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The JCS Editors are delighted to announce a call for papers for a Special Issue devoted to Contemplative Ecology with guest editors Douglas Christie (Loyola Marymount University), Simone Kotva (Cambridge University), Ariel Evan Mayse (Stanford University), and Devin Zuckerman (University of Virginia).

The guest editors of this Special Issue recognize that the world is in the midst of a major ecological crisis visible in extreme weather events, loss of biodiversity, depletion of fisheries, pollution of air, water, and soil, prolonged droughts, and mass extinction of species. While hopeful that solutions will be forthcoming in the form of legislation or regulation, social activism, and technological advancement, we also note that these statistics amount to a grave moral and existential crisis that should prompt us to consider ways of acting, thinking, and being in the world. Even the most cataclysmic reports and dramatic models, however, do not seem to motivate large-scale change. Approaches grounded in market individualism have failed to generate collective action. Many current responses to these frightening events generally fail to challenge foundational economic, social, and philosophical assumptions that have led us to the brink of tragedy.

This Special Issue explores how contemplative practices, and the academic study of contemplation, can sensitize us to ecological travesty and offer us patterns of mind and action that lead to thoughtful responses. Such thinking and practices have the capacity to train our eyes, and all our senses, to perceive that which lies beyond an array of binaries (mind/body, human/animal, nature/culture, self/world, activism/reflection), cultivating within us the reflective awareness, longing, and sensitivity needed for climate and cultural healing. At the same time, rather than rushing to immediate solutions, contemplative reflection engenders a capacity to sit with the brokenness of our world and our systems. Contemplative Ecology also calls our attention to the specific formations of particular landscapes and the actual communities of life sustained by them. These techniques are, we believe, a crucial part of what Bruno Latour has described as “coming down to earth,” remembering that we are terrestrial beings linked to distinct places even as we exist within a broader planetary ecosystem. Contemplative Ecology invites the sensitivity we need, in the words of Barry Lopez, to become “apprenticed” to our immediate surroundings.

The scope of this Special Issue is purposefully broad and marshy. We invite authors to think with the concept of an ecotone — the transitional realm between different ecosystems or communities. These zones, both naturally occurring and artificial (human-made), serve as the midpoint of a real-world Venn diagram of fertility and creative conflict. These zones allow for the interaction of multiple species, giving rise to possibilities unavailable and perhaps unimaginable in either extreme. On a conceptual level, the guest editors argue that the convergence of different fields in Contemplative Ecology can enable fruitful conversation and cross-pollination along with creative and generative tension. The study of contemplative traditions spurs engagement with many contested issues surrounding social ecology — namely race, gender, indigeneity, etc. — matters of profound consequence that rest at the intersection of mind, body, self, and world. The aim of this issue is to provide a meeting place for disciplines like religious studies, literature, philosophy, anthropology, ecology, and environmental ethics to engage in discourse with Contemplative Studies, an encounter that is meant to be mutually enriching and bilaterally elevating.

Submissions are invited of research articles (8,000-10,000 words) as well as short form explorations (2,000-3,000 words) that address a range of topics related to the core theme. Translations of classical texts or descriptions of spiritual practices, annotated and introduced with an eye to recommendations and guidelines for contemporary practices are also welcome.

The unique multimedia digital platform of the JCS enables creative and artistic submissions (drawings, paintings) and original poetry or music, video demonstrations of contemplative techniques, and studies of existing architectural or structural designs (or plans for future ones), that serve as prompts for contemplation, reflection, and attention.

The deadline for submitting an abstract of 300-500 words is July 1, 2023. Notice will be given as to the status of these proposals by July 15th, 2023. Final articles will be due by February 1, 2024. All final publication decisions are at the discretion of the guest editors and executive editors of the Journal of Contemplative Studies.
Submit all abstracts through the author portal via the JCS Submissions page. Questions should be directed to amayse@stanford.edu.