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John Holmes McDowell, Katherine Borland, Rebecca Dirksen, and Sue Tuohy

Nov 30, 2021

Performing Environmentalisms

Expressive Culture and Ecological Change

University of Illinois Press 2021

The volume, Performing Environmentalisms: Expressive Culture and Ecological Change, edited by John Holmes McDowell, Katherine Borland, Rebecca Dirksen, and Sue Tuohy (University of Illinois Press, 2021), illustrates the power of performing diverse environmentalisms to highlight alternative ways of human beingness to improve the prospects for maintaining life on the planet under threat. In the interview, I spoke with editors John McDowell and Rebecca Dirksen, who detail how poetics and performance represent strategies in managing human and nonhuman entanglements with contemporary, wicked problems (e.g., threats to bicultural diversity and rampant environmental degradation, unresolved colonial histories, and capitalist pressures). Understanding diverse environmentalisms as embodiments of knowing demonstrates “the power of performances and expressive culture to move people to action: resisting, negotiating, and finding solutions to environmental problems. These are not only performances of diverse environmentalisms, but sources of inspiration and strength for us all” (261). 

Performing Environmentalisms is an edited volume of ten essays broken up into three parts: Perspectives on Diverse Environmentalisms, Performing the Sacred, and Environmental Attachments. The compilation demonstrates how environmentalisms as artistic expression serve to curate tradition and create space for cultural sustainability. The array of case studies generates new strategies that incorporate a diverse set of peoples—injecting their knowledge, experiences, and practices into global conversations. Performing Environmentalisms: Expressive Culture and Ecological Change is a must read for anyone interested in investigating how creative, alternative sets of environmentalisms interpreted though traditional knowledges are integral to navigating local and global climate and ecological issues.

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