Ecocultural Identity: radical epistemologies and ecological beings.

Type: Interactive Short Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Astor Ballroom I, Astor, 2nd Floor
Organizers: José Castro-Sotomayor
Chairs: Tema Milstein


As extremist rhetoric shatters conventional political scenarios, and demonstrations of climate denial, racism, sexism, and xenophobia intoxicate much of the political arena, ecological perspectives on identity open windows to different ways of understanding the world that are both broadly ethical and potentially liberatory. Indeed, multi and transdisciplinary academics and practitioners have been doing this work for some time (Agrawal, 1995; Cepek, 2011; Code, 2006; Grusin, 2015; Hodden, 2014; Mathews, 1991; Milstein, 2011; Ulloa, 2001). However, there is a need for exploring and bridging the disconnect between such ongoing ecocentric troubling and knowing and the great transformative shifts in praxis that must prevail to enact these identities and knowings at a systems scale. This examination, thus, entails reflecting upon a type of politics that engages with the plurality of ecological subjectivities and environmental identities in flux and formation in the Anthropocene/Capitalocene (Moore, 2015)/Chthulucene (Haraway, 2016).

This session will bring transdisciplinary cultural, discursive, spatial, political, and ecological lenses to a much overlooked yet profoundly important issue of our time: ecocultural identity. Ecocultural identity is a materially and discursively constructed positionality, subjectivity, perception, and practice that inform one’s emotional, embodied, ethical, and political sensibilities regarding the more than human world (Abram, 1996). The purpose of this panel is to identify, examine, and reflect upon the cultivations, constraints, and force of these symbolically and materially emergent identities in our everyday and extraordinary lives. The session aims at fostering a radical epistemology focused on ways ecocultural identities are being, and can be, thought, felt, performed, and experienced in ways directly relevant to regenerative Earth futures.
Contributors and discussants will address questions such as:
− In what ways are ecocultural identities produced, performed, and negotiated?
− How do varied ecocultural identities inform different ecological relations and how does the more-than-human world inform different ecocultural identities?
− What are the cultural boundaries of ecological identities and how are those borders patrolled and transgressed?
− What are some mutually constitutive relationships between specific political ecologies and interrelated ecocultural identities?
− How does an ecological perspective on identity transfer into the realm of politics?
− How do different bodies experience and perform ecocultural identity?
− What are the implications of different or similar ecocultural identities for environmental movements or systems of environmental governance?
− How might coalitions and alliances of ecocultural identities shape transnational politics?
− How might diverse or intersecting ecocultural identities contribute to more or less antagonistic sociopolitical, economic, cultural, and environmental public spheres?
− What are the roles of media in shaping, reproducing, and transforming ecocultural identities?
− How do embodied, sensory, spiritual, and/or emotional understandings illuminate the formation of ecocultural identities?
− How do wider cultural shifts from holistic and mutualist ways-of-being to more individualistic and dualist ones inform ecocultural identities?
− How do the material conditions of places in environmental distress or generativity influence ways people think about and experience their ecocultural identity?
− How do modes of thought and practice such as post-humanisms, rewilding, novel ecosystems, or re-indigenizing emerge from and/or inform ecocultural identities?
− What is the relevance of ecocultural identities in conducting research? What kind of privileges are troubled by ecocentric versus anthropocentric positionalities in scholarship?

Abram, D. (1996). The spell of the sensuous : perception and language in a more-than-human world. New York : Pantheon Books,.
Agrawal, A. (1995). Dismantling the Divide Between Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge. Development and Change, 26(3), 413–439.
Cepek, M. L. (2011). Foucault in the forest: Questioning environmentality in Amazonia. American Ethnologist, 38(3), 501–515.
Code, L. (2006). Ecological thinking : the politics of epistemic location. Oxford ; Oxford ;
Grusin, R. (Ed.). (2015). The nonhuman turn (Center for 21st century studies; 21st Century studies). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Haraway, D. J. (2016). Staying with the trouble : making kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press.
Hodden, S. (2014). Posthumanism. In D. Carl (Ed.), Critical environmental politics (pp. 78–117). London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
Mathews, F. (1991). The ecological self. London : Routledge,.
Milstein, T. (2011). Nature Identification: The Power of Pointing and Naming. Environmental Communication, 5(1), 3–24.
Moore, J. W. (2015). Capitalism in the web of life: ecology and the accumulation of capital (1st ed.). New York: Verso.
Ulloa, A. (2001). El Nativo Ecológico: Movimientos Indígenas y Medio Ambiente en Colombia. ICANH-CES-Universidad Nacional. Bogotá.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Tema Milstein University of New Mexico 7 5:20 PM
Discussant Jeffrey Hoffmann University of New Mexico 7 5:27 PM
Discussant Charles Carlin University of Wisconsin 7 5:34 PM
Discussant Stephen Griego University of New Mexico 7 5:41 PM
Discussant Maggie Siebert University of New Mexico 7 5:48 PM
Discussant Mariko Thomas University of New Mexico 7 5:55 PM
Discussant John Carr University of New Mexico 7 6:02 PM
Discussant Laura Bridgeman Sonar 7 6:09 PM
Discussant Melissa Parks The University of Utah 7 6:16 PM
Discussant Aliza McHugh 7 6:23 PM

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