Adriana Rodrigues Novais, Donne Sem Terra e la lotta contro l’agrobusiness 1024 572 Barbara Del Mercato

Adriana Rodrigues Novais, Donne Sem Terra e la lotta contro l’agrobusiness

Donne sem terra e la lotta contro l’agrobusiness

(scroll down for English abstract)
Modera: Valentina Bonifacio, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia

15 June 2021, 5.00 p.m. CEST, on Zoom (

Lo scopo di questo intervento è discutere come le donne del Movimento dei lavoratori in Brasile hanno portato avanti la propria sfida al modello egemonico dell’agrobusinnes brasiliano attraverso una particolare pratica femminista conosciuta come “Feminismo Camponês Popular com Identidade e Revolucionário”, ossia un femminismo che è apertamente contadino, popolare, rivoluzionario e che riconosce le diversa identità che lo compongono. In questo incontro, Adriana Rodrigues Novais, ricercatrice e attivista nel Movimento, introdurrà l’organizzazione delle donne contadine e presenterà I quattro pilastri del loro approccio contro l’agrobusiness: lotta diretta, formazione politica, contrasto alla violenza e agroecologia.

Adriana Rodrigues Novais
Laureata in Scienze Sociali presso la Facoltà di Scienze e Lettere dell’Università Statale Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho. Ha completato il suo master presso l’Università Federale di São Carlos con una tesi su: Cinema e memoria della dittatura civile-militare in Brasile: un’analisi dei film “Pra Frente Brasil” (1982) e “Açao entre Amigos” (1998).
È dottoressa di ricerca in Scienze Sociali presso l’Università Statale di Campinas, (tesi “Contadini e popoli indigeni e la lotta per la memoria della verità e della giustizia in Brasile” – sulla memoria politica, la giustizia transizionale e i diritti umani, concentrandosi su contadini e popoli indigeni in Brasile). Attualmente sviluppa ricerche sulla violenza contro le donne contadine e su genere e nuova estrema destra in Brasile. È una militante del Movimento dei lavoratori rurali senza terra.

Landless Women and the fight against Agribusiness
The aim of this talk is to discuss how the women of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement in Brazil “Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra” have been building ways to challenge Brazil’s hegemonic agribusiness model by developing a particular feminist posture known as “Feminismo Camponês Popular com Identidade e Revolucionário”, in other words, a feminism that is overtly peasant, popular, revolutionary, and which recognizes the diverse identities of its members. In this lecture, I will introduce this women’s peasant movement and present the four pillars of their approach to challenging agribusiness: direct struggle, political training, combating violence and agroecology. The talk draws on my own 12 years of experience, both as an active member of the movement, and as a sociological researcher.

Adriana Rodrigues Novais
Graduated in Social Sciences from the Faculty of Sciences and Letters of the Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho State University.
She has completed your master’s degree from the Federal University of São Carlos. The title of the dissertation is: Cinema and memory of the civil-military dictatorship in Brazil: an analysis of the films “Pra Frente Brasil” (1982) and “Açao entre Amigos” (1998).
She is a PhD in Social Sciences at the State University of Campinas, the title of the thesis is “Peasants and indigenous peoples and the struggle for the memory of truth and justice in Brazil” – on political memory, transitional justice and rights humans, focusing on peasants and indigenous peoples in Brazil.
Currently develops research on violence against peasant women and on gender and the new far right in Brazil.
She is a militant of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement.

ONLINE, June 15th, 5.00 p.m. CEST

Evento in italiano/This event is in ITALIAN, part of  Environmental Humanities Seminar and Lecture Series – V

Contemplating Borders: From Machine Learning to the Environment 1024 576 Barbara Del Mercato

Contemplating Borders: From Machine Learning to the Environment

4th 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


Contemplating Borders: From Machine Learning to the Environment

with  Ifor Duncan (HSC), Francesca Foffano (ECLT), Emiliano Guaraldo (HSC), Teresa Scantamburlo (ECLT)

To participate via Zoom, please use this link.


This joint seminar intends to critically address the common ethical problem of bordering from different disciplinary perspectives. Firstly, the session will consider how geophysical environments have been co-opted, both directly and indirectly, as infrastructures of the border. Secondly, by considering how biometric data and machine learning is used to categorise minority groups. Finally, by presenting recent work by artist-researcher Hito Steyerl, the session will address the limits and political implications of the introduction of AI-based technologies as policy-making tools. By considering borders in these ways we intend to critically question what is meant by borders and ask how the humanities and computer sciences can contribute to a common discourse regarding borders, migration and asylum.

Bio sketch

Ifor Duncan
is a writer and inter-disciplinary researcher whose research concerns the relationships between political violence and watery spaces and materialities. He completed his PhD at the Centre for Research Architecture (CRA), Goldsmiths, University of London, where he developed the concept of necro-hydrology, which addresses the ways hydrologic properties are instrumentalised through border regimes, as technologies of obfuscation, and weaponised against marginalised communities. His current research project, Submergences, proposes to explore the ways hydrologic knowledges and practices can be mobilised to imagine alternate strategies of resistance against such forms of environmental weaponisation.

