Agential Ecoontologies: Revitalizing Folk Magic, Rootwork, and Animism in the Age of the Anthropocene

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Association for Studies of Literature and the Environment (ASLE)
contact email: 

Agential Ecoontologies: Revitalizing Folk Magic, Rootwork, and Animism in the Age of the Anthropocene 

13th Biennial Convention, Association for the Study of Literature and Environment

June 26-30, 2019

University of California, Davis

Woven into and hidden within the myriad cultural, subaltern crossroads of the United States lies many rich, agential practices known as folk magic. These practices, which have been continually reimagined and reinvented over time, were largely cultivated within the interstices between the comingling of indigenous tribes, African American slaves, poor whites, women, immigrants, and other marginalized populations. Before the onslaught of Western colonization, many Native Americans that populated the Americas relied on their synergistic relationship with the ecos, developing profound intuitive, animistic healing practices.  As Elizabeth A. Povinelli describes in Geoontologies: A Requiem to Late Capitalism, “the Animist is all those who see an equivalence between all forms of life or who can see life where others would see the lack of life” (18). This animistic ontology was endemic to how many Native American tribes connected with the ecos and the violent decimation of their lands and culture meant the loss of this ontology.

This panel seeks to explore the ecocritical, agential ontologies endemic to the myriad incarnations of folk magic practices that have taken shape in the United States. In keeping with the Biennial ASLE Conference theme “Paradise on Fire,” this panel invites scholars who are examining any aspect of ecocriticism; environmental feminism; vital materialism; material feminism; or other eco-theoretical framework as it pertains to marginalized indigenous, folk, pagan or other folk magic practices that have been used, or are being used, as a means to reconnect with the natural world in an apocalyptic age.

How has the historic marginalization and erasure of folk practices coincided with the western metaphysical tradition’s violent severing of the self from the natural world? 

How might folk magic practices initiate a modality of radical welcome, creating more humane modes of living together across species, across races and boundaries?

How might we look to the history of colonization in order to examine how the loss of an ecological principle was connected with the erasure of folk magic practices?

What literature from the Americas engages with stories of folk magic, hoodoo, indigenous herbalism, and other perspectives?


This session will be a traditional panel (4 presenters, 15-minute papers). Please submit a 250-300-word abstract in an uploadable .pdf, .docx, or .doc file (including your name and contact information) at: