TOPIA launches spring issue ‘Nature Matters’

The upcoming issue of TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies will look at nature and how it plays a role in a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary settings as well as the importance of the natural world in academic work.

Based on the conference, Nature Matters: Materiality and the More-Than-Human in Cultural Studies of the Environment, where 200 participants from nine countries gathered in Toronto in 2007, the spring 2009 issue of TOPIA was put together by guest editor Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands (MA ’89, PhD ’96) (right), Canada Research Chair in Sustainability and Culture and a professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York.

TOPIA, "Nature Matters" will launch tomorrow at 2pm in 018 Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building, Keele campus.

The feature articles in this issue encompass considerations of toxic bodies and trans-corporeality in discourses of multiple chemical sensitivity, conceptions of botanical agency as developed in personal gardening literature, forests as distinct “naturecultures” in two recent British Columbia political and literary depictions, environmental esthetics in contemporary landscape photography and more. Together, they demonstrate the range of social sciences and humanities disciplines in which nature matters.

In this collection, the papers clearly recognize and explore nature beyond its static spatialization as out there’,” says Mortimer-Sandilands in the issue’s introduction. Many of the papers attempt a practice of environmental cultural studies in which nature may be an important site of cultural production, but the “cultures” involved may not all be human ones.

Mortimer-Sandilands also argues that the articles not only show the ways that their naturecultures reflect a complex intermixing of materiality and signification, but also politicize them. The papers take up the tradition in cultural studies of cultural critique as a political opening to explore how culture, and in this case nature, and politics intertwine.

“By highlighting the differences that ‘nature’ makes to cultural studies practices, and by exploring the often overtly political potential of the act of challenging habitual or hegemonic cultures of nature, the essays in this collection form a strong base on which to build a far larger and more public environmental cultural studies,” says Mortimer-Sandilands.

For more information, visit the TOPIA Web site.