Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




M. Gail Hamner


affect theory, disaster, environmental justice, religion and ecology, storytelling, the new cosmology

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


This dissertation examines arguments within religion and ecology, particularly within the ecospiritual movement and methodology called the new cosmology, that humans should cultivate and sustain emotional relationships with nature by caring for nonhuman others as our evolutionary kin. Focusing on the U.S. Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and the British Petroleum oil spill, I argue that new cosmology affords few opportunities to think about intimacies with severely damaged and toxic environments. I consider how to rethink common themes in religion and ecology, like sacrality, kinship, and hope, within the context of encounters with toxic creatures and damaged ecosystems. I argue that cultivating affinity and attachment with/in ecological destruction requires thinking through how so-called “negative” affects like fear, disgust, revulsion, melancholy, shame, and despair can be an important part of ecological theory and activism. Furthermore, I contend there are other avenues for theorizing desire and kinship at the theoretical intersections of social marginalization and environmental decline that are more helpful for speaking to intimacies with and in damaged environments.


Open Access