CFP: Special Issue of Environment & Society on Pollution/Toxicity

Dear Colleagues,
Please find below the Call for Papers for the 2021 edition of Environment and Society: Advances in Research.  Please send along an abstract of no more than 250 words to by October 1, 2019.

Please remember that Environment and Society is an annual review journal.  The scholarship that it publishes each year in response to specific calls should combine original research with a strong literature review.  At the same time, we also encourage potential authors to contribute to the cause of de-canonizing the body of literature on pollution and toxicity by bringing to light heterodox theoretical frameworks or  underrepresented perspectives, or more generally by recovering approaches that have been lost and bringing them into current and future conversations.

Environment and Society: Advances in Research 
Call for Papers
Thematic Focus: Pollution/Toxicity
Editors: Josh Fisher, Mary Mostafanezhad, and Sarah Marie Wiebe
Forthcoming Volume 12 (2021)

The livable surface of earth is polluted.  Images abound of plastic bags riding the currents of the Pacific ocean and collecting in the Mariana Trench; stockpiles of nuclear waste pumped deep into earth’s outer crust; smoke and smog (a fusion of particulate matter and ozone) settling in above sprawling urban colonies, slowly killing its denizens; spent oxygen containers pockmarking the snows of Everest; and billions of pieces of space debris endlessly falling in Low Earth Orbit, just beyond a thin and rapidly changing breathable atmosphere.  So goes the narrative of the Anthropocene, a purportedly new geological epoch demarcated by the planetary effects of human activity.

The famed symbolic anthropologist Mary Douglas (1966) understood pollution as “matter out of place,” a kind of disorder that that necessarily prompts efforts to “organize” the environment.  Anthropology, geography, and allied fields have since pushed this conversation forward by inquiring into the materiality of pollution, the toxicity that manifests in situated encounters between bodies and environments, and the co-production of pollution/toxicity — two sides of the same coin, in our reading, one overflowing boundaries and the other seeping in — through those extended networks of physico-chemical, organic, and sociocultural life that constitute local and global political ecologies.  Yet, questions about the source and form of pollution and the nature of its toxicity remain: 

  • How is the materiality of pollution/toxicity smelled, tasted, felt, experienced, embodied, or symbolized, both in crisis and in  life?
  • How and by whom are its impacts — material, sociocultural, political, ethical, etc. — measured or otherwise accounted for in technoscientific or other socioculturally and historically particular terms?
  • How is it managed through policies, infrastructures, and everyday acts of care (sweeping, cleaning, planting, repairing)?
  • How its accounts give rise to  more overt political mobilizations? 
  • How does it come to reshape socio-political life?

This volume of Environment and Society explores current thinking about pollution and toxicity at the intersection of symbolic anthropology, political ecology, and science and technology studies.  We are interested in a broad range of scholarly perspectives, theoretical alliances, and methodological and epistemological approaches that contribute to historical and contemporary understandings of pollution and toxicity.  Our aim is to understand the discursive and material co-production of pollution and toxicity, as well as the stakes of such an analysis for diverse communities of human and nonhuman beings.

Environment and Society is a review journal that is published once per year.  Its papers are meant to communicate the substantial bodies of literature that inform an author’s perspectives.   As such, we expect that papers should be based in original scholarship, but we also require that they are explicitly conceived and written with a view toward articulating the ecologies of concepts and ideas that inform them.  Papers that draw upon original research as the basis for both summarizing and intervening in broader disciplinary and interdisciplinary conversations about pollution/toxicity are invited.

Possible topics for this issue could include but are not limited to: 

– The many biotic and abiotic forms that pollution/toxicity (or other pathogens) may take- The material and symbolic “poles” of pollution/toxicity
– The affective, sensory, and “felt” dimensions of pollution, including feelings of uncertainty surrounding exposure
– The embodiment and experience of pollution/toxicity, and the narratives that are formed through social discourse
– The political ecologies of pollution/toxicity and the stakes of analysis for different communities of humans/nonhumans
– The implications of policy, infrastructure, and other design elements in the propagation and/or mitigation of pollution/toxicity
– The technoscience of pollution/toxicity, including the measurement and abatement of polluting matter, the medicalization of its embodied effects, or the formation of policy and/or sociopolitical mobilizations
– The geographic and spatial politics of pollution/toxicity and their implications in terms of the local, national, and global scales of analysis
– The racialized, gendered, and colonial dimensions environmental in/justice as it pertains to pollution/toxicity
– The new social, economic, and ecological  milieus that are produced within the dynamic context of pollution/toxicity.

Key Dates
Abstracts due (250 words)  – October 1, 2019
Notifications for authors – November 1, 2019
Completed articles due for initial review – July 1, 2020
Articles published – Fall 2021

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