Environment, Space and Place

Open CFP: Individual Papers, Organized Panels, Praxis Sessions, or Workshops

Moderators: TBA

The Environment, Space, and Place (ESP) Working Group of the Cultural Studies Association invites submissions for the 15th Annual Meeting of the Cultural Studies Association, to be held at Georgetown University, Washington DC, May 25-27th, 2017. Although the CSA’s proposal deadline is February 1, 2017, the deadline for this ESP Working Group CFP is 1 January 2017.

This is an open call for either individual papers or panels, workshops, or praxis sessions broadly concerned with the spatial and cultural dynamics that shape relations between environment, space, and place. Please also see our concurrent CFPs for sessions on visualizing environments and digital environmental inquiry. While the ESP Working Group has historically drawn from a deep-rooted engagement with geography, we welcome work from across all fields and interdisciplines concerned with the workings of nature and power, including but not limited to anthropology, geography, international relations, science and technology studies, environmental studies, and development studies. We invite theoretically, methodologically, and empirically diverse work from scholars, artists, and activists investigating the spatial and cultural dynamics of environment, nature, space, and place, broadly conceived.

In keeping with this year’s conference theme, "Culture in the Age of Mass Debt," we especially invite papers, panels, and non-traditional presentations addressing how debt and indebtedness are entangled with the production, circulation, and representation of socio-natural relations. Papers might, for example, consider (but are certainly not limited to):

  • The emergence of specific forms of ecological debt and indebtedness under neoliberalism, late capitalism, or other sets of historical conditions

  • Material and theoretical approaches to quantifying, qualifying, and managing debt as it shapes contemporary or historical environments

  • Cultural production surrounding environmental harms and their management through structures of debt and indebtedness

  • The intersection of current debt formations with historical and ongoing structures of colonial, imperial, racist, and classist violence

Proposals should be submitted by January 1, 2017, and should include:

a. Your name, email address, department, and institutional affiliation.

b. A 300 word (or less) abstract that outlines the topic and goal of your current research project, the methodological strategies and theoretical influences that undergird this project or panel, and the interest or desired outcome that motivates you to participate in the ESP Working Group.

Please send all abstracts and inquiries to Sophie Sapp Moore (slsapp@ucdavis.edu) by 1 January 2017, after which time we will gather individual submissions into sessions, review panel or other session proposals, and submit all panels through the EasyChair system.

Visualizing Environments

Moderator: Lindsay Garcia, The College of William and Mary

From the box office dramatization of the BP spill in Deepwater Horizon (2016), to Facebook Live coverage of the Water Protectors' protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline, to Netflix's catalog of issue-pieces and nature documentaries, visual media play a crucial role in mediating popular perceptions of the humans' relationship to the environment. This CFP seeks to bring together an interdisciplinary panel that focuses on how activists, (social) media producers, artists, and other stakeholders use visual imagery to shaping public discourse about environmental issues. Some possible topics could include, but are not limited to: artists' portrayals of landscape and pollution; activists' use of branding, photographs, or media circuits to promote their cause; ecocinema; documentary film; social or news media coverage of environmental disasters and protests; nonhuman animals as image producers; and landscape photography.

Proposals should be submitted by February 1, 2017, and should include:

a. Your name, email address, department, and institutional affiliation.

b. A 300-word (or less) abstract for your 15-20 minute project presentation, including a title.

c. Audio-visual equipment needs (no requests for AV equipment can be honored later).

Please send inquiries to Lindsay Garcia (ldgarcia@email.wm.edu) and Daniel Lanza Rivers (daniellanzarivers@gmail.com).

Methods of Spatial, Environmental, and Scientific Inquiry in Cultural Studies Roundtable:

Moderator: Daniel Lanza Rivers, Sonoma State University

As public discourse has become increasingly focused on the political tensions surrounding environmental racism, climate change, and the anthropocene (or what Jason Moore calls the “capitalocene”), cultural criticism has seen a proliferation of methods, venues, and career opportunities related to environmental and spatial inquiry. And as cultural studies scholars working at the juncture of this contemporary interest, it falls to us to ask ourselves and each other, “To what extent is this (re)new(ed) wave of ecocultural inquiry engaging with, eliding, or rehearsing discussions about sustainability, environmental justice, and the biosphere that are archived in genealogies of deep ecology, ecofeminism, and ecocriticism? What role do discussions of methodology play in fostering or obscuring streams of influence that infuse contemporary ecocultural studies? What might be gained by teaching and writing from a position of integrated ecocultural inquiry?” Participants in this roundtable should be prepared to submit up to five pages of their project and to review other attendees drafts in advance of the conference.

Proposals should be submitted by February 1, 2017, and should include:

a. Your name, email address, department, and institutional affiliation.

b. A 300 word abstract that outlines the topic and goal of their current research project, the methodological strategies and theoretical influences that undergird this project, and the interest or desired outcome that motivates them to join this roundtable.

Please send all required information to Daniel Lanza Rivers (daniellanzarivers@gmail.com).

Digital Environmental Inquiry in the Anthropocene:

Moderator: Daniel Lanza Rivers, Sonoma State University

Since its popularization in the 1990s, the internet has proven to be a valuable tool for expanding and coordinating global networks of discourse, activism (or hacktivism), and commerce. Despite the globality of this integrated network, it can be argued that the ubiquity of virtual immersion has fostered increases in factionalism, in asymmetrical relationships of production and consumption, and in ambivalence about the health of non-virtual environments and ecologies. This panel will explore the theoretical, material, and ecological connections among virtual, built, and nonbuilt environments, as well as the health of their attendant ecologies (social and nonhuman). Whether or not submissions draw influence from recent publications such as Nicole Starosielski's The Undersea Network (Duke 2016), Jussi Parikka's A Geology of Media (Minnesota, 2015), Tung-Hui Hu's A Prehistory of the Cloud (MIT, 2015), or John Durham Peters The Marvelous Clouds: Toward a Philosophy of Elemental Media (Chicago, 2016), presentations for this panel should explore new thresholds of integration between environmental inquiry, media studies, and technocultural studies by interrogating the virtual as a theoretical, a material, and a cultural landscape that cannot be meaningfully removed from the environments and ecologies of the biosphere.

Proposals should be submitted by February 1, 2017, and should include:

a. Your name, email address, department, and institutional affiliation.

b. A 300 word abstract that outlines the topic and goal of their current research project, the methodological strategies and theoretical influences that undergird this project, and the interest or desired outcome that motivates them to join this roundtable.

Please send all inquiries to Daniel Lanza Rivers (daniellanzarivers@gmail.com).

Chair: Daniel Lanza-Rivers


Vice-Chair: Lindsay Garcia


The CSA Working Group on Environment, Space and Place spans the union of cultural studies and geography. Approaching culture as spatial allows for powerful analyses of dominance and resistance, style, consumption, identity, ideology, as well as human-environment relations. Space and place - and representations thereof in various media - both result from and reassert force on culture. The Working Group welcomes discussion in all areas pertaining to environment, space and place, past and present, and encourages interdisciplinary consideration of these topics.

Join this working group