Is all Environmental Humanities Feminist Environmental Humanities?

Photograph courtesy of Cecilia Åsberg

By Lauren LaFauci and Cecilia Åsberg

In the wake of the righteous movement protesting police violence and the murder of Black people in the United States, environmentalist Leah Thomas (@greengirlleah) posted an image to Instagram of text repeating 16 times, “Environmentalists for Black Lives Matter.” In the post, she introduced a concept she calls “intersectional environmentalism,” defining it there as: Read More

Lockdown and Locked In: Houseplants and Covid-19

Drawing courtesy of the author

By Darya Tsymbalyuk

Just before the official lockdown was announced in Scotland, I moved all of my office plants home. There was no space for them in my room, but I rearranged my furniture to accommodate my office plants since they had been my closest companions during the crisis. There are numerous platforms, including Vogue and Independent, which have written about the positive effect houseplants have had on people during the lockdown, including their positive contribution to our mental health. Yet there are fewer platforms that have written about the effect the lockdown has had on houseplants left in apartments and offices, and even the ones that do, stress the importance of people’s wellbeing rather than the wellbeing of plants. For example, The Guardian quotes Hugo Meunier, a founder of the company in Paris that is rescuing plants, as saying: Read More

Masking Our Uncertainties: The Way of the Masks

Reproduced with permission © Ranjan Kaul

By Rita Brara

A mask does not exist in isolation; it presupposes other real or potential masks by its side, masks that might have been chosen in its stead and substituted for it.
-Claude Levi-Strauss, The Way of the Masks

An overwhelming sense of uncertainty fogs the Covid-19 pandemic and cityscapes in India as elsewhere in a planetary reminder of our common environment. Our uncertainties are multi-faceted—personal, practical, and social—but resonate in the insistence that we consider science-based inputs and the accompanying masked and unmasked claims regularly (if not 24/7). As people, cognizing claims that are evolving, we come to inhabit and re-inhabit our masking contexts and practices while embodying the realization that there is no masking our inequities. Read More

Understanding Reverse Worker Migration during the Covid-19 Lockdown in India and the Green Revolution

Source: Sumita Roy Dutta CC BY-SA

By Vipul Singh
Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Delhi

The Covid-19 pandemic has posed a grave challenge, with countries around the world struggling to control its spread. The easiest and most viable solution to reducing the rate of infection has been to impose a total lockdown. India is no exception. Here, too, the government announced a complete lockdown understanding the indispensability of taking such a step. The country was already struggling to recover from an economic slowdown, with the lockdown dealing a further blow, but central and state governments were left with hardly any other options. The rules of lockdown have been wholeheartedly followed by the urban middle class. Social distancing has become the buzzword for facing up to the novel virus contagion. The educated middle class has been upbeat in supporting state regulations. They have been proudly sharing photographs of working from home on social media. Yet significant amounts of industrial workers and daily wage earners in densely populated cities have reacted differently. They depended on their daily earnings, which have come to a complete halt as a result of the lockdown. The affluent and middle classes have stopped allowing them entry into their houses and apartments because of the notion they live in unhygienic conditions. And, indeed, they live in difficult conditions in shanties with the bare minimum of facilities. Read More

The Distant Spring: Philosophy and Social Innovation

Photo courtesy of the author

By Rafael Ziegler

Eight variations for thinking about social innovation and sustainability transitions during the coronavirus crisis

In response to the harm done to birds by the widespread use of pesticides, Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring (1962). Her account of the “silencing of the birds” helped motivate a flock of social innovation via the emerging environmental movement. Spring 2020 has arrived with a virus pushing us behind windows and glued to screens. It is too early to tell what this “distant” spring will bring for later seasons and years to come. However, distance invites reflection. Drawing on a forthcoming book, here are eight philosophical ideas for reflection on social innovation—a term that in its more recent configuration expresses discontent with innovation as we know it, i.e., the technical innovations for commercial use (such as the pesticides studied by Carson) and a search for alternatives. Read More

Lessons from the Coronavirus Pandemic for Environmental Governance

Source: FolsomNatural via Flickr CC BY 2.0

By Erin Ryan

The coronavirus pandemic offers lessons for leaders on every level about how—and how not—to manage complex interjurisdictional challenges, like the environment, which unfold without regard for political boundaries [1]. Read More

Fault Lines: On the Ground in Colombia

View from the author’s apartment window (Source: Author)

By Paula Ungar

I spend the quarantine days in my old, quiet apartment. From the window, I can see the shape of the Andean mountains that embrace the Eastern part of Bogotá. Groups of little houses are embroidered into that mountainside, like honeycombs, forming one of the numerous self-built quarters in this city inhabited by seven-million. Read More

Corona Crisis, UNESCO and the Future: Do We Need a New World Heritage?

World heritage for the post-corona world? Artefacts of the Anthropocene. From Tracey Williams’s Collection “Lego Lost at Sea.” Reproduced by permission © Tracey Williams @LegoLostAtSea.

By Cornelius Holtorf and Annalisa Bolin
UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures, Linnaeus University, Sweden

A virus has put the world on hold. Many individual human actions suddenly appear extremely small and insignificant in comparison with the unyielding might and relentless spread with which the SARS-CoV-2 virus is presently conquering Earth. We are witnessing how the virus does not distinguish between human hosts and how all societies struggle with the challenges of containing and managing the coronavirus. Read More

Cross-Species Conversations and the Coronavirus

The hand of human intervention in mutual symbiosis and harmony with nature © Olaf Hajek

By Serenella Iovino (translated by Elena Past)

Zoonosis. This is one of the strange words that the onset of the coronavirus has forced us to learn. Zoonosis is a transitive infection, a virus that passes from animals to human beings. Or rather: it passes to our species from other animal species, recalling that human and nonhuman animals share an entire biological kingdom and that our bodies’ cells speak languages that are not all that dissimilar. That which affects “them” can affect us, a fact which testifies to an all-too-often forgotten kinship of destinies and origins. Read More

“You have to change your life!” Our Common Post-Corona Future through a Swedish Lens

Intensive care unit in Algemeen ziekenhuis St-Maarten (Saint Martin’s General Hospital) at Mechelen, Flanders, Belgium, 10 June 2018, © Ad Meskens

By Sigurd Bergmann

Once the coronavirus pandemic is over, we will wake up to a new society. Before everything gets better, however, everything will get worse—for a long time yet. We are faced with frightening images and stories of suffering in refugee camps, ill-equipped hospitals in poor countries, and the suffering of so many people across Europe.

Ever since the coronavirus migrated from China’s “wet market” from animals to humans, we have gained daily insights into how the social body works. Does the pandemic offer us new opportunities, or will it lead to “a deafening silence—one that stops all rational thought”?[1] Read More