Annette Kristina Arlander is a Finnish artist, researcher and a pedagogue, one of the pioneers of Finnish performance art and a trailblazer of artistic research. Graduated from the department of directing at the Theatre Academy 1981, Doctor of Arts (Theatre and Drama) 1999. Professor of Performance Art and Theory at Theatre Academy 2001–2013. Professor of artistic research at University of the Arts Helsinki 2015–2016. Professor in performance, art and theory at Stockholm University of the Arts 2018–2019. AVEK, Media Art Prize 2014, State Prize for Multidisciplinary art 2018. Her most recent book, Performing and thinking with trees, was published in 2022 (open access).
Performing landscape is the overall theme for her artistic practice, which recently is focused on vegetation, especially trees, and often involves site-specific work, performances for camera, recorded speech, video installations and various experiments concerning the environment, and which takes place in the border zone between performance art, media art and environmental art.
How To Do Things with Artistic Research: Notes on Diversification and In(ter)disciplinarity
This talk explores the ongoing diversification of artistic research, ranging from practice as research or performance as research to art-science collaborations and more, and the implications of such variety for the potential uses and utility of artistic research. Such diversification is related not only to various disciplinary, institutional and even geographical research traditions but to discussions of the multi-, trans-, inter- and in-disciplinary potential of artistic research.
Dr Stella Bolaki is Reader in American Literature and Medical Humanities in the School of English and Co-Director of the Centre for Health and Medical Humanities in the Division of Arts and Humanities at the University of Kent (UK). She is the author of Illness as Many Narratives: Arts, Medicine and Culture (Edinburgh University Press, 2016), and her medical humanities research has appeared in Life Writing, Mosaic, Literature and Medicine, Medical Humanities, the Journal of Medical Humanities, Gender Forum, and the Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies. Stella’s research on contemporary artistic practice in the context of health, illness and disability has a collaborative and public engagement dimension and has received funding from the Wellcome Trust and the British Academy. Stella is also the Director of Kent’s MA in Medical Humanities and contributes to health and medical humanities teaching for the Kent and Medway Medical School in the UK.
The Medical Humanities as a Cross-Disciplinary and Cross-Cultural Space
The medical humanities is a growing and evolving research field that contributes to improvements in the practice of healthcare as well as to understandings of health and of the human experience more broadly. The name, scope and approaches of this dynamic field are regularly debated and not always validated within institutions and professional communities. My lecture will begin by tracing the development and current state of the medical humanities primarily in the UK and the US. I will focus on the key methodologies, perspectives and practices adopted by what has been described as the first and second ‘wave’ of the medical humanities. I will discuss examples from my own research on illness narratives as well as other projects from the UK to ground this overview and make some broader reflections on the value of transdisciplinarity and collaboration.
The lecture will proceed with some thoughts and questions on the field’s future development and challenges. Among other things, these will address the dominance of English language to date and the importance of bringing in more diverse perspectives, as well as of collaboration with medicine/allied professions and with communities outside academia. In exploring local and global perspectives on medicine and health, especially in the context of a global pandemic, the concluding part of the lecture will aim to generate discussion on how the medical humanities can be supported further in Estonia.
Dipesh Chakrabarty is the Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor in History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College at the University of Chicago. He is also the Faculty Director, University of Chicago Center in Delhi, a faculty fellow of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory, an associate of the Department of English, and by courtesy, a faculty member in the Law School. He is a founding member of the editorial collective of Subaltern Studies, a consulting editor of Critical Inquiry and a founding editor of Postcolonial Studies. He has published Rethinking Working-Class History: Bengal 1890-1940 (Princeton, 1989), Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton, 2000), Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies (Chicago, 2002), The Calling of History: Sir Jadunath Sarkar and His Empire of Truth, c. 1900-1950 (Chicago, 2015), The Crises of Civilization: Exploring Global and Planetary Histories (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2018), with Ranajit Dasgupta, Some Aspects of Labour History of Bengal in the Nineteenth Century: Two Views (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2018), and The Climate of History in a Planetary Age (Chicago, 2021).
The Anthropocene Globe
In an Anthropocene age, in which our impact on the earth approaches that of the great geophysical forces, humanist thought should distinguish two interrelated concepts, those of the globe and the planet. The globe, which is the setting for human interaction, human history, and the development of capitalist modernity, is different from the planet of biological, chemical, and geophysical systems that humans now partially shape. Our awareness of the planet and its systems developed within the sciences of modern global capitalism, but the planet that contemporary Earth System Science describes is not merely a human globe, and humans are not the center of its story.
Human politics – the politics of the globe – inevitably focus on the divisions among humans, and political conflicts play out over the decades of a human life. Our newfound planetary awareness challenges us to think politically about the deep, slow time of planetary systems and to find room within our politics for the nonhuman and the nonliving.
