CFP for ASLE 2019 panel: Feeding the Fire as the World Burns: Rethinking Food and Sustenance in the Anthropocene

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Sabiha Khan/University of Texas at El Paso
contact email: 

*Of interest to colleagues working in food studies, sustainability, extinction narratives, critical life studies, and related fields*

Panel for ASLE 2019: Feeding the Fire as the World Burns: Rethinking Food and Sustenance in the Anthropocene

Fire is a technology that emblematically has ushered in the Anthropocene by underwriting the production of food for humans, whether it be through slash-and-burn farming, cooking, fertilizer production, or the internal combustive processes of digestion. As the world burns in the self-immolating bonfire of human-generated extinction, how might a strategy of “counter-visuality,” in the words of Nicholas Mirzoeff, reveal a new “politics of eating,” one that is not necessarily reliant on fire? 

What if, instead of as a passive and inert bolus for human consumption, food were seen as, in the words of Jane Bennett, a vital actor in the public sphere? Such a view means revisiting eating, the primary site of human consumption, in new ways by considering topics such as:

  • inversions of the prey-predator relation, particularly the edibility of humans, by other animals, worms, etc.
  • the sensory, prosopopoetic appeal of plant- and animal-based ingredients
  • indigenous approaches to food acquisition
  • cannibalistic tendencies in rituals such as the Eucharist
  • lab-cultured meat products
  • AI-generated recipes
  • the autonomy of plants in providing their own food through the process of photosynthesis, which essentially is combustion in reverse
  • and other relevant topics

When life itself is at stake, what does it mean to take seriously food’s status as the enabling condition of life? What are the paradoxes and contradictions of the enabling medium of food, fire? What opportunities does food provide for the more-than-human world to make itself known?

This panel invites traditional papers covering any genre, medium or period.

Please submit 300-word proposals for a traditional 4-paper panel to Submittable by Dec 15, 2018. If many strong proposals are received, the panel may be reorganized to a roundtable format. 

For questions, contact Sabiha Khan skhan2@utep.edu