Make Mars Beautiful: The Aesthetics of Sino-forming in the Chinese Century 1024 575 Tom Carlson

Make Mars Beautiful: The Aesthetics of Sino-forming in the Chinese Century

Wednesday, December 1, 2021 at 1:00 p.m.

Robertson Gymnasium 1000A 

China plans to send its first manned mission to Mars by 2033, and eventually establish a permanent colony on the planet. Many outside China see this ambitious turn towards space colonization as an attempt to establish global leadership in science and technology. But what is the cultural significance of Mars and Martian colonization for the Chinese? To form a better appreciation for Chinese conceptualizations of the relationship between nature and humanity that will shape the country’s interplanetary future, George Zhu urges us to begin with one of China’s most well known artistic treasures, the Meat Shaped Stone. Making connections across centuries of art, environmental management, and imperial ambition, Zhu outlines a possible future for Mars–and the Earth–in what portends to be the Chinese century.

Humanities and Social Change Scholar-in-Residence for December 2021, George Zhu received his master’s in English literature from the University of California Irvine. He is the co-founder of Double Bind Media, a production company specializing in experimental documentary film and other visual media based in Los Angeles and the Netherlands. Currently, he resides in the Netherlands where he develops and produces a range of multidisciplinary new media work. He is also a writer interested in contemporary Chinese culture, environmentalism, endangered species, climate change, and science studies.

This event is co-sponsored by UCSB’s Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, and Environmental Studies Program.

Rosewood: Endangered species conservation and the rise of global China 1024 681 Tom Carlson

Rosewood: Endangered species conservation and the rise of global China

Thursday, December 2, 2021 at 3:30 p.m.

Robertson Gymnasium 1000A

Rosewood is the world’s most trafficked endangered species by value, accounting for larger outlays than ivory, rhino horn, and big cats put together. Nearly all rosewood logs are sent to China, fueling a $26 billion market for classically styled furniture. Vast expeditions across Asia and Africa search for the majestic timber, and legions of Chinese ships sail for Madagascar, where rosewood is purchased straight from the forest. The international response has been to interdict the trade, but this misunderstands both the intent and effect of China’s appetite for rosewood, causing social and ecological damage in the process. Drawing on fieldwork in China and Madagascar, Annah Zhu upends the pieties of Western-led conservation, offering a glimpse of what environmentalism and biodiversity protection might look like in a world no longer ruled by the West.

Humanities and Social Change Scholar-in-Residence for December 2021, Annah Zhu is an Assistant Professor of environmental globalization at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. She received her PhD in society and environment from the University of California, Berkeley and her Masters in environmental management from Duke University. She is a veteran of the United Nations’ Environment Program in Geneva, and a former Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar. Her work has been published in Science, Geoforum, Political Geography, Environment International, and American Ethnologist.

This event is co-sponsored by UCSB’s Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, and Environmental Studies Program.

The Yellow River: A Natural and Unnatural History 1024 530 Barbara Del Mercato

The Yellow River: A Natural and Unnatural History

with Ruth Mostern, Pittsburgh University

The Yellow River: A Natural and Unnatural History, Online lecture

More information here

Global Forum on Democratizing Work: Three panels on Democratize, Decarbonize and Decommodify 724 1024 Susann Schmeisser

Global Forum on Democratizing Work: Three panels on Democratize, Decarbonize and Decommodify

From October 5 to 7, 2021, as part of the Global Forum of the international initiative #democratizingwork we discussed the topics of “democratization”, “decommodification” and “decarbonization” of work in more detail with journalists, academics, activists and trade unionists on three different online panels.

This follows on from our In Context series of events on the democratization of work, which we started last year in November 2020 with three of the main initiators of the initiative #democratizingwork.  Last May, #democratizingwork emerged with a call signed by more than 3,000 scholars* that took the Corona pandemic as an occasion to call for a more just design of the current world of work. Under the keywords “democratization”, “decommodification” and “decarbonization” of work, the initiators argue for: 1. giving work councils the same voting rights as supervisory boards, 2. distributing and organizing work not exclusively as a commodity and via market mechanisms, but by creating a job guarantee, and 3. implementing these goals in line with a “Green Deal” that takes into account the current ecological challenges.