Dana Cuff is a professor, author, and practitioner in architecture. Her work focuses on affordable housing, modernism, suburban studies, the politics of place, and the spatial implications of new computer technologies. Cuff’s research on postwar urbanism was published in a book titled The Provisional City (MIT Press 2000), she edited Fast Forward Urbanism with Roger Sherman (Princeton Architectural Press 2011), and she recently coauthored Urban Humanities: New Practices for Reimagining the City with her colleagues from the Urban Humanities Initiative (MIT Press, 2020). She founded cityLAB in 2006, and has since concentrated her efforts around issues of spatial justice in the emerging metropolis. Dr. Cuff is widely published, the recipient of numerous fellowships, and lectures internationally. Three recent awards describe the arc of her career: Women in Architecture Activist of the Year (2019, Architectural Record), Researcher of the Year (2019, Architectural Research Centers Consortium), and Educator of the Year (2020, AIALA).
Architecture’s New Spatial Justice Practices
An ethical, humanistic turn in architecture offers new models for design practices that open new futures toward the world we want to live in. Dana Cuff’s design research center, cityLAB – UCLA, is one such practice. The cutting edge work of cityLAB sits at the intersection of architecture, urban design, public arts, and public policy, to carve out effective paths that advance more humane and equitable design strategies at this crucial historic juncture. Based on her team’s decade of innovative pedagogy in Urban Humanities, she outlines new methods for transdisciplinary activist scholarship. Cuff will situate the conversation in a global context related to her forthcoming book, Architectures of Spatial Justice.
Dolly Jørgensen is Professor of History at University of Stavanger, Norway and Co-editor-in-chief of the journal Environmental Humanities. She is a historian of the environment and technology, interested in how human technologies shape the world around us and how we come to understand what is “natural” and what is not, what is acceptable environmental behavior and what is not. Her research spans from medieval to contemporary environmental issues. Her primary areas of interest are human-animal relations, the urban environment, and environmental policymaking. She is the author of Recovering Lost Species in the Modern Age: Histories of Longing and Belonging (MIT Press, 2019) which brings together environmental history and the history of emotions to examine the motivations behind species conservation actions. She has co-edited two major books in the field of environmental humanities, Northscapes: History, Technology & the Making of Northern Environments (UBS Press 2013), which looks at the making of environments with technologies in the northern reaches of the globe, and New Natures: Joining Environmental History with Science and Technology Studies (University of Pittsburgh Press 2013), which brings ideas from Science & Technology Studies into environmental histories. She is currently working on extinction narratives and museums and runs two large externally funded projects on this topic, which you can read about on the Remembering Extinction site.
It’s All Second Nature: Constructing Environment through Art, Science, Technology, and Nature
Over 30 years ago, William Cronon proposed in Nature’s Metropolis that landscapes altered by human interventions and the conversion of nature into commodities are second nature laid on top of original natural nature. In our contemporary moment, with the recognition that we are living in the Anthropocene, an era in which humans have measurably altered the fabric of the planet Earth, a search for anything but second nature is in vain.
In this lecture, I will ask us to embrace second nature as environment. Using examples from my own work on birds and clouds, I’ll explain how we can interrogate the environment as the intersection of nature, art, science, and technology. Our understandings of what the nature is and how to interact with it are constructed through artistic work, scientific inquiry, and technological artefacts, making it all second nature.
Maximilian Schich is a Professor for Cultural Data Analytics and the CUDAN ERA Chair holder at Tallinn University. A multidisciplinary researcher, he aims to understand the nature of cultural interaction via a systematic combination of critical and creative aesthetics, qualitative inquiry, quantitative measurement, and computation. Ongoing research builds on a background in art history, network science, computational social science, and an applied experience in cultural “database pathologist”. Max’s PhD monograph pioneered network analysis in art research, focusing on antique reception and visual citation. In 2014, “A Network Framework of Cultural History” in Science Magazine and the Nature video “Charting Culture” made global impact. In recent years, Max has focused on the upcoming “Cultural Interaction” book, which will outline a systematic science of art and culture based on two decades of work. Max has studied at LMU Munich, HU-Berlin, and Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome. Following a postdoc phase at BarabásiLab in Boston and the group of Dirk Helbing in Zurich, Max joined UT Dallas as an Associate Professor in Arts & Technology and a founding member of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History. In June 2020, Max moved to Estonia to build, manage, and sustain the CUDAN research group, leading the ERA Chair project, which is funded within the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program of the European Commission.
