CFP: Loanwords to Live With: An Ecotopian Lexicon Against the Anthropocene

Posted by on Sep 21, 2016
CFP: Loanwords to Live With: An Ecotopian Lexicon Against the Anthropocene

Call for Submissions for Edited Book

Loanwords to Live With: An Ecotopian Lexicon Against the Anthropocene

Edited by Brent Ryan Bellamy, Chantal Bilodeau and Matthew Schneider-Mayerson

Deadline for Abstracts: November 15

With the recent Paris agreement, an emerging global climate justice movement, and the vast transformations of climate change becoming more and more evident, it is clear that the world has entered an unprecedented period of intentional social and ecological transition. Whether this transition is framed and enacted as a simple replacement of fossil-fuel extraction with centralized renewable energy sources, or one that recalibrates human thought, infrastructure, and action to a greater awareness of our embeddedness in natural and more-than-human worlds remains to be seen. It depends, in some measure, on how thoughtful and creative human beings find meaningful ways to intervene in business as usual and guide it in more or less productive directions. One way to do so is through language itself: as linguists and scholars of literature have long understood, language not only reflects but shapes reality. Whereas a number of important recent works in the environmental humanities have reflected on the limitations of our existing ecological lexicon and the meanings of major keywords, we might  ask whether we need not just new meanings for old words but rather a new vocabulary for a new era.

Towards this end, the collection Loanwords to Live With: An Ecotopian Lexicon Against the Anthropocene seeks to assemble a disparate lexicon that describes not what exists in fossil-fueled capitalism but what should be: ecological terms and phrases that intimate and inspire better ways of life. This is not the sterile and impossible ‘good Anthropocene’ of ecomodernism but one that acknowledges and celebrates the mutual entanglements of this and every other era; is attentive to the joined psychological and emotional health of humans, other animals, and ecosystems; and values vibrant, inclusive, and egalitarian communities and political systems. Each short entry (2000 to 2500 words, excluding notes) will be based on a word or phrase from a non-English language; a fantastic term from speculative or science fiction; or a neologism emerging from activist subcultures. Entries will first introduce the term in its original context, then identify the ecological (or eco-political, eco-social, or eco-psychological) problem and linguistic lacunae that it addresses, and finally describe how it might be applied in common usage in English.

As both a critical endeavour with scholarly rigor and a creative project, Loanwords follows in the footsteps of “ecotopian” authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, Marge Piercy, Octavia Butler, Kim Stanley Robinson and Paolo Bacigalupi. While it will prove a useful and provocative book for courses in environmental studies and environmental humanities, this project seeks a broader readership, and therefore aims for clear, concise and accessible writing. Original artwork will accompany a number of the entries, and will circulate and supplement the book as posters, T-shirts, and stickers.

Potential subjects:

  • Empath, from Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower

  • Heyiyah, from Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home

  • Shikata ga nai, from Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy

  • Forest bath (森林浴), from the Japanese

  • Pachamama and other earth goddesses or gods

  • Buen vivir, from South American social movements

  • Horizontalism, from various recent social movements

Please submit abstracts (of approximately 250-300 words) to Brent Ryan Bellamy, Chantal Bilodeau and Matthew Schneider-Mayerson by November 15. These should include a suggested loanword or phrase, a brief account of the term, and the lacunae it would fill in the English language.  Please also send a current CV.  Authors will be notified shortly thereafter, and full submissions will be due on March 15.

Please send submissions and questions to bbellamy@ualberta.ca and schneider-mayerson@yale-nus.edu.sg, with “Loanwords to Live With” in the subject line.