Events Venice

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

Environmental Humanities Seminar and Lecture Series (V) 1024 585 Barbara Del Mercato

Environmental Humanities Seminar and Lecture Series (V)

The Center for the Humanities and Social Change continues its series of seminars and lectures revolving around the Environmental Humanities from a wide array of perspectives and through a rich program of collaborations. All events in this series are online. Please note that all times listed are CEST (i.e. Venice time)

The Environmental Humanities Seminar and Lecture Series – V

9 Aprile/April, 3.00 p.m.
Corey Lee Wrenn, What is Vegan Sociology?
Discussant: Federica Timeto

16 Aprile/April, 5.00 p.m.
Lucia Veronesi, Roberta Feoli De Lucia, Paola Lucrezi, Leonardo Marenghi, Gianni Moretti, Gianmarco Toma, Venezia riparte – un progetto artistico (ITA)

19 Aprile/April 2.00 p.m.
Yifei Li, Judith Shapiro, Can China Go Green? Environmental Governance in China
Con/with Francesca Tarocco e/and Daniele Brombal (seminario/seminar, ENG)
In collaborazione con/In collaboration with MaP

30 Aprile/April, 3.00 p.m.
Marco Casazza, A desired future for urban metabolism management: Scenarios simulations, big data and AI (seminario/seminar, ENG)
In collaborazione con/In collaboration with ECLT. More info here

4 Maggio/May, 2.00 p.m.
Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim in conversazione con/in conversation with T.H. Barrett e/and Francesca Tarocco, su/on: Reorienting Histories of Medicine: Encounters Along the Silk Roads
In collaborazione con/In collaboration with MaP

11 Maggio/May, 5.00 p.m.
Stefano Liberti, Terra bruciata. Come la crisi ambientale sta cambiando l’Italia e la nostra vita. (ITA)
In collaborazione con/In collaboration with Ca’ Foscari Sostenibile

18 Maggio/May, 5.00 pm 
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)

28 Maggio/May, 3.00 p.m.
Sasha Gora, Happy as a Clam: Clichés, Climate, and Cuisine(seminario/seminar, ENG)

3 Giugno/June, 5.00 p.m.
Neal Hartman, AquaGranda – A Digital Community Memory. Exhibition for the H2020 Odycceus project.
In collaborazione con/In collaboration with Science Gallery

4 Giugno/June, 3.00 p.m.
Ifor Duncan, Francesca Foffano, Emiliano Guaraldo, Teresa Scantamburlo, Contemplating Borders: From Machine Learning to the Environment (seminario/seminar, ENG)
In collaborazione con/In collaboration with ECLT

11 Giugno/June, 3.00 p.m.
Heather Contant, Daniel Finch-Race, Maria Mannone, Exploring Sonic Environments (seminario/seminar, ENG)
In collaborazione con/In collaboration with ECLT

15 Giugno/June, 5.00 p.m
Adriana Rodrigues Novais, Landless Women and the fight against Agribusiness

Eventi online. L’iscrizione è obbligatoria: per ricevere i link scrivere a/ All the events are online. Registration is required. Please email to receive the links.

Image: © Paola Lucrezi, Venezia Riparte 2020

Afropean Bridges 2021 – Virtual Dialogues 1024 576 Barbara Del Mercato

Afropean Bridges 2021 – Virtual Dialogues

From April 12th to May 27th the Center for the Humanities and Social Change is going to release an important series of dialogues marking the third edition of Afropean Bridges.

Afropean Bridges is an international workshop hosted by Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and focused on the identity of Europeans of African origin and on the multiple relations between Africa and Europe. The workshop aims to literally “bridge the gap” between the reality and the misleading clichés about African-Europeans, especially those related to migration, development, and human rights.

Dialogues are going to be released twice a week (Monday and Thursday at 6.00 p.m. CEST) according to the calendar below, and will remain available on HSC-Venice Youtube Channel (linked below, next to each dialogue) and on the Afropean Bridges website. Unless otherwise stated, dialogues are in English

Afropean Bridges 2021

Monday, April 12th
Dunja Mijatović interviewed by Vittorio Longhi (LINK)

Dunja Mijatović is Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe. Her office has recently released a report on Combating racism and racial discrimination against people of African descent in Europe.
Vittorio Longhi is a journalist and author, and one of the organisers of Afropean Bridges. His latest book is Il colore del nome, Solferinolibri 2021

Thursday, April 15th
Bernardine Evaristo & Maaza Mengiste with Shaul Bassi (LINK)

Bernardine Evaristo was born in London in 1959 to an English mother and Nigerian father. She is the author of eight novels, and plays and criticism. Girl, Woman, Other (Ragazza, donna, altro, Sur 2020) won the Man Booker Prize and the British Book Award, and was finalist for the Orwell Prize for political literature and the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Maaza Mengiste  is a novelist and essayist. She is the author of the novel, The Shadow King (Il Re ombra, Einaudi 2021) which was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, and was a 2020 LA Times Book Prize Fiction finalist. Her debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze (Lo sguardo del leone, Neri Pozza 2018), was selected by The Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books.

