Category Archives: Events

2021 hybrid EnviroAnt Workshop in Tallinn illustrates force of environmental research and engagement

The second workshop of the EASA Environment and Anthropology (EnviroAnt) Network, titled “Environmental Anthropology 2021: Hope, Ruination and Environmentalism” took place in Tallinn, Estonia, on 14-15 October 2021 in a hybrid format. It successfully considered the themes of environment, post-socialism, ruination, and hope and brought together the disciplines of anthropology, performative arts, and activism. Here is the full event report, along with links to the published workshop presentations from our Network Youtube channel, which you can subscribe to HERE.

The network presentations included three keynote lectures and 32 Pecha Kucha presentations. The hybrid format of the event appealed to both in-person and virtual attendees. 36 delegates registered for in-person attendance and 132 for virtual participation. Eight presenters (including three keynote speakers) were either already in Tallinn or were able to travel and present in person while the other 27 speakers logged in virtually and shared information on their research projects. During the discussion sessions we included questions and comments from the room as well as directly from virtual attendees and the chat. It was an excellent way to start moving beyond the restrictions of the pandemic and cater for both, people who could travel and those who chose not to. We believe this may be a common requirement going forwards and were pleased to be able to test this format, further aided using hybrid conference technology lent to us by University of Tartu.

Panel One: Contesting the relations of landscape, art, and environment

The first panel focused on contesting the relations of landscape, art, and environment. The panel addressed how to find and define the advantages of artistic and curatorial practices for addressing the Anthropocene, how to develop collaboration with environmental and life scientists, activists, communities and what does curatorial and artistic activism mean in the context of the Anthropocene and environmental degradation/ruination.

Dr. Rasa Smite and Dr. Raitis Smits from the RIXC, the Center for Art and Science in Latvia, presented the keynote for this panel. Their presentation on sensing environments. artistic practices and methodologies revealing eco-systematic relations introduced the artistic practices of RIXC, exploring various environments, real and virtual, sonic, and visible, as well as invisible – from pioneering internet radio experiments, pushing the boundaries of an “acoustic cyberspace” and artistic investigations in electromagnetic spectrum. It also considered more recent ‘techno-ecological’ art projects exploring the landscapes using sensing technologies, data sonification and visualizations to reveal the invisible activity in nature ecosystems, such as bacteria activity happening in the swamp ecosystems or volatile emissions of the pine trees in the forest and atmosphere. They concluded, “we argue that focusing our attention on “terrestrial co-existence” (Latour) and combining both ‘constructivist’ and ‘experiential’ approaches may help us to find less hazardous routes into the future and to create interactive relations with ‘more than human’ environments.”

The Pecha Kucha presentations for Panel 1 started with Sandro Simon, PhD student in the DELTA Junior Research Group at the Anthropology Department of the University of Cologne, Germany. He reflected on the audiovisual installation Bidonmondes (2020) and how it sensuously explores some of the products and residues of the Plantationocene (Haraway 2016) and the reuses and remodifications by those who live with and within them in the Sine-Saloum Delta, Senegal. He noted, “Bidonmondes centers around palm oil plastic canisters. These canisters take part in and inherit a range of processes of extraction and dispossession in different world regions.” 

This was followed by a presentation by dr. Carlo Cubero, Department of Social & Cultural Anthropology at the School of Humanities of Tallinn University. His presentation described the latest findings of an ongoing anthropological film-making project about Lahemaa National Park. Carlo described, “Thinking with a camera contextualises the participant observation experience on cinematic terms and highlights the aesthetic, sensorial, and tonal experiences of fieldwork, over the discursive, structural, and conceptual.” This presentation made the case for the application of film-making methodologies that go beyond the illustrative, the evidential, and data gathering, and propose ways in which film-making methodologies can offer positive contributions to the politics of landscape. To view Carlo’s presentation, please click this LINK.

Jeanne Féaux de la Croix, of the Junior Research group on Environment and Society in Central Asia at the University of Tübingen in Germany discussed the highs and lows of a virtual exhibition on the ‘Social Life’ of the Naryn and Syr Darya rivers in Central Asia. Feeding a partly flourishing, but largely disappearing Aral Sea, these contested rivers connect a wide variety of agricultural, industrial, and post-industrial communities along their 3000-kilometre trajectory. The presentation explored the conditions, possibilities, and limits of art-based and virtual spaces of communicating between Central Asian River communities, river arts and sciences. To view Jeanne’s presentation, please click this LINK.

John Grzinich, sound/video artist, educator and Head of New Media of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Estonian Academy of Arts shared some examples from his creative work that illustrate how listening practices that ground us in time and space also re-establish forms of meaning that challenge the anthropocentric by alluding to the sentience of non-human otherness. “For years I have sought to create experiences that convey perceptions of the world beyond the hegemony of our visually dominant sensory regimes. I have done this using sound as an artistic medium and by engaging myself in various listening based practices”, John said. 