Francesca Foffano
received her Master in Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Trento, and previously her Bachelor in Psychology at the University of Padua. During her studies, she collaborates with the research centre for Analysis and Design of Intelligent Agents at Reykavik University. Her research interest is in the user’ understanding and perception of AI, social and ethical influences, and a definition of more human-centric design approaches.

Emiliano Guaraldo
Emiliano Guaraldo’s research focuses on the visual culture of the Anthropocene, with a particular interest in the relationship between contemporary art and the production of technical and scientific images. He obtained a PhD in Italian Studies from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Center for the Humanities and Social Change at Ca’ Foscari, Emiliano worked at the University of St. Gallen as a research assistant and public lecturer in Italian literature and culture.

Teresa Scantamburlo
Her main research interests lay at the intersection of Computer Science and Philosophy and include the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on human-decision making, the role of data and algorithms in social regulation, and the ethical assessment of AI systems. She is also interested in studying AI from the point of view of epistemology and the philosophy of science (e.g. some topics of interest include the problem of induction, the problem-solving approach and the notion of progress).

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

L. Sasha Gora – Happy as a Clam: Clichés, Climate, and Cuisine 1024 421 Barbara Del Mercato

L. Sasha Gora – Happy as a Clam: Clichés, Climate, and Cuisine

May 28, at 3.00 p.m. CEST, online (email to receive link)

A seminar with L. Sasha Gora, Post-doc Fellow at the Center for the Humanities and Social Change

Happy as a Clam: Clichés, Climate, and Cuisine


Eating is one of the most direct ways humans interact with environments by literally digesting them. Food history, thus, reveals how everyday eating practices not only reproduce cultural imaginations of landscapes but also shape actual environments. Narrowing in on seafood, this seminar asks: how do human appetites transform, harm, but also perhaps heal watery worlds? It aims to serve examples of the kinds of stories that food can tell. Spotlighting both Venice and Venice-in-the-world, it assembles a cast of fish and shellfish to consider the relationship between food and place, between ritual and cliché, and between cuisine and climate. 


Sasha Gora is a cultural historian and writer with a focus on food studies and contemporary art. She received a PhD from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the Rachel Carson Center on the subject of Indigenous restaurants in Canada. Before joining the Center for the Humanities and Social Change at Ca’ Foscari, she was a Lecturer at LMU’s Amerika-Institut and spent spring 2019 as a visiting scholar at the University of California Berkeley.

To request access link, please email

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

Ursula Clayton, ‘Base Tick, call’st thou me host?’: An Introduction to Shakespeare’s Parasites 580 358 Barbara Del Mercato

Ursula Clayton, ‘Base Tick, call’st thou me host?’: An Introduction to Shakespeare’s Parasites

Ursula Clayton, ‘Base Tick, call’st thou me host?’: An Introduction to Shakespeare’s Parasites,
In collaborazione con/In collaboration with ECLS Seminars of Warwick University (ENG)

18 May 2021, 5.00 p.m. CEST, please email to receive link


This is the paradox of the parasite. It is very simple but has great import. The parasite is the essence of relation
Michel Serres

Defined as the ‘essence of relation’, yet ‘loathed and … detested’ by those who have experienced its insidious symbiosis first hand, the parasite is found hidden at the intersection between early modern self and other (Tim. 3.6.94-5). Since their arrival in the comedies and satires of classical antiquity, parasites have been identified by their quick wit, insatiable appetite, self-interest, and their expertise in the art of deception and transformation. In early modernity, parasites are understood to be generated from either the quagmire of unfixed social origins, or the rotting matter of a humoral ecology which inextricably links the early modern body to its earthly surround. Parasites are lice, fleas and worms, and they are also flattering courtiers, freeloading soldiers, and – due to the unavoidability of literary patronage – poets. This paper will situate William Shakespeare’s use of parasitic trope in its wider context, in order to demonstrate how Shakespeare’s poems and plays create a conceptual web of exchange between scientific and literary discourses in order to explore what can happen when humans relate to one another.

Ursula Clayton is Teaching Fellow in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies of Warwick University, where she also  teaches on the English and Comparative Literary Studies program. Full speaker bio here

ONLINE, May 18th, 5.00 p.m. CEST
To receive the Zoom link, please email

This event is in English, part of  Environmental Humanities Seminar and Lecture Series – V

Incontro con Stefano Liberti: Terra bruciata 670 1024 Barbara Del Mercato

Incontro con Stefano Liberti: Terra bruciata

(scroll down for English)

Martedì 11 maggio alle ore 17.00 si terrà, sulla piattaforma Zoom, la presentazione del libro di Stefano Liberti Terra bruciata. Come la crisi ambientale sta cambiando l’Italia e la nostra vita (Rizzoli, 2020), organizzata dal Center for the Humanities and Social Change in collaborazione con Ca’ Foscari Sostenibile.

