This book explores the interface of bodies and religion by investigating the impacts human-induced global warming will have on the embodied and performed practices of religion in ecologies of place. By utilizing analytical insights from religion and nature theory, posthumanism, queer ecologies, ecological animisms, indigenous knowledges, material feminisms, and performance studies the book advocates for a need to update how religious studies theorizes bodies and religion. It does so by in the first half of the book advocating for religious studies as a field, and the academy as a whole, to take the ongoing and deleterious future impacts of climate change seriously--to re-member that those laboring as scholars in religious studies, and the communities they study, have always been bodies in material bio-ecological places--and to let this inform the questions religious studies scholars ask. The book argues that this will lead to very different forms of engaged, liberatory scholarship that demands a different type of scholarship and public advocacy for resilience in the face of climate change. The second half of the book offers case study examples of how scholars may better engage religious bodies within petrocultures, while attending to new, emerging materialist posthuman assemblages of religious bodies. This book will be of interest to those in religious studies, the environmental humanities, and those working at the interface of the body and the natural world.
Todd LeVasseur is visiting assistant professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the College of Charleston.
Preface: Where to, Next, in our Bodies, with “Climate Warming?”
Part I Theoretical Overview
Chapter 1: Our BioCultural Future--Whither the Environment?: Planetary Regimes and Bodily Immersion
Chapter 2: Evolutionary Antecedents and Meso-level Creativity
Chapter 3: Cultural Narratives and Science
Part II Applied Case Studies
Chapter 4: Liquid Black Death: A Hegemon Ancient and Seductive
Chapter 5: Bodies and Religious Dramaturgy in Places of Climate Chaos
Chapter 6: Regenerative Thrivability and Flourishing—Ladakhi Buddhism in the Age of Climate Change: Constructing Identities and Adaptive Responses
Chapter 7: Post-Materialist Posthuman Dramaturgies and Resilience
A prescient book that reminds that climate change is not just something ‘out there,’ but is a planetary crisis that is in us, between us, and through which we move our bodies each day. LeVasseur’s lucid insights are portends about the changes that will increasingly reshape religious life in the decades ahead.
LeVasseur’s new book is thoroughly energizing and refreshing to read for its bold, gutsy, fearless big-picture thinking. This is a fascinating exploration of both religious bodies in climate change and prosustainable futures, while also a clarion call for an academic world that must quickly move towards adaptive resiliency. LeVasseur’s work skillfully focuses our attention on the ways that global warming is not only changing the embodied practice of religion but the very nature and practice of scholarship and teaching. Interventionary, highly creative, and downright subversive, this book breaks with convention and prepares new academic ground for religious studies and beyond. LeVasseur does not permit us to look away from the fact that our major institutions, academia included, are ill-equipped to address the rapid collapse of bio-ecological systems the world over. This book contributes a vital resource to a massive adaptive planning project for the climate era. In his new book LeVasseur “leaves it all on the field” and writes with the urgency of someone who is rapidly running out of time and is increasingly aware that our silences will not protect us. In doing so, he provides a much-needed antidote to scholars who would merely fiddle with their own theoretical Tinker Toys while the world burns.
LeVasseur's Climate Change, Religion, and Our Bodily Future must be read as a challenge. It challenges scholars to more explicitly reflect on the material dimensions of religion, especially as we confront the crisis of climate change. It challenges us to hear other voices and apply diverse methods in order to reenvision our understanding of religion. And, most importantly, it challenges us to become more engaged, embodied scholars, who are more devoted to our planet's biocultural future.
Climate Change, Religion, and Our Bodily Future is timely and provocative in its advocacy for a re-orientation of Religious Studies. Todd LeVasseur theorizes how climate change will impact the landscape of Religion and Religious Studies in the very near future. He calls for the development of a refuge oriented Religious Consciousness of Place that once again grounds the “human body” as a biosocial construct in a lived relationship with Place. He challenges higher education to heed the importance of deeply examining its current paradigm which presumes Western academic superiority in alignment with the neo-liberal enterprise. He challenges Religious Studies to creatively integrate the spirit of place with an honoring of students’ voices, re-enchantment of teaching and learning. He underlines the urgency of creating a more authentic, comprehensive and sustainable educational process in higher education. A kind of education that heals, liberates, communalizes, crosses boundaries and sustains both people and environment by creating new stories, espousing an ethic of care, toward creating a life flourishing consciousness that is adaptive, regenerative and resilient!
This groundbreaking, daring book provides a glimpse, a foothold, for what religion, in theory and practice, may come to look like if climate change, if Earth, if material bodies -- all bodies -- were taken as the most basic consideration of our thinking and acting. Innovative, provocative, and eloquent, Todd LeVasseur has opened the boundaries of the study of religion and theology in ways that are sure to definitively shape the field, and the academy, into the future.
8/30/21: The College of Charleston interviewed the author about the book.