they throw out…better to focus on buying less…

Introduction: Quantifying in the Kitchen
paddling around the Gowanus Canal, encountering household trash, raw sewage, toxic waste, rapidly putrescing organic debris—all the stuff I got rid of daily…was I complicit in this specific mess?
private ecology tour, with Urban Diver’s env’l program director
Fresh Kills closed; city’s garden trucked away
looked @ kitchen waste bin, quantifying my own garbage
history of garbage in NY: interim solutions, reactions to crises, NIMBY-ism
Ch. 14: The Ecological Citizen
“sorting through garbage the ultimate Zen experience…tactile intimacy”
Samantha McBride: “Recycling isn’t saving the earth…There are very few environmental benefits to recycling…consumer recycling…redirects the focus of env’l concern away from the material unsustainability of the current economic system, instead turning it inward on the self’...a shining example of how individual goodwill had been perverted by capitalist goals“…trying to shrink garbage footprint abets a bankrupt system: recycling makes it easier for ind’s to keep consuming/discarding—and makes money for waste hauling companies
nonhazardous industrial waste outweighs municipal solid waste 11:1 – disparity between my personal waste and the waste it took to produce my waste (3200 pounds of waste generated for every 100 pounds of product made)
not buying was far better than recycling (I could manage both)
landfills and incinerators make it too easy to get rid of things; transporting waste is increasingly expensive
nothing more personal an dlocal and inadvertently global an ind’ls garbage

Scott, James C. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (Yale Agrarian Studies,1998):
I contrast the high-modernist views and practices of city planners and revolutionaries with critical views emphasizing process, complexity, and open-endedness….there is something to the classical anarchist claim—that the state, with its positive law and central institutions, undermines individuals’ capacities for autonomous self-governance…the planning grids of high modernism…may impoverish the local wellsprings of economic, social, and cultural self-expression.

Scott cites Stephen Gudeman and Stephen Marglin, People’s Ecology, People’s Economy (never published?)--
but cf. Stephen A. Marglin, The Dismal Science: How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community:
Economists celebrate the market as a device for regulating human interaction without acknowledging that their enthusiasm depends on a set of half-truths: that individuals are autonomous, self-interested, and rational calculators with unlimited wants and that the only community that matters is the nation-state. However, as Stephen Marglin argues, market relationships erode community. In the past, for example, when a farm family experienced a setback--say the barn burned down--neighbors pitched in. Now a farmer whose barn burns down turns, not to his neighbors, but to his insurance company. Insurance may be a more efficient way to organize resources than a community barn raising, but the deep social and human ties that are constitutive of community are weakened by the shift from reciprocity to market relations.
Marglin dissects the ways in which the foundational assumptions of economics justify a world in which individuals are isolated from one another and social connections are impoverished as people define themselves in terms of how much they can afford to consume. Over the last four centuries, this economic ideology has become the dominant ideology in much of the world. Marglin presents an account of how this happened and an argument for righting the imbalance in our lives that this ideology has fostered.

Scott also cites Colin Ward, Ch. 10, “Play as an Anarchist Parable,” Anarchy in Action(London: Freedom Press, 1988), pp. 87-93. Ward defines an anarchist society as one that organizes itself without authority, operating side by side w/ authoritarian forms; the anarchists Ward describes don’t imagine revolution, but rather the “extension of the spheres of free action until they make up most of social life.” Anarchy [does not mean] the absence of organization…it means “the absence of government, the absence of authority…” “Why do people consent to be ruled?...It is because they subscribe to the same values as their governors. Rulers and ruled alike believe in the principle of authority, of hierarchy, of power…Anarchists…make a social and political philosophy out of the natural and spontaneous tendency of humans to associate together for their mutual benefit. Anarchism is…the na,e given to the idea that it is possible and desirable for society to organize itself without government. The word comes from the Greek, meaning without authority….mutual aid—voluntary cooperation—is just as strong a tendency in human life as aggression and the urge to dominate….the alternatives are already there, in the interstices of the dominant power structure…”
The general focus of the book is on "the common experience of the informal, transient, self-organising networks of relationships that make the human community possible...." and this chapter pays particular attention to play as "a parable of anarchy, since it is an area of human activity which is self-chosen and self-directed....this very fact leads to comparison with work:

For someone else
Essential for livelihood
For fixed hours

For yourself
Inessential for livelihood
At your own pace
In your own time

...any discussion of play leads to a consideration of what is wrong with people's working lives..." Ward "reveres education…just can't stomach the dreadful pretensions of the education industry"...

