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Research projects

Planet as Method


Principle Investigators:

Frederic Hanusch (Panel on Planetary Thinking, JLU Giessen)

Sven Opitz (Institute for Sociology, PU Marburg)

Research Associate: Clemens Finkelstein (Panel on Planetary Thinking, JLU Giessen)
Involved Researchers:

Stéphanie Domptail (Panel on Planetary Thinking, JLU Giessen)

Ute Tellmann (TU Darmstadt)

Mi You (documenta Institut, University of Kassel)

The project Planet as Method (PaM) develops the methodological foundation for producing planetary knowledge in the humanities and social sciences. Its guiding question is: How does our understanding of the planet translate into the way it is inhabited? Since the second half of the 20th century, the natural sciences have developed a transdisciplinary Earth System Science that has comprehensively revealed the human impact on the planet. However, the sense of the planetary condition rendered by natural scientific inquiry remains largely decoupled from the processes of social transformation. To identify the causes of this decoupling, it is necessary to examine scientific knowledge about the planet regarding the world-building it initiates, requires, or excludes. This analysis falls within the realm of competence of the social sciences and humanities, which, since their inception, have had methods at their disposal to consider the co-implication of researchers in their subject matter. “Planet as Method” leverages this expertise to demonstrate that the planetary dimension has always been an intrinsic part of social worlds. Bridging the insights of Earth System Science with those of the social sciences and humanities, the project offers an integrated approach to addressing the complex challenges of our time.

The project's seed funding is financed by the Experimentation Spaces funding instrument of the Research Campus of Central Hessen (FCMH). It aims to develop a joint project with regional partner organizations.


Livestock and Literature


Principle Investigator:

Liza Bauer (Panel on Planetary Thinking, JLU Giessen)

The project Livestock and Literature. Reimagining Postanimal Companion Species explores the past and current traces that cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals used by humans have left in Anglophone literary fiction. In times of accelerated global warming, an acute pandemic, and breakthroughs in bioengineering practices, discussions on how to rethink the relationships to these animals have become as heated as perhaps never before. Livestock and Literature examines what literature has to contribute to these debates. In particular, it draws on counter-narratives to so-called livestock animals’ commodification in selected science- and speculative fiction (SF) works from the twenty-first century. These texts imagine ‘what if’ scenarios where “livestock” practice resistance, transform into biotechnologically modified, postanimal beings, or live in close companionship to humans. Via these three points of access, the study delineates the formal and thematic strategies SF authors apply to challenge anthropocentric and speciesist thought patterns. The aim is to shed light on how these alternative storyworlds expand readers’ understanding of the lives of farmed animals; seeking insight into how literature shapes human-animal relationships beyond the page.

The results of the research will be published as a monograph with Palgrave Macmillan as part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature in July 2024.