Laura Kuusk, Assistant Professor at the Estonian Academy of Arts shared her interest in the patterns created by human and other-than-human behaviour. She noted, “My presentation is about continuing the route as an artist in the ongoing situation of environmental disaster. As a visual artist I am working with the ideas of the environment that is created by the juxtaposition of biological and technological matter.”

Kitija Balcare, PhD student in environmental humanities at the University of Latvia considered how the pandemic raised awareness of environmental issues through theatre imaginatory and newly approached stages. “Many questions and some subjective answers look on the process of performative arts during the year of pandemic 2020 in Latvia. I am digging deeper for eco-narratives and exploring site-specific theatre choices where site becomes not only scenography, but also co-author of the performance itself,” Kitija commented. To view Kitija’s presentation, please click this LINK.

Alessandro Rippa of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at the LMU Munich and Carolin Maertens, doctoral candidate at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the LMU Munich spoke about hunting, conservation, and multi-species entanglements in the Italian Alps. Their presentation mapped out an ongoing visual project focusing on hunting in a peripheral and impoverished mountain valley in Italy’s Trentino Province. Their presentation was based on long-term ethnography among the valley’s small – and shrinking – community of hunters, and employed camera traps, eco-acoustic recorders, as well as more traditional visual anthropology methods. They addressed the nexus of conservation efforts, memory, and multi-species entanglements that lie at the core of hunting practices in this region. To view Alessandro and Carolin’s presentation, please click this LINK.

Marie Lusson and Christelle Gramaglia from the French Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment Sciences (INRAE), spoke about repairing the rivers of the Anthropocene and offered a story of a socio-visual experiment to move from technical action to care. They said, “Urbanisation and industrialisation have altered the hydromorphological and ecological functioning of many rivers. Different practices and knowledge of the river can then clash, sometimes compromising the implementation of projects. Thanks to a method that mixes ethnographic and filmic investigation, it could be possible to take advantage of the controversies to imagine a new regime of cosmopolitical knowledge of the rivers to be repaired, at the interface of the technical, the sensitive and care.” To view Marie and Christelle’s presentation, please click this LINK.

Eeva Berglund, Adjunct professor of environmental policy, Department of Design at Aalto University completed the first Pecha Kucha panel by discussing the social in environmental imaginings from the point of view of a teacher. Eeva stated, “I find optimism in helping introduce social and political thought to mostly design and business students of a Finnish Masters programme. Promoting sustainability in a very unsustainable environment, it fosters awareness of the inseparability of technical and cultural arrangements. My teaching builds on anthropology, with a particular emphasis on landscapes and livelihoods, as well as the situatedness of all knowledge. My sense is that this enriches both students’ academic work and activism.”

Artists Excursion

The theme of the workshop was aimed to both address through the lens of art and activism  how hope and ruination combine with environmentalism, but it was also expected to chime with the location of the event, a post-socialist country that has decisively moved away from what is experienced as a ruined past. This was accentuated by the specific place where the event took place, a small location of the event, the edge of a uniquely complex peninsula in the outskirts of Tallinn, comprising of partly abandoned Soviet era industrial sites and a refuse heap turned into a view point to admire the surroundings; a water purification and human waste composting plant; a nature protection site – but also a potential seen in this area for a new gentrified sleeping district. This location enabled us to invite to the event the students from the Estonian Academy of Art who had been working in the area before, but now could hone their performative arts projects as a response to the presentations of the workshop. This offered the participants an opportunity to learn to collaborate across disciplines. During the excursion with the students, the participants were treated to performances and exhibitions, and short live clips for those attending from afar. The students described the location as Tallinn’s last fragment of not-sufficiently-capitalised and thus fiercely contested land, and “a place where imagination takes different trajectories, where conflicting dreams collide, often leaving nightmares in their wake.” The performances included some rather close encounters with the hopeful processes of breakdown – from feces to soil – as well as searches for well camouflaged art, encounters with rebellious birds and leaves introducing brief poetic quotes.

The day was concluded at a local vegan restaurant Vegan Oasis.

Panel Two: Ruined pasts, ruined futures?

The second panel and the final day of the event started with the keynote presentation by Annika Lems, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. She spoke about precarious politics of placemaking: why the historicity of environmental future imaginaries matters. Annika commented, “I explore everyday placemaking practices people in an Austrian mountain community engage in as a response to the exploitative and destructive nature of global capitalism.” She zoomed in on grassroot projects aimed at food sovereignty, demonstrating the important social role environmental future imaginaries can take as a means of creating a sense of belonging and solidarity in ‘forgotten’, rural places that are marked by unemployment, defunding and out-migration. As Annika clarified, “This politics of place does not just act against extractive capitalism. Based on historically ingrained notions of otherness, it has the side-effect of reproducing reactionary and exclusionary ideas of belonging to place.” 