Sobel, David.  Chapter 2: “’Appareled in Celestial Light’: Transcendent Natural Experiences in Childhood.” Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators. Portland, MD: Stenhouse Publishers, 2008 [other essays on play are more compelling, but this links it to env’l concern, so could be useful…]
striking pattern: most environmentalists attributed their commitment to a combination of “many hours spent outdoors in a keenly remembered wild or semi-wild place in childhood or adolescence, and an adult who taught respect for nature”
on having a “ditch” somewhere—“places of initiation, where the borders between ourselves and other creatures break down where…a sense of place gets under our skin”
if we want children to become env’l stewards, then let them play in nat’l settings
many children don’t have access to a ditch: concern about pollution, abduction
can’t inject knowledge without providing experiences that allow love to flourish: One transcendent experience in nature is worth a thousand nature facts.
nature mysticism: experience of discontinuity (self as unique, separate identity) and continuity (relationship w/ nat’l process)
play and religious experience: take ‘as if” as provisionally true—> preamble to formal religious experience

Spahr, Juliana. Gentle Now, Don’t Add to Heartache [lovely short poem, from Josh Moses—ask them to write a poem in there somewhere??]

Tuck, Eve and K. Wayne Yang, Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1, 1, (2012): 1-40.
Decolonization brings about the repatriation of Indigenous land and life…The metaphorization of decolonization makes possible a set of evasions, or “settler moves to innocence” …we forward “an ethic of incommensurability” that recognizes what is distinct and what is sovereign for projects of decolonization (1).
Decolonization as a metaphor…is a premature attempt at reconciliation….one way the settler, disturbed by her own…status, tries to escape or contain the unbearable searchlight of complicity, of having harmed others just by being one’s self (9).
…another component of a desire to play Indian is a settler desire to be made innocent, to find some mercy or relief in the fact of the relentlessness of…haunting (9).
storytelling and self-confession..,.serve to equate stories of personal exclusion with stories of structural racism and exclusion and…”moves to innocence,” or “strategies to remove involvement in and culpability for systems of domination” (9).
Settler moves to innocence are those strategies or positionings that attempt to relive the settler of feelings of guilt or responsibility …without having to change much at all (10).
…decolonizing the mind is the first step…Yet…Until stolen land is relinquished, critical consciousness does not translate into action (19).
…it is important to point out significant differences between Freire and fanon…Freire situates the work of liberation in the minds of the oppressed, an abstract category…a sharp right (19) turn away from Fanons work, which always positioned the work of liberation in the particularities of colonization, in the specific structural and interpersonal categories of Native and settler…Freire’s paradigm…invokes the same settler fantasy of mutuality based on sympathy and suffering (20).
Fanon positions decolonization as chaotic, an unclean break from a colonial condition…By contrast, Freire positions liberation as redemption…for Freire, there is…no history….Freire’s theories of liberation resoundingly echo the allegory of Plato’s Cave, a continental philosophy of mental emancipation, whereby the thinking man individualistically emerges form the dark cave of ignorance into the light of critical consciousness (20).
decolonization specifically requires the repatriation of Indigenous land and life. Decolonization is not a metonym for social justice….the pursuit of critical consciousness…can be settler moves to innocence—diversions, distractions, which relieve the settler of feelings of guilt or responsibility, and conceal the need to give up land or power or privilege  (21).
…we understand the curricular-pedagogical project of critical consciousness as settler harm reduction…intended only as a stopgap (21).
The rhetoric of the [Occupy] movement…is a prime example of the incommensurability between “re/occupy” and “decolonize” as political agendas. The pursuit of…rights in a settler colonial context can appear to be anti-capitalist, but…nonetheless largely pro-colonial…the ideal of “redistribution of wealth” camouflages how much of that wealth is…Native land (23).
…the call to “occupy everything” has legitimized a set of practices with problematic relationships to land and to Indigenous sovereignty…Claiming land for the Commons…erases existing, prior, and future Native land rights…Occupation is a move towards innocence that hides behind the numerical superiority of the settler nation (28).
in contrast…some scholars have begun to consider the labor of de-occupation…permanent fugitivity, and dispossession…the refusal of acquiring property and of being property (28). ethic of incommensurability…recognizes what is distinct …highlights opportunities for…strategic and contingent collaborations, and indicate the reasons that lasting solidarities may be elusive, even undesirable (28).
Incommensurability is an acknowledgement that decolonization will require a change in the order of the world (Fanon, 1963).
An ethic of incommensurability, which guides moves that unsettle innocence, stands in contrast to aims of reconciliation, which…is about rescuing settler normalcy, about rescuing a settler future….decolonization is not accountable to settlers…Decolonization is accountable to Indigenous sovereignty…The answers…require a dangerous understanding of uncommonality that un-coalesces coalition politics  (35).
Decolonization offers a different perspective to human and civil rights based approaches to justice, an unsettling one, rather than a complementary one. Decolonization is not an “and’. It is an elsewhere. (36).