More information (in italian) here

Monday, April 19th
Peter Brathwaite & Theo Imani with Igiaba Scego (LINK)

Peter Brathwaite is a British baritone, author of the Black Portraiture series.
Theo Imani (Theophilus Marboha) curates an ongoing visual research on black portraiture on Instagram
Igiaba Scego, co-organiser of Afropean Bridges and former fellow of HSC Venice, is a writer, journalist and activist. Her latest book is La linea del colore (Bompiani, 2020)

Thursday, April 22
Giselle Musabimana & Alex Nkosi (LINK)

Giselle Musabimana works as Communication Officer for UNIAFRICA, Union for the development of Italian and African Relations
Alex Nkosi is a policy analyst working with ITUC-Africa. He coordinates the Africa Trade Union Development Network.

Monday, April 26
Sulaiman Addonia & Cristina Ali Farah

Sulaiman Addonia is an Eritrean author. He spent his early life in a refugee camp in Sudan. He lived in Saudi Arabia and he studied at the University college London. He wrote The consequences of love (2009, Le conseguenze dell’amore, Sperling & Kupfer, 2009).
Cristina Ali Farah is an Italian writer of Somali and Italian origin. Author of Madre piccola, Frassinelli 2007  (A Little Mother), and Il comandante del fiume (66th & 2nd, 2014)

Thursday, April 29
Lidija Khachatourian & Kelechi Nwaneri

Lidija Kostic Khachatourian is an art gallerist and curator based in Dubai and Venice
Kelechi Nwaneri is a Nigerian artist born in 1994 who was in Venice in 202o as an artist in residence at AKKA project.

Monday, May 3 – special double feature
6.00 p.m Yuri Boychenko & Vittorio Longhi

Yuri Boychenko is Head of the Anti-Discrimination Unit at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

7.00 p.m. Vittorio Longhi & Chinedu Nwokeafor

Chinedu Nwokeafor is an activist for the Black Lives Matter movement in the Unites States.

Thursday, May 6
Mamadou Ba & Francesco Vacchiano

(in Portuguese with Italian subtitles)
Mamadou Ba is a sociologist. Born in Senegal, he has been living in Portugal for over twenty years, where he is an anti-racist activist and campaigner, dedicated to the struggles for the human rights of racialised and migrant people.
Francesco Vacchiano is professor of Health Anthropology and African Languages and Cultures at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.

Subtitles were provided by Emma Barbieri, Elettra Battiata, Sofia Bellato, Paolo Schiavon, Carlotta Sorgato, Valentina Rigo under the supervision of professor Vanessa Castagna and with the technical assistance of Alice Girotto.

Monday, May 10
Saba Anglana & Esther Elisha & Igiaba Scego

(in Italian)
Igiaba Scego, former fellow of HSC Venice, is a writer, journalist and activist. Her latest book is La linea del colore (Bompiani, 2020)
Saba Anglana is a Somali-Italian singer, songwriter and actress, also author and host of radio programs.
Esther Elisha is an Italian actress with an Italian mother and a Beninese father. She played various roles in cinema, theatre and television

Thursday, May 13
Vittorio Longhi & Francesca Melandri

(In Italian)
Vittorio Longhi is a journalist and author, and one of the organisers of Afropean Bridges. His latest book is Il colore del nome, Solferinolibri 2021
Francesca Melandri  is an Italian novelist, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker. Her latest novel is Sangue giusto (Bompiani).

Monday, May 17th
Coumba Kane & Igiaba Scego

(in Italian)
Coumba Kane is a French journalist working for Le Monde .
Igiaba Scego, former fellow of HSC Venice, is a writer, journalist and activist. Her latest book is La linea del colore (Bompiani, 2020)

Thursday, May 20
Chiara Piaggio & Sami Tchak

(In French with Italian subtitles)
Chiara Piaggio
Sami Tchak is a Togolese writer, Winner in 2004 of the Grand prix de littérature d’Afrique noire not for a single title but for his work as a whole.

