Biosemiotics: Discussions in the Margins

deadline for submissions: 
October 1, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
RS/SI Journal
contact email: 

The journal of the Canadian semiotics association, Recherches sémiotiques • Semiotic Inquiry, is planning a special issue on biosemiotics and is actively looking for contributors.

Though its roots are deep, extending back to the ancient Greeks, biosemiotics per se is a fairly recent enterprise. From a discrete word coined in the 60s, to a field cleared in the last decades of the 20th century, biosemiotics has become an established – and growing – interdisciplinary research agenda. An international society, with annual gatherings, and a specialized journal are devoted to the creation, dissemination and discussion of biosemiotic ideas. In his article “The Evolutionary History of Biosemiotics”, Don Favareau wonderfully organizes the different moments of biosemiotics into a coherent and compelling whole. This is not to say that the history of biosemiotics is over, or that Favareau claims his account of it to be definitive. Quite the opposite, Favareau closes what we will call the “official” history of biosemiotics, with the following openness: "[A]ll that is now left for me to do as a historian of the project is to welcome all our readers to this thriving young interdiscipline and, on behalf of my colleagues in biosemiotics everywhere, to invite you to actively contribute to its ongoing history." (The Evolutionary History of Biosemiotics, 2006)

Such a benevolent invitation cannot be declined, and the Recherches sémiotiques • Semiotic Inquiry journal wishes to play a part in the current developments of the biosemiotic venture.

For this special issue, we wish to explore the margins of biosemiotics. We are searching for contributions that integrate thinkers, references, or fields of research that are not (typically) associated, or that have not (yet) found their way, to biosemiotics. This is basically a dare: a dare to biosemioticians proper, to cast their lines in unfamiliar but auspicious waters; a dare, also to those who have only a limited access to biosemiotics and yet who are concerned by what it has to offer. In other words, we are looking for the minor histories of biosemiotics, the footnotes or appendices that could not have reasonably been added to its “official” history.

Since we are deliberately searching for unexpected propositions, it may seem counter-intuitive to suggest orientations. However, we will happily welcome propositions dealing with, for example:

  • -  agriculture and the agrifood business (both corporatist and marginal practices, including gardening, hunting and fishing);

  • -  arts (literature, visual arts);

  • -  biometrics (performance measuring in sports, or security and surveillance devices);

  • -  environmental politics and policy (logging, mining);

  • -  health and illness (pharmaceutics, eating disorders, pain, death);

  • -  neglected figures, including non-Western ones, in the history of meaning in life;

  • -  recreational drug use, and substance abuse;

  • -  sexuality, gender, population and childhood;

  • -  territory (bioregionalism and indigenous land claims);

  • -  waste (compost, recycling, garbage, waste water).


About the journal

Recherches sémiotiques / Semiotic Inquiry takes the field of semiotics in the broadest sense, to include both the theoretical and empirical study of signs, sign systems and processes, signalling and communicative behaviour, and their foundations: philosophical, biological, social, etc. Its aim is to encourage and disseminate the advancement of knowledge in these areas toward a better understanding of the processes of signification and communication. The journal publishes exclusively original and substantial articles, in English or in French, on topics related to the above domains of research. The journal will include book reviews on publications dealing with semiotics. ISSN: 1923-9920 (digital) 0229-8651 (print).


  • Proposals (no more than one page), including a title, a succinct presentation of the argument, a brief bibliography, and a biographical notice, should be received by October 1st 2016.

  • Contributors will be expected to submit full manuscripts (6000-7000 words) for blind peer review by April 1st 2017.

  • Publication is expected in the first months of 2018.

Send queries and proposals directly to professor Jonathan Hope, semiology program, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada: