Disturbed Ecologies: Geopolitics and the Northern Landscape in the Era of Environmental Crisis

Editors: Darcy White, Julia Peck, Chris Goldie

We seek abstracts for chapters (6,000-8,000 words) to be considered for inclusion in an edited collection, for publication in Summer 2022. The proposed book is the third of a series published by Transcript Verlag, following /Northern Light: Landscape, Photography and Evocations of the North,/ Chris Goldie / Darcy White (eds.), (2018), and /Proximity and Distance in Northern Landscape Photography: Contemporary Criticism, Curation, and Practice/, Darcy White/ Chris Goldie (eds.) (2020).

This book will consider a range of approaches examining the critical role of visual culture in shaping and interrogating conceptions of ecological crisis in relation to the northern landscape. The book will address the geopolitics of visual culture within debates concerned with the politics of climate change and ecological crisis. Its aim is to engage critically with recent debates about the Anthropocene: arguments concerned with identifying the socioeconomic and political causes of environmental crisis, and the problem in regarding the latter as the consequence of undifferentiated human activity.

At its most challenging and critical the visual culture of place is able to represent a complexity and heterogeneity frequently absent or displaced within dominant discourses of environmental catastrophe. Conversely, many images of landscape and place within fine art practice, commercial and popular forms play a role in supporting a more conventional interpretation of environmental crisis. It is our argument that images of northern places and landscapes have a pivotal function within the geopolitics of visual representation, whether through their exclusion and displacement of other locations and the everyday consequences of ecological crisis for heterogeneous populations; through familiar images of pristine wilderness; through melancholic representations of man-altered landscapes and environmental damage; or through an alternative sublime of eco-catastrophe in which scenes of ecological violence are invested with an awe-inspiring, perverse beauty.

We suggest that the visual culture of northern places has not remained static in the era of ecological crisis but has played a dynamic role within the latter’s broad discursive field: northern landscape photography can still give visual form to historically settled conceptions of a natural world, but these images are frequently placed within a context of human mastery and thus sanction the latter’s purported achievements; and ubiquitous representations of environmental disaster can also reinforce the notion of its techno-utopian resolution.

While the medium of photography / photographic practice will be foregrounded in this anthology the discussions may also range into related practices within the wider terrain of visual culture, where examples may be identified that facilitate useful critiques of the conventional or enhanced understanding of new developments in this field of enquiry. Contributions to the book will explore this visual field, presenting wide-ranging critical appraisals of landscape photography and its related practices, as traditionally conceived, as well as more recent developments in art and visual culture in relation to the representation of place. Authors may question the validity of images where they function as vehicles for the consolidation of the global world order around enhanced networks of power, but also consider where visual culture is part of an emancipatory project in the era of global warming.

Chapters can address original work or themes, or the work of particular photographers, genres, collections. Both historical and contemporary approaches will be considered. We welcome proposals from anyone working within this broad field, including theorists, practitioners, curators and archivists.

Please submit a 500 word abstract and a short bio by Friday 16th October, 2020. Please send your submission *TO ALL* of the following:

  • Darcy White-d.white@shu.ac.uk
  • Julia Peck -jpeck@glos.ac.uk
  • Chris Goldie -c.t.goldie@shu.ac.uk

We look forward to receiving your proposals.