The Pecha Kucha presentations commenced with Nikolaos Olma, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin, Germany. He considered de-industrialisation and toxicity in a former mining town in Kyrgyzstan. “Mailuu-Suu is a former mining town in southern Kyrgyzstan which produced a partially refined form of uranium ore that fuelled the Soviet nuclear programme. But the Soviet Union’s dissolution led to the town’s rapid de-industrialisation and economic depression, leaving behind poverty, unemployment, and massive outmigration, as well as industrial ruins and empty residential buildings. The slow pace of remediation and the Kyrgyz state’s limited politico-economic involvement in the process make locals pessimistic about the town’s future.” To view Nikolaos’ presentation, please click this LINK.

Dragan Djunda, a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology of the Central European University, spoke about hope at the ruins of energy transition in rural Serbia. “The dispossessive energy transition in the Western Balkans appears in the various forms of ruination and hope. On the one hand, ruination is an ecological consequence of thousands of small hydropower plants that recently mushroomed on the region’s pristine rivers, endangering the survival of both species and communities. On the other hand, it is a socio-material decay characteristic of post-socialist villages, which operates as an enabling condition for extractive investments,” commented Dragan. 

Michaela Haug, Assistant Professor at the University of Cologne, offered a Pecha Kucha presentation that was in essence a story of hope and solidarity that is currently growing out of the ruined forest landscapes of Indonesia. She analysed the attempt of the network Transnational Palm Oil Labour Solidarity (TPOLS) to develop a just transition perspective for the palm oil industry by building on the collaboration between the labour, indigenous peoples and environmental justice movements. To view Michaela’s presentation, please click this LINK.

Man-kei Tam, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Anthropology of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, considered activism after Fukushima. “How can we move on, after Fukushima, from a “damage-centered” analysis that focuses narrowly on the victimhood and incapacitation of affected communities? The collaborations between farmers, citizens, and experts to digitalize agriculture and restart rice cultivation show how their activism unpacks the trajectories of violence and makes powerful claims on the future, despite the open-endedness of the fallout.” To view Man-Kei’s presentation, please click this LINK.

Joonas Plaan, lecturer in anthropology at Tallinn University and a sustainable fisheries expert for Estonian Fund for Nature spoke about nature tourism in Anthropocene landscapes. Joonas said, “Oandu visitor centre in Lahemaa National Park is a starting point for numerous hiking, study and cycling trails. The trails pass ecosystems and landscapes with various conservation values, inviting its visitors to learn and think about the human-environment interactions in the past and present. What do the trails mean for the tourists visiting the park, its managers, and developers, and what is the role of trails in landscape conservation? Overall, does nature tourism bring hope for creating future landscapes?”  To view Joonas’ presentation, please click this LINK.

The panel was concluded by dr. Markéta Zandlová of the Faculty of Humanities at the Charles University in Prague. She discussed creative worldmaking – tracing the transformative acts of human and non-human inhabitants of the landscape of Untertannowitz – Dolní Dunajovice, a village in former German South Moravia. “My focus is on activists, winegrowers, solitary trees, tumbleweed, and maps, and how they move together towards sustainability and resilience despite ruination and environmental degradation.”  To view Markéta’s presentation, please click this LINK.

Panel Three: Hope and activism across boundaries

The final panel commenced with a keynote presentation by Stine Krøijer, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen. She spoke on activism and its futures in landscapes of broken developmental dreams. She discussed how, in the second half of the 20th Century, modernization projects and associated narratives of economic development and progress made their imprint on landscapes and altered human relations to nature. Across ideological and political standpoints such narratives informed people’s outlook to the future and even their projects of progressive political change. Yet no more than a decade after the story about reaching an “end of history” gained momentum among European politicians – a story advocating the idea that a particular politico-economic formation would constitute the endpoint of all societal development – it became accompanied and even overwritten by experiences of environmental destruction and anthropogenic climate change. Stine commented, “I take my point of departure in landscapes of broken developmental dreams with a view to examine the forms of activism that they may give rise to. I take the listeners to sites of environmental destruction in both Germany, Denmark, and Amazonia. I do so to outline human and non-human forms of vigorous action, their relation to imperial debris and renderings of time, and to discuss the roles that anthropologists might take in such projects.”

The Pecha Kucha presentations started with Larisa Kurtović, Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa and Yanna Jović, University of Ottawa, and Program Advisor for Employment and Social Development, Canada. They spoke of postindustrial natures and post-extractive futures in postwar Bosnia Herzegovina. In 2018, an activist campaign in the central Bosnian town of Vareš successfully challenged the plan of an EU-sponsored ¡Vamos! Program to test underwater mining equipment in a nearby pit-lake Nula which formed on the site of the now-defunct coal mine. The presenters said, “How might we make anthropological sense of zones of anthropogenic resource depletion that are at once potentially toxic and beautiful, and emerge as unlikely sites of affection, communal care, and environmentalist concern?” To view Larisa’s presentation, please click this LINK.

