In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair speaks to Dr. Charles Simmons, Professor Emeritus of Journalism and Law at Eastern Michigan University, about EMU's upcoming EcoJustice and Activism Conference.
- Faculty and students from Eastern Michigan University’s Social Foundations of Education Master’s Program in EcoJustice are hosting the Seventh Annual EcoJustice and Activism Conference. This conference was first organized to engage activists, educators, students, and scholars in deep and meaningful discussion around what we can do together to address and organize actions aimed at eliminating current social and environmental injustices occurring in our local, national, and international communities.
- This year’s theme, “Practicing Affection in a Culture of Slow Violence” explores how care and affection inspires us into action when confronted by the suffering of others, both humans and the more than human. This means recognizing those forms of violence that are slow, taking place over indeterminate time and space, often hidden, and not necessarily spectacular but which are most destructive to life on this planet in the long term.
- Dr. Charles Simmons, Professor Emeritus of Journalism and Law at Eastern Michigan University will be speaking on “Ubuntu and the Building of Holistic Communities for a Peaceful and Just Planet." Dr. Simmons is a Founder and Co-Director of The Hush House Black Community Museum and Leadership Training Institute for Human Rights as well as Professor Emeritus at Eastern Michigan University.
The 7th Annual EcoJustice and Activism conference and workshops March 8-10, 2018 at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI. This conference was first organized to engage activists, community members, educators, students, and scholars in deep and meaningful discussions around what we can do together to address and organize actions aimed at eliminating current social and environmental injustices occurring in our local, national, and international communities.
EcoJustice Education is an approach that analyzes the deep cultural roots of intersecting social and ecological crises, focusing especially on the globalizing economic and political forces of Western consumer culture. EcoJustice scholars and educators also study, support, and teach about the ways that various cultures around the world actively resist these colonizing forces by protecting and revitalizing their commons—that is, the social practices and traditions, languages, and relationships with the land necessary to the healthy regeneration of their communities. By emphasizing the commons (and its enclosure or privatization), EcoJustice perspectives understand social justice to be inseparable from and even embedded in questions regarding ecological well-being.
Central to EcoJustice theory and practice is the belief that solutions to the intersecting and often invisible impoverishments of our human communities and ecological systems is our capacity for affection and care for one another, to be moved to act by the suffering of others, human and more than human. Such care—experienced in a variety of emotional, relational and practical ways—requires both openness to attend to and be with others in mutually beneficial ways, and the commitment to expose the damaging effects of our current cultural, economic and political systems. This means recognizing those forms of violence that are slow, taking place over indeterminate time and space, not necessarily spectacular but which are most destructive to life on this planet in the long term. As Rob Nixon writes:
"By slow violence I mean a violence that occurs gradually and out of sight, a violence of delayed destruction that is dispersed across time and space, an attritional violence that is typically not viewed as violence at all. … Climate change, the thawing cryosphere, toxic drift, biomagnification, deforestation, the radioactive aftermaths of wars, acidifying oceans, and a host of other slowly unfolding environmental catastrophes present formidable representational obstacles that can hinder our efforts to mobilize and act decisively. The long dyings—the staggered and staggeringly discounted casualties, both human and ecological…—are underrepresented in strategic planning as well as in human memory." (2011, p. 2)
This year, we invite proposals that think across multiple spheres of affection and care, as active means of confronting the many forms of slow violence in our communities and across the globe. We encourage a wide range of critical perspectives in related fields and from within artistic, scholarly, and activist traditions and projects. These could include traditional scholarly presentations, performances, workshops, or artistic exhibitions.
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