Inhabiting Premodern Worlds

Oecologies is a research cluster that gathers scholars from the humanities living and working along the North American Pacific coast to investigate the idea of “oecology,”an older spelling of the concept “ecology.” We use this defamiliarizing spelling because our research rethinks “ecology” with texts and concepts that predate or even oppose the taxonomies of the European Enlightenment. Our research asks what conceptual or metaphorical resources might help us, as scholars living and working in a time of extreme ecological precarity, to reorient our perceptions about ecological pasts, presents, and futures. With particular attention to the histories of imperialism and colonial exploitation, our research investigates the ecological, economic, and cultural relations among humans and nonhumans in the premodern world. We also ask how our regionally and temporally specific conceptions draw / differ from / shed light upon other inhabitations of the world. 

We gratefully acknowledge that this website is hosted within the unceded territories of xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Nation, and the Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nation. Many of our members work and live in these territories as well as beyond them on the traditional and ancestral lands of diverse other Indigenous nations, and we gratefully acknowledge the hospitality of our respective Indigenous hosts. 

As ecocritics, we also recognize that the environment has been a central concern for many Indigenous and other colonized scholars, writers, and thinkers, and we recognize the importance of reading and citing their scholarship. 

Oecologies: Inhabiting Premodern Worlds (Oe) is a regional research cluster, open to all scholars from the North American West Coast whose work coheres with our mission to engage premodern ecologies and their relation to our own locations. With no dues, no journal, and no standing conference, we explore possibilities for collaborative work as they arise from members’ initiatives and interests.

We hope to support and be a part of your innovative projects. Take a look at Oe’s various initiatives, and see if our events, projects and people are of the kind to inspire you to participate. For more information, to join our e-mail list, or to become involved, please contact us at Oecologies@gmail.com 

Earth, Sea, Sky

Earth ~ Sea ~Sky

An Environmental Humanities Research Network

“Earth, Sea, Sky” is a research network collaborating with the Oecologies Network. It has and will continue to foster new international dialogue in studies of medieval and early modern literature and visual culture. Its central aim is to examine the varied and contested premodern approaches to the natural world, as well as how this premodern archive resonates with contemporary concerns around environmental degradation and global warming. This research network is a multi-year, ongoing project begun in 2019. It began in 2019 with a study of “Earth” in a symposium held at Oxford University. It next turned to an analysis of human relationships to the “Sea” and coastal environments in a series of virtual reading groups and a concluding symposia sponsored by a grant from the University of California Humanities Institute (2020-2022). Next up, the working group will be exploring “Sky,” with support from the University of British Columbia.


An Interdisciplinary Conference was held at Oxford University, UK in 2019/2020. Click the link to learn more about the 2019 Earth Conference.


An Interdisciplinary Conference was hosted by the UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab in 2022. This event was sponsored by a grant award from UCHRI.


The next interdisciplinary conference focusing on Sky will be held at the University of British Columbia. Stay tuned for updates.

Want to Learn More?

If you’d like to be added to the Earth, Sea, Sky listserv to stay up-to-date on future events, please email Kirsten Schuhmacher at kschuhmacher@ucdavis.edu

  1. Featured Image: Cover image for Earth, Sea, Sky
  2. Earth Image: Portion of “The Tree of Life,” First half of the 17th century. Canvas worked with silk thread; tent, Gobelin, and couching stitches. Met Museum, New York. http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/229006
  3. Sea Image: Portion of “Water,” Adriaen Collaert, after Maerten de Vos, 1580 – 1584. Hand-colored engraving. https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/collection/RP-P-BI-6065
  4. Sky Image: Top Portion of “Lucht,” Adriaen Collaert, after Maerten de Vos, 1580 – 1584. Hand-colored engraving. https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/collection/RP-P-BI-6065

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