Monday, May 24
Alessandra Di Maio & E.C. Osondu

Alessandra Di Maio teaches English literature at the University of Palermo. She works on postcolonial, migration, transnational and diaspora studies, with a special focus on Africa.
E.C. Osondu is a Nigerian writer who is a winner of the Caine Prize and a Pushcart Prize. He is the author of a novel, This House is Not For Sale, and of a short story collection, Voice of AmericaQuando il cielo vuole spuntano le stelle was published in Italy in 2020 He is an Associate Professor of English at Providence College in Rhode Island

Thursday, May 27
Johny Pitts & Shaul Bassi

Johny Pitts is is the curator of the ENAR (European NetworkAgainst Racism) award-winning online journal and the author of Afropean: Notes From Black Europe (Penguin Random House, published in Italian as Afropei, EDT, 2020)
Shaul Bassi is the Director of the Center for the Humanities and Social Change and professor of English Literature at Ca’ Foscari University.

Get ready for Anthropocene Campus Venice 1024 768 Barbara Del Mercato

Get ready for 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)

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)


Applications can be submitted until April 25th, 2021 using 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.

Corey Lee Wrenn: What is Vegan Sociology? 1024 829 Barbara Del Mercato

Corey Lee Wrenn: What is Vegan Sociology?

April 9th, 3.00 p.m.
Corey Lee Wrenn, University of Kent

What is Vegan Sociology?
Discussant: Federica Timeto, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Dep. of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage)


Dr. Wrenn is Lecturer of Sociology with the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent and co-director of the Centre for the Study of Social and Political Movements. She served as council member with the American Sociological Association’s Animals & Society section (2013-2016), was elected Chair in 2018, and is co-founder of the International Association of Vegan Sociologists. She serves as Book Review Editor to Society & Animals and is a member of The Vegan Society’s Research Advisory Committee. Dr. Wrenn has been published in several peer-reviewed academic journals including the Journal of Gender StudiesFeminist Media Studies, Environmental ValuesDisability & SocietyFood, Culture & Society, and Society & Animals. In July 2013, she founded the Vegan Feminist Network, an academic-activist project engaging intersectional social justice praxis. She is the author of A Rational Approach to Animal Rights: Extensions in Abolitionist Theory (Palgrave MacMillan 2016), Piecemeal Protest: Animal Rights in the Age of Nonprofits (University of Michigan Press 2019), and Animals in Irish Society (SUNY Press 2021).


What is Vegan Sociology?
Veganism is an ethical philosophy and political practice formed in the 19th century, substantiated in the 20th century, and popularized in the 21st century. Today, between one and five percent of national populaces in the developed world identify as vegan (although distinct in practice and purpose from the Western vegan philosophy, much larger proportions of developing populations have traditionally relied on plant-based diets). In January 2021 at the height of COVID-19, a record 500,000 pledgers across the globe signed up for the Veganuary 30 day transition program, an increase of 100,000 from the year prior (other vegan charities with competing programs reported impressive registrations as well). The rising popularity of veganism certainly indicates the resonance of a revolutionary lifestyle more than a century in the works.

On the verge of a cultural tipping point, veganism is poised to fundamentally reimagine and remodel humanity’s material relationship with food, the environment, and other animals. Although rooted in animal rights, veganism attends to environmental integrity and human flourishing as well, subjects that fit more securely within the jurisdiction of sociology. Indeed, there is considerable overlap with numerous sociological areas of inquiry, but the discipline has remained conspicuously silent on veganism until only recently.

The emergence of vegan sociology over the past decade can be attributed in part to its strained alliance with “Animals and Society,” an officially recognized sociological subdiscipline which has itself only been crystalizing since the turn of the 21st century. A number of vegan scholars have found it difficult to align their liberationist work with the anthropocentric vein that predominates in its progenitor. For that matter, their preoccupation with large-scale and increasingly global crises (climate change, pandemics, chronic diet- and lifestyle-related illnesses, and nonhuman suffering in ever-expanding agricultural systems) indicates that vegan sociology is operating within an altogether more critical (and novel) theoretical and empirical framework.
More than seeking to simply understand the relationship between humans and other animals, vegan sociology fundamentally troubles human dominance and aims to address some of the most pressing social problems facing society today.

