Friday, September 08, 2006

Reconstruction 7.2: Eco-Cultures: Cultural Studies and the Environment

(I need two book reviews for this issue--if you contact me and supply me with your qualifications, I can hook you up with a review copy and set up a deadline for the review--anyone interested?)

Reconstruction 7.2: Eco-Cultures: Cultural Studies and the Environment
Call for Papers: Special theme issue of Reconstruction
Co-edited by
Alexandra Ganser, M.A ., University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany
Dr. Vibha Arora, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, India

Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture is an open access, electronic, peer-reviewed journal devoted to publishing essays in cultural studies from emerging and established scholars worldwide.

Alexandra Ganser and Vibha Arora invite additional original essays as well as book reviews for a themed issue on "Eco-Cultures: Cultural Studies and the Environment" of Reconstruction (April 2007, Issue 7.2 ) exploring the significance and representation of the "natural" environment cross-culturally and from a variety of scholarly approaches and perspectives. With this special issue of Reconstruction we aim to explain the articulation of the environment as an integral part of cultural articulation and discourse systems, which complements class, race, and gender. Whereas the latter three have been established as the triadic focus of examination in Cultural Studies, for instance, an ecological perspective is often ignored in the analysis of cultural expression within this field. Thus, essays with a Cultural Studies approach are strongly encouraged.

Contributors to this special issue include Brian Black, Chris Drinkwater, C. Richard King, Lori Martindale, Mary Newell, and Catherine Roach. We are now seeking 2-3 additional essays with a focus on nature and nature perception in cultural representation (literary, filmic , architectural, etc.); nature/culture/ecology in critical and cultural theory (Raymond Williams, for instance); ecofeminisms; indigenous ecologies, cosmologies, and narratives; travel, tourism, and the environment; historical perspectives on nature politics and representation; landscape aesthetics; etc.

In addition, we are looking for book and other (music, exhibitions, photographic, etc.) reviews and review essays with a similar focus.

2 comments:

Starrider said...

Great blog Abhor!

