Ecological Humanities

Spring 2018 - Monday / Wednesday 5:30-7:20 pm - bldg: 50-51B
Stanford University, ANTHRO 259C [Schedule for ANTHRO 159C], 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: Toronto University Press, 2016: 1-67.
  • Lindsay Hamilton, Nik Taylor, Ethnography after Humanism: Power, Politics and Method in Multi-Species Research. Springer, 2017.


April 2
1. Introduction


April 4 / April 9
2-3. Ecological and/or Environmental Humanities

  1. Robert S. Emmett, David E. Nye, The Environmental Humanities: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge Mass., London: MIT Press, 2017 (fragments).
  2. Deborah Bird Rose and Libby Robin, "The Ecological Humanities in Action: An Invitation." Australian Humanities Review, no. 31-32, April 2004.
  3. Libby Robin, Deborah Rose, "Manifesto for Ecological Humanities." The Australian National University, 2001
  4. Ewa Domanska, "Ecological Humanities." Teksty Drugie/Second Texts, no. 1, 2015: 186-210.
    • Benjamin S. Orlove, "Ecological Anthropology". Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 9, 1980: 235-273.
    • What is the Environmental Humanities? Environmental Humanities at UCLA
    • David E. Nye, Linda Rugg, James Fleming, Robert Emmett, The Emergence of the Environmental Humanities. Stockholm: Mistra, 2013.
    • Digital Environmental Humanities
    • Vladimir I. Vernadsky, "The Biosphere," in: The biosphere and noosphere reader: global environment, society, and change, edited by Paul R. Samson and David Pitt. London; New York: Routledge, 1999: 35-38.
    • Environmental history in Russia and about Russia

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


April 11
4. Beyond Anthropocentrism

  1. Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman. Polity Press, 2013 (chapter 2 and 4).
  2. Anthropocentrism. Humans, Animals, Environments, ed. by Rob Boddice. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2011 (fragments).
    • Val Plumwood, Environmental Culture: The Ecological Crisis of Reason. London and New York: Routledge, 2002 (fragments)


April 16
5. "To Human" as a Verb

  1. Tim Ingold "Prospect" and Gisli Palsson, "Ensambles of Biosocial Relations", in: Biosocial Becomings. Integrating Social and Biological Anthropology, ed. by Tim Ingold and Gisli Palsson. Cambridge University Press, 2013: 1-41.

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


April 18
6. Different Vocabularies for Innovative Research

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. Dipesh Chakrabarty, "Anthropocene Time." History and Theory, vol. 57, no. 1, March 2018: xxx.
  2. 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.
  3. 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]
  4. Britt Solli, "Some Reflections on Heritage and Archaeology in the Anthropocene" and "Comments." Norwegian Archaeological Review, vol. 44, no. 1, 2011: 40-88.
  5. 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.
  6. Debating the Anthropocene. Antiquity, vol. 90, no. 350, 2016: 504–518.

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


April 30
9-10. Geologic Life and Subjects

  1. Kathryn Yusoff, "Geologic subjects: nonhuman origins, geomorphic aesthetics and the art of becoming inhuman." Cultural Geographies, vol. 22, no. 3, 2015: 383-407.
  2. Kathryn Yusoff, "Geologic life: prehistory, climate, futures in the Anthropocene." Environment and Planning D: Society and Space vol. 31, no. 5, 2013: 779-795.
  3. Gisli Palsson, Heather Anne Swanson, "Down to Earth. Geosocialities and Geopolitics." Environmental Humanities, vol. 8, no. 2, 2016: 149-171.
  4. Christopher Tilley, The Materiality of Stone. Explorations in Landscape Phenomenology. Oxford: Berg, 2004 (fragments).
  5. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press, 2015 (fragments).
  6. Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes its Object. New York : Columbia University Press, 1983 (fragments).
  7. John McPhee, Annals of the Former World. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998 (fragments).
  8. Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016 (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
11. Geoderma and Soil-Human Relations

  1. Alfred E. Hartemink, Alex. McBratney, "A Soil Science Renaissance." Geoderma, vol. 148, 2008: 123–129.
  2. Katsuyuki Minami, "Soil and Humanity: Culture, Civilization, Livelihood and Health." Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, vol. 55, 2009: 603-615.
  3. 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
12. Environmental History of the Graves / Forensics

  1. 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 byEline M. J. Schotsmans, Nicholas Márquez-Grant and Shari L. Forbes. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2017.
  2. 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.

Homework: Describe/photograph/film a process of organic decomposition [or exercise from Forensic Ecology.pdf]


May 9
13. Ecocide as Environmental "Holocaust"

  1. Nathalie de Pompignan, Ecocide. Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, 2007.
  2. 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).
  3. Franz J. Broswimmer, Ecocide. A Short History of the Mass Extinction of Species. London: Pluto Press, 2002 (fragments).
    • 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: 251-266. [Polly Higgins' website]
    • Damien Short, "The Genocide-Ecocide Nexus", in his, Redefining Genocide. Setller 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
14. Sonic Landscapes

  1. 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.
  2. Bryan C. Pijanowski et al., "Soundscape Ecology: The Science of Sound in the Landscape." BioScience, vol. 61, no. 3, March 2011: 203-216.
  3. 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 16 / May 21 / May 23
15-16-17. Animism, Totemism and Ecological Wisdom

  1. Raymond Pierotti, Daniel Wildcat, "Traditional Ecological Knowledge: The Third Alternative (Commentary)". Ecological Applications, vol. 10, no. 5, October 2000:
  2. Graham Harvey, Animism. Respecting the Living World. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006: xi-29; 99-120; 179-212.
  3. Harry Garuba, "On Animism, Modernity/Colonialism, and the African Order of Knowledge: Provisional Reflections." e-flux, #36, July 2012.
  4. Nurit Bird-David, "'Animism' Revisited: Personhood, Environment, and Relational Epistemology." Current Anthropology, vol. 40, February 1999: 567-591.
  5. Tim Ingold, "Rethinking the Animate, Re-Animating Thought." Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, vol. 71, no. 1, March 2006: 9-20.
  6. Val Plumwod, "Nature in the Active Voice." Australian Humanities Review, no. 46, May 2009: 113-129.
    The Handbook of Contemporary Animism, ed. by Graham Harvey. Acumen Publishing, 2013 (fragments).
  7. Ernst Halbmayer, "Debating Animism, Perspectivism, and the Construction of Ontologies" (Berlin, 2012) INDIANA 29: 9-23.
  8. 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).

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 30
18. Postsecular Nature / Green and Animal Theology

  1. Patrick M. Curry, "Post-Secular Nature: Principles and Politics." Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion, vol. 11, no. 3, 2007: 284-304.
  2. 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.

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


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

  1. Janusz R. Kowalczyk, The Extraordinary Life of Simona Kossak. 2015/07/22
  2. Simona Kossak, The Bialowieza Forest Saga. Warsaw: Muza S.A., 2001 ("At the Threshold of the Third Millenium").
  3. 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
20. Conclusions

©ed 2018