Online panel on October 5, 2.30pm-4.30pm: On the first day of the Global Forum, Manuela Bojadžijev, Julia Fritzsche and Hans-Christoph Schmidt am Busch discussed the question of democratization of work. This panel focused in particular on the extent to which the demand for democratization of the workplace and businesses is linked to a broader demand for democratization of the economy, and what such a demand would entail.
The panel was chaired by Lea Prix.

Online panel on October 6, 2.30pm-4.30pm: On the second day of the Global Forum, Lisa Herzog, Oliver Nachtwey and Thomas Seibert discussed the question of the decommodification of work. This panel focused in particular on the extent to which the call for the decommodification of labor goes hand in hand, on the one hand, with a practice of economics that is oriented towards needs and, on the other hand, brings into play issues of deliberation and decision-making that transcend national borders. The panel discussed these issues, particularly in the context of the supply chain phenomenon.
The panel was chaired by Rahel Jaeggi.

Online Panel on October 7, 2.30pm-4.30pm: On the third and last day of the Global Forum, Dirk Ehnts and Hans-Jürgen Urban discussed the issue of decarbonization of labor. This panel focused in particular on the question of how a sustainable transformation of the economy can be designed in a socially acceptable way without pitting the ecological crisis and the social question against each other.
The panel was chaired by Christian Schmidt.


Manuela Bojadžijev is Professor of Globalized Cultures at the Faculty of Cultural Studies at Leuphana University Lüneburg and Vice-Director of the Berlin Institute for Empirical Integration and Migration Research (BIM) at Humboldt University Berlin. She is involved in numerous research projects around the topics of work, migration and digitalization. Most recently, she published the monograph “Die windige Internationale: Rassismus und Kämpfe der Migrationfür Globalisierte Kulturen an der Fakultät für Kulturwissenschaften der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg.”.

Dirk Ehnts is a Political Scientist, Economist and Representative of Modern Monetary Theory. He is board spokesman of the Pufendorf-Gesellschaft für politische Ökonomie e. V. in Berlin, also a member of the Institute for International Political Economy (IPE) Berlin and co-author of the Green New Deal for Europe. Most recently, he published the monograph “Modern Monetary Theory and European Macroeconomics” and “Geld und Kredit: eine €-päische Perspektive”.

Julia Fritzsche is an Author and Journalist. She has received numerous awards for her work. Her most recently published book “Tiefrot und Radikal Bunt” is a plea for a new left-wing narrative that is concerned with living and working in a way that is oriented toward people’s needs rather than their usability.

Lisa Herzog is Associate Professor at the Center for Philosophy, Politics and Economics of the University of Groningen and one of the main initiators of the initiative #democratizingwork. In her book “Die Rettung der Arbeit. Ein politischer Aufruf” Herzog argues for a political shaping of the present and future world of work that understands work as an essential source of social integration.

Oliver Nachtwey is Professor of Social Structure Analysis at the University of Basel. He conducts research on the transformation of work and social modernization and their influence on social structure. For his monograph “Die Abstiegsgesellschaft. Über das Aufbegehren in der regressiven Moderne”, he has received several awards. His most recent publication, together with Ulrich Brinkmann, was “Postdemokratie und Industrial Citizenship. Erosionsprozesse von Demokratie und Mitbestimmung “.

Hans-Christoph Schmidt am Busch is Professor of Philosophy at the Technical University of Braunschweig. His research topics are in the fields of political, social and legal philosophy, as well as the philosophical foundations and history of economics. For many years, a special focus of his research has been on the topic of work and recognition. Most recently, he published the monograph “Was wollen wir, wenn wir arbeiten? Honneth, Hegel und die Grundlagen der Kritik des Neoliberalismus.”

Thomas Seibert is a Philosopher, Author and Activist and has been working for the aid and human rights organization medico international for many years. In addition to numerous other publications, his most recent monograph is “Zur Ökologie der Existenz. Freedom, Equality, Environment”.

Hans-Jürgen Urban is a member of the executive board of IG-Metall and as such responsible for social policy as well as labor organization and qualification policy, on which he has also published numerous articles. His most recent publication is the monograph “Gute Arbeit in der Transformation. Über eine eingreifende Politik im digitalen Kapitalismus“.

Anthropocene Campus Venice 1024 576 Barbara Del Mercato

Anthropocene Campus Venice

We are thrilled to take part in a large international event taking place in Venice and online on October 11-16, 2021: the Anthropocene Campus Venice (ACV), a one-week forum with a strong educational commitment, around the theme of Water Politics in the Age of the Anthropocene.

