CFP: Sharing the Planet Journal

Sharing the Planet (journal submissions)
full name / name of organization:
Caliban
contact email:
[email protected]
We invite contributions for a special issue of Caliban, “Planète en partage/ Sharing the Planet” to appear in June 2016. We encourage prospective contributors to submit papers by December 15, 2015. Papers should comprise not more than 30000 characters (MLA presentation). They should be sent to Aurélie Guillain ([email protected]), Wendy Harding ([email protected]) and (Françoise Besson ([email protected]). Papers must sent to the three editors.

Call For Papers: Sharing the Planet

“Sharing” comes from the Old English sceran meaning to cut or split something into parts. So sharing the planet means first of all dividing it, tracing borders and boundaries with the intention of taking possession of it to convert it into private or public property thanks to a form of birthright that gives humans precedence over other species. Can we get beyond this premise so as to imagine and put into practice another form of sharing? The Cartesian view of man as “master and possessor” of nature has been analyzed as an example of the dualistic naturalism that divides subject from object, human from non-human, and mental from material domains and that characterizes a specifically Western ontology (Descola). But if we replace the vision of man as nature’s master and possessor by that of “master and protector,” do we still manage to escape that vision of the world in which the non-human is reified and considered as property to share?

What might it mean in theory and practice to treat non-humans (animals, vegetals, places) not as objects to share but as beings with whom to share? We can find numerous works of fiction that show how naturalistic and animistic visions coexist and come into conflict within a single text, just as they can coexist within one individual’s experience (as Descola himself suggests). Fiction or memoirs seem like privileged sites not only to observe situations of companionship, symbiosis, or parasitism (whether or not mutualistic) between humans and non-human species, but also to initiate, beyond the pathetic fallacy, thought experiments that imagine what it might mean, including in terms of politics, to “think like a mountain” and thus to share the planet with that mountain, to take up Aldo Leopold’s phrase and initiative.

The issue of sharing also raises the question of what it is that should be shared by all members of a community. Thus, at the end of the nineteenth century a division was made between ordinary places and sanctuaries, as we see, for example, in the history of the National Parks, especially in the U.S.A. Certain places and certain natural resources are then treated as common or public property and are spared the systematic exploitation of nature. But is this a way to guarantee environmental justice? Or is it, on the contrary, a way to create environmental hotspots or wilderness temples, the better to forget about environmental problems elsewhere (Cronon), notably in the places occupied by the economically dispossessed?

In the English-speaking world writers relay these questions and debates, but it is important to notice that most of the time within their writings certainscarcely modified natural sites are envisioned as sanctuaries and continue to play a central role and to be associated with an emotional or sacramental experience that the writing itself transforms and circulates as an intangible form of property.

Finally, the appropriation of land by colonizers or by the political forces that follow and organize that appropriation puts into play a concept of sharing that is both unequal and “leonine” in its principle. Moreover, the spoliation of native lands by multinational companies reveals not only an unequal power dynamic, but also a conception of resource allotment in which the land is res nullius, not common property but something that belongs to no one and is therefore available for an economic system geared to productivity. Literature can play a crucial role in the representation and critical understanding of this kind of sharing, notably in the case of protest writings like those of biologist and veterinarian, Wangari Maathai, Nobel Prize winner in 2009, who relates Jean Giono’s widely diffused Provençal tale, The Man Who Planted Trees, to the African context.

Note: Seems like this would be a good place for a paper on the rhetoric of space.

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