Stefano Liberti, in dialogo con Shaul Bassi (direttore del Centro HSC) e Martina Gonano (Ca’ Foscari Sostenibile), ci condurrà in un viaggio attraverso l’Italia per capire cosa succede al nostro clima: i ghiacciai che si ritirano, le coste erose dall’innalzamento del mare, le città sempre più arroventate. Ma l’allarme non riguarda solo il paesaggio: coinvolge l’agricoltura, il turismo, la sicurezza delle nostre case e la disponibilità di energia idroelettrica. Colpisce, insomma, la vita quotidiana di ciascuno di noi.
Per ricevere il link di accesso, scrivere a


Tuesday 11 May, 5 p.m. CEST

Stefano Liberti, in conversation with Shaul Bassi (director, Center HSC) and Martina Gonano (Ca’ Foscari Sostenibile), presents his book Terra bruciata. How the environmental crisis is changing Italy and our lives, organised by the Center for the Humanities and Social Change in collaboration with Ca’ Foscari Sostenibile.

Stefano Liberti will take us on a journey through Italy to understand what is happening to our climate: glaciers are retreating, the coasts are being eroded by rising seas, and cities are becoming increasingly hot. But the alarm does not only concern the landscape: it involves agriculture, tourism, the safety of our homes and the availability of hydroelectric energy. It affects the daily life of each and every one of us.

To request access link, please email

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

ONLINE, May 11th, 5.00 p.m. CEST
To receive Zoom link, please email

Evento in italiano/This event is in Italian

CFP – Postcolonial publics: Art and Citizen Media in Europe 800 450 Barbara Del Mercato

CFP – Postcolonial publics: Art and Citizen Media in Europe

Call for Papers: Postcolonial publics: art and citizen media in Europe

We are delighted to invite contributions to a conference paper  on the topic of postcolonial publics expressed and engaged through “citizen media” (Rodriguez 2001; Baker & Blaagaard 2016) and art, in a postcolonial Europe. The conference papers will also serve as chapters for an edited volume which will be published soon after.

We want to interrogate the proliferation of digital media and global culture, and the changes happening in public intellectual engagements. From the adoration of the single (often male, often white) genius to the anonymity of diverse, affective publics, a postcolonial perspective invites contemporary public engagement to have many faces and multiple voices, and addressing new issues such as the environmental crisis and the resurgence of racism. Creativity and art can play a significant role in this development. Performance and visual expressions in the European space interpellate the situated public, but also produce transnational political dialogue and travel across digital space. Embodied performances challenge the cerebral stereotype and classical conception of what public engagement is and should be. Moreover, digital platforms have made available space for expressions that break the form and formulas of public and political speech. However, despite the expansion of public participation, social divisions based on race, gender, sexuality and able-bodiedness still hold sway and begs the question of positionality in relations to institutions, in the different fields of art and media, when it comes to political and social change.

The edited volume and conference envision postcolonial citizen media and art as practices and products encompassing a wide range of expressions: from poetry to journalism to Twitter-writing; from art to graffiti to Instagram-activism; and from celebrity activism to the uprising of “affective publics” (Papacharissi 2015).

Topics for contributions may include but are not limited to:

  • Migrant social media narratives (visual, aural, performative)

  • Exiled artists’ political expressions of citizenship and belonging

  • Social movements’ visual tactics and digital strategies

  • Celebrity activism and co-optation on gender, race and postcolonial issues

  • Citizen journalism and postcolonial counterpublics

  • Street art, performance and public engagement in postcolonial Europe

  • Questions of citizenship, voice and witnessing, in a postcolonial perspective

  • Media activism, academic activism, artivism for a postcolonial Europe

  • Postcolonial media and art interventions in the environmental crisis

The publication and conference is part of the Postcolonial Intellectuals and Their European Publics Network, (PIN), which is funded by the NWO. The network brings together international and interdisciplinary scholars, activists, and artists to explore the changing face and voice of the European intellectuals in a postcolonial Europe. This publication and conference are jointly organized by Shaul Bassi and Sabrina Marchetti (Centre for the Humanities and Social Change), Bolette Blaagaard (Department of Communication and Psychology at Aalborg University, Copenhagen) and Sandra Ponzanesi (Department of Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University).

The conference will take place in Venice on the 26-27th of May 2022. Keynote speakers will be announced in due time. The publication based on the conference papers will follow soon after. Authors selected for the volume will be invited to the conference to present the final drafts of their papers. Final chapters will be 7,000 words all included. The volume will be published by Ca’ Foscari University Press as Open Access eBook in the Summer 2022.