ACV is organized by Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, the Center for the Humanities and Social Change, and the Max Planck Partner Group The Water City. It is set in the framework of the Anthropocene Curriculum (AC), a long-term collaborative project initiated by Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin) and Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin), supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. ACV benefits from the support of Ca’ Foscari University and the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage, projects ERC EarlyModernCosmology (Horizon 2020, GA 725883) and FARE EarlyGeoPraxis (Italian Ministry of University and Research, cod. R184WNSTWH)

Many events will be made available online: follow updates on the public events program the Campus website

Venice, October 11-16, 2021

Visit the Campus website
Learn more about the Anthropocene Curriculum here

See all the Campus partners here

The photo on the poster is by Anna Zemella. Graphic design: Giulia Brolese
Beyond Museums. Tools for Promoting the Natural and Cultural Water Heritage: an online training course 1000 750 Barbara Del Mercato

Beyond Museums. Tools for Promoting the Natural and Cultural Water Heritage: an online training course

The UNESCO Chair “Water, Heritage and Sustainable Development” based at the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change organises a number of training courses (in cooperation with the Global Network of Water Museums) addressed to the staff of water museums, scholars, students and professionals in the fields of water.

The 1st online training course will be held in form of webinar series and will focus on different tools, strategies and good practices aimed at promoting water heritage beyond museums.

Speakers coming from Bangladesh, Croatia, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Spain, UK, Uruguay will give lectures on traditional waterscapes, participatory approaches, heritage promotion, responsible tourism, leisure education and other key topics in water heritage management.

In order to register, please write an email with a CV and a brief motivation letter to Sara Luchetta ( Registration and payment are due by the 30th of September 2021.


Inland hydrographies and riverscapes
Digital itineraries
Ancestral hydrotechnologies 
Local communities and water
Water memories and intangible heritage
Urban waterscapes digital exploration
Arts for waterscapes

Participatory practices and engagement
Traditional water management
Visual anthropology for community involvement
Participatory photography and bottom-up approaches
Oral history for community involvement

Education for water culture
Community museums and water heritage
Waterways as vectors of ecomuseums
Sustainable tourism, sustainable mobilities
Spatial anthropology and the water cities

Read and download the full program here

PLATFORM: Zoom – Links will be provided to all the attendees.


WHEN:  The online course includes 12 webinars and will start on Friday the 22nd of October 2021, running every Friday until the 21st of January 2022.

Every webinar starts at 13.00 CET and ends at 15.00 CET.

Regular fee: € 250
Low Income Countries: € 50
Ca’ Foscari University community (students, PhD candidates, researchers, professors, administrative staff): € 100
WAMU-NET members: One person from each water museum/member of WAMU-NET can participate for free. Each 2nd, 3rd, 4th (and so on) person can participate with a 50% discount on the regular fee (€ 125 regular; € 25  LICs). 

A certificate of attendance will be issued at the end of the training course by the UNESCO Chair. In order to receive the certificate, participants must attend at least 9 webinars out of 12 (about 80% attendance).

A New Socialism for a New Century? 724 1024 Susann Schmeisser

A New Socialism for a New Century?

Conversations on Socialism #4

A New Socialism for a New Century?

with Christine Berry (Trustee of Rethinking Economics), Axel Honneth (Jack C. Weinstein Professor for the Humanities at Columbia University New York), Bhaskar Sunkara (editor of Jacobin Magazine), hosted by Rahel Jaeggi


There is a deep uncertainty concerning the outline of a left-wing societal alternative. Towards the end of his recent Benjamin Lectures Axel Honneth admitted: “I always viewed myself as a socialist—even though, today, I do not any longer know what a full blown socialism would look like.” At the same time, “socialism” has resurfaced as a left-wing code in the Anglo-Saxon world: young partisans want to influence the traditional Social-Democratic parties by the means of grassroots movements, pressure them to take positions further to the left, and to fight for a “socialism” which starts right here and right now. Hence, we would like to discuss what the democratization of the economy could mean today; which role market and state should play in the process; and how this new socialism relates to left-wing struggles for emancipation and against discrimination. The question is: What social visions will replace those old Social-Democratic promises and approaches, that have lost all their credibility, in the years to come?


Christiane Berry is one of the most prominent proponents of the socialist rebirth in the UK and co-author of People Get Ready!

