CFS: “Journal of Haitian Studies” Special Issue on the Environment

Here is a call for submissions for the Journal of Haitian Studies. The guest editor for this special issue on the environment is Rebecca Dirksen (Indiana University). The extended deadline for submissions is November 15, 2020.

Description: Globally we are confronted by a precariously changing climate—in ecological, political, economic, and spiritual terms. Few places face more immediate and profound consequences than Haiti: amid presently unfolding political and economic turmoil, the Global Climate Risk Index has repeatedly ranked the country as among the most vulnerable nations in the world to the effects of extreme weather events related to climate change (e.g., Eckstein, Künzel, and Schäfer 2017). Moreover, Haiti’s ecosystems have endured numerous pressures and threats extending back centuries to the earliest moments of colonial conquest, resulting in species decline, soil erosion, deforestation, compromised water sources, and the degradation of shorelines and coastal waters, among other situations of loss and disruption. Such challenges in turn affect the viability of agriculture, public health, governance and sovereignty, and other matters at the core of human (and non-human) life.

Together these conditions demand that we become more aware of our roles in the construction of the Anthropocene as an epoch driven by unrestrained extractivism (Crutzen 2006, Gomes-Bares 2017, Yusoff 2018). They mandate that we think carefully and creatively about broader systems that have led to this point, including the long-churning slow violence that systematically undermines certain people and privileges others (Nixon 2011, Paravisini-Gebert 2016). They require that we commit to act toward environmental justice in ways that draw in not just scholars, but community members and activists beyond institutional settings (Carter et al. 2010). They insist that we question the stark human-nature dualism that excuses our voracious appetites for consumerism with a commonly held Judeo-Christian conviction that it is “God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends” (White 1967: 1205). They ask us to consider the entanglements, mutualities, and symbiotic relationships in this multispecies world (Haraway 2016). They return our attention to indigenous worldviews that promote traditional ecological knowledge (Berkes 1993), including, in Haiti, Vodou as a sacred ecology that teaches ecological metaphysics and environmental awareness (Dirksen 2018).

In recognition of the wealth of scholarship presented at the 2016 Haitian Studies Association conference on Haiti’s ecosystems and previous publications (e.g., Bellande 2015, Emmanuel 2012, Rouzier 1997, et Séverin 2008) and in line with the growing global momentum for climate change activism, the Journal of Haitian Studies announces its commitment to investigating “Climate Change, Sacred Ecologies, and Environmental Activism in Haiti.” With this special issue, we offer a platform for critical and engaged scholarship that casts Anthropogenic conditions into a different light and that offers revisions to how Haiti’s environmental challenges are discussed and confronted. We seek accounts and storylines that speak to ecological matters from multiples perspectives: the sciences, the humanities, the arts, medical fields, spiritual domains, and beyond. We hope to discover instances of practical activism and to cultivate our “arts of noticing” (Tsing 2015). We place emphasis on alternative modes of thinking—for example, on the value of traditional ecological knowledge and sacred ecologies (emanating from Vodou or other Afro-Atlantic belief systems, or Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Bahá’í Faith, etc.) to communicate meaningfully across socio-economic divides. We therefore issue this wide-reaching call to scholars, activists, artists, health care providers, spiritual practitioners, and community members who have something to say about Haiti’s ecosystems and the worldviews that shape it. In recognizing the many voices and modes of communication, we will entertain a variety of formats and encourage collaborative writing. To enable broader participation, we ask authors to restrict their submissions to 8,000 words or less.

Further, as an integrated part of this project, we seek to collaboratively build a multilingual, multimodal database of sources of international scope addressing environmental matters in and around Haiti. Beyond formal articles, we therefore warmly invite contributions of citations for relevant resources by scholars of varied backgrounds and experiences. We especially welcome contributions from and recognition of work done by colleagues based in Haiti and the wider Caribbean.

All submissions will go through peer review. Send submissions to relfman@ucsb.edu by November 15, 2020. Please follow submission style guidelines, found at https://www.haitianstudies.org/journal-of-haitian-studies/

For more information, see https://www.haitianstudies.org/2020/08/journal-of-haitian-studies-call-for-submissions/

[Photo Credit: R. Dirksen, 2012.  High waters in Lake Azuei. Note Sabal palms and other trees in the water facing death by asphyxiation.]

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