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Research Area 9: Ecology and the Study of Culture

 

©Antranias via canva.comThe ongoing debates in and out of academia, protests, and awareness-raising initiatives regarding environmental crises have risen to a new level of popularity and attention in the past few years. Just to name a few of the major currents, climate change has become (not only rhetorically) a climate crisis; Fridays for Future an impactful movement; and the 'Anthropocene' a catchphrase denoting the human species as a geological force in the earth system. As much as public attention rapidly intensified its focus on this debate in 2019, 2020 is marked by the Corona crisis, whose lasting impacts are indisputable but yet to be investigated. However, these global crises demand a critical and concept-based engagement with the entanglement of humans, non-humans, and materialities.

The RA 'Ecology and the Study of Culture' emerged from the ETRG 'Oikos – Ecology and the Study of Culture,' which explored the intersections of environmental issues as framed by the natural sciences and the study of culture. With a growing awareness of the cultural, political, economic, and social roots of environmental crises, cultural studies have seen a steep increase in sub-disciplines such as Ecocriticism, Environmental History, Eco-Philosophy, or, more broadly, the Environmental Humanities in the last decades. At the same time, (feminist) Science and Technology Studies and, more recently, Human-Animal Studies and New Materialisms can be seen to have led to a "non-human turn" (Grusin 2015) in the humanities and social sciences. The speaking of "turns" suggests, that concepts do not only name new objects of research but also serve as (intercultural) means of knowing and analysis (Bachmann-Medick 2016).

The study of the more-than-human world and its relation to humankind has become almost ubiquitous in both academia and nearly all other areas of knowledge- and cultural production. Understood as a hub for diverse topics, concepts, and approaches, the RA 'Ecology and the Study of Culture' wants to foster inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration in order to navigate the space of simultaneous critique and action. Accordingly, 'Ecology and the Study of Culture' provides the space for research at the GCSC on highly current subjects such as:

 

  • Socio-cultural practices of pronouncing the relationship between the human and more-than-human world, particularly through human-animal studies

  • The relationship between ecology and economy in the history of economics

  • Governmentality and subjectivization in cultural representations of an ecologically changed future

  • The interconnectedness of hegemonial systems such as patriarchy, colonialism/racism, capitalism, anthropocentrism

  • The reciprocal relation between transmedial representations and their underlying conceptions of more-than-human world and narrative forms of storytelling

  • Science communication and global discourse on climate change, the corona-virus pandemic, and other critical environmental issues as well as their implications, potentials, and sparked controversies regarding underlying concepts

  • Environmental activism, its potentials, challenges, and boundaries

  • Post-anthropocentric and indigenous perspectives, ontologies, and epistemologies

  • Posthumanist and (Feminist) New Materialist approaches and debates on agency and matter

The RA 'Ecology and the Study of Culture' involves a number of doctoral and post-doctoral researchers at the GCSC who meet monthly throughout the semester, both to discuss texts or lectures that have been circulated as well as their own interests or research, and to conceptualize academic events on eco-related topics. Our meetings mostly take place on campus; however, we encourage alternative environments for discussion and collaboration, such as the woods surrounding Giessen, as well. Currently, we are meeting via digital platforms due to the Corona Pandemic.

 

Projects, Events & Publications

 

  • In 2021 RA 9 engaged with New Materialisms and invited Dr. Rick Dolphijn (Associate Professor Utrecht University) to host a Master Class about "New Materialisms: Approaches in Transdisciplinary Research and Theory", which took place on April 26th.
  • On Feb. 16th 2021 we realized a keynote lecture in cooperation with AG Moving Images by Hideaki Fujiki, who elaborated on "Ecological Reality as Contesting Global Imaginations: Documentary on Radioactive Waste"
  • The Walk & Talk Series is an interdisciplinary podcast, for which we invite scholars to present their studies while going on a walk with us and exploring a surrounding that is linked to their research field. "Walk & Talk - the podcast on culture theory and practice on the walk" - came forth by an initiative from Oikos/RA 9 in 2020. Since then Walk & Talk publishes one episode per term.
  • On the 9th and 10th of December 2019 Oikos hosted a postgraduate workshop on the topic "Ecocriticism and Narrative Form" in collaboration with the European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture, and Environment (EASLCE). Prof. Dr. Erin James (University of Idaho) presented as a guest lecturer and Dr. Michael Basseler (JLU Giessen, GCSC) functioned as a second senior scholar throughout the event. Here you can find further information on the event as well as the CfP. A special issue of SubStance with the contribution of the workshop participants is currently in progress.
  • On 11th June 2019, Oikos, in cooperation with the JLU Geography Department’s working group Climatology, Climate Dynamics and Climate Change, welcomed historian Prof. John Haldon (Princeton University) for a keynote lecture. On Wednesday, 12th June, an open seminar on transdisciplinary climate research, with Prof. Haldon, Prof. Jürg Luterbach (JLU) and Dr. Elena Xoplaki (JLU), took place. For more information on the events, see: John Haldon: St Theodore – Euchaïta and Anatolia, c. 500-1000. Landscape, climate and the survival of an empire.
  • On 14th May 2019, Oikos and the GGS Section Human Animal Studies organized a film screening of the documentary “Storytelling for Earthly Survival”, followed by a video Q&A with Donna Haraway. For more information see: Donna Haraway – Storytelling for Earthly Survival.
  • In 2016, the team of the Oikos group has been engaged with other researchers in our center preparing the conference ‘For What It’s Worth: Nostalgia, Sustainability, and the Values of the Present. The conference proceedings have been turned into a theoretical publication, which has been published 2019: Andressa Schröder / Nico Völker / Robert A. Winkler / Tom Clucas (eds.) Futures Worth Preserving: Cultural Constructions of Nostalgia and Sustainability. Transcript, 2019.

 

Contact

Interested in joining us, you have ideas for an event, a cooperation, or any other question? Inspiration and contributions from new members and partners are always very welcome! Just write an email to:

 


Current Members:

  • Florentine Schoog
  • Fabricio Belsoff
  • Anna Sophia Tabouratzidis
  • Edward Djordjevic
  • Candace Goodrich
  • Fabian Pindus
  • Lukas Helbich
  • Liza Bauer
  • Maaike Hommes
  • Benjamin Roers
  • Stefano Rozzoni
  • Dr. habil. Michael Basseler
  • Dr. Cord-Christian Casper


Former Members:

  • Hannah Klaubert
  • Tom Clucas
  • Lauren Greyson
  • Alesya Krit
  • Eva-Maria Mueller
  • Andreea Racles
  • Eva Raimann
  • Sonja Schillings
  • Silke Schmidt
  • Andressa Schröder
  • Nico Völker
  • Jakob Lundgren