I believe modern man is missing one of the major pieces to the puzzle by misunderstanding his role with regards to his relationship to Earth. Our society has become more and more individualistic, less family and community based, more materialistic and less spiritual. In fact most people don't even understand what spirituality really is. It has been confused with religiosity or religious legalism. There is a huge and ever widening gulf between man and his environment. People generally wander around not knowing where they came from, what how they got here or what role they are supposed to play in man's unfolding future. This makes for some very restless and unsatisfied people. Contemporary Christian "religion" seems to be failing to pick up this slack as it ought to be able to. People do not seem to have clear lateralization between a religion they can believe in- and one they can EXPERIENCE each and every day. How much more powerful would the churches be...how much more centered and or grounded would mankind be if this were not the case?
It's funny, most of the kids I grew up with that were regular church goers don't attend any longer...On the other hand some people that were not church goers or religious thinkers are now attending church and wrestling with life's bigger questions. It makes me wonder if another two decades will show people swapping places like this again. It makes me wonder what it was that people did not find in church that caused them to stray or likewise what people were missing in the world that has led them to church.
I personally testify that it is people's search for religious truth, or general lack of it in their everyday lives at least, that drives them to do most of what they do. Establishing a belief system or comprehensive worldview that they can EXPERIENCE instead of only believe or "have faith" in could make a great difference in the lives of individuals, communities even nations or the world itself.
I believe also that having a greater understanding and sense of purpose begins first with the fear (respect) of God and then respect for his creations. Creation has order, it is structured by God who structures all life. By understanding that the physical world is ordered perfectly by the maker, we may understand that human experience has the same sort of underlying order to it. The existence of the world then means; not chaos, but order, and if humans wish to exist within that order, they should integrate into the creational order. This is what wisdom and/or spirituality is all about.
It is simple really, God is the source of life, therefore, Creation has a relationship with God in which it responds to him as it's Maker, acknowledging his power and grace. This is a far cry from the ideas being passed along by our churches today and I believe this misunderstanding to be the root cause of mostly all of the shortcomings of the Church throughout history. Generally speaking, the idea that this Earth is only a disposable backdrop for the moral play of mankind is being proliferated much to the detriment of mankind itself. I acknowledge that the Bible tells us that the Earth will pass away someday. However, I fail to see how this eventuality relieves us as humans from taking care of the gift of Creation while we still have it in our care. In fact, I would venture to say that if our priorities concerning this were more in proper alignment, we would not have some of the other problems we have like the population explosion, lack of food and medical care for the masses and materialism over spirituality which leads to disharmony of every sort.
I do not necessarily think it is wrong that we have shopping centers and motorcars and golf courses and cable tv and luxury hotels with casinos. I do see that the priorities of humans are waaaay out of whack. It is possible I believe to have bounty, good times and good things in life and still be taking careof business. I respect the idea that we should care for people before worrying about a paricular problem in nature, but I don't see how the two become completely different issues, they are symbiotic.
The Bible itself demonstrates that God's mood regarding the behaviour of man is usually clearly demonstrated by the state of the Earth we live upon. When he is pleased, it is fruitful and yielding- when he is not happy it becomes unfruitful and covered with stubble and desolation. Creation was meant to bear two kinds of witness, glory to god who made it and his ongoing nuturing care for what he has made. Understanding this enables us to comprehend what it means to bear his image on Earth by representing him, we see that it is our mandate as human beings to enhance creation's witness to the glory and nurture of God.
It could be said that nature itself bears a five fold witness to God. In the Bible you find glory, nuture, also penalty , precariousness and finally reclamation of a cosmos polluted by sin. Many have remarked about a solution of ridding the planet of many people to return "Mother Earth" to its natural state. The "religious" world has used statements like this to disavow themselves from the environmental movement because they see it as elitist (wishing to rid the planet of "unworthy" men) and nearly equal to goddess worship because of the mother image. These are common traps that people fall into because the religious world has had almost nothing to say on these issues and the secular world has sought to pick up the slack. The term "Mother Earth"- as I understand it did not actually originate from any ethnic belief but from an American newspaper writer who was trying to convey something an Indian had told him..."The Earth is LIKE our Mother", in an effort to explain their reverence, not worship, of creation. This has been a popular mistranslation and misconception.
As for ridding the Earth of sinful and unworthy men, that is God's business and it has been done according to the book of Genesis. God has promised not to destroy EVERYTHING again, but does that mean that societies or civilizations themselves are safe from wrath? I doubt it. God operates among men via covenants. There has been the Old Covenant of Law, The New Covenant of Christ, and the constant covenant of man's role as steward of his creation. God keeps his end of the bargains, are we? I have experienced the power and healing that can come with the type of understanding I am talking about first hand. I don't think that mankind or contemporary Christianity will see the kind of revelation and revival it sorely needs until people in general rediscover the meaning of the Genesis.

http://firstnationsspiritualwarriors.blogspot.com/2006/04/meaning-of-genesis.html

Thivai Abhor said...

Starrider,

First, let me say thank you for your long, passionate response.

I too believe that modern humans are missing pieces to the puzzle of life, although, I'm not so sure that we are anymore unique in the development in humanity... we always seem to be missing the point, somehow, which is why I'm asuch andvocate of multiple perspectives and the process of dialogue as a method of sharpening our individual perspectives (even if it is an agonistic dialogic format in which we take opposing viewpoints and sharpen them against the grain)

Which, once again, leaves me touched, in a sense that you left this post... but onward...

I don't necessarily believe that "most" people don't understand what spirituality is, perhaps, when it seems to be missing, these people are engaged in an endless cycle of work and consume, that keeps them distracted from the finer points you are trying to make about our role in the world? How do we break that cycle as a dominant force in the majority of peoples lives?

Absolutely the problem with religion, or spirituality, is that is bureacratic, dogmatic and institutionalized. I would be the first to say that each and every person should study all of the world's religions/philosophies at an early point in their education and then be allowed to develop their own particular worldview/spirtualiy. In this I join with Susanne who visits this site from time to time and introduced me to a great term--we are anti-theists. Against static, unchanging, dogmatic, closed religions (and politics and philosophies). I would want my children, my friends, my loved ones, and, yes, my enemies to have the opportunity to develop their own sense of spirituality and then to put it into play with mine and others.

I feel disengaged most of the time from the natural world--probably why I nostalgistically post pictures of the few moments when I do get to be a part of a more natural world--although in my more posthuman moments I also wonder what is natural and what is not--can something be not-a-part-of-nature? Which I think you would agree with, in priniciple, and I think you argument is definitely on target in that we do not provide enough clear rituals, signposts and anchors for people these days, perhaps, were we might differ, is that I do not see Christianity as the answer (although it could help)... as it is in our society, and throughout Western civilization, linked to the destruction of the environment and, increasingly, apping consumer society in its appeals to the young/disaffected (but then I feel in your intelligent response that you would reject these consumeristic appeals?)

