Scaled (In)Finitude: Problems of the Ecological Turn

Event Summary

Ecology has become a central political question of our times. It presents us with two strands of finitude: that of modernity as a project in the present, and that of the planet as such in the figure of ecocide. In the humanities, environments have begun to be understood as media, the philosophy of nature has been revived to rethink the infrastructural character of technics and address climate change. Many of these convergences were productive but brought about problems of translation: between a planetary understanding of ecological transformation and its lived experience. We feel the impact of climate change on our ways of life, we sense its effects, but only through particular and partial catastrophes. Climate change as a whole, the prognosis of ecocide as such remain barred from experience. Our knowledge is confronted with seemingly infinite variables and the difficulty to delineate its objects which, at times, exceed any scale. Critical vocabularies have become symptomatically incompatible. Methods and diagnoses have entered an unruly concurrence. Within these tensions, the concept of scale functions as implicit mediator for both experience and action. If scale determines the delineation of its objects, the ecological turn not only presents us with new objects, but also linkages indiscernible prior to its advent. We aim to examine scale on three levels: (1) temporally (colliding historiographies and imaginaries of doom), (2) spatially (geopolitics and conceptions of the world), and (3) technically (models, the role of data, non-human actors). How can one step out of the symptomatic concurrence of critical frameworks? What are the epistemic conditions of a politicized ecology? What are the limits of its (in)finitudes, the dangers of its new temporal slips?