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Perspectives and stories in a world of facts and figures?
Exploring the potential of anthropology in tackling environmental issues

EASA’s Environment and Anthropology Network inaugural meeting
12-13 December 2019, Cologne, Germany
The EASA Environment and Anthropology Network was founded in 2018 to provide a platform for exchange among environmental anthropologists and to function as an outreach tool to policy makers, practitioners, other disciplines and the wider society to contribute to the understanding and solving of environmental problems across the world. The network explores original and creative ways of collaborating outside academia and disciplinary boundaries, to offer anthropological know-how for dealing with current environmental problems.
This workshop will provide the opportunity to get to know each other’s work, develop the purposes and strategies of the network, and plan possible collaborations. As we are convinced that environmental anthropology can contribute to alternative and more just futures, we place the exploration of possible ways to do so at the heart of our first meeting. We aim to explore the potential for anthropologists, and anthropological insights, in contributing to public debates and solution attempts for current environmental issues. We will share diverse experiences of linking up with policy and practice. We will exchange some of the methods that have proved useful to this end. And we will critically discuss the potential benefits and harms that providing our knowledge in these circles may cause.
Environmental and ecological anthropology have an established tradition of critically exploring current environmental issues. This includes highlighting the effects of both resource exploitation and conservation regimes on local people, research on alternative conceptualizations of nature, and systematic analyses of environmental racism and injustice reproduced by particular policies and practices, from forestry to industrial pollution. Anthropologists examine the complexities of environmental problems and their intertwinement with other realms. As a result, they describe the predicaments of people struggling with various manifestations of climate change, as much as analyse the problems in framing all social and ecological problems in terms of climate change.
While anthropologists often hold valuable insights into disregarded aspects of environmental degradation and conservation, their role in public debates and political strategies for abating these issues remains marginal. On the one hand, this has to do with the popular understanding that environmental issues are for natural scientists to solve, and if a social scientist should be consulted, this better be an economist. On the other hand, this marginal position of anthropologists can be related to the ambivalent attitude towards political engagement and public presence within our discipline.
In order to help explore alternative pathways for environmental anthropology, three keynote speakers will talk about their experiences of linking up with policy and practice: Liana Chua (UK), on orang-utan related activism; Michael Bollig (Germany) on work in the federal sustainability commission; and Dan Podjed (Slovenia) on general challenges and pathways of applying anthropology. Other participants are invited to present themselves and their take on applying anthropology in environmental issues in Pecha Kucha format. This will leave enough time for in-depth discussions on pertinent topics.

Venue: University of Cologne, Seminargebäude, Raum 004, Albertus-Magnus-Platz

Franz Krause, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Cologne
Michaela Haug, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Cologne
Aet Annist, Department of Ethnology, University of Tartu

Thursday, December 12th, 2019    

09.00    Welcome and introduction (Aet Annist, University of Tartu; Michaela Haug and Franz Krause, University of Cologne)

09.30    Keynote: Environmental Anthropological Knowledge and Agency in Institutions of Policy Advice and Science Politics (Michael Bollig, University of Cologne)

10.30    Coffee break                    

11.00    Pecha Kucha Session I – what can we contribute?          

  • Linking ethnography and causal analysis to disentangle human responses to change: The case of herders, sacred cows and invasive Lantana camara in southern India (Raj Puri, University of Kent)
  • Towards a holistic approach in sciences and activism (Anna Zadrozna, University of Oslo)
  • Co-managing coercion? Epistemic encounters in Patagonia’s protected areas (Mattias Borg Rasmussen, University of Copenhagen)          
  • Indigenous Peoples, tourism and the environment (Sarah Mund, University of Cologne)
  • The sweat of the raspberry plantation (Andre Thiemann, Riga Stradins University)
  • Drowning islands? Narratives of Pacific Islands and Climate Change (Desirée Hetzel, Ludwig-Maximilans-Universität München)
  • Gender matters in environmental care: Anthropological perspectives (Catrien Notermans and Anke Tonnaer, Radboud University Nijmegen)      
  • Positioning environmental and ecological anthropology in public spaces (Franz Krause, University of Cologne)

12.00    Discussion – what can we contribute?                   

13.00    Lunch break                        

14.00    Keynote: (Re)calibrating engagement: anthropological notes on working on/with orangutan conservation (Liana Chua, Brunel University London)             

15.00    Pecha Kucha Session II – how can we make ourselves heard/present?

  • Guardians of Productive Landscapes: A Visual Project for Outreach and Research (Felix Girke, Universität Konstanz)
  • Environmental Anthropologist: Being counted in the Climate Policy (Astari Minarti, University of Cologne)
  • Talking about ‘climate change’ and ‘klaemet jenj’ in Vanuatu (Arno Pascht, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
  • Climate Change Communication: Interdisciplinarity in Applied Research on Drought (Marketa Zandlova, Charles University in Prague)    
  • Environmental anthropology and interdisciplinary teaching (Hauke-Peter Vehrs and Gerda Kuiper, University of Cologne)
  • An anthropologist among biologists: ethnography of conservation (Paride Bollettin, Universidade Federal da Bahia and Durham University)
  • Environmental Anthropology and the challenge of imagining and shaping alternative futures (Michaela Haug, University of Cologne)
  • From Fact to Figuration, from Materiality to Sensuality in Anthropological Representation (Sandro Simon, University of Cologne)

16.00    Coffee break                       

16.30    Discussion – how can we make ourselves heard/present?                           

17.30    Visit to a Cologne Christmas Market

19.30    Dinner 

Friday, December 13th, 2019    

09.00    Keynote: Renewal of Anthropology in the Anthropocene (Dan Podjed, University of Ljubljana)

10.00    Pecha Kucha III – what has (not) worked?            

  • Nuclear decommissioning as future making: what ‘environmental remediation’ might afford (Petra Tjitske Kalshoven, University of Manchester)
  • Studying Conservation Interventions and Environmental Contestations: From Practice Theory to Constitutionality (Greg Acciaioli, The University of Western Australia)       
  • Gibbons, humans, and shared ecological spaces: towards a re-think (Lye Tuck-Po, Universiti Sains Malaysia)           
  • Navigating between ‘slow’ academia and ‘rapid’ advocacy work (Joonas Plaan, Tallinn University and Estonian Fund for Nature)
  • Engaging in the struggle for Amulsar in the aftermath of the Velvet Revolution in Armenia (Milena Baghdasaryan, Armenian National Academy of Sciences)            
  • Anthropology of the climate in times of turbulent change (Noah Walker-Crawford, University of Manchester)
  • Dispossessed of environment and activism: could anthropology make sense of the conundrum? (Aet Annist, University of Tartu)
  • Challenges of engaging anthropology of resource extraction in-between contradicting expectations (Hannu I. Heikkinen, University of Oulu)

11.00    Coffee break                       

11.30    Discussion – what has (not) worked?                       

12.30    Lunch break                        

13.30    Pecha Kucha IV – inspirations   

  • Intersecting crises in the Anthropocene: From imperial formations to latent commons (Felix Lussem, University of Cologne)
  • Greek Eco-Projects and their Endeavours towards socio-environmental Change (Elvira Wepfer, University of Manchester)         .
  • Environmental problems? How anthropology could challenge the simplification of human-environment relations (Arvid van Dam, University of Leeds)
  • Potential and Challenges for studying waste collection practices among women waste picker groups in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Kathrin Eitel, Goethe University Frankfurt)    
  • Hope, land and loss in Majuli: Speculative futures on an eroding river island in Northeast India (Tom Boyd, University of Manchester)

14.00    Final discussion – future activities, panels and meetings                               

15.00    End and farewells