This was followed by the presentation of Eunice Blavaskunas, Associate Professor at the Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. She considered outbreaks of bark beetle and nationalism in the Białowieża Forest, Poland and the way forest activists, bark beetle and the nationalist turn afford the opportunity to think through how the forest and its ecology are suffused with agency and agents of change. To view Eunice’s presentation, please click this LINK.

Maike Melles, M.A., from the Frobenius Institute for Research in Cultural Anthropology, spoke about hierarchies of knowledge between landowners and land workers in the Spanish Dehesa landscape. The presentation noted that overgrazing has led to impoverished soils which are less and less able to sustain animal herds throughout the year. Emblematic of these developments are the numerous fences that criss-cross the once vast dehesas. To view Maike’s presentation, please click this LINK.

This was followed by a Pecha Kucha presentation by Ruy Llera Blanes, Associate Professor and Carolina Valente Cardoso, Postdoctoral Researcher at the School of Global Studies of University of Gothenburg on hope and citizenship frameworks in the face of drought, devolution, and death in Southern Angola. They said, “Southern Angola has been experiencing a cycle of extreme drought and food insecurity. Small-scale farmers and herding communities struggle against political and economic interests. We studied the material and rhetorical architecture of relief and aid mobilization, to illustrate the autonomist and collaborative modalities of personhood and citizenship entailed in these grassroots activist projects.”

Helen Vaaks, researcher at the Lahemaa National Park, spoke about endangered species, threats, and conservation through the case study of the life of freshwater pearl mussels in the hands of humans in Estonia. She utilized this case study to highlight the importance of human-environment relation for the meanings of biodiversity, the ethics of landscape manipulation and hope for conservation.

Arev Papazian, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology and social anthropology at the Central European University, considered conflicting stances toward the ecological change of Armenia’s Lake Sevan. He commented, “The ecology of Lake Sevan in Armenia has seen decades of overexploiting the lake’s waters, overfishing, pollution, and increasing water temperatures due to climate change. Today the damage brought by human activities is acknowledged and the state regulates and monitors activities affecting the lake’s ecosystem.” The presentation discussed the differing positions of environmental activists and local communities toward the ecological change of Lake Sevan. 

Jeannine-Madeleine Fischer of University of Konstanz concluded the third Pecha Kucha panel with an exploration of the South Durban local community’s proximity to polluting industries. She commented, “The local community keeps fighting for environmental justice and develops diverse strategies to make their daily sufferings provable: local activists keep records of local cancer cases, monitor air quality through bucket air control and document spills and illegal dumping to confront authorities.” The presentation illustrated how embodied knowledge is passed on through toxic tours and a range of tools to create an informed understanding and capacity to act among the community, imbuing the struggle with prospects of hope. 

The workshop successfully considered the themes of environment, post-socialism, ruination, and hope and brought together the disciplines of anthropology and performative arts to go beyond the academic sector by involving local activists. While the format of short Pecha Kucha presentations already worked well in the Inaugural Network Event in Cologne 2019, it proved particularly valuable in the hybrid environment of this event. Top posts from the seminar reached about 150 viewers. The convenors would like to thank everyone involved in making this event a successful example of engagement and sharing of research in environmental anthropology and beyond. 

RAI 2021 Conference Panel report – Hope, ruination and the politics of remaking landscapes

Panel held at the Royal Anthropological Institute’s “Anthropology and Conservation” online conference, October 29th, 2021.

We organised a panel at this international conference to explore links between the RAI’s theme “Anthropology and Conservation” and our 2021 workshop on “Hope, Ruination and Environmentalism”. The panel discussed contributions from five presenters from around the world. Our starting point was that increasing environmental degradation has become a key concern for anthropologists and scholars in related disciplines. Yet, they look to conservation with mixed feelings. On the one hand, they have documented the problems for people inhabiting the ruins of past and present economic dreams and ecological indifference. On the other hand, they have noticed the ubiquitous tensions between different people’s hopes for more sustainable futures, amongst which are various models of conservation. Taking contested landscapes as its starting point and material anchor, our panel explored stories of environmental destruction, but also attended to the related hopes for ecological transitions and justice. 

The first paper, “Hope, Ruination and Precarious Place-Making in the Asian Anthropocene”, was presented by Ishtiaque Ahmed Levin, a doctoral candidate at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems (CSSS), School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University in India. Ishtiaque delivered a poignant critique of the Eurocentrism and white supremacy overtones in mainstream Anthropocene discourse, and proposed to rethink the Anthropocene through alternative tropes. He suggested, for example, a version of the Gandhian concept “swaraj” that emphasises self-rule and self-transformation as a possible way forward and developed this concept further by drawing attention to the precarious place-making practices of a Dalit fishing community in Bangladesh. 

