Ecosophical Geographies: Call for Papers at the 2014 RGS-IBG Annual International Conference


Along with Gerald Taylor-Aiken, I’m arranging the following session at the 2014 RGS-IBG:

We’re happy to release a call for papers for a session on Ecosophical Geographies, sponsored by the History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group, for the 2014 RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, Tuesday 26 to Friday 29 August 2014. The deadline for abstracts  is January 31st, please email either<> or<>.


This session investigates the co-production and mutual embeddedness at one of Geography’s most fundamental boundaries: the natural and the social. Multiple differing perspectives have explored ‘ecosophical’ approaches to understanding this co-production, with so far limited engagement from geographers and geographical research. We seek papers which explore what ecosophical theories could bring to geography.


Three areas of thought have been branded as ecosophy. We are interested in papers drawing from any or all of these, or which explore the linkages (if any) between. For Guattari, building on Bateson’s ‘ecology of mind’, ecosophy describes the “ethico-political articulation between the three ecological registers (the environment, social relations and human subjectivity)” (2000, p20). Alternatively, Naess coins ecosophy as “particular methods of viewing the world that lead different individuals to something like the platform of deep ecology” (Naess and Rothenberg, 1989, p4). Others have translated this deep ecological impulse into the social/cultural realm in different ways, be that phemonological (Abram, 1996), ecopsychological (Roszak et al., 1995), or ecotheological (Boff, 2004). These approaches have had different scalar imaginations: contrast Lovelock’s (1987) Gaia theory to writers such as Gary Snyder, Joanna Macy and Starhawk. Finally, practitioners have developed a form of ecosophy (though not labelled as such) looking for ways of capturing how ecological movements relate selves and environment. Kumar inverts the cogito ergo sum to state ‘you are therefore I am’ (2002).


All these thinkers are united in taking an ‘ecosophical’ approach to geography: that is attempting to trace the ecological and theoretical implications in analysing geography’s core themes: place, space, scale and environment. This form of ecological co-implication, as necessary and already existing, challenges how we see subjectivity, and investigate geographical issues and events.


Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:

*             Interventions on geographical debates drawing form ecosophical theory

*             How mutual embeddedness helps to rethink community, or togetherness, from an ecosophical perspective.

*             What does it mean to do deep ecology as geographers?

*             Using ecosophy to rethink that ‘anthro’ of the ‘anthropocene’

*             What does Guattari’s ‘ethico-political articulation’ of the three ecologies offer geography?

*             The spatial implications of being together, rather than journeying towards the/an other.

*             At what scale does it make sense to think of the category of one’s extensions and implications?

*             If we are mutually co-constituted, how do we come to understand groups and individuals as differing from one another?

*             As this conference will fall on the 20th anniversary of the publication of Murray Bookchin’s ‘Which Way for the Ecology Movement?’, papers critical of an anti-humanist or other trends identified within an ecosophical approach to geography are also encouraged.




Robert Shaw, Durham University,<>

Gerald Taylor-Aiken, Leeds University,<>



Abram, D. (1996) The Spell of the Sensuous. London: Vintage Books.

Boff, L. (2004) Ecologia: grito da terra, grito dos pobres. Rio de Janeiro: Sextane.

Bookshin, M. (1994) Which Way for the Ecology Movement? Edinburgh: AK Press.

Guattari, F. (2000) The Three Ecologies. London: Continuum.

Kumar, S. (2002) You Are Therefore I Am. Dartington: Green Books.

Lovelock, J. (1987) Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Naess, A. and Rothenberg, D. (1989) Ecology, Community and Lifestyle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Roszak, T., Gomes, M. E. and Kanner, A. N. (eds.) (1995) Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind. San Francisco Books: Sierra Club Books.

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