Mick Smith

Professor, Queen's National Scholar

Emotion, Place and Culture cover

Contact Information

​Office: Rm 3123 Biosciences Complex
Phone: 613.533.6000 ext. 78634
Email: michael.smith@queensu.ca
Mailing Address:
School of Environmental Studies
Queen's University
Biosciences Complex
Kingston, Ontario, Canada,
K7L 3N6

Department of Environmental Studies and Department of Philosophy


Please direct inquiries to the contact information provided.
Mick also supervises graduate students through the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Studies.

Current Students


Jessica McMullin (Philosophy; co-supervised with Lisa Guenther)
Yanis Aouamri (Env. Studies)
Amanda Bunten-Wahlberg (Env. Studies)
Pavel Graymason (Env. Studies)
Joshua Jones (Env. Studies)
Kate Lawson (Philosophy)

Kelsey Watt

Completed Environmental Studies Graduate Students

Jason Young

Gabrielle Pulver (co-supervised with Kristen Lowitt)

Zhuonan Liu

Peter Graham
Liz Cooper
Tracey Guptill
Riley Cassidy
Kristan Hart
Royah Khorsandi
P. van Huesen
Lisa Figge
Heather Schmitt
Sunny Lam
Hilary Davies
Corinna Dally-Starna

Academic Training

Ph.D. (Humanism and Anti-humanism in Environmental Values), University of Stirling, UK (1993); 
M.A. (Modern European Thought), Thames Polytechnic, UK (1988);
M.Phil (The Ecology of Basidiobolus and Conidiobolus in Soils and Plant Litters), North Staffordshire Polytechnic, UK (1988); 
B.Sc. Hons. (Ecology), University of York, UK (1982).

Research Interests

I originally trained as an ecologist, inspired by the upsurge in environmental consciousness from the 1970's onwards. I have a long-standing interest in the experiential, social, and political reasons why people do (or don't) value differing aspects of ecological communities with a particular interest in environmental ethics. My research seeks to develop theoretical understandings of the complex intersections of nature and culture as they affect our evaluations and experiences of environments. It engages directly with a number of current debates that are of vital significance for environmental politics which might be classified under 6 specific but overlapping headings:

  • Environmental hermeneutics and phenomenology - understanding how and why we come to interpret and experience environments in particular ways, for example, as 'wilderness', natural, or brown-field sites, and how these interpretations inform our understandings of those environments' roles, values and sustainability. In brief - what do we mean by 'nature', how do we experience it and how does it become meaningful to us?
  • Environmental ethics - the nature of ethical values and the ethical value of nature.
  • Social-theoretical understandings of nature and environmentalism - including the role of nature in sociological, political and philosophical traditions, debates about the social construction of nature, materialism, vitalism, theoretical understandings of space and place, and different ways of thinking about nature-society interactions, for example, 'risk society'.
  • The emotional mediation of environmental responses - including emotional geographies, emotional attachments to place, bio-philias and bio-phobias.
  • Environmental politics - the place of nature in political theory especially in terms of the relations between ideas of nature, freedom, and citizenship, sustainable development, ecological activism, ecofeminism, sovereignty, community, and deep ecology.
  • Tourism ethics - the many ethical issues that arise at the intersections of cultures and ecologies due to tourism developments and recent attempts to ameliorate some of the more deleterious aspects of these developments through, for example eco-tourism.

I am jointly appointed between the School of Environmental Studies and the Department of Philosophy.  My current work is concerned with posthumanist notions of ecological community. I was a founding editor of the Elsevier journal Emotion, Space and Society (http://www.elsevier.com/wps/locate/emospa). I am happy to consider supervising graduate students in any of these or allied fields.

Books Authored:

Smith, M & Young J. Does the Earth Care? Indifference, Providence, and Provisional Ecology. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2022). 

Smith, M. Against Ecological Sovereignty: Ethics, Politics, and Saving the Natural World (2011) Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. http://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/against-ecological-sovereignty/

Smith M. and Duffy R. The Ethics of Tourism Development  (2003) London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26685-8 (hbk) 0-415-26686-6 (pbk), pp.195.

Smith M. An Ethics of Place: Radical Ecology, Postmodernity and Social Theory  (2001) New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-4907-6 (hbk) 0-7914-4908-4 (pbk), pp.286.

