Ecological Imaginaries

Ecological relationships are a product of human imagination. Trees do not need humans for the exchange of nutrients with fungi or the provision of shelter for birds, but it takes human imagination to narrate these exchanges as meaningful relationships. Words and matter are intricately intertwined and as such increasingly gain attention in the environmental sciences and the humanities. It is increasingly recognized that the exploration of ecological relationships requires comparatist work in the broadest sense as it not only transgresses national and linguistic borders but the boundaries of the human. Ecological Imaginaries aims at collecting and connecting stories, images, thoughts and conversations about and between ecological partners, spanning human (incl. cultural) and non-human environments and relationships. This is a place where poems meet scientific papers, academic discussion meets experimental forms of knowledge (and) communication in order to explore the diverse ways in which matter and language collaborate to form environments, ecologies and storied worlds. This blog branches out from two research projects: “Making Kin with Trees” analyzes narrated relationships between humans and trees as the product and the condition of an arboreal poetics, or cultural poetics of trees; “Precarious Nature” investigates popular texts of the 19th century, such as Village Stories, popular science, journal articles, or travel writing, as generic modes which employ ‘ecological storytelling’ as a practice to mobilize human-nature-relationships; precarious nature, that is, is both the condition and effect of a mobilization that causes (and makes possible in the first place) the destruction and the protection of non-human environments. The blog also serves as an environment to host and spur new projects and relationships and nurture existing ones. Collaborations within the Literary and Cultural Plant Studies Network ( and collaborative projects such as “Interspecies Signalling” (with PD Dr. Susanne Gruß and Prof. Dr. Regina Schober) will find space to explore ways in which to think, narrate and practice ecologies and ecological relationships. Ecological Imaginaries contains a multitude of textual formats: flash research reports, book reviews, observations from public and social media, and conversations with and guest posts by scientists and scholars working on related questions. It aims at reaching an interdisciplinary audience of scholars and scientists as well as communicating current research to an interested public. In a way, the blog itself emulates the ecologies that are its topic. Existential as well as spontaneous connections not only characterize non-human ecosystems but academic networks as well. This blog project extends an invitation to learn from trees and other non-humans how to forge connections and create conditions for livable ecologies to emerge.

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