Multi-species, ecological and climate change temporalities: Opening a dialogue with phenology

Michelle Bastian*, Rowan Bayliss Hawitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Many scholars have argued that climate change is, in part, a problem of time, with ecological, political and social systems thought to be out of sync or mistimed. Discussions of time and environment are often interdisciplinary, necessitating a wide-ranging use of methods and approaches. However, to date there has been practically no direct engagement with the scientific field of phenology, the study of life-cycle timing across species, including plants, animals and insects. In this article, we outline how phenology can offer novel inroads to thinking through temporal relations across species and environments. We suggest that greater engagement with this field will enable scholars working across the humanities and social sciences to incorporate detailed studies of environmental timings which shed light on individual species, as well as wide-ranging species interactions. Following an overview of phenological research from both western scientific and indigenous knowledge perspectives, we report on a scoping exercise looking at where phenology has appeared in environmental humanities literature to date. We then offer an illustration that puts phenological perspectives into conversation with plant studies in order to indicate some of the useful affordances phenological perspectives offer, namely those of comprehending time as co-constructed across species and as flexible and responsive to environmental changes. We conclude by offering a number of further potential connections and suggestions for future research, including calling for more exploration of how environmental humanities approaches might produce critical contributions to phenology in their turn.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalEnvironment and Planning E: Nature and Space
Early online date11 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jul 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • environmental humanities
  • phenology
  • critical plant studies
  • time studies
  • climate change


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