becoming-elemental: the elements, senses, and imagination

Call for Proposals
becoming-elemental Symposium

“How can we live without or against the four elements,
without thinking like them, without turning toward them,
into them, through them, with them?”

– Michel Serres

becoming-elemental: the elements, senses, and imagination is an interdisciplinary two-day symposium looking to gather scholars, activists, and artists, mobilizing the powers of the elements in their respective practice. It will be held at Senselab, Concordia University, July 28-29, 2017.

As immediate bodies continuously recalling us to the vital, yet often misplaced, awareness of our concrete immersion in the ecosystem, the elements keep the promise for renewed thinking, orientations, practices, capable of appreciating the profound entwining of all life-forms. In the midst of the anthropocentric and capitalist machine that fuels itself by degrading, corrupting, defying, while packaging, the life-generating capacities of the elements, we stand to affirm the elements as dispossessed mediums forging collectivities, monstrous cosmic affinities, calling forth strange acts of reciprocity. Connective tissues boundlessly in flux, the elements do not simply generate all existing organic life forms, they enable excess to each, an ability to exceed itself toward another, thereby potentiating the mutuality, reciprocity, and care of one through another.

The air that breathes through us, the water that fluidifies us, the fire that sparks us, the earth that grants touch, the aether imagining with us, are all elemental happenings that disrupt the boundaries of formed matter, at once tying us, fastening us, to animals, plants, insects, stones, minerals, mountains, bellow and above (Bachelard, Abram, Irigaray). The elements are thereby agents of corporeal entanglement that enliven our senses, opening us to more than linguistic modes of estranged communicability. It is by turning to, through, with, the multiplicity of motions that becoming-elemental activate, that we are evermore capable of articulating the in-betweenness that simultaneously joins and differentiates us; which wrests us from the deep pool of the dreaming unformed, only to release us once more to each other.

In the spirit of the elements, this symposium seeks to connect up scholars, activists, and artists addressing the elements, senses, and the imagination. It is seeking papers, literature, poetry, and art performances, as well as workshops, that explore what it means to become-elemental. While all contributions to the thematic are welcome, we encourage alternative, marginalized, streams of thought, particularly, Eastern, feminist, queer, indigenous approaches exploring how we can think, live, make, and heal with the elements.

Featured speaker – David Macauley on “The Seasons and Elemental Time.” We are very pleased to have Dr. Macauley join us. He is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies at Penn State University, the author of Elemental Philosophy: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water as Environmental Ideas (SUNY, 2010), and the editor of Minding Nature: The Philosophers of Ecology.

Please send an abstract of 500 words detailing what you’d like to do, and a separate short bio to by June 2, 2017. You will hear from me or Mariana Marcassa by mid June.