Ecological Humanities

Spring 2018 - Monday / Wednesday 5:30-7:20 pm - bldg: 50-51B
Stanford University, ANTHRO 159C/259C, DLCL 259C, REES 259C [3 units]

Ewa Domanska


What sort of topics, research questions, approaches, theories and concepts lead to an integration of various kinds of knowledges? Ecological Humanities provides a conceptual platform for a merger of humanities and social sciences with earth and life sciences, soil science and forensic sciences. The course will discuss such selected topics as the Anthropocene, geologic/mineral and exhumed subjects/personae, bio- and geosocial collectives, symbiotic life-forms, non-human agencies, and forensic landscapes as examples of this merger. This course will encourage students to use creative and unconventional methods of research (imagination, creative writing, walking, performances, etc.), when working on papers for other classes and individual projects.



Attendance is mandatory. Students who miss more than one meeting (except for illness or others serious matters) will not be graded. Students are expected to read assigned readings carefully and participate in discussions. Grading: participation - 40%; class presentation - 10%; homeworks - 10%; final work: 40%. Final work expectations: on the base of required readings and homeworks, students are asked to create a booklet that includes concepts, definitions, citations from readings, as well as made/created by them for the course photos, notes, drawings, aphorisms, poems, etc. that would show students' view on the value of ecological knowledge.



  • Robert S. Emmett, David E. Nye, The Environmental Humanities: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge Mass., London: MIT Press, 2017.
  • The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities, edited by Ursula K. Heise, Jon Christensen, Michelle Niemann. Routledge 2017.
  • A Different Kind of Ethnography: Imaginative Practices and Creative Methodologies, ed. by Denielle Elliott and Dara Culhane. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016: 1-67.
  • Practicing Ethnography. A Student Guide to Method and Methodology, ed. by Lynda Mannik and Karen McGarry. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017.
  • Lindsay Hamilton, Nik Taylor, Ethnography after Humanism: Power, Politics and Method in Multi-Species Research. Springer, 2017.


April 2
1. Introduction


April 4
2. Ecological and/or Environmental Humanities

Robert S. Emmett, David E. Nye, “The Emergence of Environmental Humanities,” in: Robert S. Emmett, David E. Nye, The Environmental Humanities: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge Mass., London: MIT Press, 2017: 1-21.

Deborah Bird Rose and Libby Robin, "The Ecological Humanities in Action: An Invitation." Australian Humanities Review, no. 31-32, April 2004.

Libby Robin, Deborah Rose, "Manifesto for the Ecological Humanities." The Australian National University, 2001.

Deborah Bird Rose, Thom van Dooren, Matthew Chrulew, et al., "Thinking Through the Environment, Unsettling the
Humanities." Environmental Humanities, vol. 1, 2012: 1-5.

Homework: On the base of required readings as well as your own knowledge and using free online word cloud generator, create ecological/environmental humanities word cloud. Using different font's sizes, colors and shapes try to show hierarchy and relations between various terms.


April 11 / April 9
3-4. Beyond Anthropocentrism

Lissy Goralnik and Michael Paul Nelson, “Anthropocentrism,” in: Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, vol. 1, edited by Ruth Chadwick. San Diego: Academic Press, 2012: 145–155.

Allen Thompson, “Anthropocentrism: Humanity as Peril and Promise,” in: The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Ethics, edited by Stephen M. Gardiner and Allen Thompson. Oxford University Press, 2015:

Jonathan Beever, “Anthropocentrism in the Anthropocene,” in: Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene, edited by Dominick A. DellaSala and Michael I. Goldstein. Oxford, Waltham MA: Elsevier, 2018: 39-44.

Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman. Polity Press, 2013 (chapter 2: Post-Anthropocentrism: Life beyond the Species): 55-104.

Val Plumwood, Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reason. London and New York: Routledge, 2002 (chapter 6: “Philosophy, Prudence and Anthropocentrism”).

Rob Boddice, “The End of Anthropocentrism,” in: Anthropocentrism. Humans, Animals, Environments, ed. by Rob Boddice. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2011: 1-18.

  • W. H. Murdy, “Anthropocentrism: A Modern Version.” Science, vol. 187, no. 4182, March 28, 1975: 1168-1172.
  • Lynn White, Jr., “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis.” Science, New Series, vol. 155, no. 3767, Mach 10, 1967: 1203-1207.


