Network Conference 2023: Forms of Ecological Knowledge

From the 14th to 16th of July 2023, the first public conference of our network will take place under the topic “Forms of Ecological Knowledge. DFG Network “Russian Ecospheres”. It will take place at the Ludwig Maximilian Universität in Munich.


Our network members will meet in a public conference lasting several days, in which they will present their results and progress in the various working groups and workshops.

The 2023 Russian Ecospheres Network Annual Meeting invites contributions on forms of ecological knowledge in Russia. It asks for textual, discursive, social and political modes of generating, ordering and organizing ecological knowledge. Drawing on the recent resurgence of thinking about form in theory and on historical understandings of form in the natural and social sciences as well as cultural studies, it looks for distinct Russian approaches to form and aims to locate them globally. It is interested in contributions to the conceptual history of ecological form in the Russian and Soviet empire as well as in empirical studies related to the subject.

Our conference in the context of current discourses

We assume that a dialogue about form across disciplines can help to establish a more nuanced notion of “ecological form” (Hensley, Steer). To open up the space for our disparate disciplinary approaches (literary and cultural studies, environmental history, history of science) and transdisciplinary dialogue, we chose an open, multi-angled concept of form. Such an understanding grasps forms as assemblages and configurations of ordering knowledge, characterized by recurrent and shifting patterns and materialized in distinct communicative and institutional forms of organization and genre.

Regarding anticipations of ecological form in Russian and Soviet theory, an ecocritical reassessment of Russian formalism could be a promising starting point to ask how processes of ecological and cultural transformation do influence each other:

Building on Levine’s formal theory of form, this conference asks how forms constrain, differ, overlap, intersect, travel and do political and epistemological work across time and space. In dialogue with case studies form various research contexts (linguistics, genre theory, realism, materialist aesthetics, semiotics of culture, cultural history, kulturologija, philosophy, ethics, theology, anthropology and ethnography, conceptual history, history of science, Umweltgeschichte [environmental history]), we ask for the “affordances of form” (Levine), taking into account the materiality of form, its appropriation by actors in the field and its variation in distinct settings.

Preliminary Programme

From our members:

Traveling Concepts Between Science and Literary Theory

  • Philipp Kohl: The Substrata of Form: Paleontological Thought in Soviet Literary Theory in the 1930s
  • Elena Fratto: Food, Environment, and Recycling: The Revolution as Metabolic Activity

Ecological Narratives

  • Mika Perkiömäki: Forms of ecological narratives in media representations of the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plants during Russia’s war on Ukraine
  • Timm Schönfelder: Narrating the Hunt. Trajectories of Venatic Knowledge towards the Fin de Siècle
  • Mieka Erley: Against Entropy: Soviet Practices of Closure in Ecology and Narrative

Forms of Political Ecology

  • Andy Bruno: Forms of Growth in Soviet Socialism: Reconsidering Productivism in Light of Scholarship on Degrowth
  • Tatjana Petzer: Autotrophy. An Alimentary Form of Social and Literary Ecology

Reconsidering Vernacular Knowledge

  • Clemens Günther: The Form of Feeling: Presentiments in Science and Literature
  • Colleen McQuillen: The putevoi ocherk as a tool of epistemological colonization in late 19th C.
  • Georgy Levit: On the facets of ecological method: Ernst Haeckel and Nikolai Mikloucho-Maclay

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