The second paper was presented by Davide Cacchioni, doctoral candidate at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Marseille, France, and titled “Hemp as a remediation for a polluted territory? Hopes and struggles in the Susa valley”. Davide began reporting on a protest movement against a high-speed railway project that was to cross the Susa Valley in Northern Italy, and explained how these protests focused a mix of concerns in the region, from pollution to migration, economy and politics. He traced how the growing of hemp emerged as a source of hope in the area ruined by pollution and neglect, but suggested that this hope was largely frustrated: while hemp cultivation was deemed to be a potent remediation of polluted soils, its market as a commodity lay mostly in the “organic” bracket, for instance for clothing, which favoured hemp from unpolluted sources.

Beth Cloughton, doctoral candidate at the University of Glasgow in Scotland held the third presentation, which was titled “’Las Vegas is all lit up…what’s my energy saving lightbulb gonna dae?’ The ethics of consumption at Baltic Street Adventure Playground.” In her paper, Beth criticised the consumerist focus of much of climate action based on her fieldwork with a food bank in a deprived Glasgow neighbourhood. The common, middle-class narrative and ethics of frugality and environmentalism showed little traction in a context of food poverty and multiple deprivation, which was not, as Beth emphasised, thereby devoid of ethical reflections on climate change, wastage and other environmental matters.

Elias Plata Espino presented the fourth paper, titled “Forests of Refuge and Development. The Historical Development of Forests in the Sierra Tarahumara of Mexico.” Elias is a doctoral candidate at the State University of New York at Buffalo, USA. His paper discussed the Sierra Tarahumana forests as an agentive force with different affordances for conflicting politics in Mexico. On the one hand, they were a key resource for export-oriented development, epitomised by neoliberal arrangements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). At the same time, however, they continue to be a stronghold for Indigenous activism, resistance and alternative development.   

The final paper, “Hope does not come from the skies: the politics of cloudseeding in the United Arab Emirates”, was presented by our network’s co-convener Alexandra Cotofana, who works as Assistant Professor at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. Alexandra discussed the technocratic dreams and practices of rain-making in a dry region, and their association with conspiracy theories that link cloudseeding to state control. As governance extends vertically from the territory to the skies, industrial rain-making can emerge as colonialism’s “wet dream” of superior control of ever more spheres of life turned into resources. Hopes for green, sustainable futures are thereby wedded with a military-industrial tradition that aims at engineering vital processes to fit consumer demand. 

Resources for Teaching Environmental Anthropology in Fearful and Inspiring Times

In April 2021 the Teaching Environmental Anthropology Working Group of the EASA Environmental Anthropology Network convened its first (online) workshop, under the title ‘Teaching Environmental Anthropology in Fearful and Inspiring Times’.

Organised and curated by Jeanne Féaux de la Croix and Alessandro Rippa, the workshop featured the work of 14 scholars, practitioners, and students in two brief sessions focusing on teaching goals, ethics and resources.

They state: “On this page we have curated presentations introducing some favourite and unusual teaching resources. Our hope is that these short talks will continue to foster conversations around some of the key dimensions of teaching environmental anthropology, and that they will inspire scholars, students, and activists for new activities in the classroom and beyond.”

You can find the complete programme of the workshop here.

Once again, we thank all workshop participants for a stimulating day of conversations.

Mengyi Zhang

(University of Cologne, Germany)

Why it was Difficult for me to study Anthropology and how I overcame these Difficulties

  • Type of resource: Approach
  • Keywords: online learning, mass media, class communication

From a student’s perspective, Mengyi Zhan gives suggestions on how to integrate mass media content into anthropology lectures, and explains what the benefits are, based on her learning experience. The resources include some YouTube videos and the curriculum of Yale university’s anthropology introductory class.

Liliana Duica Amaya

(Universidad de los Andes, Colombia)

War ecology in the Colombian Amazon: Warscapes as an insightful methodology

  • Type of resource: Approach
  • Keywords: Warscapes, Gunpoint conservation, Amazon Landscapes

Environmental knowledge requires understanding cultural traditions especially when violence hybridized to the day-to-day life of communities. This approach will allow to understand violence through environmental anthropology.

Gunpoint conservation by guerrillas in the Colombian Amazon suggests the inextricable relation of effective governance using traditional environmental knowledge. Teaching environmental anthropology based on ethnography in conflict settings contributes to better understanding violence in protected ecosystems.

Practitioners or students analyzing violence contexts could use this as a guide to prepare, conduct and analyze ethnographic fieldwork in armed conflict settings.

Tim Ingold 

(University of Aberdeen, UK)

Manifesto for an outdoor anthropology

  • Type of resource: Approach
  • Keywords: attention, observation, outdoors
  • Literature: Tim Ingold, 2013, ‘Knowing from the inside’, in Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture (Abingdon: Routledge), pp. 1-15.

Observation means attending to the world and corresponding with it. In environmental anthropology we should be teaching students how to be good observers. This means students should learn to think outdoors, through intense observational engagements with the world around them, and to bring this thinking into a resourceful critique of what they read. 