Integrated Humanities and Cultural Analysis
Integrated approaches in the humanities are not new. Within art history and classical archaeology, for example, scholarly texts have long been combined with maps and diagrams. Marliano’s 1544 tiny but well-sourced map of Rome would be one such example. Preceding what could be called the great bifurcation of university disciplines in the 19th century, indeed, integration or ‘synthesis’ emerges as a foundational principle of humanities scholarship from the very beginning, once we take a closer look at historical source material. Meanwhile, by the mid 20th century, humanistic integration needed to be called for, as evident in a side comment within one of the most popular and foundational methodological texts in the discipline of art history: Panofsky’s Iconology explicitly calls for a synthesis of all humanities, which seems like an inclusive broadening and integration of scholarship that takes into account visual properties, written sources, and the sociological context of an artwork. Yet, looking closer, we find that Panofsky’s call for integration is an exclusive silent refusal of Cassirer’s even broader call for a framework of ‘analysis’ that includes all sciences. This in turn feeds into recent developments of multidisciplinary collaborative ‘cultural analysis’, which consciously and critically orchestrates, classic humanistic inquiry, yet also quantification, computation, and visualization as fully emancipated parts of the research process, beyond the status of mere ‘auxiliary’ disciplines.
Sverker Sörlin is a Swedish historian of ideas, professor of environmental history at the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm. In 1993 he assumed the first chair in environmental history in Scandinavia, at Umeå University. He has had an adjunct position at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (2005–2012), and visiting positions at University of California Berkeley (1993), University of Cambridge (2004–2005), University of Oslo (2006), University of Cape Town (2012–2013), and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University (2013–2014). Sörlin has published in the fields of history of science, environmental history, the history of forestry, human ecology, environmental humanities, European history, research policy, innovations studies, and the history and politics of higher education. Among his recent book publications are: Science, Geopolitics and Culture in the Polar Region (Ashgate, 2013), The Future of Nature: Documents of Global Change, ed. with Libby Robin and Paul Warde (Yale UP, 2013), Northscapes: History, Technology, and the Making of Northern Environments, ed. with Dolly Jørgensen (UBC Press, 2014), The Environment: A History, with Libby Robin and Paul Warde (Johns Hopkins UP, 2018), Grounding Urban Natures: Histories and Futures of Urban Ecologies, ed. with Henrik Ernstson (MIT Press, 2019), Ice Humanities: Living, Working and Thinking in a Melting World, ed. with Klaus Dodds (Manchester UP, 2022), and Pathways: Exploring the Routes of a Movement Heritage, with Daniel Svensson & Katarina Saltzman (The White Horse Press, 2022).
Integrating the Integrative Humanities
Since a few decades back, an ever strong trend in the humanities, widely construed, has been the formation of integrative, purpose oriented, sometimes also challenge driven sub-fields. Digital and medical humanities were early birds, in some cases hosted by faculties of science and medicine. The environmental humanities, including climate humanities and multispecies studies, followed strongly, boosted by the financial meltdown in 2008-09 and the ever-worsening climate crisis. In the last five to ten years an ever widening sub-set of integrative re-orientations have followed around oceans (blue humanities), energy, technology, and increasingly turning ‘elemental’, such as ice humanities, or ‘regional’, with prefixes drawn from the poles, the tropics, mountains, deserts, etc. What do these tendencies tell us about the promise and purpose of the humanities as an intellectual and a societal enterprise? Rising in numbers and presence, how might integrative humanities work strategically to make sense of the world and contribute both in their traditional ways and in formats and collaborations outside of their conventional domain? Can ‘humanities’ be a self-evident societal force to count on, on a par with our expectations on ‘science’, ‘technology’ and ‘medicine’?
Imre Szeman is inaugural Director of the Institute for Environment, Conservation, and Sustainability and Professor of Human Geography at the University of Toronto. From 2021-2022, he was the Climate Critic for the Green Party of Canada. He is co-founder of the Petrocultures Research Group, which explores the socio-cultural dimensions of energy use and its implications for energy transition and climate change, and the leader of the After Oil Collective. Szeman is author (most recently) of On Petrocultures: Globalization, Culture, and Energy (2019) and co-editor of the Energized: Keywords for a New Politics of Energy (forthcoming 2023). He is at work on a book examining discursive and political struggles over the transition to a post-fossil fuel world. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
What is a Petroculture?
This talk with explore the concept of ‘petroculture,’ which names the deep and abiding impact of fossil fuels on the character of modern society. Over the past decade, the term has been used increasingly in the humanities and social sciences for two reasons: first, as a way to newly understand socio-historical developments in relationship to energy transitions; and second, to more fully grapple with the cultural and social shifts which will have to accompany changes in energy use. To see ourselves as inhabiting petrocultures is to recognize that technological innovations and renewable energies are unlikely to be enough to address global warming. Such changes will have to be accompanied by changes to the social, cultural, and political norms and expectations which were developed in conjunction with the energy riches of the past century-and-a-half — a process which is likely to prove more challenging and disruptive than currently imagined.