Winterson, Jeanette on Time, Language, Reading and How Art Creates a Sanctified Space for the Human Spirit (repr. in More Writers and Company, ed. Eleanor Wachtel)

For me, language is a freedom. As soon as you have found the words with which to express something, you are no longer incoherent, you are no longer trapped by your own emotions, by your own experiences; you can describe them, you can tell them, you can bring them out of yourself and give them to somebody else. That is an enormously liberating experience...using this fabulous tool that human beings have refined over so many centuries into this extremely sensitive instrument. I don’t want to make it crude, I don’t want to make it into shopping-list language, I don’t want to make it into simply an exchange of information: I want to make it into the subtle, emotional, intellectual, freeing thing that it is and that it can be....
Yes, it is artificial, but it is, as yet, the best way human beings have found to communicate to one another their deepest, their most difficult, feelings. And that is the preserve of poetry and of true fiction, to put roots down through the surface into the subsoil of the human heart and to draw up those elements that would otherwise lie locked there, unheard, unspoken, perhaps unregarded. Language can do that....

Yamashita, Karen Tei.
Tropic of Orange. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1997.
Rafaela Cortes spent the morning barefoot, sweeping both dead and living the door and off the side of the veranda and into the dark green undergrowth (3).

The freeway was a great root system, an organic living entity. It was nothing more than a great writhing concrete dinosaur and nothing less than the greatest orchestra on Earth (37).

Manzanar imagined himself a kind of the other homeless in the city...a recycler of the last rung. The homeless were the insects and scavengers of society, feeding on leftovers, living in residue, colleting refuse...who would use the residue of sounds in the city if Manzanar did not? (56).

There are maps and there are maps and there are maps....they began within the very geology of the land, the artesian rivers running beneath the surface, connected and divergent, shifting and swelling. There was the complex and normally silent web of faults--cracking like mud flats baking under a desert sun, like the crevices in aging hands and faces. Yet, below the surface, there was the man-made gird of civil utilities....on the surface...ordinary persons never bother to notice...the prehistoic grid of plant and fauna and human behavior, nor the historic grid of land usage and property...the great overlays of transport....patterns and connections by every conceivable definition ...spreading visible and audible layers (56-57).

...the net was a big borderless soup and I was cooking (246).

I no longer looked for a resolution to the loose threads hanging off my shorelines….I now knew they were simply the warp and woof of a fraying net of conspiracies in an expanding universe where the holes only seemed to get larger and larger....The picture got larger and larger. I could follow a story or I could abandon it, but I could not stop (248-249).

"The Big Sleep. There's a chauffeur who dies, see....Who killed him? Script continuity, see. Nobody knows....Raymond Chandler…doesn't know's like that. Just cuz you get to the end doesn't mean you know what happened" (252).

