CFP ISA 2018: The Vegetal Moment in Global Politics?

CFP: International Studies Association Conference 2018, San Francisco

Panel Proposal: The Vegetal Moment in Global Politics? Vegetal Ontologies of Presence and Resistance in the Anthropocene

Organisers:  Dr Charlotte Heath-Kelly, PAIS, University of Warwick
Professor David Chandler, Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster

Of what status are trees and plants in global politics? What claims are made on their behalf in political activism? And how can vegetal ontologies advance our conceptualisation of the Anthropocene?


Questions of vegetal significance are not new. In Heidegger’s text ‘What is Called Thinking?’, his phenomenology was articulated through an encounter with an apple tree. The tree faces Heidegger’s protagonist, defying standard phenomenology, in an account of the vibrant presence of the vegetal. Similarly, Michael Marder has uncovered the place of the plant within Western philosophical trajectories (2014) and together with Luce Irigaray (2016) has articulated the feminist necessity to embrace vegetal ontologies within the Anthropocene.

We are interested to receive abstracts (of 200 words max) which situate the recent emergence of vegetal ontology in Eurocentric thought alongside non-Western ontologies of copresence, such as Eduardo Kohn’s How Forests Think (2013). Can useful conversation occur without replicating colonial appropriation? We also seek papers which theoretically and empirically explore activism undertaken on behalf of vegetal being, such as environmental activism in neoliberal, colonial or decolonial contexts. Finally, we are excited to receive abstracts addressing the appropriation of vegetal being and ontology within urban regeneration projects and memorial symbolism, as well as papers which explore the importance of vegetal ontologies for the Anthropocene and digital era.

Please send your abstracts of 200 words (max) to c.heath-kelly@warwick.ac.uk & D.Chandler@westminster.ac.uk by 15th May.