ONLINE, April 9th, 3.00 p.m.
To participate via Zoom, please use this link (

This event is in English

Vando Borghi e Luigi Doria: Infrastrutture della connettività nel capitalismo contemporaneo 1024 442 Barbara Del Mercato

Vando Borghi e Luigi Doria: Infrastrutture della connettività nel capitalismo contemporaneo

18 marzo ore 17: Infrastrutture della connettività nel capitalismo contemporaneo (ITA)

Vando Borghi, Dipartimento di Sociologia e Diritto dell’EconomiaUniversità di Bologna: Valore e ricchezza nel capitalismo delle infrastrutture

Luigi Doria, Dip. di Studi Linguistici e Culturali Comparati, Center for the Humanities and Social Change, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia: Capitalismo e connettività. Estrazione di valore dalla vita e irrigidimento della vita della moneta

Questo incontro ha per oggetto il ruolo che la connettività – come imperativo socio-culturale che impone la connessione incessante e incondizionata fra individui, esperienze, processi – gioca nel capitalismo contemporaneo. La connettività è riguardata, in particolare, come codice dominante nelle infrastrutture, complessi meccanismi socio-tecnici intorno a cui si articola (grazie alla produzione di gigantesche masse di dati) la produzione e l’estrazione del valore nel capitalismo del terzo millennio.
La questione del valore è affrontata da diverse prospettive.
Da un lato, nella relazione di Vando Borghi, a tema è la differenza e la tensione fra valore e ricchezza, laddove quest’ultima allude a una dimensione costitutivamente eccedente rispetto alla logica dell’assimilazione capitalistica della vita. Dall’altro, nella relazione di Luigi Doria, l’attenzione è alle consonanze fra le forme contemporanee dell’estrazione di valore dalla vita e il movimento attraverso cui – si pensi ad ambiti emergenti di connettività, come quelli che concernono alcune criptocurrencies e le loro architetture algoritmiche – la vita sociale della moneta viene ad essere irrigidita e il respiro istituzionale del fenomeno monetario tende ad essere soffocato.

Evento online – scrivete a per ricevere il link di accesso

18 Marzo ore 17

Evento in italiano/This event is in Italian.

Image: Roberta Feoli De Lucia, Mano sinistra (Venezia Riparte, 2020)
March 18th, 5.00 pm
Online. Please email

This event is in Italian

Environmental Humanities Seminar and Lecture Series (IV) 1024 544 Barbara Del Mercato

Environmental Humanities Seminar and Lecture Series (IV)

The Center for the Humanities and Social Change continues its series of seminars and lectures revolving around the Environmental Humanities from a wide array of perspectives and through a rich program of collaborations. All events in this series are online.

The Environmental Humanities Seminar and Lecture Series – IV – 2021

18 Febbraio/February, 5.30 p.m.
Gaia Giuliani, “Exterminate all the Brutes“. For an Intersectional and Postcolonial Critique of the Antrhopocene (ENG)
In collaborazione con/In collaboration with: Bridges. Intersectional Knowledge in Action

THIS EVENT IS POSTPONED 4 Marzo/March, 5.00-6.30 p.m.
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 Marzo/March, 5.00 p.m.
Infrastrutture della connettività nel capitalismo contemporaneo (ITA)
Vando Borghi: Valore e ricchezza nel capitalismo delle infrastrutture
Luigi Doria: Capitalismo e connettività. Estrazione di valore dalla vita e irrigidimento della vita della moneta

22 Marzo/March Giornata mondiale dell’acqua/World Water Day, 4.00-6.00 p.m.
Lawrence Susskind: Public engagement in transboundary water management
Animesh Gain: Transboundary water management: Brahmaputra river basin (ENG)
Prof. Carlo Giupponi will introduce the MCGF project Social-ECological Interdependencies in TransboundarY water resources systems (SECurITY) and moderate the meeting.
In collaborazione con/In collaboration with VIU

Lawrence Susskind is an internationally renowned environmental dispute mediator. He is currently the Director of the MIT Science Impact Collaborative, and the Director of the MIT-Harvard Public Negotiations Program. He has published more than 20 books and more than 150 articles in peer reviewed journals. Since 1979, Prof. Susskind has supervised more than seventy doctoral and postdoctoral candidates and 10 of his students became professors.

Animesh Gain is currently a Marie Curie Global Fellow at MIT & Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. His research is in the broader field of water resources management. He has published more than 45 peer reviewed journal articles.
The theme for the World Water Day 2021 is Valuing water. As water means different things to different people, it creates conflict among stakeholders. In this context, Professor Susskind will deliver a lecture on public engagement in transboundary water management and the Water Diplomacy Framework.
Dr Gain will speak about enabling transboundary cooperation through water diplomacy. He will summarize the empirical investigation in the Ganges-Brahmaputra river basin.