May 2021 edit – Confirmed speakers: Lilie Chouliaraki (London School of Economics)

If you are interested in contributing, please submit your abstract (max. 500 words) by the 15th of June at the following email address:

  • 15 June 2021 Abstracts submission
  • 30 June 2021 Notification of selections
  • 15 January 2022 First draft of full chapters
  • 9 May 2022 Final chapters
  • 26-27 May 2022 Conference in Venice
  • 15 June 2022 Submission to Publisher
Previous conferences of the PIN Network:
  • Utrecht University (5-6 February 2019): info
  • University of Muenster (5-6 September 2019) – In collaboration with the University of Lisbon: info
  • University of Leeds (21-22 and 28-29 January 2021): info

Image credit: Lynn Avadenka, Afterword (Living Under Water, 2020)

Reorienting Histories of Medicine: Encounters Along the Silk Roads 200 166 Barbara Del Mercato

Reorienting Histories of Medicine: Encounters Along the Silk Roads

May 4th 2021, 2.00 p.m. CEST
Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim in conversation with T.H. Barrett and Francesca Tarocco on: ReOrienting Histories of Medicine: Encounters Along the Silk Roads
In collaboration with MaP

ReOrienting Histories of Medicine (Bloomsbury, 2021) is the product of many years of research with rare manuscripts in a variety of languages. It shows how much of premodern Eurasian medicine was predicated on multidirectional interactions and knowledge traffic across cultures. This is an important study for anyone interested in the medical humanities and global history. It has been labelled as an “impressive breakthrough in Silk Road studies” (Prof. Valerie Hansen, Yale University).

T.H. Barrett is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Religions and Philosophies at SOAS University of London and a leading scholar of medieval China. His research interests focus on the history of Chinese religion, notably Taoism and Buddhism, and pre-modern Chinese history, especially the Tang period. He is the author of Taoism under the Tang: Religion and Empire during the Golden Age of Chinese History (1996) and The Woman who discovered Printing (2008).

Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim is Reader in History at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. She is the co-editor of Rashid al-Din: Agent and mediator of cultural exchanges in Ilkhanid Iran (2013), Islam and Tibet: Interactions along the Musk Routes (2010) and Astro-Medicine: Astrology and Medicine, East and West (2008).

Francesca Tarocco is an Associate Professor of Chinese Religious History at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and in the Board of the Center for the Humanities and Social Change . She is the author of The Cultural Practices of Modern Chinese Buddhism (2011) and Altar Modern: Buddhism and Technology in Modern China (forthcoming).

HERE is a link to the Preface and Introduction of Yoeli-Tlalim’s ReOrienting Histories of Medicine: Encounters along the Silk Roads

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

ONLINE, May 4th, 2.00 p.m. CEST
To receive Zoom link, please email

This event is in English

Anthropocene Campus Venice: Application deadline extended to May 9th 1024 768 Barbara Del Mercato

Anthropocene Campus Venice: Application deadline extended to May 9th

Anthropocene Campus Venice, Venice, October 11-16, 2021

Join a one-week educational event around the theme of Water Politics in the Age of the Anthropocene, organized by Ca’ Foscari University, the Center for the Humanities and Social Change and the Max Planck Partner Group The Water City in the framework of the Anthropocene Curriculum, a long-term collaborative project initiated by Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin) and Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin). 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)

The deadline is extended to May 9th, 2021

The disastrous effects of the high tide that flooded the city of Venice in November 2019 were rapidly circulated by the media around the world as a reminder of the responsibility that humans share for the rise in global temperatures and sea levels. The threat of a catastrophic alteration of the water-land balance is not a novelty for Venice,  shaping the city’s culture and urban environments since its inception. The city’s insularity, which is at once natural and artificial, marks its specific relation to the elements. The balance of water and land has always constituted both a vital resource for its inhabitants and a crucial factor for the very existence of the lagoon. An inquiry into the geo-environmental practices and politics of Venice offers a paradigmatic case study to reflect on the coevolution of humans and their environment. Ongoing research into sustainability and geo-anthropology has brought to the fore the importance of evaluating alternative historical paths to achieve a dynamic integration of human societies and nature.

The Anthropocene Campus Venice (ACV) will take the case of Venice as a point of departure to collectively reflect on geo-environmental politics. This location is ideal, both historically and symbolically, to engage with cross-cultural comparisons and make sure that the multi-dimensionality of the geo-anthropologenic prism can be properly approached, bringing together the social, political, economic, environmental, natural, and geological facets. Over the span of a full week, this forum will provide a space for co-learning, interdisciplinary collaborations, and comparative studies, bringing together environmental scientists, artists, historians of science and technology, geologists, environmental humanities scholars, archaeologists, and architects.