April 16
5. "To Human" as a Verb

Tim Ingold "Prospect," in: Biosocial Becomings. Integrating Social and Biological Anthropology, ed. by Tim Ingold and Gisli Palsson. Cambridge University Press, 2013: 1-21.

Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Decentering the Human? Or What Remains of Gaja,” in his, The Human Condition in the Anthropocene. The Tanner Lectures in Human Values delivered at Yale University, February 18-19, 2015: 165-188.

  • Giorgio Agamben, “Anthropological Machine,” in his, The Open. Man and Animal. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004: 33-38.

Homework: write a short poem that includes the phrase "to human is a verb".


April 18
6. Different Vocabularies for Innovative Research

Jasmine B. Ulmer, "Posthumanism as Research Methodology: Inquiry in the Anthropocene. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, vol. 30, no. 9, 2017: 832-848.

Francesca Ferrando, "Towards A Posthumanist Methodology." A Statement. Frame. Journal of Literary Studies, vol. 25, no. 1, May 2012: 9-18.

Homework: identify/create 3 concepts essential for your current research (and related to the course topics). Define each of them in approximately 100 words.


April 23 / April 25
7-8. Anthropocene
special guest: Andrew M. Bauer

Andrew M. Bauer and Erle C. Ellis, “The Anthropocene divide: obscuring understanding of socio-environmental change.” Current Anthropology, vol. 59, no. 2, April 2018: 209-227.

Paul J. Crutzen, “Geology of mankind.” Nature 415 (6867), 2002: 23.

Matt Edgeworth et al., Archaeology of the Anthropocene. Forum. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, vol. 1, no. 1, 2014: 73–132.

Michael Balter, “Archaeologists Say the ‘Anthropocene’ Is Here—But It Began Long Ago.” Science, vol. 340, 19 April 2013: 261-262.

Ian Hodder, “The entanglements of humans and things: A long-term view.” New Literary History , vol. 45, no. 1, 2014: 19-36.

Alan Mikhail, “Enlightenment Anthropocene.” Eighteenth-Century Studies, vol. 49, no. 2, 2016: 211–31.

Dipesh Chakrabarty, "Anthropocene Time." History and Theory, vol. 57, no. 1, March 2018: 5-32.

Gisli Palsson, Bronislaw Szerszynski et al., "Reconceptualizing the 'Anthropos' in the Anthropocene: Integrating the social sciences and humanities in global environmental change research". Environmental Science and Policy, vol. 28, 2013: 3-13.

Nigel Clark, Kathryn Yusoff, "Geosocial Formations and the Anthropocene." Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 34, no. 2–3, 2017: 3–23 [special issue: Geosocial Formations and the Anthropocene]

Tero Toivanen, Karoliina Lummaa, Antti Majava, et al., “The many Anthropocenes: A transdisciplinary challenge for the Anthropocene research.’ The Anthropocene Review, vol. 4, no. 3, 2017: 183-198.

Marina Simakova, “No Man’s Space: On Russian Cosmism.” e-flux, #74, June 2016
Russian Cosmism, theme issue. e-flux, #88, February 2018.
George M. Young, The Russian Cosmists: The Esoteric Futurism of Nikolai Fedorov and His Followers. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Homework: analyze and reflect on a chosen (one) paragraph from one of the assigned articles (500 words).


April 30
9. Geologic Life and Subjects

Kathryn Yusoff, "Geologic subjects: nonhuman origins, geomorphic aesthetics and the art of becoming inhuman." Cultural Geographies, vol. 22, no. 3, 2015: 383-407.

Kathryn Yusoff, "Geologic life: prehistory, climate, futures in the Anthropocene." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space vol. 31, no. 5, 2013: 779-795.

Elizabeth A. Povinelli, “The Three Figures of Geontology,” in: her, Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016: 1-29 [or her, “Geontologies: The Concept and Its Territories.” e-flux, #81, April 2017].

Gisli Palsson, Heather Anne Swanson, "Down to Earth. Geosocialities and Geopolitics." Environmental Humanities, vol. 8, no. 2, 2016: 149-171.

  • Christopher Tilley, The Materiality of Stone. Explorations in Landscape Phenomenology. Oxford: Berg, 2004 (fragments).
  • Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press, 2015 (fragments).
  • Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes its Object. New York : Columbia University Press, 1983 (fragments).
  • John McPhee, Annals of the Former World. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998 (fragments).

Homework: make a photo of a stone that in your opinion might be considered as a geologic subject or persona. Describe and analyze representation of the stone on the photo in 500 words.


