Wild Places, Natural Spaces: The 14th Annual Conference of the International Association for the Study of Environment, Space, and Place, University of Mary Washington, April 27-29, 2018

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Type: 
Conference
Date: 
February 9, 2018
Location: 
Virginia, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Environmental History / Studies, Geography, Philosophy, Literature

We live in a world increasingly populated and altered by human beings.  Along with the physical transformations have come fundamental changes in how we conceptualize our relationship with the world around us.  Where once wild places represented darkness, danger, and temptation, they now conjure images of personal challenge (“conquering” the Appalachian trail or Mount Rainier), individual spiritual renewal, or hope against the degradation of rampant consumerism, inequality, or political rot.  Nature—and its supposed pure form, wilderness—is both seen as the opposite of all things human and yet our true home.  These changing and often inconsistent metaphors and models guide us in every area of our lives—the social, economic, aesthetic, philosophic, religious, and scientific.  But questions arise at every turn:  Are we part of nature or distinct?  Do our “real” selves reside in “tamed” or “wild” spaces, and what do these mean?  Does our presence in a place, or the effects of our actions on a place, make it irreparably or happily humanized?  What responsibilities do we have to develop coherent and ethically-viable constructions of the human/nature nexus?  How, historically, have the ideas of wilderness, nature, and society co-evolved?  How have they been represented?  And, importantly, what does it mean to speak about the wild and the natural in a multicultural world in which we assign different meanings to these concepts?

This interdisciplinary conference will explore these and related questions.  We invite papers from any discipline that deal with the theme of this conference. Potential topics include:

  • Wilderness
  • Tame and wild
  • Nature and culture
  • Technology and society
  • Built, or rebuilt, natural place
  • Overpopulation and population ethics
  • Sustainability
  • Social construction of nature and culture
  • Phenomenology of wild and tame
  • Urban environmental ethics
  • Anthropological accounts of the wild
  • The mapping of human and nonhuman place
  • Historic conceptualizations of the natural
  • Aesthetic treatment of wildness
  • Ethics of preservation
  • Activism in defense of the natural
  • National parks as repositories of natural processes
Contact Info: 

Please send proposals to: Troy R E Paddock, Ph.D, Professor of Modern European History & Chair, Department of History, Southern CT State University, by Friday, February 9, 2018.

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