[Tropic of Orange as described by * Sze, Julie, "From Environmental Justice Literature to the Literature of Environmental Justice,” in The Environmental Justice Reader]highlights the global geography of neoliberalism in the built and natural environment, including that of human labor (164).
Environmental justice defines the environment as a site where people live, work, and play...rejects the mainstream representation of the environment--as green empty space--as ahistorical, classist and antiurban (165).
The setting of Tropic of Orange is the ultimate anti-"nature" locale--the streets and highways of Los Angeles…this novel traces the geography trade...organized around international movement of goods and peoples...race and class conflict at the center....a city of domination and unequal power relations (167).
the "right" to the free movement of accompanied by the restricted movement of people, and xenophobia....The era of free trade has thrown traditional notions of place haywire (169).
The destabilization of what is real in the text is an escape of...a realist and singular interpretation of time, events, and peoples...the rejection of strict realism and temporality....The distinction between the real or the metaphoric is negligible for Yamashita, who suggests that this boundary between real and unreal is somewhat arbitrary and limiting in its worldview (170).
This jumping between time periods enables the reader to understand the contemporary politics around free trade and globalization in an ideological and historical context. The relationship of contemporary corporate domination cannot be separated from historical colonialism (171).
by rejecting a linear narrative of "development," El Gran Mojado shows what links the "archaic" and the "modern": the processes of commodification of land, labor, and life (172).
Yamashita paints a picture of life as a series of patterns and connections, of layers and linkages, connecting the weather with race: "Life is the prehistoric grid of plant and fauna and human behavior....the historic grid of land usage and property, the great overlays of transport...a thousand natural and man-made divisions, variations both dynamic and stagnant, patterns and connections by every conceivable definition from the distribution of wealth to race, from patterns of climate to the curious blueprint of the skies"....
Yamashita is arguing against the idea that the expansion of corporate capitalism enables human freedom...the hyper-commodification of natural resources, land, and labor leads to chaos and destruction (174).


Zimmer, Carl. Your Own Personal Ecosystem. Wired. Septebmer 27, 2011: "You’re barely human. For every one of your own cells in your body, there are many microbial ones. They not only outnumber you, but they affect your health and your mind....the Human Microbiome Project – has just unveiled the most thorough picture yet of the microscopic majority that colonises us."



jccohen's picture

when you're taking/putting up your notes, do you have a notion of which pieces you might want to use?  knowing this might help me sift and move forward w/these pieces...

also, and not unrelatedly, lots of these have econ dimensions.  i think this is partly from the enviro studies conference, andbut is putting me in mind of the question of how much/in what ways we want or need to address econ in this next iteration. 

and both of these questions of course are really about what this esem is about, or what questions it's really asking.  like for ex, i've been reading some identity stuff for my other class and wonder - is that a starting place?  reading the flying fox piece from deborah rose, in which she compares the flying foxes to people, another way to think about 'identity' and connection...

jccohen's picture

seems to me usable and useful in a variety of ways (it muddies the water, for one thing).  just saying.  as i'm browsing through eco-imaginings...

jccohen's picture

Bowers is cranky but short and pretty compelling for 360 students.


Bmc stuff seems not very compelling to me, e.g. tree tour, but maybe of more interest to (newly arriving) students?


I agree that recycling isn’t exactly the point but still like the idea of having our students do some kind of personal tracking… maybe the kind of thing chase does with clothing…and maybe it’s that kind of one-off activity (though he made it lead to other stuff).  In some ways this looking at consumption just feels so important to identities…


Freda Mathews: 
To situate ourselves psychically as actors within the system, with a view truly to “fitting into nature”, we need, I think, to take a further step, one that could be described in terms of synergy…the coming together of two or more parties in such a way that the self-meanings they bring to the encounter become mutually inflected and enlarged by the communication that takes place between them….Out of these enlarged self-meanings, new patterns of desire arise, patterns which bind into their texture the signatures of the other parties to the encounter…. allowing that the world is potentially communicative and responsive to us, we will have to imagine forms of address conducive to self/world encounter…one way it may be possible for us to address the world is via invocation…asking the larger scheme of things to manifest its self-meaning to us….


I like this a lot – feels to me like a connector between human-human encounters and that kind of id work and then human-world encounters and that kind of ‘enviro’ work – still struggling to bring these together in my mind and toward teaching…

jccohen's picture

chap. 8 sounds right on key - maybe use this piece?

Anne Dalke's picture

latour's "agency in the anthropocene" to my reading list--you might look it over--i think it could work: i like both the focus on storytelling, and on the agency of the world....

jccohen's picture

makes a reappearance!  i like this piece a lot - find it daring and yet oddly deferential (to the earth, things?), also hard and yet readable - so yes, i too hink it could work!

jccohen's picture

what a powerful story. and complicated/rich and yes, very webbed in w/what we're up to here.  and i like where you put it.

am about halfway through the kolbert, finding some parts of it more compelling than others, and do think it bears really interesting relations w/our themes of id and difference, what might be meant by connection, contact... will write again as finish