May 2
10. Geoderma and Soil-Human Relations

Alfred E. Hartemink, Alex. McBratney, "A Soil Science Renaissance." Geoderma, vol. 148, 2008: 123–129.

Katsuyuki Minami, "Soil and Humanity: Culture, Civilization, Livelihood and Health." Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, vol. 55, 2009: 603-615.

Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, "Making Time for Soil: Technoscientific Futurity and the Pace of Care." Social Studies of Science, vol. 45, no. 5, 2015: 691-716.

  • Johan Bouma, "Soil Science Contributions Towards Sustainable Development Goals and their Implementation: Linking Soil Functions with Ecosystem Services". Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, vol. 177, no. 2, April 2014: 111-120.
  • Daniel deB. Richter, Allan R. Bacon, Megan L. Mobley  et al., "Human–Soil Relations are Changing Rapidly: Proposals from SSSA's Cross-Divisional Soil Change Working Group." Soil Science Society of America Journal, vol. 75, 2011: 2079–2084.
  • Rattan Lal, "The soil–peace nexus: our common future." Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, vol. 61, no. 4, 2015: 566-578.
  • John Carey, "Crucial Role of Belowground Biodiversity." PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America), vol. 113, no. 28, 2016: 7682-7685.

Homework: Using "walking as a research strategy" (A Different Kind of Ethnography, p. 91ff), collect a sample of the soil. Describe and reflect on your search and finding. What is geoderma?


May 7
11. Environmental History of the Graves

Shari L. Forbes, et al., "Microscopic Post-Mortem Changes: the Chemistry of Decomposition," Emily N. Junkins and David O. Carter, "Relationship between Human Remains, Graves and the Dispositional Environment," Franklin E. Damann, Bacterial Symbionts and Taphonomic Agents of Humans," in: Taphonomy of Human Remains: Forensic Analysis of the Dead and the Depositional Environment, edited by Eline M. J. Schotsmans, Nicholas Márquez-Grant and Shari L. Forbes. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2017.

Jan Zalasiewicz,  “Body of Evidence,” in his, The Earth After Us : What legacy will humans leave in the rocks? Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014: 191-218.

Marco Caccianiga, Stefania Bottacin and Cristina Cattaneo, "Vegetation Dynamics as a Tool for Detecting Clandestine Graves." Journal of Forensic Sciences, vol. 57, no. 4, July 2012:

  • Ivan Efremov, "Taphonomy: New Branch of Paleontology." Pan-American Geologist, vol. 74, 1940: 81-93.

See: Sam Taylor-Johnson, "A Little Death," 2002 and her, "Still Life" (2001) [SFMoMa]


May 9
12. Ecocide as Environmental "Holocaust"

Nathalie de Pompignan, Ecocide. Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, 2007.

David Zierler, Invention of Ecocide. Agent Orange, Vietnam, and the Scientists Who Changed the Way We Think About the Environment. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011 ("Introduction": 1-32 and chapter 7: "Surveying a Catastrophe": 118-137).

Franz J. Broswimmer, Ecocide. A Short History of the Mass Extinction of Species. London: Pluto Press, 2002 (Introduction: 1-9; chapter 3: “The Modern Assault on Nature: The Making of Ecocide: 55-69; chapter 4: The Planet as Sacrificial Zone: 70-85 and p. 97-105).

  • Polly Higgins & Damien Short & Nigel South, Protecting the planet: a proposal for a law of ecocide. Crime, Law and Social Change, vol. 59, no. 3, 2013: 251-266.
  • Damien Short, "The Genocide-Ecocide Nexus", in his, Redefining Genocide. Settler Colonialism, Social Death and Ecocide. London: ZED Books, 2016: 38-67.
  • Murray Feshbach, Alfred Friendly, Ecocide in the USSR: Health and Nature under Siege. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1992.

Homework: Write down your individual resolutions for a healthy planet.


May 14
13. event:
Bill Brown's lecture: "Re-Assemblage: Theory, practice, form"

May 16
14. event: Philippe Descola's lecture: "Cosmopolitics as ontological pluralism"


May 21
15. Animism, Totemism and Ecological Wisdom

Raymond Pierotti, Daniel Wildcat, "Traditional Ecological Knowledge: The Third Alternative (Commentary)". Ecological Applications, vol. 10, no. 5, October 2000:1333-1340.

Graham Harvey, Animism. Respecting the Living World. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006: xi-29; 99-120; 179-212.

Harry Garuba, "On Animism, Modernity/Colonialism, and the African Order of Knowledge: Provisional Reflections." e-flux, #36, July 2012.