The aim of the ACV is to establish an interdisciplinary forum for an eco-political reflection on collective human agency and its knowledge-mediated transformative power, as is the case with the environmental history of contexts like Venice. The question of an environmental history of science-mediated human agency stems from the Anthropocene debates on the natural embeddedness of human history. In return, the reconstruction of human water-related practices and praxes in a concrete historical setting contributes to interdisciplinary debates on earth-systems through an improved understanding of collective agency, located at the intersection of anthroposphere, biosphere, and geosphere.

ACV will be divided into 4 seminar threads, each with its own relevant workshop and field trip.

The seminars threads are (scroll down for full description):

S1 – Past and Present Waterscapes: Geological Agency in the Longue Durée
Referents: Pietro Daniel Omodeo and Tina Asmussen

S2 – System Thinking for Water Politics
Referents: Francesco Gonella, Giulia Rispoli and Jonathan Regier

S3: Aquaphobia and Beyond: The Water Politics of Representation 
Referents: Shaul Bassi and Cristina Baldacci

S4 – Venice Is Leaking: Interventions in the Lagoon-City Continuum
Referents: Ifor Duncan, Heather Contant and Sasha Gora

Local scholars and activists as well as international experts will develop and convene these seminars exploring novel, collaborative, and exploratory epistemological practices and modes of acting upon the urgencies of  the Anthropocene.

For further information please email 


The call addresses researchers from a wide range of backgrounds in the sciences, humanities, engineering, design and the arts.  From within academia, the call addresses levels ranging from final-year master’s degree candidates, graduates, Ph.D.  students, postdoctoral candidates to tenure and tenure-track faculty.

Artists, actors, and activists from civil society, the arts, and politics (e.g. think tanks, NGOs, etc.) are strongly encouraged to  apply as well.

Applicants should be strongly committed to inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration and demonstrate a broad interest in Anthropocene-related research fields, ranging from hydrology, geography, geology, climate and environmental sciences, to history, anthropology, design, landscape architecture, and the arts. Active participation is expected, including the months preceding and following the actual campus week.

Interested candidates are invited to submit an application at this link.

Edit (April 9): Please note that while filling in the application form you will be asked (among other things) the following:

  • Reason for applying (max 2000 keystrokes)
  • Summary of current research/work and how it relates to the Anthropocene Campus Venice (max 1000 keystrokes)
  • If your application is accepted, to agree to pay the campus fee (200 euro)
  • To upload a short CV in PDF format (mandatory) and a list of publications in PDF format (optional)


Please note that the application deadline has been extended to MAY 9th (it was previously April 25)
You must still use this online application form. Applicants are asked to hand in a CV, a brief description of their interest in the Anthropocene and the Water Politics in the Age of the Anthropocene project in particular. Acceptance letters will be sent out by June 1, 2021

Registration & funding 

The registration fee is 200 Euros and will cover workshops, field trips and other campus activities. Participants are expected to procure their own funding and to cover all travel and accommodation costs.


The Anthropocene Campus Venice is developed and hosted by Ca’ Foscari University of Venice with support from Ca’ Foscari University, the Center for the Humanities and Social Change, and the Max Planck Partner Group The Water City. It is part of the Anthropocene Curriculum, a long-term project initiated by Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.


Funders and Supporters of ACV 2021

Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
International Center for the Humanities and Social Change, Venice
Max Planck Partner Group The Water City
Venice International University (VIU)
House of the Cultures of the World
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin
FARE Endeavor EarlyGeoPraxis
Anthropocene Curriculum

The ACV is part of an open series of similar events across the globe that are under the umbrella of the Anthropocene Curriculum (AC) initiative. The AC is a long-term project spearheaded by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin exploring frameworks for critical knowledge and education in our ongoing transition into a new, human dominated geological epoch—the Anthropocene. The project draws together heterogeneous knowledge practices, inviting academics, artists, and activists from around the world to co-develop curricular experiments that collectively respond to this crisis of the customary. It does this by producing experimental co-learning situations and research possibilities for transdisciplinary collaboration—Anthropocene Campuses, workshops, field research undertakings—that are capable of tackling the epistemic and geo-social dimensions of knowledge that are at stake in this new epoch

For more information on the long-term project Anthropocene Curriculum, previous Anthropocene Campus events, and  worldwide partner projects please visit

Anthropocene Campus Venice – Seminars description

S1: Past and Present Waterscapes: Geological Agency in the Longue Durée
Referent: Pietro Daniel Omodeo and Tina Asmussen

Venice is the perfect setting for a renewed reflection on the interplay between nature and culture in the longue durée at the crossroad of human history and natural history.

This seminar is specifically dedicated to the exploration of the anthropic history of water and human cultures in the longue durée in a comparative and inter-disciplinary spirit. It responds to the growing demand for ‘more history’ on the part of the earth sciences and environmental politics. The impending climate crisis—the iconic images of which range from the melting poles to the drowning water-city of Venice and the burning of Brazilian and Australian forests—creates a broad, heavily debated and politically explosive field of science in action. Current studies at the crossroads of the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities, which run under the label of ‘Anthropocene’, reflect on the origins of the human induced environmental crisis. Historicizing the Anthropocene in the longue durée is meant to shed light on the many different institutions, social groups, technologies and belief-systems that power the broad concept of Anthropocene.

