Environmental Anthropology 2021: Hope, Ruination and Environmentalism

14-15 October 2021, School of Humanities, Tallinn University, Estonia.

Please follow the links for the workshop programme, thematic focus and to register for the event.

We are pleased to announce the second biannual meeting of the EnviroAnt Network for Environment & Anthropology.

For the 2nd Biannual EnviroAnt Workshop, we invite Anthropologists, Activists and Artists to tell the stories of environmental destruction, while attending to the hopes, aspirations, and mythologies that materialise in urban, industrial, and rural landscapes.

14-15 October 2021, School of Humanities, Tallinn University, Estonia.

Please see the programme here: WORKSHOP PROGRAMME

COVID-19: This event will feature a hybrid format. Where safely possible, people will be attending the physical event in Tallinn. The majority of the workshop sessions will also be available live online for virtual attendance.

To register for the event, either in person or virtually, please complete the form here: REGISTRATION FORM

In-person attendance is only a nominal fee of £20. Virtual attendance is free of charge.

Thematic focus: Hope and Ruination in Contested Landscapes/terrains

Thematically, this conference will focus on the interplay between hope and ruination at play in the politics of making and remaking landscapes. Environmental Anthropology has long been concerned with landscapes as more-than-human, contested spaces, and as temporal markers that materialise people’s ideals and fears. Environmental degradation has been a key concern to environmentalists, but equally to environmental anthropologists and scholars in related disciplines alike. Taking contested landscapes/terrains as its starting point and material anchor, this conference invites efforts to tell the stories and lamentations of environmental destruction. At the same time, we invite participants to attend to the hopes, aspirations but also mythologies that, too, materialise in urban, industrial, and rural landscapes. What place is there for optimism in environmental anthropology?

Hosted in Tallinn, exactly 30 years after its independence from the Soviet Union, the conference will draw specific attention to soviet, post-socialist, and capitalist regimes of landscape (trans)formation. How does the allocation, but also contestation of private, military, and public spaces shape environmental relations? What role do European and state relations play in contemporary environmental degradation and exploitation, activism and conservation? How do landscapes/terrains come into being or transform, and how do they continue to exist in relation to such mechanisms of power?

Environmental Anthropology between Activism and Mediation

In line with the thematic focus described above, the conference will facilitate discussion and exchange between environmental anthropologists (inviting also scholars and practitioners in related disciplines) on the question how environmental anthropology might intervene in contested landscapes/terrains.

One of the core strengths of anthropology is its ability to grasp the complexity, or ‘messiness’, of social and environmental relations. This nuanced view can be productive in bringing refinement into polarised debates,  allowing exchange between opposing actors and even reconcile seemingly opposing needs. But it may also paralyse, silencing the voices that are unable or unwilling to tune into positivist and one-liner dominated public debates. How do anthropologists balance their commitment to understanding the intricacies of the world with the need or desire to speak out and take a stance? What narratives are needed in order to secure liveable futures for people, nonhuman species and landscapes across the globe, and what narratives could anthropologists produce to make use of their discipline’s strengths? And what roles might anthropologists take in the environmental debates of today, vis-à-vis their interlocutors and other human and nonhuman stakeholders?


Following up on the successful inaugural meeting in 2019 in Cologne, the event will take place over two days and consists of three keynote lectures followed by one panel each, containing innovative involvements crossing disciplinary and sectorial borders, Pecha Kucha presentations from delegates, and discussions welcoming contributions from the audience.

Pecha Kucha is a presentation format in which the presenter has 20 slides that are displayed 20 seconds each. This provides the speaker with a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds to present their work and allows for quick and effective transmission of ideas when meeting in person. It is also particularly suitable for hybrid and online meetings, as people’s attention spans tend to be shorter when looking at a screen. The Pecha Kucha presentations will be thematically clustered in groups of four, allowing ample time for discussion. All presentations will be plenary and there will be no parallel sessions.


  1. Contesting the relations of landscape, art and environment
  2. Ruined pasts, ruined futures
  3. Hope and activism across boundaries

Each of these panels is explored in conversation with the overall theme of the workshop, with additional aim to find innovative and practical ways to address these intersections. To realise such aims, we are inviting participants from other fields to engage with the themes, as well as with the surrounding post-socialist landscapes. With such cross-sectorial impact focus, the event hopes to highlight and develop the relevance of anthropology in addressing the challenges of environmental crises and to contribute to the search for solutions.

We welcome contributions from within anthropology and related disciplines (e.g. environmental humanities, sociology, critical geography, etc.) that correspond with the thematic focus of the conference, focussing on hope and ruination in contested landscapes across the globe or in the post-soviet context in particular.

Organising board: Aet Annist (University of Tartu and Tallinn University), Linda Kaljundi (Tallinn University), Kristin Kuutma (University of Tartu), Franz Krause (University of Cologne), Arvid van Dam (University of Bonn), Katrine Callander (University of Kent), Alexandra Cotofana (Zayed University Abu Dhabi)

Photographs by Alari Tammsalu, Pjotr Mahhonin, and Ben Bender.