CONFERENCE: Canadian Ecologies: Thinking about Illness, Wellness, and Wellbeing


The 20th International Baltic Conference on Canadian Studies,

9-10 October, 2020

Vilnius University


Canadian Ecologies: Thinking about Illness, Wellness, and Wellbeing


Since Michel Foucault’s delivery of his lectures on bio-politics, there has emerged in contemporary critical theory a whole spate of reflections on the perils of “neoliberal governing” (Wendy Brown), “virtuoso labour” (Isabel Laurey), “precarity” (Judith Butler), “slow violence” (Rob Nixon), and “cruel optimism” (Lauren Berlant), which call to reexamine the Western narratives of progress and modernity. At the heart of these intellectual accounts is the observation that the neoliberal condition, by substituting economic principles for political agency, exacerbates human vulnerability and social insecurity derived from government practices of precarization and bio-political segmentation. As a result, the social formation is depleted of its ethical ligaments that bind individuals to one another in a shared experience of precariousness and structural inequality. In such a magnified state of anxiety the old idea of “the good life” loses traction, bringing to surface the different ways in which ‘the ordinary becomes a landfill for overwhelming and impending crises of life-building and expectation whose sheer volume so threatens what it has meant to ‘have a life” that adjustment seems like an accomplishment.’ (Berlant, 2011: 3)


Concomitant with the cultural critique of neoliberal subjectivity is a new attentiveness to material contexts and counter-hegemonic knowledges, which call for a conceptual revision of the normative scenarios of life-building underlying the logic of the Anthropocene. The intellectual work of ecocriticism, the new materialism, and posthumanist thought has put us on notice to biospheric connectedness, ‘the ecological space of attunement’ (Morton, 2018: 139), and the solidarity with what is given, on the one hand, and technological penetration, violence of efficiency, and waste culture, on the other.


Given these conceptual premises, the conference invites Canada-related critical perspectives on both human and nonhuman historicities, theories and practices of wellbeing, subversive impulses, utopian dreams, minoritarian contexts, and artistic forms, which test the interpretive possibilities of sustainable existence. Conference participants are welcome to address wide-ranging topics that involve variously framed Canadian views on illness, wellness, and wellbeing. These topics include (but are not limited to):


  • Corporate Canada and its “merry bonds”: narratives of wealth vs. a wealth of narratives
  • Indigenous sovereignty and storytelling: place, body, voice, power
  • Rethinking health: historical traumas and the body politic
  • Ecocriticism and bioethics
  • Ethics of vulnerability: narratives of anxiety, contingency, and precarity
  • Theories of “the good life” and “sustainable life”
  • “Going viral”: medicine, market, imagination
  • Food as pharmakon: taste, nourishment, poison
  • Modes and ethics of recycling and upcycling
  • Composted emotions: biopolitics, affect, and the Anthropocene
  • Waste as/and resources: desire, consumption, affect, effect
  • The ethics and aesthetics of the ordinary: narrating domesticity
  • Biodiversity and the arts: plants, animals, and humans in discourse
  • Ecologies of remembering: orthodoxies and alternatives



LENGTH OF PRESENTATIONS: 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of discussion.

LANGUAGE OF PRESENTATIONS: the working language of the conference is English, but presentations in French are very welcome.

Please send the title of your paper, an abstract (about 100 words), and a brief bio to Rūta Šlapkauskaitė ( no later than 15 September, 2020.