In spite of some ambivalence, the concept of geological agency offers an attractive heuristic tool because it brings humans, matter, time, and history to the center of the natural discourse. The problem of the incommensurable commensurability of historical time and geological time—or the problem of reinterpreting the records of human past against the background of ‘deep time’—has come to the fore after the two temporalities reached a synchronic moment of convergence at our entrance into an epoch, the ‘rhythms’ of which are both social and geological. From these geological and historical temporalities further scientific and methodological questions arise. Most importantly, how can we make the collaboration between the natural sciences and cultural studies fruitful, if the respective epistemological premises are so different? The prototypical natural scientist and cultural scholar address the same object of inquiry (say, the environment) with very different disciplinary lenses (or ‘epistemic values’); an epistemology of objectivity and quantitative measurement, in the former case, and one of subjectivity and historicity, in the latter. The question of how the perspectives of those who look at the earth and the environment as natural phenomena, and those who look at them as cultural products, can be harmonized and unified is far from settled. In order to find alternative ways to address and perhaps solve these problems, we here look back at times and scientific cultures that existed before the emergence of Capitalist economy and industrialization as well as during such modern techno-economical revolutions. We are especially interested in contexts, in which our divide between nature and culture operated differently and the boundary was seen as a continuum rather than as a division.

S2: System Thinking for Water Politics
Referent: Francesco Gonella, Giulia Rispoli and Jonathan Regier

Albert Einstein used to say that “the significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking at which they were created”. This quotation can be found in many contexts, but very rarely any indication is provided of what this “new level of thinking” should be. Systems Thinking may be regarded as what substantiates this new need.

The epistemology of Systems Thinking has been developing after the works by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Kenneth E. Boulding, or Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen in the 1960s, then finding a quantitative application and outcome owing to Jay W. Forrester, head of the Systems Dynamic group at the M.I.T.. Despite the variety of approaches that System Thinking caters to, it has often been interpreted as primarily fashioned by Western science, especially inscribed in the mid-20th century tradition of cybernetics and systems theory. Systemic perspectives of nature-society interaction have a much more diversified and nuanced legacy, spanning faraway geographies and cultures where the very notion of “system” grew out of distinct socio-ecological contexts and practices.

Nowadays Systems Thinking addresses the ineffectiveness of linear thought at managing complex problems, and puts together different levels of inquiry, from the description of a system to its understanding, modelling and design. In the environmental sciences, it has drawn great attention after the publication authored by Donella H. Meadows et al. of The Limits to Growth (1972), a scientific report addressing long-term exponential population and economic growth in relation to resource scarcity and Earth’s capacity. The book represented an important novelty both for its content and for its epistemological approach; However, it soon became subject to criticism with regard to a simplistic computational approach based on solely five variables and homogeneous starting conditions, which, for example, abstracted from the political and economic divide between the global north and the global south.

Anthropocene-related problems we are facing today requires a multilayered approach where systemic perspectives inform views on the interaction and co-evolution of ecologies, behavior patterns, political and regulatory functions, historical and conceptual legacies, and the economic and technological visions of possible features. Such an approach is what we intend to develop in the description of the role of Water in the Anthropocene context.

The presence of water in the environment, along with its nexus with energy, food, and industrial production plays a pivotal role in facing the threat of climate change. Water policies, access, quality, distribution, equality, have been investigated by usual reductionist points of view, following bottom-up approaches that enlightened in turn the different specificities. But the complex network of interconnections between all the geo- and biophysical elements and the socio-economic issues related to water prevents from addressing in this way long-term effective scenarios for local and global policies. The emerging necessity is therefore to shift our attention from the study of events – in terms of causes and effects – to the study of the systems – in terms of patterns, structures and leverage points – from which those events emerge. Water, with all its issues, must be investigated, described and studied as an intrinsic complex system. Systems Thinking may therefore constitute a tool to capture this complexity, eventually establishing the connection between the different “cultures” linked to Water

S3: Aquaphobia and Beyond: The Water Politics of Representation
Referent: Shaul Bassi and Cristina Baldacci

The growing contemporary debate over Anthropocene – over its cultural, economic, social and political implications – has motivated forms of interdisciplinary research and cooperation, which, in the field of literature and the (visual, performative, media) arts have focused, on the one hand on the representation, on the other on the re-presentation of ecological imaginaries and environments.