Books Edited:

Smith, Mick., Davidson, Joyce, Cameron, Laura, & Bondi, Liz. (2009) Emotion, Place and Culture Burlington VT & Farnham: Ashgate. ISBN 978 0 7546 7246 3

Davidson J., Bondi, L and Smith M. Emotional Geographies (2005) Burlington VT & Aldershot: Ashgate. ISBN 0 7546 4375 1 pp.258. (hb) & 978 0 7546 4375 3 (pb)

Di Domenico, C. Law, A. Skinner, J and Smith, M. Scotland's Boundaries and Identities in the New Millennium (2001) Dundee: University of Abertay Press. ISBN 1-899796-08-8.

Chapters in Books:

Smith Mick & Young, Jason (2022) ‘Does the Earth Care? Indifference, providence, and provisional ecology in an age of atmospheric change’ in Nuno Castanheira et al ed. Questões Ecológicas em Perspectiva Interdisciplinar Vol. 2, Brasil: Editora Fundação Fênix. pp.13-36. available for download at https://www.fundarfenix.com.br/ebook/156perspectivainterdisciplinar   ISBN – 978-65-81110-67-3


Smith, M. (2021) ‘Community (Ecology and the Body Politic)’ in Marc Botha & Patricia Waugh eds. Future Theory: A Handbook of Critical Concepts (London: Bloomsbury 2021).

Smith, M. ‘Place’ in Dominick DellaSala & Michael Goldstein eds. Encyclopaedia of the Anthropocene (Amsterdam: Elsevier (2017) pp.95-101

Smith, M. ‘The Anthropocene: The eventual geo-logics of posthuman tourism?’ in Bryn Grimwood, Kellee Caton, and Lisa Cooke eds. New Moral Natures in Tourism (London: Routledge 2017)

Smith, M. ‘Rain’ in Jeffrey Cohen & Lowell Duckert eds. Veer Ecology: A Companion for Environmental Thinking (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 2017)

Smith, M.‘Morrow’s Ants: E.O. Wilson and Gadamer’s Critique of (Natural) Historicism’ in Forrest Clingerman, Brian Treanor, Martin Drenthen and David Ustler eds. Interpreting Nature: The Emerging field of Environmental Hermeneutics New York: Fordham University Press, 2014).

Smith, M. & Davidson, J‘Autistic Autobiographies and More-than-Human Emotional Geographies’ in Dale Spencer, Kevin Walby & Alan Hunt eds. Emotions Matter: A Relational Approach to Emotions Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012) pp.260-279.

Smith, M.‘Apres Moi le Deluge: Ethics, Empire, and the Biopolitics of ‘Last-Chance’ Tourism’, in R. Lemelin, J. Dawson & E. Stewart eds. Considering the Ethical Dimensions of Last-Chance Tourism (London: Routledge, 2012).pp.153-167

Smith, M.‘The Earthly Politics of Ethical An-Arche: Arendt, Levinas, and Being with Others’, in William Edelglass edLevinas and Ecology. (Pittsburg: Duquesne University Press, 2011). pp.135-160. 

Smith, M. ‘The State of Nature: The Political Philosophy of Primitivism and the Culture of Contamination’ in Nathan J. Jun and Shane Wahl (eds.) New Perspectives in Anarchism (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010) pp.381-399.

Davidson, J. and Smith, M. ‘Emotional Geographies’, in Rob Kitchin and Nigel Thrift (eds.) International Encyclopaedia of Human Geography (Oxford: Elsevier, 2009), pp. 440-445.

Smith, M. ‘Ethical Perspectives: Exploring the Ethical Landscape of Tourism’ in Tazim Jamal and Mike Robinson eds.The SAGE Handbook of Tourism Studies (London: SAGE, 2009) pp.613-630

Smith, M. ‘Development and its Discontents: Ego-Tripping Without Ethics or Idea(l)s' in J. Tribe ed Philosophical Issues in Tourism(Bristol: Channel View Publications, 2009).

Smith, M. ‘Road kill: Remembering What is Left in our Encounters With Other Animals' in Smith, Mick, et al Emotion, Place and Culture(Burlington VT and Farnham: Ashgate Press 2009) pp.21-34.

