About the Journal
Swamphen: A Journal of Cultural Ecology encourages writerly responses to the sentient habitats of the world. We publish scholarly articles, lyrical essays, creative works and reviews of relevant scholarship, amplifying work that attends to human encounters with other species. Our journal emerges from the air, lands and seas that formed the first peoples of our region and we attend to these communities’ narratives as a first principle. While the journal primarily offers literary insights into the unsettled territories many know as Australia and Aotearoa, we also look to other ecologies in formation during this time of critical environmental change. Swamphen is peer reviewed and published biennially, in response to ASLEC-ANZ conferences. We welcome proposals for special issues.
Swamphen was previously known as the Australasian Journal of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology. Our refreshed name refers to the Australasian swamphen: kwilomi n Noongar language; milu in Kala Lagaw Yai language, ping ping in Dja Dja Wurrung language; porphyrio melanotus in binomial nomenclature; and pūkeko in te reo Māori.
Like the swamphen, our journal attends to life on the ground, in the skies and in waters. The name itself, swamp and hen, brings together the plants, earth, water and animals that are the focus of ASLEC-ANZ.
ASLEC-ANZ, is affiliated with a worldwide network of similar associations, of which the first was founded in the USA in 1992 (www.asle.org), followed by Korea (ASLE-Korea), the UK & Ireland (ASLE UKI), Japan (ASLE), Europe (EASCLE), India (OSLE and ASLE) and Canada (ALECC), with more in the process of formation elsewhere.
This special issue of the Swamphen Journal was born from the Strange Letters Symposium held in 2021 when we were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic; a period of life gone strange in which we were forced to adopt new modes of meeting, communicating and being together-apart. In the Western tradition, people have often turned to letter writing as a means of connection with distant others but this symposium asked us to reimagine the letter for the strange times that we have found ourselves in (for some these strange times began with colonisation). To challenge the letter writing tradition, interrogating the communicative capacity of the more-than-human, seems strangely fitting when the nonhuman is so clearly asking us to listen.