Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Special issue on fungi in Philosophy Activism Nature (PAN) journal


By Alison Pouliot                              

 It's not often that fungi receive attention in academic journals in disciplines other than the sciences.  I was therefore delighted to be approached by environmental philosopher, Professor Freya Matthews from LaTrobe University who proposed a special issue on fungi for the Philosophy Activism Nature (PAN) journal.

Long-toed Salamander and Candellaria. Image: copyright  Steven David Johnson
I think back to the fungus workshop where I met Freya when she asked, "Are fungi sentient?"  Her question was a refreshing change from the more common queries, "What's this mushroom called?" and "Can I eat it?"  Admittedly, I'm rarely able to provide satisfying replies to any of these questions, but Freya's prompted possibilities to explore the many dimensions and disciplines through which we might consider fungi.

A second boon came with Dr John Ryan's offer to come on board as co-editor.  A post-doctoral research fellow at Edith Cowan University, John's background in environmental philosophy and eco-criticism along with his editing experience has made the process significantly more pleasurable and professional. 

Mycena cystidiosa with rhizomorphs. Image: Alison Pouliot
The PAN journal explores the "underpinnings of environmental thought and the discursive changes needed to shift society towards a new ecological culture of sustainability".  The journal differs from those where fungi papers are more likely to be published in that it provides a cross-disciplinary forum, exploring ideas at the interface of ecology and environmental philosophy and other disciplines through various formats including peer-reviewed scholarly papers, essays and poetry.

The special issue on fungi represents contributions from fields as diverse as mycology, lichenology, botany, poetry, philosophy, anthropology, law, fine arts, sociology, microbiology, ecology, entomology, photography, outdoor recreation, natural history and social psychology.  An impressive and dynamic mix!


Without wanting to reveal everything, themes in the special issue range from fungal diversity and conservation, to fungal spore dispersal mechanisms, interspecies ethnographies, human thrush entanglements, ecological jurisprudence, mycopoetry, to the curious habits of slime moulds and beyond.
  As far as we are aware, this is the first special issue in an Australian academic journal to bring together these broad-ranging approaches to the fungal kingdom.  As readers of the Fungimap newsletter would only be too well aware, fungi are largely overlooked in Australian biodiversity conservation.  Presenting a variety of lenses and perspectives through which to consider, or reconsider this kingdom, will hopefully inspire possibilities for new interest and audiences.  The greater the interest, the greater the chance that fungi might receive more focus in biodiversity conservation. 
Lamproderma species have iridescent peridia. Image: CC-BY-SA 3.0 Sarah Lloyd

The good news is that the PAN journal can be accessed free of charge via the Monash University repository directly via the PAN website.  PAN is distributed by Informit Press and is also available for subscription.


Personally, partaking in this project has made the already amazing fungus kingdom even more compelling.  We hope you enjoy this special issue on these very special organisms.

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