Eunice Blavascunas 

(Whitman College, Walla Walla, USA)

Decolonizing Classroom Expectations: Pre-colonial ingenuity and evolutionary debates

  • Type of resource: text
  • Keywords: evolutionary debates, domestication, decolonizing knowledge
  • Literature: Bruce Pascoe, 2014, Dark Emu: Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident (Magabala Books)

Bruce Pascoe’s, “Dark Emu” is a short book that Eunice Blavascunas used to teach about decolonizing classrooms expectations, especially in regards to indigenous knowledge and scholarship, published outside of the academy. In this teaching example you can also explore evolutionary debates within the book, asking if agriculture and domestication is an evolutionary advance, something all humans have, or a discourse that selectively omits other ways of sourcing food and shaping landscapes.  Bruce Pascoe forcefully argues and evidences examples of aboriginal agriculture that European settlers wrote about and yet were blind to.  This is a good text for considering our own habits in the classroom and what we do when we read and discuss a text that inverts indigenous ways of knowing and the facticity of written historical accounts.

Maria Ayala

(University of Canterbury, NZ)

Walking backwards into the Future. Teachings from Māori People

  • Type of resource: fieldwork reflections
  • Keywords: indigenous knowledge, Maori wisdom, multispecies ethnography

This video contains a personal account from fieldwork on forest biosecurity. It suggests a humble, kind, and ethical approach towards the human and non-human others that you may encounter when doing environmental anthropology. It encourages outdoor learning, the use of the body as a research tool and the courage to see the world from a different perspective.

Martín Fonck

(IIAS Potsdam, Germany)

Environmental Autobiography

  • Type of resource: Exercise
  • Keywords: Environmental autobiography – Nature experiences – Exploratory exercise

During 2020 with Saskia Brill, we designed and taught the course “Environment and Knowledge: An ethnographic exploration” at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Rachel Carson Center Certificate Program. We used the teaching method, the “environmental autobiography” to discuss how the sublime experiences of nature are present in our biographies when we start talking about the environment. This exercise inspired us to pay attention to how we tell stories and frame concepts to describe the environment, exploring our own environmental stories as a way of starting this challenging conversation.

Anna Antonova 

(Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Germany)

‘Reinventing Oktoberfest’: Imagining alternative environmental Futures in the interdisciplinary environmental Humanities Classroom

This exercise invites students to draw on their diverse experiences of environment and society in reimagining a well-known global festival: Oktoberfest. Based on a background reading of Gibson-Graham and Miller’s work on the economy as ecological livelihood, students apply theoretical knowledge gained throughout the semester to imagine alternative models for a sustainable future, considering societal and environmental trade-offs discussed throughout the semester. The point of the exercise is to brainstorm idealized alternatives, thereby gaining a deeper appreciation of the problems discussed in class.

Diane Russell

Practitioner Roles in Teaching Environmental Anthropology

  • Type of resource: approach
  • Key words: remote lecture, blog, practitioner

This video demonstrates how environmental anthropology practitioners can support teaching through remote lectures, which was critical during the pandemic. The video describes how Diane Russell developed teaching materials in the form of blogs linked to key resources for these remote lectures. The blog featured in the video concerns an anthropological perspective on efforts to reduce deforestation and mitigate climate change in developing countries. 

EnviroAnt Workshop in Tallinn, Estonia – Keynote Abstracts

Keynote 1- 14 October 2021. 9.30am CET.

Dr. Rasa Smite and Dr. Raitis Smits

Sensing Environments. Artistic Practices and Methodologies Revealing the Eco-Systematic Relations 


“Are there any medium which better than others can open our senses towards the environment?” (Bruno Latour)

Our senses have always been “mediated”, but with more recent enhancements of various ‘immersive’ technologies, our ‘sensoriums’ have intensified and become more mediated than ever before. Environmental monitoring sensors and remote sensing tools used in environmental sciences and landscape research are extending our knowledge, perception and experiences. Yet, we ask, which practices, tools, technologies may help us better to ‘sense’ the environment? What are the methodologies for creating the meaningful relations (with it)? And – what art can do? If the ‘constructivist’ approach has been used to a large extent in environmental research and other fields, ‘experiential’ capabilities such as sensual and immersive properties of the environment have been mainly used in art practices that create immersive interaction through experience, reflection and speculation.

We will introduce our artistic practices of exploring various environments, real and virtual, sonic and visible, as well as invisible – from pioneering internet radio experiments pushing the boundaries of an “acoustic cyberspace” and artistic investigations in electromagnetic spectrum, to more recent ‘techno-ecological’ art projects exploring the landscapes using sensing technologies, data sonification and visualizations to reveal the invisible activity in nature ecosystems.  such as bacteria activity happening in the swamp ecosystems or volatile emissions of the pine trees in the forest and atmosphere.

