Brett Buchanan

Photo of  Brett  Buchanan
Laurentian UniversityPhilosophy Location Greater Sudbury Canada Discipline(s): Philosophy, Environmental Studies Research Interests: Continental Philosophy, Animal Studies, Environmental Philosophy, Ethics, Literary Theory, Cultural Studies, Ecocriticism Languages: English Website: Blog

I’m currently associate professor of philosophy at Laurentian University, and a faculty member of the Interdisciplinary Humanities M.A. program and the Human Studies Ph.D. program.

I studied at DePaul University (Ph.D.) in Chicago, The University of Western Ontario (M.A.), and the University of Alberta (B.A. Hons.). My teaching and research interests are primarily in 19th and 20th century European thought, touching on phenomenology, ontology, contemporary French philosophy, aesthetic theories, environmental philosophy, and critical animal studies. I sit on a number of scholarly editorial boards, including the journal “Environmental Humanities” and the Wilfrid Laurier University Press’s “Environmental Humanities” series.

My research continues to involve animal studies in continental philosophy. I am at work on a project exploring endangered species and species extinction from existential/phenomenological viewpoints, as well as co-editing and co-translationg the writings of Dominique Lestel, Vinciane Despret, and Roberto Marchesini for Angelaki (3 special issues forthcoming in 2014-2015). I am also translating Vinciane Despret’s “Que Diraient les Animaux” for UMP’s “Posthumanities” series (forthcoming 2015).


Currently I have several research projects underway, all at various stages. If you are interested in learning more, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Here they are, in brief:

Continental Philosophy and Ethology
This project is a continuation of research already undertaken (e.g., my book Onto-Ethologies), albeit more broad in scope. I continue to be interested in how we conceptualize “behavior” and how it is problematically ascribed to individual agents. I’m primarily interested in how a number of philosophers and ethologists have taken to task the continental tradition in philosophy for its apparent lack of attention to real animal behavior. Animals are too often abstract units, not earthly enough, as Donna Haraway has put it. Among the figures I’m focusing on include Dominique Lestel, Vinciane Despret, Isabelle Stengers, Bruno Latour, and Donna Haraway. In conjunction with this, I’m currently co-editing with Matt Chrulew and Jeff Bussolini three special issues on philosophical ethology for Angelaki (2014-2015), will be translating Vinciane Despret’s Que diraient les animaux (2012) for University of Minnesota Press’s “Posthumanities” series (2015), and in the process of co-editing (with Matt and Jeff) a book manuscript on continental philosophy and ethology. As a side note to these projects, I continue to be interested in how Uexküll’s thought appears in contemporary thinkers, such as Latour and Peter Sloterdijk.

Heidegger’s Philosophy of Nature
While a great deal of attention has been paid to Heidegger’s writings on technology, the earth, and his general interest for environmental and ecological studies, few works have been devoted to laying out his philosophy of nature. My work here is a general, scholarly look at Heidegger’s philosophy of nature, particularly as informed through his readings of the Pre-Socratics, Aristotle, Hölderlin, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Trakl.

Precarious Communities: Towards a Phenomenology of Extinction
My interest here is with how we ought to think through extinction, philosophically and practically (not that I necessarily distinguish these two). It has often been noted and documented that we are currently living through our Earth’s sixth mass extinction, with vast numbers of species either threatened or endangered. Extinction (and endangerment) is an often studied field in the sciences, but not a lot of critical, theoretical attention is paid to it from a humanities perspective (with some notable, and very good, exceptions). I am coming to this problem from two different loci: on the one hand, to think about extinction from the standpoint of Western philosophy’s infatuation with death (and tragedy), which is almost always death in its individual singularity, and notably what it might mean to live with extinction surrounding us; and, on the other hand, to think through the more philosophical questions with respect to my most immediate surroundings in Northeastern Ontario, and Canada more generally.

Thinking Extinction 2013