Call for PapersAAA Annual Meeting11/ 29-12/ 3, 2017Washington, D.C.Environmental Worlds: Between Craft and EmergenceOrganizers: Mackenzie Cramblit (Duke) and John Moran (Stanford)Discussant: TBDHow do environments matter, and how do they matter us? This panel proposes to consider engagements with environments as properly world-making practices. Planting and leveling forests, preserving and eradicating species, constructing dams, spraying pesticides, building strip malls, picking mushrooms, dumping toxic waste, cleaning houses: by working in, on, and with environments, human beings also give rise to the atmospheres – or environmental worlds – that in turn work on all of us (Choy and Zee 2015). The topic of this panel is precisely the interplay between the artful, a/im/moral, and frequently destructive labor of environmental craft, and the necessarily excessive (Bataille 1988) quality of environments themselves: the ways that they surprise, transcend, and overwhelm us. Thus, we propose to consider environmental world-making as a creative process (Bergson 1937; Pandian 2015; McLean 2009) of multiple, ambiguous, and always more-than-human (Whatmore 2006) unfoldings.
Environments are constituted but also constituting worlds. It takes effort to design, build, and manage environments, but ultimately we are susceptible to the structures of this making. We experience environments not so much through disembodied abstractions of mastery and control (Haraway 1991; Traweek 1992; cf. Shapin and Schaffer 1985), but through sensorial modalities of surrender, immersion, and absorption (Brennan 2004; Hayward 2010; Schüll 2012; Murphy 2006; Stewart 2011; Solomon 2016). While phenomenology has traditionally favored cognitive modes of perception, this panel seeks to reengage the full sensorium of worldly and embodied experience: not only discrete sensations like taste, touch, and sound (Basso and Feld 1996; Hayward 2012; Serres 2008; Stoller 1989) but also more ethereal and less articulate impressions of vibes, affect, and energy. Building on recent scholarship that stages the intersections of bodies and environments through the motif of multispecies encounters (Haraway 2008; Kirksey 2014; Nading 2014; Ogden 2011; Paxson 2012; Tsing 2015), this panel seeks to evoke the qualities, sensations, and moods that emerge within such entanglements.
We invite ethnographic papers that engage the “conjectures, trials, and difficult lessons” of crafting and dissolving within “a larger universe beyond the human” through attention to image and sensation, rhythm and tempo, desire, light, color, and other qualities (Pandian 2015). Of course this is not a uniquely celebratory occasion: atmospheres are quite often deadly in their liveliness, and we particularly welcome submissions whose stories dwell in that ambiguity. In using the term environment generously here, we hope to inspire you to offer your own interpretations, and to initiate a broader conversation about the analytic purchase of “environmental” thinking.