To create “Pond Battery” (2014-2015) and “Swamp Radio” (2018) artworks of “Biotricity” series, we performed artistic interventions installing “bacteria batteries”, sensors and transmitting devices in ponds, swamps and other wetlands in North Europe and North America. Environmental data were collected, sonified and visualized making visible the invisible activities in nature such as bacteria living in a pond or swamp sediments producing electricity.

Our recent artwork “Atmospheric Forest” (2021), an immersive VR environment is created using remote scanned 3D forest environment, and visualizes the data of the fragrant emissions of pine trees, revealing complex patterns of relations between climate change, forest emissions and the atmosphere.By showcasing how sensing technologies and immersive tools used in artistic practice are well suited to reveal our interdependence of living organisms on each other and their environment, we would like to discuss future strategies, tools and methodologies for establishing two (or multi) directional link with our environment. Moreover, we argue that focusing our attention on “terrestrial co-existence” (Latour) and combining both ‘constructivist’ and ‘experiential’ approaches may help us to find less hazardous routes into the future and to create interactive relations with ‘more than human’ environments.

Keynote 2 – 15 October 2021. 9.00am CET.

Annika Lems, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Halle/Saale

Precarious Politics of Placemaking: Why the Historicity of Environmental Future Imaginaries Matters 

In this presentation I will focus on the everyday placemaking practices people in an Austrian mountain community engage in as a response to the exploitative and destructive nature of global capitalism. By zooming in on grassroot projects aimed at food sovereignty, I will show the important social role environmental future imaginaries can take on as a means of creating a sense of belonging and solidarity in “forgotten”, rural places that are marked by unemployment, defunding and out-migration.

However, I will suggest that anthropological analysis needs to inquire into the agency attached to such projects, laying bare the ambiguous nature of supposedly “green” and progressive placemaking practices. By looking into the everyday engagements with history fuelling local struggles for social and environmental viability in my Austrian fieldsite, I attempt to make visible the contours of a troubling politics of place. This politics of place, I will argue, does not just act against extractive capitalism. Based on historically ingrained notions of otherness, it has the side-effect of reproducing reactionary and exclusionary ideas of belonging to place.

Keynote 3 – 15 October 2021. 1.30am CET.

Stine Krøijer, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen

Activism and its futures in landscapes of broken developmental dreams

In the second half of the 20th Century, modernization projects and associated narratives of economic development and progress made their imprint on landscapes and altered human relations to nature. Across ideological and political standpoints such narratives informed people’s outlook to the future and even their projects of progressive political change. Yet no more than a decade after the story about reaching an “end of history” gained momentum among European politicians – a story advocating the idea that a particular politico-economic formation would constitute the end-point of all societal development – it became accompanied and even overwritten by experiences of environmental destruction and anthropogenic climate change. In this presentation, I take my point of departure in landscapes of broken developmental dreams with a view to examine the forms of activism that they may give rise to. Based on what I like to refer to as my dark trilogy – a series of articles that examine the afterlife of progress, political uses of dystopia, and changing rhythms of radical environmental activism – I take the listeners to sites of environmental destruction in both Germany, Denmark and Amazonia. I do so in order to outline human and non-human forms of vigorous action, their relation to imperial debris and renderings of time, and to discuss the roles that anthropologists might take in such projects.

For the full programme, please follow this link

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTAL ANTHROPOLOGY WORKSHOP – AN ONLINE WORKSHOP ON GOALS, ETHICS AND RESOURCES. 20 APRIL – PROGRAMME AND ZOOM LINKS

In a time of profound anthropogenic environmental change and severe ecological crises, environmental anthropology is a key subject in helping us understand our shared world and futures. As scholars, practitioners and students, we want to hone our learning and teaching on these crucial themes and anchor them at the core of the anthropological endeavour. This online workshop aims to inspire learning through and with environmental anthropology, by gathering teaching resources and reflecting on ethics and teaching practices.

The workshop is divided into two short sessions. In each session, the first half will be dedicated to watching short pre-recorded presentations, introducing particular resources for teaching environmental anthropology. We will then have an open discussion, sharing further ideas and resources to help meet our teaching or learning goals, as well as some of the ethical and philosophical aspects of such endeavours.

SESSION 1 (9-11am CET)

ZOOM LINK: https://zoom.us/j/94398521848 

Participants and Themes:

Anna S. Antonova — ‘Reinventing Oktoberfest’: Imagining alternative environmental Futures in the interdisciplinary environmental Humanities Classroom

Maria Ayala — Walking backwards into the Future. Teachings from Māori People


Mengyi Zhang — Why it was Difficult for me to study Anthropology and how I overcame these Difficulties


Tim Ingold — Manifesto for an Outdoor Anthropology 

Martín Fonck — Environmental Autobiography

Sandro Simon — Navigating Multi-Sensory Re-Assemblages

SESSION 2 (4-6pm CET)

ZOOM LINK: https://zoom.us/j/93189996646 

Participants and Themes:

