Mourning Nature Release Date

mourning-natureIn May 2017, an edited collection that myself and Dr. Karen Landman from the University of Guelph have been working on for several years will be available through McGill-Queen’s University Press. This book was an absolute privilege and honour to work on, and the chapters within tell powerful, moving, and important stories about the ways in which we mourn nature, what this mourning can tell us about ourselves, and how this mourning can be mobilized for political and ethical change. Order here.

We are facing unprecedented environmental challenges, including global climate change, large-scale industrial development, rapidly increasing species extinction, ocean acidification, and deforestation – challenges that require new vocabularies and new ways to express grief and sorrow over the disappearance, degradation, and loss of nature.

Seeking to redress the silence around ecologically based anxiety in academic and public domains, and to extend the concepts of sadness, anger, and loss, Mourning Nature creates a lexicon for the recognition and expression of emotions related to environmental degradation. Exploring the ways in which grief is experienced in numerous contexts, this groundbreaking collection draws on classical, philosophical, artistic, and poetic elements to explain environmental melancholia. Understanding that it is not just how we mourn, but what we mourn that defines us, the authors introduce new perspectives on conservation, sustainability, and our relationships with nature.

An ecological elegy for a time of climatic and environmental upheaval, Mourning Nature challenges readers to turn devastating events into an opportunity for positive change.

Contributors include Glenn Albrecht (Murdoch University, retired); Jessica Marion Barr (Trent University); Sebastian Braun (University of North Dakota); Ashlee Cunsolo (Labrador Institute of Memorial University); Amanda Di Battista (York University); Franklin Ginn (University of Edinburgh); Bernie Krause (soundscape ecologist, author, and independent scholar); Lisa Kretz (University of Evansville); Karen Landman (University of Guelph); Patrick Lane (Poet); Andrew Mark (independent scholar); Nancy Menning (Ithaca College); John Charles Ryan (University of New England); Catriona Sandilands (York University); and Helen Whale (independent scholar).

Grief & Climate Change

As the discussions continue at COP21, and the sense of cautious optimism continues to grow that world leaders will reach a strong and binding agreement, I am thrilled to see discussions also growing around the ways in which climatic and environmental changes can cause grief and mourning.

Thanks to David Suzuki for writing a great article, Healing Humanity’s Grief in the Face of Climate Change, and featuring our work from Nunatsiavut, Labrador.

The interplay of environmental degradation and geopolitics has had alarming repercussions. Over the past decade alone, millions of people have been displaced by war, famine, and drought. The world is shifting rapidly as a result of climate change and there’s little doubt we’ll see increasing humanitarian crises. We must face this new reality as a global community.

Climate change is one of the most destabilizing forces in human history. We must deal with carbon emissions but we must also deal with human suffering. In Canada, Inuit are feeling the impacts disproportionately. Ice appears much later in the season and melts earlier. Changing wildlife migration patterns disrupt community livelihoods, land-based activities, and cultural practices.

Cape Breton University Canada Research Chair Ashlee Cunsolo Willox is working with Inuit to understand their communities’ climate-related mental and emotional health impacts, documenting anxiety, despair, hopelessness, and depression, increased family stress, drug and alcohol use, and suicide attempts. People are grieving for a way of life that is changing with the landscape.

These are conversations worth having. These are emotions worth considering.

New Article Published: Climate Change as the Work of Mourning

Happy to share the recent publication of my article, Climate Change as the Work of Mourning, which was published as a special issue on Climate Change and Ethics through the wonderful journal, Ethics and the Environment. Here’s a description of the article by Raymond Anthony, editor of the issue.

“Cunsolo Willox opens new vistas of inquiry for philosophers and social scientists in her insightful and compassionate examination of grief and mourning that occurs with the destruction and demise of non-human bodies and spaces. Carefully weaving important narratives regarding the Inuit in the Canadian North with a masterful reinvigoration of both Bulter and Derrida to meet this aspect of the challenge of climate change, Cunsolo Willox examines the political and ethical implications of framing climate change discourses as mourning. Not only must we reconsider the pervasive moral and political mentality that has brought us to the current precipice, Cunsolo Willox concludes that “[t]he work of mourning brings back these [non-human] bodies to the foreground as something worthy to be mourned through productive, transformative, interminable, and never-ending work…work that may allow for a deeper understanding of our relationships with other bodies, human and non-human—a new ecological ethic and platform for unification and action premised upon and mobilized through the work and labors of mourning.” Cunsolo Willox gives voice to an ancient way of knowing and being that is essential to our flourishing, if not survival.”

To read the article: Climate Change as Work of Mourning_Cunsolo Willox 2012