In the first case, narratives oscillate between the urgency to document and the desire to falsify, between reality and fiction – where fiction can be understood both as a literary category and as a multitude of fake stories and images, i.e. lies, that pervade climate change and environmental or water politics. In the second case, especially through virtual or augmented reality and pre-/re-enactment and re-embodiment practices, possible future scenarios can be simulated and experienced in advance in order to raise awareness – but also to identify appropriate behaviours and prepare for alternative, that is, sustainable and resilient lifestyles. Or instead, disappeared ecosystems can be artificially re-created for study reasons, as places of knowledge and understanding, of scientific and cultural dissemination.

In all these cases, it is a question of producing plural and inclusive counter-narratives to set against the neoliberal and neocolonial rhetoric as to encourage forms of activism, which can be personal and collective, local and global; produce awareness and affect; denounce responsibilities; induce change (agency). The change should be in perspective too. Humans should no longer be the only ones at the centre of the discourse and traditional methodological canons should be challenged. The Harawayan imperatives of “making kin” and adopting “tentacular thinking” have taught us that it is no longer possible to think in a unidirectional and anthropocentric way, but that an expansion of views is needed, which includes diversity and change both in biological and social systems. Haraway argues that “our task is to make trouble, to stir up potent response to devastating events, as well as to settle troubled waters and rebuild quiet places”.

We propose that we first need to “trouble settled waters” by looking at the multiple resonances of the representation of waters starting from Aquaphobia (2017), a temporary immersive environment by Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen, which will be reinstalled, for the duration of the Anthropocene Campus, as an exhibition and a thinking space. It is a Virtual Reality installation inspired by psychological studies of the treatment of the “fear of water”, as an entry point to transform perceptions of our relationship to future water levels and climates, and also by ecology- oriented science fiction and conversations with biologists and ethnographers. This central artwork will be complemented by the counter-narratives stimulated by other water-related artworks offered by Ocean Space and Science Gallery, two important Venice centres that combine interdisciplinary research with multiple engagement with contemporary art. We will also use as a literary reference point Amitav Ghosh’s recent works, and the various figurations of water that he has provided in his essays and novels.

We invite analyses and case studies artistic and literary interventions that engage water politics and re-present the conditions of water in various contexts, at the intersections of activism, pedagogy, and aesthetics.

S4: Venice Is Leaking: Interventions in the Lagoon-City Continuum
Referents: Ifor R. Duncan, Heather M. Contant, L. Sasha Gora
Conception: Heather M. Contant, Daniel A. Finch-Race, Ifor R. Duncan, L. Sasha Gora, Emiliano Guaraldo (Fellows of Center for the Humanities and Social Change)

Rhythms of everyday life in the hydrosphere alert us to the continuum that exists in Venezia—city and lagoon. Here, water and land are co-constitutive and have been since the first engineering of the islands into human-habitable refuges. What happens below the surface is inextricably connected to what happens above. Between fresh and saltwater. The fluctuating surface levels of the acqua alta. The caigo (the Venetian term for fog) and the stravedamento (the Chioggian term for when the Dolomites are visible). Nutrition, erosion, accretion, flooding, and toxicity all occur within this continuum at multiple scales and registers. Thinking about Venezia as an expanded watery environment follows the encouragement of Anuradha Mathur and Dilip Da Cunha to approach the future from an understanding that wetness is everywhere (2020). In addition to the presence of wetness, we consider water’s absence, salinity, and an array of other characteristics.

This seminar focuses on the critical role of activist, creative, and cultural practices in confronting environmental concerns facing the lagoon-city today and in the future. Using Venezia as a starting point, we bring diverse examples from other places into comparison to generate cross-cultural conversations around strategies of care for water ecologies. These conversations will address flora, fauna, and human appetites; the politics of public spaces; decolonization; the collection of ecological knowledge; and collective and inclusive tactics for sustainability.

In doing so, we engage with Astrida Neimanis’s provocation that humans are mostly wet matter or bodies of water embodying a leaky and porous relationality with our environments (2017). In flood, drought, or contamination. How can we refine or condense this understanding to generate ways of eroding or reshaping the infrastructures that lead to mass pollution, water privatization, overfishing, the washing away of salt marshes (barene), overtourism, cruise ships, and so on?

We set out to explore practices and methodologies for intervening into the continuities of changing environmental and social conditions in Venezia and beyond. We invite all levels of activists, artists, designers, conservators, curators, historians, chefs, and other creative practitioners to participate in transdisciplinary conversations about engaging with the lagoon-city to ensure the survival of this vital and multispecies environment. We hope to produce a toolkit to spark change now and in the future.