Nurit Bird-David, "'Animism' Revisited: Personhood, Environment, and Relational Epistemology." Current Anthropology, vol. 40, February 1999: 567-591.

Tim Ingold, "Rethinking the Animate, Re-Animating Thought." Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, vol. 71, no. 1, March 2006: 9-20.

Peter M. Whiteley, “Epilogue. Prolegomenon for a New Totemism,” in: The Anthropology of Extinction. Essays on Culture and Species Death, ed. by Genese Marie Sodikoff. Bioomington: Indiana University Press, 2012: 219-226.

  • Val Plumwod, "Nature in the Active Voice." Australian Humanities Review, no. 46, May 2009: 113-129.
  • Ariel Gómez Ponce, "Ecosemiotic Aspects of Zoomorphic Metaphors: The Human as a Predator." Sign Systems Studies, vol. 44, no. 1/2, 2016: 231–247.
  • The Handbook of Contemporary Animism, ed. by Graham Harvey. Acumen Publishing, 2013 (fragments).
  • Ernst Halbmayer, "Debating Animism, Perspectivism, and the Construction of Ontologies" (Berlin, 2012) INDIANA 29: 9-23.
  • Special section: "Animating Archaeology: of Subjects, Objects and Alternative Ontologies." Cambridge Archaeological Journal, vol. 19, no. 3, 2009 (Benjamin Alberti & Tamara L. Bray, "Introduction": 337-343; Benjamin Alberti & Yvonne Marshall, "Animating Archaeology: Local Theories and Conceptually Open-ended Methdologies": 334-356; Alejandro F. Haber, "Animism, Relatedness, Life: Post-Western Perspectives": 418-430).

Discussion: Nandipha Mntambo, "Europa", 2008
Pokot / Spoor (dir. Agnieszka Holland, 2017)

Homework: using PhotoLab Picture Editor (for Android) create your face photo montage, half human/half animal or human/plant and write 500 words explaining your choice of animal/plant. How your perception of your subjectivity changes while involving animal/plant features.


May 23
16. Sonic Landscapes

David W. Samuels, Louise Meintjes, Ana Maria Ochoa, and Thomas Porcello, "Soundscapes: Toward a Sounded Anthropology." Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 39, 2010: 329-345.

Bryan C. Pijanowski et al., "Soundscape Ecology: The Science of Sound in the Landscape." BioScience, vol. 61, no. 3, March 2011: 203-216.

Erik A. Beever, "Ecological Silence of the Grasslands, Forests, Wetlands, Mountains, and Seas." Conservation Biology, vol. 23, no. 5, October 2009: 1320–1322.

  • Kendall Wrightson, "An Introduction to Acoustic Ecology". Soundscape, The Journal of Acoustic Ecology, vol. 1, no. 2000: 10-13.
  • Steve Goodman, Sonic Warfare. Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear. MIT Press, 2010.


May 30
17. Postsecular Nature / Green and Animal Theology

Patrick M. Curry, "Post-Secular Nature: Principles and Politics." Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion, vol. 11, no. 3, 2007: 284-304.

Andrew Linzey, Creatures of the Same God: Explorations in Animal Theology. Winchester University Press, 2007: 49-113.

  • Divinanimality: Animal Theory, Creaturely Theology, ed. by Stephen Moore. New York: Fordham University Press, 2014 (fragments).
  • Pope Francis, "On Care for Our Common Home" (Laudato Si')
  • Donovan O. Schaefer, "Do Animals Have Religion? Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Religion and Embodiment." Anthrozoös, vol. 25, supplement, 2012: 173-189.
  • Rod Giblett, Environmental Humanities and Theologies, Ecoculture, Literature and the Bible. Routledge, 2018.

Homework: create a [prayer] that would involve issues of Earth, land, animals, plants, oceans, rivers, mountains (your choice).


June 4
18. Ethnographer as Artist/Writer and Ecological Knowledge

Janusz R. Kowalczyk, The Extraordinary Life of Simona Kossak. 2015/07/22

Simona Kossak, „At the Threshold of the Third Millenium,” in her, The Bialowieza Forest Saga. Warsaw: Muza S.A., 2001: 523-548.

Michael Fleming, rev. Kossak, The Bialowieza Forest Saga. Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 54, no. 8, December 2002: 1361-1363.

Homework: Write a short essay that describes your experience with nature (up to 1000 words).

June 6
19. Conclusions


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