Open Call: Nature and its Speculations

Pitch Deadline: 25 November 2023

What does nature writing look like in India? Nature writing has historically grown out of industrial backdrops that reflect upon various anxieties around the development of cities and urban landscapes. ‘Nature writing’ in India has largely not been consolidated, though many researchers have worked on gaining semblance of the field that spans across fiction, non-fiction, poetry, reportage, scientific writing, and so on. While an official history of nature writing begins with civil servants and bureaucrats of the British Raj, one can see pre-colonial regional literatures and epics where nature is not removed but a primary part of storytelling. Ecocriticism is a branch of literary and cultural theory that engages with literature, media, culture and the environment. Perhaps a symptom of ecological crisis, the porosity of the genres is something worth exploring and experimenting with, where the etymological divide between the natural and the manmade is a crisis of definition and real experience. 

Do we fear nature? In a post-pandemic era, it also becomes pertinent to address our realities through the axes of contamination and toxicology, as we come to grips with the ongoing environmental calamity that only creates further precarities that are socio-economic as well as political. Social and political atomisation as well as marginalisation of identities is cumulative in the current state of unencumbered exploitation and extraction. 

‘Nature and its Speculations’ is a developing proposition around how one experiences, acknowledges, resolves, relates with, creates connections and knowledge around nature in relation to one’s own situated context. Can you identify a distinct species (plant, animal, insects, fungi, microbes et al) or natural substance or location in your surroundings? What are the terminologies and vocabularies that we can excavate? Does nature haunt? Can we examine our surroundings through the lens of politics and ritual? What are the landscapes we find ourselves embedded in? What can we learn from nature? While ‘nature’ is an all-encompassing term and value proposition, we hope to initiate a dialogue with the various vernaculars, and in turn breaking up nature into personal, local and regional narratives, whether in urban, semi-urban or rural settings, and looking at its representations in media. We invite critical essays, text and image compositions, fiction, comics, scripts, reportage, personal essays, poems, photo essays, texts, research-led and experimental writings.

Shared Ecologies is a program by the Shyama Foundation supporting initiatives at the intersection of art and ecology – through critical, creative, aesthetic approaches, and collaborations with various disciplines and knowledge systems. Through grants, programmes, and conversations, we aim to facilitate a regional and international ecology of individuals, practitioners and institutions, who share overlapping concerns, philosophies and methodologies.

Submission Guidelines

  1. Your pitch must be up to 200-250 words, describing the form of writing you will be conducting along with a concept note. Visuals can be added if available or relevant. 
  2. We are looking at pieces of 2000-3000 words. 
  3. For mixed media writing (comics, photo essays, text and image compositions etc.), we are looking at 800-1000 words with a minimum of 4 double-page spreads of visuals, including 10-15 images, panels, photographs, etc. 
  4. The piece will be developed in consultancy with Shared Ecologies, which will provide editorial support. 
  5. The final draft will be developed, copy edited and proofread in tandem with Shared Ecologies. Intellectual rights remain with the writer of the piece. We will be available for feedback wherever required. 
  6. Remuneration for one piece is INR 25,000. The articles will be published online via the Shared Ecologies website, produced as a PDF publication, and printed at a later date as a volume of writing with more issues. 
  7. For the first call of its kind, we will accept pieces only in English. 

Timeline

  1. Submission of pitch: 25 November 2023 
  2. Submission of first draft: 20 January 2023 
  3. Submission of final draft: 3 March 2024. 
  4. Publishing of issue: First week of April 2024

Further Reading:

Resource pools: 

https://www.natureinfocus.in/home

https://india.mongabay.com

http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in

https://www.downtoearth.org.in

https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/display/document/obo-9780190221911/obo-9780190221911-0014.xml

https://roundglasssustain.com/

Reporting / Op-Ed:

https://caravanmagazine.in/reviews-essays/absence-contemporary-nature-writing-india

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blink/cover/taking-nature-out-of-literary-margins/article24054650.ece

https://www.drishtithesight.com/volume-ix/metaphysics-of-nature-in-northeast-indian-writing-in-english/

https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9783110314595-024/html?lang=en

https://www.firstpost.com/art-and-culture/literature-and-climate-change-vinita-agrawal-ranjit-hoskote-and-sumana-roy-on-politics-intimacy-of-writing-about-nature-8933561.html

Books / Publications: 

https://www.routledge.com/Ecology-and-Equity-The-Use-and-Abuse-of-Nature-in-Contemporary-India/Gadgil-Guha/p/book/9780415125246

https://penguin.co.in/book/the-vanishing/

https://harpercollins.co.in/product/green-wars-dispatches-from-a-vanishing-world/

https://ohiostatepress.org/books/titles/9780814215074.html

https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9783110314595/html?lang=en

https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498515887/Ecocriticism-of-the-Global-South

https://granta.com/products/granta-102-the-new-nature-writing/

The Red River and the Blue Hill by Hem Barua https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.182579/page/n3/mode/2up

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