Man? Do you mean human? or are you a patriarchal authoritarian--sorry just thought you should think about it?

Contemporary Christian religion seems to be doing a good job, in Kentucky of picking up the slack, they have adopted all the bells and whistles, the spectacle, the sensations and they have de-mythologized and repackaged their messages for a new generation. It rings empty for me, but then I am somewhat cynical and it does not mean I am closed to the message--I was raised Southern Baptist, I read the bible straight through six times (with careful annotations)--what it means is that it does not seem like an institution that really wants people to think-through and come to their own conclusions (much like our current government and their pushing of a secular religion called patriotism).

Then you say such a beautiful and powerful quote that I could never deny, nay, only hope, that others would at least give a nod of acceptance to:

"Establishing a belief system or comprehensive worldview that they can EXPERIENCE instead of only believe or "have faith" in could make a great difference in the lives of individuals, communities even nations or the world itself."

Once again we have to allow an open space for people to develop their own conception of the world (and beyond) to bring it into play with other viewpoints and to sharpen their conceptions in the process.

You know I am a great listener. This is not a boast. I talk to people, I'm not afraid to state my opinion, but when people want to talk, I listen, wholeheartedly, I "want" to know what they have learned from their experience/their studies. We live in a society that celebrates, nay, that worships, those that shout down others, those that are unchanging in their beliefs, those that say my way or the highway (this is not hyperbole--we can see this operating in America from the micro to the macro scale)

My life has a huge fucking rift across it from the moment I decide I wanted to understand the world (and beyond) to the moment I decide I would learn as much as I possibly could by listening to others

What I have learned is that few respect an open attitude, few hav no patience for patience, and few want to decide for themselves. Where does that leave us? I would not think it would be down the alley of a pre-formed institutionalized religion (not saying we have to reject, but damn it needs some revolutions before I see it anew--once again I do not reject its wisdoms, I do not accept it wholesale)

You state:

"I believe also that having a greater understanding and sense of purpose begins first with the fear (respect) of God and then respect for his creations."

Is it necessary that I "fear" God (oops, here we go again down that slippery slop of patriarchal designations again--ok, I'll quit that critique for now). Perhaps what is needed is for us to quit thinking that we are so special, to recognize that we are all in the same boat (this material world), to care beyond our species, our home, our locality, our nation, our corporation... to recoginize the broader connections and interrealtionships, but, then that is difficult, that requires that we open our minds to other forms of thought, other worldviews, other religions, other nationalistic (and teroristic) goals.

So then I get to this part f your comment... and you know what, I begin to think you ar just trolling, perhaps you are going to catch a blogger on a bad day, and you can hook em' bringing a big fat trophy for your god (lower case intentional):

"The existence of the world then means; not chaos, but order, and if humans wish to exist within that order, they should integrate into the creational order. This is what wisdom and/or spirituality is all about."

Because this comment is so different from your earlier statements (or perhaps it isn't and my idealistic nature over-interrpeted an earnest Chritian seeking to engage in dialogue?)

Then I read the most insensibke gobbledy-gook:

"The Bible itself demonstrates that God's mood regarding the behaviour of man is usually clearly demonstrated by the state of the Earth we live upon. When he is pleased, it is fruitful and yielding- when he is not happy it becomes unfruitful and covered with stubble and desolation."

What?

Interweaved are great realizations:

"I respect the idea that we should care for people before worrying about a paricular problem in nature, but I don't see how the two become completely different issues, they are symbiotic."

but yor ultimate conclusions leave little room for interpetation outside of your beliefs (which is acceptable for you--but not in a dialogue)

.... and your glimmers of progressive politics are undercut by apolitical statements like this:

"As for ridding the Earth of sinful and unworthy men, that is God's business and it has been done according to the book of Genesis."

Bullshit... if thy own eye offends you pluck it out--wake up!

I reject your belief in a Christian god and his mandates based upon the biblical scriptures of Genesis--where does that leave us?

Once again thank you for your response--I'm sorry but, at this time, I will follow my own anti-theist path.

Peace