...exploring how people shape the world's forests

November 12th, 2015: Affective Ecologies

Professor Neera Singh

Affective Ecologies: Rethinking Ontology, Subjectivity and Environmental Care

November 12, 10:30-12:00pm, Dana Building 1024

The current ecological crisis is a reflection of a deeper ontological crisis that challenges us to rethink human modes of being-becoming. Scholars and indigenous activists-thinkers who invite us to take a relational and vital materialist turn with them, provide us with the conceptual resources for doing so. They challenge us to think in terms of becomings, relations, and emergences instead of in terms of beings and the essence of things. In this talk, I explore what it means to take relational ontology and vibrant materiality seriously and to act responsibly in this world. Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari’s work and the Spinozian theory of affects, I discuss how a conceptual framework of “Affective Ecologies” allows us to think transversally across the ecologies of nature, socitety, and the self and offers new ways of doing environmentalism. More specifically, I elaborate on how thinking in terms of affective ecologies and affective socio-nature relations helps us address issues of environmental subjectivity and human capacity for environmental care. I draw upon my empirical work with community-based forest conservation practices in Odisha, India, to bring affect theory and relational ontology into conversation with indigenous onto-epistemologies and lived practices.

SinghNeera Singh is an Assitant Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include affective socio-nature relations, environmental behavior and subjectivity, social movements, democratization of forest governance, community forestry, and participatory visual ethanography. Prior to her academic career, she founded and led a non-profit organization in India and workd on community forestry and rural development issues.