Yifei Li, Judith Shapiro, Can China Go Green? Environmental Governance in China. With Francesca Tarocco and Daniele Brombal 363 139 Barbara Del Mercato

Yifei Li, Judith Shapiro, Can China Go Green? Environmental Governance in China. With Francesca Tarocco and Daniele Brombal

19 April 2021, 2.00 p.m. CEST

Yifei Li, Judith Shapiro, Can China Go Green? Environmental Governance in China
With Francesca Tarocco (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Center for the Humanities and Social Change) and Daniele Brombal (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)
In collaborazione con/In collaboration with MaP

Yifei Li is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at NYU Shanghai and Global Network Assistant Professor at NYU. His research concerns both the macro-level implications of Chinese environmental governance for state-society relations, marginalized populations, and global ecological sustainability, as well as the micro-level bureaucratic processes of China’s state interventions into the environmental realm. He has received research support from the United States National Science Foundation, the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, the University of Chicago Center in Beijing, and the China Times Cultural Foundation, among other extramural sources. He is coauthor (with Judith Shapiro) of China Goes Green: Coercive Environmentalism for a Troubled Planet. His recent work appears in Current Sociology, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Environmental Sociology, Journal of Environmental Management, and other scholarly outlets. He received his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Bachelor’s from Fudan University.

Judith Shapiro is Director of the Masters in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development for the School of International Service at American University and Chair of the Global Environmental Politics program. She was one of the first Americans to live in China after U.S.-China relations were normalized in 1979, and taught English at the Hunan Teachers’ College in Changsha, China. She has also taught at Villanova, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Aveiro (Portugal) and the Southwest Agricultural University in Chongqing, China. She was a visiting professor at Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University. Professor Shapiro’s research and teaching focus on global environmental politics and policy, the environmental politics of Asia, and Chinese politics under Mao. She is the author, co-author or editor of nine books, including (with Yifei Li) China Goes Green: Coercive Environmentalism for a Troubled Planet (Polity 2020), China’s Environmental Challenges (Polity 2016), Mao’s War against Nature (Cambridge University Press 2001), Son of the Revolution (with Liang Heng, Knopf 1983), After the Nightmare (with Liang Heng, Knopf 1987), Cold Winds, Warm Winds: Intellectual Life in China Today (with Liang Heng, Wesleyan University Press 1987), Debates on the Future of Communism (co-edited with Vladimir Tismaneanu, Palgrave 1991), and, together with her mother Joan Hatch Lennox, Lifechanges: How Women Can Make Courageous Choices (Random House, 1991). Dr. Shapiro earned her Ph.D. from American University’s School of International Service. She holds an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and another M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois, Urbana. Her B.A. from Princeton University is in Anthropology and East Asian Studies.

Abstract of China Goes Green
What does it mean for the future of the planet when one of the world’s most durable authoritarian governance systems pursues “ecological civilization”? Despite its staggering pollution and colossal appetite for resources, China exemplifies a model of state-led environmentalism which concentrates decisive political, economic, and epistemic power under centralized leadership. On the face of it, China seems to embody hope for a radical new approach to environmental governance.

In this thought-provoking book, Yifei Li and Judith Shapiro probe the concrete mechanisms of China’s coercive environmentalism to show how “going green” helps the state to further other agendas such as citizen surveillance and geopolitical influence. Through top-down initiatives, regulations, and campaigns to mitigate pollution and environmental degradation, the Chinese authorities also promote control over the behavior of individuals and enterprises, pacification of borderlands, and expansion of Chinese power and influence along the Belt and Road and even into the global commons. Given the limited time that remains to mitigate climate change and protect millions of species from extinction, we need to consider whether a green authoritarianism can show us the way. This book explores both its promises and risks.

ONLINE, April 19th, 2.00 p.m. CEST
To participate via Zoom, please email to receive link

This event is in English

Roundtable on “Foundations of Solidarity” 724 1024 Susann Schmeisser

Roundtable on “Foundations of Solidarity”

In this round table event we discussed with Hauke Brunkhorst, Stefan Gosepath, Asad Haider, Sabine Hark, Serene Khader, Stefan Lessenich, and Frederick Neuhouser. Organized by the Humanities and Social Change Center Berlin (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) in cooperation with the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research and the New School for Social Research (Alice Crary). 

How can the materialist foundations of actual solidarity be rethought without falling back into tacit assumptions of social homogeneity? Class, gender, race, nation, and even humanity have all lost their status as matters of course. Given the effects of sexism and racism, theories of solidarity have to take into account the complex contradictions of capitalist societies which divide subaltern and exploited groups on the domestic level as well as globally. Appeals to solidarity hence run into an uncertainty concerning the foundations of solidarity. Is solidarity the result of a shared form of life or of collective practices? Does it stem from similar experiences or a common situation? Is it marked by adversity or a common enemy? Or is it the effect of a shared devotion to a common cause?

This event was part of our fourth International Critical Theory Summer School.


Full list of Round Table participants:

Hauke Brunkhorst (Europa-Universität Flensburg)
Robin Celikates (Freie Universität Berlin)
Stefan Gosepath (Freie Universität Berlin)
Asad Haider (New School for Social Research)
Sabine Hark (Technische Universität Berlin)
Rahel Jaeggi (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Serene Khader (City University of New York)
Stefan Lessenich (Universität München)
Frederick Neuhouser (Barnard College, Columbia University)