Institute of Australian Geographers/New Zealand Geographical Society Conference, University of Melbourne, 30th June – 2nd July 2014.
Organisers: Dr Leah Gibbs (University of Wollongong), Dr Andrew Warren (University of New England), Mr Charles Gillon (University of Wollongong)
This session is concerned with the agency of nonhumans in shaping environmental politics, environmental decisions, and everyday encounters. Nonhuman agency is currently the subject of research across cultural and posthumanist geographies, political ecology and political economy. Each of these fields brings into focus different aspects of the agency of nonhumans, as well as a range of critiques. Political economic research has been critiqued for adopting an overly constrained view of agency, and for failing to confront the political subjectivity of socio-natures. ‘The inadvertent consequence is a failure to address the full scope of environmental processes’ (Bakker 2010, 717). Cultural geography – and especially posthumanist approaches – have extended agency beyond the human realm, to consider agency of animals and objects, and more recently plants and elements (including freshwater and the sea). However, such accounts of distributive agency have been critiqued for flattening relations too much. Accounts of nonhuman agency enable better understanding of events and relations, the implications of environmental decisions and actions, and present opportunities to pose alternate questions of conceptual and practical importance. This session seeks to advance interrogation of the role of the agency of nonhuman animals, plants, elements, objects, and processes, and the question of which things and processes have the power to act.
We welcome papers that focus on:
- conceptual and theoretical questions;
- theoretically informed empirical research;
- methodology; and
- political implications of nonhuman agency.
Session format: Standard paper session (4 papers). This session is being sponsored by the Cultural Geography Study Group.