Call for Papers
Please see below for information about a panel on vital ice that Karine Gagné (University of Guelph) and Georgina Drew (University of Adelaide) are developing for February’s ISSRNC, which is likely to go online:
Vital Ice: Perceiving Past, Present, and Future in Melting Ice-scapes
Organizers: Karine Gagné (University of Guelph) and Georgina Drew (University of Adelaide)
Are glaciers and ice bodies good barometers of change? Are they perhaps more than physical matter as sentient beings or mirrors of humanity and human morality? What does the materiality and being-ness of glaciers and ice bodies tell us about the past, present and future, in their plurality, of humans and nonhumans? In healthy ice, we see life and, for some, even connection to the divine. In melting ice, we see death and loss. What does the process of glacial melt tell us of the dangers and the horrors of our present moment? For in the retreating of ice, we foresee myriad domino effects as river flow lessens, freshwater stocks diminish, and agricultural lifeways are jeopardized.
With this panel, we propose to think of ice bodies as a vital entity, or assemblage of interdependent relations. Glaciers and other ice bodies are sometimes considered as a nonhuman force, physical and symbolic ‘vibrant matter’ (as per Jane Bennett), or a web of relations whose emerging agency acts on humans. The vitality of ice bodies is also seen in their personhood, and with their recession, persons or entities vanish, along with their stories, histories, and knowledge. Ice masses can also be parts of assemblages that bring together different forms of life – human, nonhuman, and divine – which are linked by principles of reciprocity. Vitality is also a central element in how ice is known. These diverse perspectives and relationships with ice often meet in their view of ice loss as holding up a mirror to the cascading loss of other vibrancies. Thus, from the co-evolution of indigenous people and glaciers to the recession of sacred glaciers, glacial lives and lifeways are also in peril.
Ice masses are not just data, numbers, and lines on a graph or a map. The vitality of ice is also an important component of the relationship that scientists and local populations are forming with ice bodies. Glaciers, frozen lakes and rivers, and icefields are part of icescapes that are known through embodied experiences, and sensory engagements leading to the development of an intimate knowledge about the environment. Ice has, here, a vibrancy that contributes to our understanding of past, present and future lives. And yet, as we seen in the glaciological data, there is very little determinacy in our knowledge of the disparate patterns of glacial retreat that we currently witness. This indeterminacy creates fodder for mixed, and contentious, understandings of glacial melt when it is met with phenomenological encounters of changing ice.
Can an expanded understanding of ice bodies’ vitality help us better comprehend the interconnected risks of their demise? How might their affective storylines be mobilized to illuminate past, present and future trajectories as having been nourished and still being nourished, at least in part, by ice? In order to shed some light on these questions, we welcome contributions that examine humans’ relationship with glaciers and other ice bodies which are emerging from different forms of engagements and are anchored into sensorial experiences, material experimentation, relational ontologies, or principles of reciprocity.
Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words to both Karine Gagné (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Georgina Drew (email@example.com) no later than July 30, 2020.