Environmental Humanities Colloquium: “Ecology Between Scales"

February 13, 2019 - 4:30pm

Location and Address

CMU, 5201 Scott Hall

“Ecology Between Scales"  From its inception and throughout its early history, the field of ecology has deeply explored questions of scale instability, the scalar relationship between observer and system, and the necessity of transdisciplinary engagement in order to adequately frame objects of study at appropriate scales. I argue that an implicit scalar challenge lies at the heart of ecology’s self-disciplinarization, but that paradoxically it is a challenge that can never be fully met, as it ultimately requires an infinite expansion of the scope of inquiry in order to fully describe the conditions of existence of any living entity. Ecology is constituted from its inception by a self-reflexive incorporation of this paradox, which the discipline has variously buried and interred throughout its history. These disciplinary concerns have been largely forgotten by the academic humanities just at the moment when the field of ecology itself is attempting to recover them, and the posthumanities are attempting to replicate them. I will discuss some of the relationships between ecology and scale, and their particular relevance to multi-disciplinary knowledge work in the Anthropocene. Here ecology’s pasts may point the way toward scale’s future.

Reading available here



with Zach Horton (English) and a response from Noah Theriault (CMU, Anthropology)