Shifting Grounds: Literature, Culture and Spatial Phenomenologies

Shifting Grounds: Literature, Culture and Spatial Phenomenologies

This international conference responds to the recent return of phenomenological perspectives in literary and cultural criticism, and in the field of spatiality in particular. It aims to probe how a focus on sensory impressions and “the perspective of experience” (Yi-Fu Tuan) can enhance our understanding of literary and cultural spaces. Questions of space and place have always been at the heart of phenomenological enquiry. Phenomenology played an important role in the first half of the twentieth century when philosophers like Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Henri Bergson privileged the embodied self of perception and lived experience over the rational self of Western philosophy. Heidegger’s focus on dwelling and being-in-the-world and Merleau-Ponty’s interest in the attainment of subjectivity through embodied spatiality prepared the ground for works of literary and cultural analysis like Gaston Bachelard’s study of intimate spaces in The Poetics of Space. Phenomenology fell out of grace with the advent of cultural semiotics, post-structuralism and postmodern theory, which critiqued phenomenology for its perceived privileging of a unified subjectivity and for its apparent bracketing of the social and ideological dimensions of space (as theorized by critics like Yuri Lotman, Henri Lefebvre, Michel Foucault, Edward Soja and Fredric Jameson). But phenomenology soon returned with a difference: already in the eighties, groundbreaking works like Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life and Paul Carter’s The Road to Botany Bay foregrounded the spatial practices of individuals precisely as a way of challenging and complicating the hierarchically produced and power-laden spaces of modernity. More recently, phenomenological perspectives have had a remarkable revival in a number of disciplines and theoretical movements interested in the...
Grounded Visions: Artistic Research into Environmental Issues

Grounded Visions: Artistic Research into Environmental Issues

This exhibition presents artworks and artistic research, documenting how artists work with scientists on environmental issues. It takes place at the Department of Environmental Systems, ETH Zurich, where art exhibits are rarely shown. The Artists are: Brandon Ballengée, Tiffany Holmes, Andrea Polli, Aviva Rahmani, Juanita Schläpfer-Miller, Jill Scott, Eugenio Tisselli Co-curated by Boris Magrini and Jill Scott Scientific advisor: Angelika Hilbeck Opening Friday, 27. November 2015, 17:00 Duration 27. November 2015 to 23. March 2016 Monday to Friday, 11.00 – 19.00 Location Zurich, Institute of Integrative Biology Green Floor, Universitätstrasse 16 CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland SUMMARY Curated by Jill Scott and Boris Magrini, the exhibition is part of the PhD program z-node at the Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts resulting from a cooperation between the ZHdK and the ETH Zurich and presenting works inspired by environmental science. It includes Brandon Ballengée with photographs of amphibians, Aviva Rahmani with drawings about long-term landscape restoration and Juanita Schläpfer-Miller with a project called Climate Hope Garden 2085. Also Tiffany Holmes shows her innovative eco-visualization software to measure water quality, Andrea Polli presents a project with weather observers in Antarctica and Jill Scott exhibits a media sculpture about sound perception with stories from wild plants. In addition, a community web project by Eugenio Tisselli is shown that was developed with farmers together in Tanzania (in cooperation with Angelika Hilbeck). The scientific advisors for these projects were, Angelika Hilbeck, Christopher Robinson, Christoph Kueffer, Norbert Diller and Andreas Fischlin. CONTACT Boris Magrini +41 76 571 24 27 borismagrini(at)yahoo.fr Gabrielle Attinger +41 44 632 29 16 gabrielle.attinger(at)usys.ethz.ch   _______________RELATED CONFERENCE_________________ MODELS OF DIVERSITY: CURRENT TRANSDISCOURSES...
How Culture Affects Biodiversity

How Culture Affects Biodiversity

Emma Shepheard-Walwyn, U.Kent Recently the integration of social science techniques into biodiversity conservation research has increased, especially in studies focusing on cultural and sacred natural sites. In my investigation of the Kaya forests of the Mijikenda people in coastal Kenya, I used interdisciplinary approaches, including social-science methods, to investigate the existing interactions between the local people and the sacred kaya forests and how their cultures, attitudes and values may impact the conservation of these sites. My findings demonstrate that the sacred sites are important for biodiversity, cultural heritage and perceived/actual ecosystem services. They show that the sites and the biodiversity they contain are important to cultural activities, which may impact their conservation. They also indicate that there are relatively large populations surrounding some of the sites and many of the sites are undergoing degradation and suffering from encroachment. In addition, my findings also show that the attitudes, values and behaviours of the Mijikenda have undergone substantial modifications in the past century. Most people identify as being Christian or Muslim, over half of the surveyed population no longer view the Kayas as sacred, and more than two thirds do not know the traditional laws. The investigation of these social factors can help ecologists to understand the how the sacred sites are perceived and used, which can help to explain the existing communities within the sites as well as potentially highlighting some of the pressures that they and the biodiversity they contain may face. This knowledge will therefore enable ecologists and other conservationists to designing better, more appropriate management approaches for such...
From Wild to Post-collapse

From Wild to Post-collapse

Philippe Saner, University of Zurich Since 2009 the NGO Rhino and Forest Fund engages in the restoration of Borneo’s landscape, in close collaboration with local stakeholders. I will briefly outline the current status of our project work on site and present an ongoing conservation finance initiative that we undertake to establish an important wildlife corridor in the Tabin Wildlife...
Ritual plant use

Ritual plant use

Fostering relatedness to the environment through ritual plant use: daily practices in a Tibetan community in Southwest China Caroline S. Weckerle, University of Zurich The foothills of the Eastern Himalayas are well known for their rich biocultural diversity. They are thus valuable for research on interrelatedness of people with their biodiversity-rich environment and traditional plant knowledge. As part of the Tibetan cultural area, people in the eastern Himalayas largely perform a traditional lifestyle with subsistence agriculture and Tibetan Buddhism at its core. We show here how people communicate and integrate with their environment through their daily religious practices and the specific use of ritual...
Apology of Failure

Apology of Failure

Apology of Failure: Three tales on a strategy for success when all the odds are against you Philippe Forêt, University of Zurich / University of Orleans This paper will examine failure and redemption in in-between areas. Keeping a facus on methodological issues, we will examine case studies from Paris in the 1770s, Hong Kong in the 1950s and Macau today. I will argue that success after failure depends on the articulation of place, values and community, the creation of an area open to negotiations, and the command of new...