CFP: Representations of the Environmental Crisis (grad) (3/15/06; 5/12/06-5/13/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Michael Mikulak
contact email: 

Graduate student conference panel--please distribute.

As part of the second annual graduate student conference—"Natural and
National Crises: The Shifting Sands of the Literary"-- being held at the
English department of l'Université de Montréal, on May 12-13th, 2006, this
panel is being organized around one of the effects that the nation itself is
in crisis.

The Wretched Earth: From Monkeywrenching to Green Consumption, Tactics and
Rhetoric in the Environmental Movement.

        Over the last 50 years, the environmental movement has been riddled
with an almost constant debate over the effectiveness of various tactics in
addressing and representing the environmental crisis. Ranging from the
radical tactics of Earth First! and ELF, to the moderate reform oriented
approaches of the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy, the question of
representation of crisis, and the subsequent actions taken, forms the
bedrock of controversial discursive and material terrains, the consequence
of which has led to groups like Earth First! and ELF to be categorized as
terrorist organizations. Especially with complicated environmental feedback
loops that defy conventional causality, and thus accountability, the
representation of crisis is almost as important as the event itself. The way
we perceive environmental damage dictates how we will react to it, who we
blame, and the actions we take. Although infighting between environmental
groups is often characterized as divisive and counterproductive, the
differing representations of crisis and tactics deployed represent not only
ideological differences, but radically disparate ontological positions.
        By looking at texts like Edward Abbey's "The Monkey Wrench Gang,"
which inspired the radical tactics of Earth First!, as well as other
literary, theoretical, and textual representations of the environmental
crisis, this panel will explore the way agency, subjectivity and crisis are
constructed by various environmentalist discourses, and enter into a
dialogue that attempts to bridge gaps between the discourses, as well as map
a topography of difference. Rather than attempting a facile "we should all
work together approach," the point of this panel will be to seriously take
up similarities, differences and problems within and surrounding numerous
radical and mainstream environmentalist positions and thus engage in a
productive debate over the potential and limitations of each perspective. In
arranging the panel, I will seek to represent a wide spectrum of
environmentalist movements, and encourage each presenter to examine a few
examples in one area, rather than attempting to approach the entire
spectrum. I encourage a broad variety of theoretical and interdisciplinary
approaches upon any aspect of the representation of crisis within the
environmental movement. In this way, a vigorous dialogue will hopefully

Please Email: with questions and comments. Papers
should be 15-20 minutes in length, and Abstracts (max 250 words) are due by
March 15/2005.

Michael Mikulak
PhD Candidate, McMaster University

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Received on Mon Jan 16 2006 - 14:40:45 EST