(In)finite Ecologies

deadline for submissions: 
August 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
CR: The New Centennial Review, Michigan State University Press
contact email: 

Special Issue of CR: The New Centennial Review vol. 22, no. 2: “(In)finite Ecologies” 

Guest editors: Christine Bennett, Katherine Greulich, and Garth Sabo (Michigan State University)

In his contribution to a recent collection on Eco-Deconstruction, Michael Marder weighs the dearth of specific, named references to the field of ecology within Derrida’s corpus against the philosopher’s demonstrated interest in topics routinely dubbed “ecological.” Derrida, he concludes, was “allergic to ‘ecology.’” It stands out, then, that one of few times Derrida refers to ecology by name occurs in “Faith and Knowledge.” There, he grounds his concept of autoimmunity in ecological thinking’s response to the threat of the “teletechnoscientific” media apparatus. To inoculate itself against irrelevancy and compete for epistemological footholds, “a certain vague ecologist spirit” must domesticate the apparatus in order to spread its own message, despite the risks of dissolution, interpretation, and appropriation these pose to ecology’s holistic philosophy (“Faith and Knowledge” 92). Derrida invites ecologists, along with “humanists” and “believers of all countries,” to “unite in an International of anti-teletechnologism!” (92). Much like medical cases of autoimmune disorders, in which bodily immune systems attack their own defenses, Derridean autoimmunity names the threat concepts face when they must adopt the strategies of that to which they are fundamentally opposed. How, in other words, can ecological thought maintain its theoretical integrity while also broadening its reach to compete with so many other ways of knowing for the attention of the populace?

This special issue of CR: The New Centennial Review addresses these questions of ecology’s broadening scope and the role of critical theory in articulating a response to contemporary ecological crises. Of particular concern is the proliferation of “eco” contexts and the introduction of “ecologies” in the plural: is “ecology” hurtling toward an epistemological demise as the concept becomes increasingly diffuse through its pluriform permutations? Matthias Fritsch, Philippe Lynes, and David Wood question whether the progression of eco-phenomenology, eco-hermeneutics, and eco-deconstruction represents “a narrowing specification of scope or an expansion.” This difficulty in distinguishing between variations of depth and breadth in ecological thinking speaks to the larger challenges facing the field as theories of interaction, intra-action, imbrication, and the mesh acknowledge ever more as objects of ecological study. Vicki Kirby describes this as the ability of “the frame of reference [to] hold[] an almost infinite potential within its seemingly finite parameters,” but how are we to make sense of the “almost infinite,” especially in a field dedicated to thoughtful responses to material finitude and scarcity?

Entitled “(In)Finite Ecologies,” this special issue invites essays that theorize the stakes of and new trajectories for ecological study. As these methodological and theoretical challenges trace an uncertain future, what does it mean to be finite, and how does ecology make use of infinity in describing crises of lack and limit? We are looking for contributions that offer thoughtful and creative responses to questions such as the following:

  • How has ecological thinking changed since the inception of the science in the early 20th century, and specifically, within the purview of the environmental humanities and critical theory?
  • What impact has critical theory had on the development and proliferation of ecological thought, and/ or in hastening its demise?
  • In what ways has ecological thinking succeeded/failed to provide a functional heuristic for living in the 21st century?
  • How does critical theory empower plural ecologies?
  • What might an ecological thought look like in era defined by climate change? Alternately, what is at stake in defining contemporary ecologies through the lens of climate change?
  • Is ecological thinking infinitely generative--or does it have a limit?
  • Along what social, political, intellectual or historical lines does ecology become (in)finite?  
  • How are questions of finitude inflected by positionality, especially along lines of race, class, and gender?

We request that all abstracts (up to 300 words) be submitted by August 15, 2021 to infiniteecologies@gmail.com. All submitters will be notified of admission status by September 1, 2021. Completed manuscripts for accepted submissions will be requested by December 15, 2021, and more detailed requirements for manuscript length and formatting will accompany acceptances.


CR: The New Centennial Review is devoted to comparative studies of the Americas that suggest possibilities for a different future. CR is published three times a year under the editorship of Scott Michaelsen (Department of English, Michigan State University) and David E. Johnson (Department of Comparative Literature, SUNY at Buffalo; Instituto de Humanidades, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile).

The journal recognizes that the language of the Americas is translation, and that questions of translation, dialogue, and border crossings (linguistic, cultural, national, and the like) are necessary for rethinking the foundations and limits of the Americas. Journal articles address philosophically inflected interventions, provocations, and insurgencies that question the existing configuration of the Americas, as well as global and theoretical work with implications for the hemisphere.