Smith, M. and Davidson, J. ‘Civility and Etiquette' in T. Hall, P. Hubbard & J.R. Short eds. The SAGE Companion to the City(London: SAGE 2008) pp.231-49.

Smith M. 'On 'Being' Moved by Nature: Geography, Emotion and Environmental Ethics' in Emotional Geographies in J. Davidson, L. Bondi and M. Smith eds. Burlington VT & Aldershot: Ashgate (2005) pp.219-30.

Smith M. and Davidson J. 'Bio-phobias / Techno-philias: Virtual Reality Exposure as Treatment for Phobias of 'Nature'' in Clive Seale ed. Health and the Media Oxford: Blackwell (2004) pp. 126 - 142.

Smith M. 'Ethical Issues' in Moya Morison et al eds. Chronic Wound Care - a Problem Based Approach Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill (2003) pp.319-329.

Smith, M. 'Letting in the Jungle' in Andrew Brennan ed. The Ethics of the Environment International Research Library of Philosophy Aldershot: Dartmouth Press (1996).

Smith, M. 'Cheney and the Myth of the Postmodern' in Postmodernism and the Environment  in Max Oelschlaeger New York: State University of New York Press (1995). pp.261-76.

Smith, M. 'A Green Thought in a Green Shade: A Critique of the Rationalisation of Environmental Values' in Yvonne Guerrier et al. eds. Values and the Environment: A Social Science Perspective Chichester: John Wiley (1995) pp.51-60.

Papers in Refereed Journals:

Smith, M. (2019) ‘(A)wake for ‘the Passions of this Earth’: Extinction and the Absurd ‘Ethics’ of Novel Ecosystems’ Cultural Studies Review 25 (1) pp.119-134. 

Smith, M. ‘Somewhere in the North of England: Memories, Emotional Entanglements, and an Orchid’ Emotions, History, Culture, Society 1(1) 139-162. 2017

Smith, M. ‘Ecological Community: Ernst Haeckel and the Natural and Political History of Creation’ The Goose Volume 15 (2) pp.17-22. 2017

Vardy, M. & Smith, M. ‘Resilience’ Environmental Humanities 2017. Environmental Humanities 2017 Volume 9 (1) 175-179, 2017

Smith M. ‘Deep Ecology: What is Said and (to be) Done?’ The Trumpeter 30 (2): 141-156, 2014.

Smith, M. (2013) Ecological Community, the sense of the world, and senseless extinction’ Environmental Humanities 2 pp.21-41.

Smith, M. (2013) Earthly Passion(s): Essays towards an emotional ecology Emotion, Space and Society 6 pp.1-3. Editorial

Smith, M. (2013) Lo spazio ‘etico’ del mattatoio: L’(in)umana macellazione degli altri animali Liberationi: Revista di Critica Antispecista 14 pp.5-28 Italian translation of The ‘Ethical’ Space of the Abattoir.

Smith, M. Davidson, J & Henderson V. ‘Spiders, Sartre, and Magical Geographies: The Emotional Transformation of Space’ Transactions of the British Geographical Society

Smith, M. ‘Edward Hyams: Ecology and Politics Under the Vine’ Environmental Values 20(1) pp.95-119, 2011

Smith, M. ‘Dis(appearance): Earth, Ethics and Apparently (In)significant Others’ Australian Humanities Review 50 pp.23-44, 2011

Smith, M.‘Epharmosis: Jean-Luc Nancy and the Political Oecology of Creation’ Environmental Ethics 32(4) pp.385-404, 2010

Smith, M.  ‘Against Ecological Sovereignty: Agamben, Politics and Globalization’ Environmental Politics 18 (1): 99-116, 2009

Davidson, J & Smith, M. ‘Autistic Autobiographies and More-than Human Emotional Geographies’ Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 27: 898-916, 2009

Smith, M. ‘Thinking Ecologically: A Critique’ Environments 36(2) pp.61-77, 2008 (with a response by Bruce Morito and Andrew McMurray in the same volume.)

