The Biennial ASLE Conference “Paradise on Fire” explores the connections among storytelling, real and imagined landscapes, future-making, activism, environed spaces, differential exclusions, long histories, and the disaster-prone terrains of the Anthropocene.
What, when & where
Call for panels
The Biennial ASLE Conference will be held in Davis, California, in June 2019. Following a longstanding tradition, this conference gathers scholars and artists working in a diverse array of environmental humanities projects and offers a special focus on some themes that resonate well with the location of the meeting.
Paradise does not exist, and yet that never seems to stop people from finding it, or building it, or dreaming its contours – often to the detriment of humans and nonhumans on the wrong side of its walls. Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy imagines a walled city with a climate-controlled dome called Paradice where genetic engineers create new forms of life, a bubble breached by human violence and climate catastrophe. In the sixteenth century Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo imagined a place called “California,” an island ruled by a dark skinned Amazonian queen with an Arabic name, Califia (Las Sergas de Esplandián). California was affixed to our maps by conquistadors, eager readers of Montalvo who believed the Earthly Paradise to be nearby. The price of its establishment was the genocide of the land’s indigenous populations. The Greek word for Eden is “Paradise,” a walled garden that bars entrance to most. Yet as Octavia Butler’s dystopian vision of California on fire has shown, walls seldom lead to lasting safety and cannot exclude a turbulent world for long (The Parable of the Sower). If as Rebecca Solnit contends, “paradise arises in hell,” when democratic communities are built from the ground up during times of disaster that leave us “free to live and act another way,” what might life in catastrophic times entail for the environmental humanities? How should we write, teach, protest, live, and act during this era when “paradise” is on fire, figuratively and literally?
The Biennial ASLE Conference “Paradise on Fire” explores the connections among storytelling, real and imagined landscapes, future-making, activism, environed spaces, differential exclusions, long histories, and the disaster-prone terrains of the Anthropocene. Plenary addresses will be given by Ursula Heise, Cherríe Moraga, Melissa K. Nelson, and Nnedi Okorafor.
Topics may include but are certainly not limited to:
- reckoning with “paradise” in the face of colonial histories, environmental injustice, and ecological catastrophe
- the intimacy of myth to possibility, alternative realities, and catastrophe
- the reduction of diversity after the arrival of settler colonialists, especially but not only in California
- cross-cultural currents and global vectors, human and nonhuman
- the relation of imagination to discovery, settlement and transformation
- extinction, ecological imperialism, monstrosity, megafauna, and scale
- gender, race and ecology in dystopian times
- the proliferation of material and ideological walls around enclaves, states, and nations
- attending better to the people, animals, plants, and natural forces that find themselves on the wrong side of the gate, forced into communities not of their choosing, or forced to migrate without safe destinations
- radical welcome: creating more just, capacious, and humane modes of living together across species
- how the past matters to the imagination of a more capacious future
- climate fiction (CliFi), climate fact, and the future of ecological science studies
- archives of recovery and enclosure
- Afro-futurisms, Indigenous futurisms, Latinx futurisms, Asian futurisms, queer futurisms
- California and beyond: exceptionalism, secession, natural and unnatural disasters, green gentrification (the L.A. River), evacuation zones, Sanctuary Cities and States, gated communities, immigration and Dreamers, Trump’s border wall, housing and being humane
- The Trans-Pacific: imaginaries, cultures, materialities, flows
- Fire as emblematic of the strange agencies and hybrid onto-epistemologies of the Anthropocene, and fire as emblematic of the passion, energy, and incendiary creativity of activism
Deadline & how to apply
Panel proposals must be submitted by September 1 2018 at https://asle.submittable.com/submit.
Conference panels are 90 minutes long and may take the form of a traditional paper session (4 presenters); a roundtable (up to 6 presenters making brief remarks that foster lively conversation); or a jam session (up to 8 participants in a nontraditional format of the organizer’s choosing that includes significant audience participation). These panels may be of two types:
- A preformed panel that lists all participants and is ready for the conference program as it stands.
- A panel seeking participants, to be filled by its organizers through the conference call for papers released in October. We expect the majority of accepted panels to be of this kind.
Panel proposals should be submitted electronically. The ASLE conference committee will select a wide range of proposed panels appropriate to the conference theme and panel proposers will be notified of success by October 1, 2018. ASLE will then distribute by email and on our website a Call for Papers listing all conference panels seeking paper proposals. Those who wish to participate in the conference may submit a proposal for consideration for inclusion within one of these panels, or for one of the open topic panels to be organized by the conference committee. Panel organizers will inform paper proposers if a submission has been accepted no later than January 10, 2019. All paper proposals that do not find an initial home will also be considered for placement in one of the open topic panels. Paper submissions for these panels begin Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 15.
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