Ecosophical Geographies

I’m happy to present a special issue on ‘Ecosophical Geographies’ for Geografiska Annaler B, which is released today. The issue is edited by me and Gerry Taylor-Aiken of the University of Luxembourg (see our editorial). It’s the best part of 3 years in the making, dating from a 2014 Royal Geographical Society conference session of the same name. We’re very happy with it – we have a range of interesting papers from participants from across geography and other disciplines too.

‘Ecosophy’ refers to a diverse range of activist-philosophical practices that put the humanity-environment-world relationship at the heart of thought and action. As a term, it was coined independently by both Félix Guattari and Arne Naess in the 1980s. For Guattari, ecosophy is the solution to global crises in which psycho, social and environmental damage emerge together. For Naess, ecosophy is the both a philosophy and a practice, referring to ways of living in the world driven by the understandings of deep ecology.  All ecosophies do more than just insist on the interconnections of humanity with environment. Rather, they position these as the starting point for being-in-the-world, emphasizing the importance of practicsing ecosophical forms of living at a personal and social level.

The ecosophical geographies of this special issue are attempts to use this framework for understanding geographical relations, or for fostering new ways for people or communities to relate to the world. Part of what interests me is the similarity but subtle difference between ‘ecosophy’ and ‘geography’ as terms, which is at the heart of my own contribution ‘Knowing homes and writing worlds? Ethics of the ‘eco-’, ethics of the ‘geo-’ and how to light a planet‘. 

The other contributors cover both ecosophical thought and ecosophical practice. Sue Buckingham’s piece looks at the ecosophical as a personal activity through the lens of yoga. She offers Rosa Braidotti’s work as an addition to the writing of Félix Guattari on ecosophy to bring feminist thought into conversation with ecosophical. Antonio Carvalho’s work on meditation also engages the relationship between self and environment as a way of exploring ecosophy. Charles Carlin’s paper on traditional native american vision-fast ceremonies explores how these personal practices can be translated into social changes, arguing that there is a need for “social tending to articulate the practice in relationship to a broader ethics of care and the politics of ecological struggle” (p125). On a more ‘social’ scale, the articles by Gerry Taylor-Aiken and Jon Anderson  look at communal forms of ecosophical living that have been produced through deliberately ecosophical communities in Europe. Finally, Derek Jones uses ecosophy as a lens to revisit mind-body dualisms and the concept of embodied cognition.  All make fresh and interesting contributions to geography, and help open up what ecosophical geographies might do.

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