Ecologies of Toxicity
American Association of Geographers (AAG) 2017, Boston 5-9 April 2017

Conveners: Joe Gerlach (University of Oxford); Thomas Jellis (University of Oxford); Sasha Engelmann (Royal Holloway, London)
“In the field of social ecology, men like Donald Trump are permitted to proliferate freely, like another species of algae…” (Guattari, 2000: 43)
The Three Ecologies is Felix Guattari’s remarkably brief treatise on ecosophy; in just over 30 pages, he outlines his methodological approach in which social, mental and environmental ecologies are held in relational tension with one another. His prescient suspicion, writing in 1989, of the likes of Donald Trump are merely the leading edge of a broader lament for the intensifying toxicity of social-mental-environmental lives; the spectre of an Integrated World Capitalism (IWC). Technocratic antidotes have, Guattari decries, failed abysmally. Likewise, the thresholds of toxicity are both complex and miscible: Guattari relates a public experiment in which an octopus ‘dances’ in ‘polluted’ water, but perishes in ‘pure’, ‘unpolluted’ or ‘normal’ water. He calls instead for ethico-aesthetic acts to unseat those things, semiotic regimes, machines and demagogues that produce increasingly homogeneous and capitalistic textures of reality. Of course, the ecological is not solely the preserve of Guattari; it has been a core concern of geographers across the discipline, as both organising concept and metaphor.
The aim of this session is to examine the relations between the three (or more) ecologies, with a particular focus on relations and impingements between mind, mood, mental health, capital, and the environment. We welcome papers and performances (including artworks, films and media experiments) that map, trace, and critique ecologies of toxicity. More specifically, we encourage contributions that:
– Spotlight particular aesthetic and political territories of toxicity
– Explore practices and experiments of that interrogate what counts as toxic
– Investigate what notions of intoxication, anaesthetics and/or profitability offer micropolitical and micro-social practices
– Examine the Anthropocene as marker, modifier and mutation, in relation to ecologies of toxicity
– Narrate alter-ecologies of distress, melancholia and lament
– Speculate on how to remake social practices in the context of toxic events, atmospheres or materials
– Outline contemporary ecosophical practices
Please send abstracts of no more than 200 words to Thomas Jellis (thomas.jellis@ouce.ox.ac.uk), Sasha Engelmann (sashaengelmann@gmail.com), and Joe Gerlach (joe.gerlach@ouce.ox.ac.uk) by 15 October 2016