The third Under Western Skies conference is set for 9 - 13 September this year. That is the week following the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Wilderness Act (3 September 1964). It looks like a different scene than conferences I've been attending (George Wright Society) but it's a discourse in which I've been gaining familiarity. The keynotes from Latour and Ingold have me the most jazzed. I'm hoping to introduce ideas about wildhood and what follows is a draft proposal submission.
Wildhood – Toward an Object Oriented Ontology of Everyday Wildness
Designated wilderness, as a legal landscape classification, has existed for fifty years. Its problems and significance have been examined and outlined by thinkers such as William Cronon, Roderick Nash, Paul Shepard, and Gary Snyder. Recent works by Emma Marris and George Monbiot consider wilderness and wildness amid concerns about the anthropocene. Additionally, object oriented ontology (OOO) has recently broken new philosophical ground for ecological wondering and being. However, cross-pollination is incomplete among these topics. My paper explores the instantiation and embodiment of wildness in people, places, and things. Specifically, in my paper, I will introduce wildhood as a useful concept for understanding how wildness exists in and gives attunement to everyday life in the anthropocene. I will discuss how senses of place can be infused by OOO to help us realize wilder life worlds. Thinking in this way about the interwoven cultural and natural complexities of posthuman ecology in juxtaposition to calculations of cultural ecosystem service values reveals the blind spot where wildhood lurks. I make the case that OOO is a tool for crafting a better understanding how everyday existence solicits openness to a sense of wildness. In conclusion, this paper, by introducing and examining wildhood, sheds new light on overlooked ways of incorporating wildness in everyday life.