As the scale of climate change, ocean acidification, mass species extinction, and other ongoing processes become increasingly undeniable and unavoidable, progress in the realms of policy, infrastructure, and technology must ultimately be matched by a cultural revolution. If another world is possible, as activists frequently claim, what might it look, taste, and feel like?

Through the concept of the loanword, a term that is adopted into one language without translation, An Ecotopian Lexicon presents a kaleidoscopic window into the ecological multiverse: not what is, but what could or even should be. Each of thirty suggested loanwords—from other languages, speculative fiction, and subcultures of resistance—helps us imagine how to adapt and even flourish in the face of the socio-ecological adversity that characterizes the present moment and the future that awaits.

From Apocalypso to Qi~*~ to Total Liberation, thirty authors from a range of disciplines and backgrounds assemble a grounded yet vertiginous lexicon that challenges and expands the limited and limiting European and North American conceptual lexicon that many activists, policymakers, scholars, and citizens have inherited.

As author Kim Stanley Robinson writes in his foreword, "So many new words gathered together like this, each bringing with it a new concept and system, creates a dizzying effect. This is good and right, because we live in a dizzying time. What we do now as a global civilization will create one future out of a vast array of possible futures, an array which ranges from utmost disaster to lasting peace and prosperity. But we can do things, if we can figure out what they are. Various good futures are achievable, even starting from our current moment of high danger. So some really comprehensive analysis, destranding, and remapping is now part of our necessary work. Inevitably new concepts and new words will emerge—lots of them. So this book’s profusion is an accurate foretelling of what will come. It’s a kind of science fiction story in the form of a lexicon, and it postulates and helps to create a future culture more articulate and wiser than we are now. Thus by definition it is a utopian science fiction story."

 

Language can only take us so far, of course. To add an additional imaginative layer, we challenged fourteen artists from eleven countries to respond to selected entries with original artwork. The result is a transmedia conversation between the originary author, culture, or subculture; a critical thinker; and an artist. These images can be found in full color in the book, and can be purchased as T-shirts, tote bags, and stickers.

 

An Ecotopian Lexicon is edited by Matthew Schneider-Mayerson and Brent Ryan Bellamy. It is available for purchase from the University of Minnesota Press as well as Amazon and other booksellers. All proceeds will go toward a fund to support creative political and cultural interventions focused on climate justice.

Reviews

Deborah Dixon, in Science, writes that "An Ecotopian Lexicon offers a fascinating collection of non-English or newly invented words that impart something of the complexities of everyday life in an era of warming skies and oceans, mass degradation, precarity, and insecurity, each of which also helps map a possible future. The stated work of words here is to clarify, diagnose, and stimulate action... This is a book that wants to stir passions, which in turn become a means of realizing desired futures... An Ecotopian Lexicon makes futures with words."

If you're interested in reviewing An Ecotopian Lexicon, please email the University of Minnesota Press to request a review copy.

Table of Contents

Foreword

Kim Stanley Robinson

Introduction: Loanwords to Live With

Matthew Schneider-Mayerson

and Brent Ryan Bellamy

~*~ 
Melody Jue 

Apocalypso
Sam Solnick 

Blockadia
Randall Amster 

Cibopathic
Daniel Worden 

Dàtóng
Andrew Pendakis 

Fotminne
Sofia Ahlberg 

Ghurba
Allison Ford and

Kari Marie Norgaard

 

Godhuli
Malcolm Sen 

 

Gyebale
Jennifer L. Johnson 

 

Heyiya
Michael Horka 

Hyperempathy
Rebecca Evans 

Ildsjel
Karen O’Brien and

Ann Kristin Schorre

 

In Lak’ech—a la K’in

John Esposito 

Metahumanism

Anthony Lioi

Artwork


Blockadia (Ya Basta!)

Nicolás de Jesús 


Untitled 2018 (Dàtóng)

Rirkrit Tiravanija 


Ghurba

SWOON 
 

Godhuli

Jonathan Dyck 


Heyiya

Jenny Kendler 


Ildsjel

Lori Damiano 

 

Nahual
Michelle Kuen Suet Fung

 

Pachamama 
Yellena James 

 

Plant Time
Natasha Bowdoin 

 

Water-Wind (Qi)
Moonassi 

 

Sehnsucht, in the Midst
Nikki Lindt 

 

Solastalgia
Kate Shaw 

 

Sueno
Susa Monteiro 

 

Terragouge
Maryanto

Misneach
Evelyn O’Malley

Nahual 
Carolyn Fornoff

Nakaiy 
Kira Bre Clingen

Pa Theuan 
Andrew Alan Johnson

Pachamama 
Miriam Tola

Plant Time 
Charis Boke

Qi 
Yifei Li

Rén 
Pierre Monot

Sehnsucht 
Andrew Hageman

Shikata Ga Nai 
Brent Ryan Bellamy

and Sheena Wilson

Sila 
Janet Tamalik McGrath

Solastalgia 
Kimberly Skye Richards

Sueño 
Robert Savino Oventile

Terragouge 
Christopher Pak

Total Liberation 
David Pellow

Watershed Discipleship 
Cherice Bock