Organized by Sascha Pöhlmann (TU Dortmund) and Burak Sezer (University of Cologne)
We are witnessing a growing number of ongoing climate protests around the world, and their intensity is on the rise. They take various forms, ranging from demonstrations and public gatherings to symbolic interventions (splashing artworks in museums), infrastructural disruptions (gluing hands to roads), and territorial occupations (organizing sit-ins and blockades against extractive coal mining or deforestation). Despite their largely peaceful nature, some contemporary protests have been described in terms of “ecoterrorism,” associating their disruptive effects with a particular form of public violence and placing them in a messy historical continuum. The use of violence against property and human beings in the pursuit of an environmentalist agenda has been a highly contentious issue in local and transnational ecological movements until today, and it is one that relates to numerous other, long-established ethical and political debates on civil disobedience, individualism, imperialism, or anarchism.
Historically, ecoterrorism, along with related terms like ecological sabotage (“ecotage”) and “monkeywrenching,” emerged as a political category in the 1970s. This happened to no small extent in US-American fiction, which highlights the relevance of an imagination of ecoterrorism, in the sense of cultural representations of practices that pursue an environmentalist agenda by violent and/or illegal means. This imagination is highly relevant in shaping a broad cultural understanding of what constitutes ecoterrorism at all, as well as in shaping ethical, political, and even legal responses to it on local, national, and transnational levels. As most academic approaches to the issue have overwhelmingly focused on its legal and political implications, it is imperative to add anglophone cultural studies to these perspectives in order to recuperate and emphasize this imaginative aspect. This conference appropriates the contested term of “ecoterrorism” to discuss the aesthetics, ideologies, politics, symbolic values, historical developments, affective modes, and media-specific characteristics of ecological protests and their representation and imagination.
We expressly welcome proposals from scholars of all career stages. These may include, but are in no way restricted to, the following topics:
- The uses and ideologies of the term “ecoterrorism” itself
- The ethics and aesthetics of ecological violence and protest in different media
- The history of ecological protest and its representations
- Local, national, transnational, and global frameworks
- Individual and collective agency and responsibility
- (Post-)colonialism and subalternity
- Social and environmental (in)justice
- Capitalism and exploitation of the human and non-human world
- Environmentalism and identity (race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc.)
- Ecoterrorism and genre (satire, nature writing, manifesto, etc.)