Axel Honneth is the author of The Idea of Socialism

Bhaskar Sunkara is the founder of Jacobin magazine, which presents socialism in the US as an intellectually exciting current and author of The Socialist Manifesto

Highlights of the discussion



Ciacoe in tocio: conversazioni e sughi per mangiare con la Laguna
In collaborazione con Ocean Space
Domenica 20 giugno, ore 15.00-18.00
presso Ocean Space, Campo San Lorenzo, Venezia

PRENOTAZIONE: L’evento è gratuito, è necessaria la prenotazione al seguente link

La ricetta del sale richiede due ingredienti: il mare e il sole. Ma la ricetta di Venezia? La città di Venezia è emersa dalle barene, dal lavoro delle maree che portano l’acqua del mare avanti e indietro, dentro e fuori. Come “foresta sul mare”*, Venezia è un atto di equilibrio e il sale ha una certa esperienza con l’equilibrio. Il sale impone l’ordine. Comanda il comportamento di un ingrediente. Troppo poco e anche un legume di fiducia ha il sapore di qualcosa che manca. Troppo e la sete si diffonde nella bocca. L’appetito umano per il sale, come sottolinea l’antropologa Margaret Visser, rivela che siamo di fatto “ambienti marini ambulanti”**. Il mare nella nostra bocca. La laguna sulla nostra lingua. Ma per quanto il sale conservi – mantenendo gli ingredienti in armonia e i sapori in equilibrio – danneggia ed erode al tempo stesso. In dialogo con la dualità del sale, Ciacoe in Tocio: idee, conversazioni, e sughi per mangiare con la laguna attinge dal passato e dal presente di Venezia per reimmaginare il suo futuro.

Un pomeriggio di conversazioni culinarie, un evento che presenta il cibo come un veicolo critico con cui conoscere Venezia e la sua laguna. La tavola diventa un laboratorio per capire e modellare mondi d’acqua salata e futuri costieri. Mangiare diventa un metodo di indagine.

Invitando ad abbandonare l’attenzione esclusiva sulle dinamiche alimentari terrestri, la studiosa di studi culturali Elspeth Probyn chiede: “possiamo mangiare con l’oceano?”*** Si chiede: “Come poter mangiare bene l’oceano?”****. Noi – lo chef Marco Bravetti, la storica culturale L. Sasha Gora e la food designer Katinka Versendaal – ipotizziamo delle risposte a queste domande. Venezia può mangiare con la laguna?

Seguendo i ritmi della marea, ci chiediamo: cosa significa mangiare con qualcosa? Cosa significa mangiare con la marea o contro di essa? Queste domande si riferiscono a dibattiti più ampi su come gli appetiti umani cambiano il clima e come il cambiamento climatico, a sua volta, influenza gli appetiti umani.

* Karl Appuhn, Una foresta sul mare: Environmental Expertise in Renaissance Venice (Baltimora: The John Hopkins University Press, 2009).

** Margaret Visser, Much Depends on Dinner (New York: HarperCollins, 2010 [1986]), 115.

*** Elspeth Probyn, Eating the Ocean (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016), 7.

**** Ibidem, 130.

A cura di L. Sasha Gora, assegnista di ricerca del Center for the Humanities and Social Change, Marco Bravetti e Katinka Versendaal
Maggiori informazioni QUI
Call for expressions of interest for Postdoctoral Fellowships in Environmental Humanities – 2021 960 452 Barbara Del Mercato

Call for expressions of interest for Postdoctoral Fellowships in Environmental Humanities – 2021

Venice, 10 June 2021

Call for expressions of interest for Postdoctoral Fellowships in Environmental Humanities

The Center for the Humanities and Social Change at Ca’Foscari University of Venice is seeking candidates for a maximum of four Postdoctoral Fellowships in Environmental Humanities. This program allows applicants to launch a successful research-intensive career while working on a project that aligns with the host institution’s strategic priorities. 

The Center for the Humanities and Social Change is an intellectual community with strong links with the The New Institute in Hamburg, privileged interactions with the European Center for Living Technology, all University departments, and many other cultural institutions in Venice. The fellows are expected to work in residence in Venice and actively contribute to the Center activities (e.g. offering seminars for the M.A. in Environmental Humanities and/or organizing academic and outreach events). They will be offered office space and full access to the university libraries and research facilities. 

