2020 Annual Report.
Held after the deadline for last year’s report, the network’s inaugural workshop took place in Cologne, Germany, on December 12th and 13th, 2019, co-organised by the EnviroAnt convenors and Michaela Haug (University of Cologne, Germany). A motivated group of 60 registered participants (including 29 presenters) came together to discuss the theme “Perspectives and stories in a world of facts and figures? Exploring the potential of anthropology in tackling environmental issues.” Comprising three keynotes and twenty-five Pecha Kucha presentations, the workshop provided opportunities for the members of the new network to get to know each other’s work, develop the purposes and strategies of the network, and plan possible collaborations. Presentations and discussions were grouped by three questions: 1) What can we contribute?, 2) How can we make ourselves heard/present? And 3) What are our future activities, inspirations and strategies? The programme is available and a summary workshop report can be downloaded at https://easaonline.org/networks/enviroant/cologne-2019.shtml
EASA conference and business meeting 2020
In late 2019, the network had chosen the panel to be put forward as guaranteed EnviroAnt contribution to the biennial EASA conference in virtual Lisbon. Among four proposed panels that had been gathered through a call via the network’s email list, the panel “Privileged Fear: Europe and the concern for environmental catastrophes” was selected by voting on a google form. Another panel convened by network members, “Wet horizons: Hydrosocial re-articulations in the Anthropocene” was subsequently also selected by the conference’s Scientific Committee. When browsing the conference programme, we noticed that there were several other environment-related panels that we had not heard about before. Environmental issues are thus discussed even beyond the network.
The business meeting at the conference, which was the network’s first, included a report on previous activities; a presentation, discussion and favourable vote on the “statute” document that summarizes the network’s focus and mission; plans for the coming year; and the election of convenors (see separate minutes).
Until the 2020 business meeting, the network had been convened by the founding conveners Aet Annist (University of Tartu, Estonia) and Franz Krause (University of Cologne, Germany). During the business meeting elections, these two were confirmed and three new candidates were voted into the convening team: Katrine A. Callander (University of Kent, UK), Alexandra Coțofană (Zayed University, UAE) and Arvid van Dam ( University of Leeds, UK).
After the inaugural workshop, the network formed working groups to concentrate on selected tasks. With the new convenors since the business meeting, these working groups have been restructured and currently comprise the following:
Media and Messaging
The media networking group commenced its work after the inaugural Cologne workshop in December 2019. The group consists of Aet Annist, Dan Podjed, Arvid van Dam, Elvira Wepfer and Katrine Callander. At the first meeting in February 2020, we continued the discussions from the event on the exciting research taking place within the network and the potential benefits of reaching out on these topics across disciplines and beyond academia.
With this in mind, we discussed a structure of aims/goals and practical steps for the media group in supporting the main ambitions of the network:
– Raising awareness of the network
– Getting the message across to a wider audience through emails, threads, newsletters, outreach to established media and social media platforms
– Raising awareness of environmental anthropology messages and relevant projects
– Inspire audiences across disciplines of the interconnectedness of environmental anthropology
– Showcase topics/projects that highlight this message
– Illustrate how applicable the discipline is to a wide variety of sectors
In addition to the network’s EASA page, work has started on utilising social media platforms and building up a separate network-specific website to achieve these aims. Plans are in place for a regular online newsletter, a potential series and links to specialist media in our field. In addition to the EASA email list, a dedicated email address that could be used as point of contact for the platform registrations was set up: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The working group is also gathering information on what other networks and organisations with similar remits (environment/ecology/anthropology) and strategic interest for us exist, and to forge links with them for potential collaborations, communication and developing synergies. This includes environment-related networks within the national anthropology associations, especially from countries in Eastern and Central Europe, which so far have been underrepresented in EnviroAnt.
Our Facebook page has existed since the first year of the network’s existence and has been steadily growing in terms of reach and scope. In addition, we set up the network LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram pages in May 2020. Content has been posted across the four platforms and we have seen the online communities grow to a combined audience reach of over 1100 people. We have been able to showcase research projects from the Network’s members as well as broader environmental anthropology issues from both general and specialist media. Audience engagement continues to grow.
In September 2020, we started work on the network’s dedicated website. We registered the domain www.environmental-anthropology.com and started design work on the site using WordPress. The website is still in progress, but the core information has been included. Content includes information about the network, mission statement, links to members’ research, environmental anthropology news, courses, information on funding, publishing and visual resources. In addition, the website also features material on past and future network-specific events and panel material from the EASA 2020 conference. Links are also provided for the social media platforms, the possibility to register for the upcoming newsletter, ways to contact and bios of the convenors as well as the option to join as a member of the network. A survey has been sent out to all members to allow input on the direction of the website and the priorities of the content.
Though in the early stages, we are building a strong foundation for outreach and engagement both within academia and broader audiences. We are aware that some of the potential platforms and formats will take longer to establish. In the meantime, the social media platforms and website are providing forums for engagement across our discipline and the many strong potential avenues for cross-discipline collaborations.
Since the business meeting, this working group is convened by Jeanne Féaux de la Croix (University of Tübingen, Germany) and Alessandro Rippa (Rachel Carlson Center, Germany). The group is to develop concepts for teaching environmental anthropology to our students, for example by exchanging experiences, practices and syllabi. Its plans include a half-day, online workshop on teaching environmental anthropology in spring 2021.
Publishing and Grants
This activity is coordinated by Alexandra Cotofana and is meant to help with the specific publishing and grant needs of academics at all stages of their career, whether they are independent, practicing, or work in a research and teaching institution. EnviroAnt will seek to support research and travel for academics through grants, on the one hand, and also produce an open access series annually, highlighting new research and activism in the field of environmental anthropology.
This working group, coordinated by Arvid van Dam, is in charge of organising upcoming events. Current plans include a network workshop in Tallinn, Estonia in October 2021, a panel at the RAI’s conference on conservation at the University of East Anglia, UK, in September 2021, a contribution to the summer 2021 EASA jubilee in Lisbon, and the Teaching workshop in March 2021.
Focus and Mission
After the inaugural workshop, a working group consisting of both network convenors and Mattias Borg Rasmussen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) elaborated a document on EnviroAnt’s focus and mission to clarify how the network works and what it is about. A draft document was circulated on the mailing list, presented and discussed at the business meeting, and endorsed by a large majority vote. It will be published on the network’s website in due course.