Eunice Blavascunas — Decolonizing Classroom Expectations: Pre-colonial Ingenuity and evolutionary Debates

Jodie Asselin — Unpacking the Notion of Complexity through student-led Case Studies


Nicole Katin — Mock-Museum Exhibits Exploring present-day human-environment Relations across Cultures

Jared Schultz — From Pedagogical Discourse to Modeling Humans in Trophic Cascades

Diane Russel — Practitioner Roles in Teaching Environmental Anthropology

Angela Storey — Exploring Urban Environments through Participant Observation

Liliana Duica Amaya — War ecology in the Colombian Amazon: Warscapes as an insightful methodology

Montse Pijoan — How can knowledge be gained despite losing our relationship with our environment? Is there something missing in science or modern ways of learning?


If you would like to attend the workshop, please write to Jana Pfeiffer to register, at this address:jana.pfeiffer@student.uni-tuebingen.de. We will send you the programme and zoom links prior to the workshop.

The workshop is organized by Jeanne Féaux de la Croix (University of Tübingen) and Alessandro Rippa (Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society) and is the first initiative of the Teaching Environmental Anthropology Working Group that was recently founded through the EASA Environmental Anthropology Network.

Environmental Anthropology – Teaching Workshop 20 APRIL 2021

Teaching Environmental Anthropology in Fearful and Inspiring Times

An Online Workshop on Goals, Ethics and Resources

Convenors: Jeanne Féaux de la Croix, Alessandro Rippa

21 April 2021, 10am-3pm (CET)

In a time of profound anthropogenic environmental change and severe ecological crises, environmental anthropology is a key subject in helping us understand our shared world and futures. As scholars, practitioners and students, we want to hone our learning and teaching on these crucial themes and anchor them at the core of the anthropological endeavour.

The “Teaching Environmental Anthropology Working Group” was recently founded through the EASA Environmental Anthropology Network. Its aim is to foster conversations around key dimensions of teaching environmental anthropology. We are particularly interested in the ethical and pedagogical aspects of teaching an often-overwhelming subject, and in the interdisciplinary impetus of environmental issues. How can we encourage scholars, practitioners and students to engage with the subject beyond academia? How can we ensure that critically discussing the environmental challenges we face is not only anxiety-inducing, but also generative of tangible change and healing? 

This short online workshop aims to inspire learning through environmental anthropology. We therefore explicitly welcome not only academics but also students and other kinds of practitioners in the arts of environmental teaching. In addition to reflecting on goals and teaching practices, we will gather and comment on available teaching resources such as syllabi, literature, objects, practices and films. We envision each participant briefly introducing their ‘problematic’ and sharing a favourite resource that helped meet their teaching or learning goals. We are particularly interested in examples that speak to the following issues, but also definitely welcome suggestions well beyond these concerns:

●     The “ethics” of teaching environmental issues that may spell the end of the world as we know it and can generate significant anxieties.

●     Interdisciplinary resources, and ways of bridging the gap between anthropology, environmental sciences and activism.

●     Non-English resources, particularly indigenous scholarship on environmental change that might challenge some of our dominant assumptions.

●     Perspectives from students or activists who want or have taken courses on environmental anthropology.

We intend to share some of the outputs of the workshop, particularly in the form of short commentaries by participants, on the EASA network website. We hope the website will grow into a lively arena for resources, recommendations and connections for developing a pedagogy of environmental anthropology in many styles. Confirmed speakers include Anna Antonova (Rachel Carson Center), Tim Ingold (University of Aberdeen), and Ursula Münster (University of Oslo).

Participants are asked to pre-record:

●     a brief (1 minute) introduction of yourself, your work and interest in environmental anthropology.

●     a brief (3-4 minute) presentation of a particular resource that you find useful when teaching/learning a related topic. This could well be a favourite reading, but also a practice, a field-trip, object lesson or audio-visual material. 

Following presentations, we will take time for a common discussion around some of the themes that are certain to emerge and further ideas for the working group and website. The event is limited to 20 participants on a first come first serve basis, with additional listening slots. If there are more requests, we will work towards a second event. We will include breaks and off-screen time as part of the workshop’s programme.

If you are interested, please register by sending an email to Jeanne Féaux de la Croix (jeanne.feaux@uni-tuebingen.de) or Alessandro Rippa (alessandro.rippa@rcc.lmu.de) with a brief abstract (max 200 words) detailing your presentation idea and resource, as well as a short bio (max 150 words). The deadline for registration is January 22, 2021.

EnviroAnt Network – 2020 Annual Report

The 2020 Annual Report for the EnviroAnt Network has been filed with EASA. It provides an overview of the recent activities of the Network, including the inaugural workshop, the activities of the EASA Conference panels and business meeting in July 2020 and the newly selected convenors. In addition, it provides an update on the work of the Working Groups – media/messaging, teaching, publishing/grants, events and focus/mission. The full report can be found HERE

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