Ca’ Foscari Center for the Humanities and Social Change Postdoctoral Fellows in Environmental Humanities are scholars who have received their degrees in the humanities, social science, or other areas relevant to the Environmental Humanities. Applicants must either have worked in the area of Environmental Humanities or show potential for research interest in this field. Evidence of active research and publications in peer-reviewed journals will be an added advantage. The Center seeks to provide a stimulating scholarly environment in which to pursue research, develop new interdisciplinary connections, and network with others. Fellows join lectures and conferences as appropriate to their research and may play a role in the planning of working groups and events. The Postdoctoral Fellowship will provide an annual stipend of  € 27, 770 euros before tax. The fellowship may be renewed for a second year.

Your expression of interest should include a Curriculum Vitae (max 3 pages), the names and contact information of two referees, and a two-page research project focused on one (or more) of the following areas:

  • the blue humanities: humanistic perspectives on water, the ocean, rising sea levels, water politics and cultures; (in collaboration with TBA21/Ocean Space); 
  • the city of Venice as both an object of study and a point of observation on global environmental issues;
  • the roots and routes of Asian environmental thought and/or the Medical Humanities (with particular reference to Buddhism);
  • the role of the arts in the construction and transformation of the environmental imagination;
  • environment and intersectional inequalities, with particular attention to issues of labour, migration and social justice;
  • the environmental crisis and the future of democracy, with special emphasis on the issue of public environmental discourse, the use of social media and online communication.

For all these areas we encourage projects that engage non-western and indigenous cultures; address issues of minority, gender, ethnicity, disability; suggest pedagogical and activist practices; engage with the tangible and intangible heritage of Venice and its contemporary art scene; formulate strategies of environmental communication.

Please direct expression of interest and queries by 15 July 2021 to:

Dr. Barbara Del Mercato, Project Manager – E-mail: (Subject: HSC_EOI2021)

After the closure of the present call for expressions of interest, HSC will issue a formal Call for Applications in August. Fellowships will begin on 1 October, 2021.


Exploring Sonic Environments 1024 576 Barbara Del Mercato

Exploring Sonic Environments

11th June 2021, 3.00 PM (CEST)

A ECLT / HSC Joint Seminar: the European Centre for Living Technology and the  Center for the Humanities and Social Change


Exploring Sonic Environments

with Heather Contant (HSC), Daniel Finch-Race (HSC), Maria Mannone (ECLT)

This investigation of sounds in spheres ranging from physical environments to music will connect research in the arts and sciences with the aim of constructing an interdisciplinary language around the specificities of Venice.

– Topic 1: Soundscapes of Pollution > What are the acoustic dimensions of ecological problems, including the perception of certain sounds as problematic noises?

– Topic 2: Rhythm > Which sounds constitute the rhythms of the places where we live?

– Topic 3The Mathematics of Sounds in Nature > To what extent is a mathematical framework fruitful for understanding crossmodal correspondences between auditory effects in nature and music, as well as listeners’ internal visualizations of sonic forms such as a melodic line?

Bio sketch
Heather Contant
explores the collectivist tendencies of media arts through her research, teaching, and creative endeavors. Her research on the history of wireless media has gained recognition in multiple publications, such as Leonardo Music Journal, Soundscape, and Journal of Sonic Studies, and she was awarded the 2018 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Higher Degree Research for her PhD thesis from the University of New South Wales Art and Design in Sydney, Australia.

Daniel Finch-Race
researches creative representations of environmental change in French and Italian culture since the mid-1800s. His doctoral work at the University of Cambridge focussed on ecocritical approaches to Charles Baudelaire’s urban poetry of 1857-61. Before joining the Center for the Humanities and Social Change at Ca’ Foscari, he held teaching fellowships at the University of Southampton and Durham University, an Environmental Humanities Visiting Research Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh, and a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellowship at the University of Bristol.

Maria Mannone
earned her Master in Theoretical Physics as well as three Masters in Composition, in Conducting, and in Piano in Italy. In Paris, at IRCAM – UPMC Paris 6 Sorbonne, she earned her Master 2 ATIAM in Acoustics, Signal Processing, and Informatics applied to Music. In the US, at the University of Minnesota, she achieved her Ph.D. in Composition. She is a member of the editorial board and editor in training of the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts.

To participate via Zoom, please use this link

This event is part of the Environmental Humanities Seminar and Lecture Series – V