Smith M. ‘Suspended Animation: Radical Ecology, Sovereign Powers, and Saving the Natural World’ Journal for the Study of Radicalism 2 (1): 1-25, 2008

Smith M. ‘Worldly (In)Difference and Ecological Ethics: Iris Murdoch and Emmanuel Levinas’ Environmental Ethics 29(1) 23-41, 2007

Smith, M. ‘Wild Life: Anarchy, Ecology and Ethics’ Environmental Politics 16(3) 470-87, 2007

Smith, M. ‘Ecological Citizenship and Ethical Responsibility: Arendt, Benjamin and Political Activism’ Environments 33(3) 51-64, 2005 – actual date published 2007.

Smith M. ‘Environmental Risks and Ethical Responsibilities: Arendt, Beck, and the Politics of Acting into Nature’ Environmental Ethics 28(3): 227-246, 2006

Davidson J. and Smith M. and ‘“It makes my skin crawl….”: The Embodiment of Disgust in Phobias of ‘Nature’’, Body and Society12(1): 43-67, 2006

Smith M. ‘Hermeneutics and the Culture of Birds: The Environmental Allegory of ‘Easter Island’ Ethics, Place and Environment: A Journal of Philosophy and Geography 8(1): 21-38, 2005

Smith M. ‘Citizens, Denizens and the Res Publica: Environmental Ethics, Structures of Feeling, and Political Expression’  Environmental Values 14: 145-62 2005.

Smith M. ‘Shadow and Shade: the Ethopoietics of Enlightenment.’ Ethics, Place and Environment 6: 117-30, 2003

Smith M. and Davidson J. 'Bio-phobias / Techno-philias: Virtual Reality Exposure as Treatment for Phobias of 'Nature'', Sociology of Health and Illness 25(6): 644-61, 2003

Smith M. ‘Ethical Difference(s): A Response to Maycroft on Le Corbusier and Lefebvre.’ Ethics, Place and Environment 5: 260-9, 2002

Smith M. ‘The Ethical Space of the Abattoir.’ Human Ecology Review 9(2): 49-58, 2002

Smith M. ‘The State of Nature: The Political Philosophy of Primitivism and the Culture of Contamination.’ Environmental Values 11: 407-25, 2002

Smith M. and Davidson J. ‘So Hitchcock was scared of Birds…? ‘Natural’ Nerves and Cultured Control in Film, Fear and Phobia' Scottish Journal of Media Education 16-20, 2002

Smith M. ‘Environmental Anamnesis: Walter Benjamin and the Ethics of Extinction.’ Environmental Ethics 23(4): 359-376, 2001

Smith M. ‘Lost for Words? Gadamer and Benjamin on the Nature of Language and the ‘Language’ of Nature’ Environmental Values 10: 59-75, 2001

Smith M. ‘The Face of Nature: Environmental Ethics, Aesthetics and the Boundaries of Social Theory’ Current Sociology – special issue on Sociology and the Environment 49(1): 49-65, 2001

Smith M. ‘Repetition and Difference: Lefebvre, Le Corbusier, and Modernity’s (Im)Moral Landscape’ Ethics, Place and Environment 4(1): , 2001

Smith M. ‘Environmental Antinomianism: The Moral World Turned Upside Down?’ Ethics and the Environment 5(1): 125-139, 2000

Smith M.‘To Speak of Trees: Social Constructivism, Environmental Values and the Futures of Deep Ecology’ Environmental Ethics 21(4): 359-376, 1999

Davidson J. and Smith M. ‘Wittgenstein and Irigaray: Philosophy in a Language (Game) of Difference’ Hypatia: Journal of Feminist Philosophy 14(2): 72-96, 1999

Smith, M. ‘The Ethical Architecture of the Open Road’ Worldviews: Environment, Culture, Religion 2(3): 185-199, 1998.

Smith, M. ‘Against the Enclosure of the Ethical Commons: Radical Environmentalism as an Ethics of Place’ Environmental Ethics 19(4): 339-353, 1997.

Smith, M. ‘Cheney and the Myth of the Postmodern’ Environmental Ethics15(1) 3-17, 1993.

Smith, M. ‘Letting in the Jungle’ Journal of Applied Philosophy 8(2): 145-154, 1991.

Callaghan A. and Smith M. ‘Quantitative Survey of Conidiobolus and Basidiobolus in Soils and Litter’ with Arthur Callaghan Transactions of the British Mycological Society 89(2): 179-185, 1987