30 Marzo/March, 3.00 p.m.
Emiliano GuaraldoThe Venice Biennale and the Visual Culture of the Anthropocene. Extinction, Climate Change, Extraction (Seminario/Seminar, ENG)

Eventi online. L’iscrizione è obbligatoria: per ricevere i link scrivere a/ All the events are online. Registration is required. Please email to receive the links.

Image: © Lucia Veronesi, Con attenzione, Venezia Riparte 2020

Gaia Giuliani: ‘Exterminate all the Brutes’. For an Intersectional and Postcolonial Critique of Anthropocene 1024 576 Barbara Del Mercato

Gaia Giuliani: ‘Exterminate all the Brutes’. For an Intersectional and Postcolonial Critique of Anthropocene

We are getting ready to launch the fourth “Environmental Humanities Seminar and Lecture Series” which begins with an online seminar organised in collaboration with Bridges: Intersectional knowledge in action

Gaia Giuliani, from the Center for Social Studies at the University of Coimbra (Portugal) will discuss “‘Exterminate all the Brutes’. For an intersectional and postcolonial Critique of Anthropocene”.


This seminar is based on the reflections contained in the author’s latest volume Monsters, Catastrophes and the Anthropocene, and develops a postcolonial critique of the discourses on crisis, precariousness and catastrophe produced in the global North and more specifically in Europe. These reflections are organized into three sections: the first focuses on the crisis generated by what the author calls “the questioning of the History that the European and Western ‘We’ has produced caused by migrations to Europe and the West.” This section reads the fear of invasion as a fear of the subversion of those boundaries that the “We” has erected to relegate to silence the memory of colonial violence and thus avoid the revenge of the and the colonized. The second section examines the crisis caused by the “subversion of the Geography of We” that the global North sees as determined by the encroachment of the effects (materialized as much in migrations as in catastrophes), logics and dynamics of the Anthropocene into its “safe” space. The last section focuses on the “fears of catastrophe” understood in European and Western public discourse as the “end of humanity”, i.e. the end of the world dominated by the West, by its inequalities and hierarchies. The seminar ends by proposing a feminist and decolonial political project structured by practices of “care”, “care of the self” and “care of the Earth”.

To sign up for the seminar and receive the Zoom link, please visit the event page on Eventbrite. Participants will receive by email the link to participate one hour before the beginning of the seminar.

February 18th, at 5.30 p.m. 

This event is in English.

February 18th, 5.30-7.00 pm
Online. Please sign up via Eventbrite to receive the Zoom link.

This event is in English

L’attivismo ambientale a Venezia – con Jane Da Mosto, Greta Schiavo, Francesco Gonella 1024 683 Barbara Del Mercato

L’attivismo ambientale a Venezia – con Jane Da Mosto, Greta Schiavo, Francesco Gonella

La serie di incontri dedicati alle Scienze umane ambientali prosegue il 21 Dicembre alle 17.30 con una ricognizione e riflessione sull’attivismo ambientale a Venezia. Jane Da Mosto (We Are Here Venice), Greta Schiavo (XR Venezia), Francesco Gonella (XR Scientists) parleranno dei loro percorsi e della loro esperienza. Che cosa li spinge a definirsi “attivisti/e”? In quali azioni e campagne sono coinvolti/e, e che cosa “bolle in pentola”? Non perdete queste preziose testimonianze che ci restituiranno la vitalità di una lotta trasversale, portata avanti in ambiti differenti: ricerca scientifica, professionale e all’interno della variegata realtà cittadina .

Programma completo della Environmental Humanities  Seminar and Lecture Series: QUI

L’incontro potrà essere seguito esclusivamente online (su Zoom, usando QUESTO LINK) . Due to recent changes in anti-covid19 regulations, the lecture will only take place online. To participate via Zoom, please use this link.

Evento in italiano./This event is in Italian.

ph. Jane Da Mosto
Venice, December 21 2020, at 5.30 p.m.
ONLINE LECTURE ONLY. To participate via Zoom, please use this link

This event is in Italian/Evento in italiano

Metropolitan Asia: Cities-to-come in Metropolitan Asia 1024 529 Barbara Del Mercato

Metropolitan Asia: Cities-to-come in Metropolitan Asia

The Center for the Humanities and Social Change is happy to collaborate with Ocean Space for the next event  in its “Environmental Humanities Seminar and Lecture Series” :

Metropolitan Asia: Cities-to-come in Metropolitan Asia

part of Ocean Uni, a series organised by Territorial Agency + TBA21 around the exhibition Oceans in Transformation.

When: December 2nd, 4.00 pm (Link for online registration:

With: John Palmesino (Territorial Agency), Daniela Zyman, and Markus Reymann

Guests:  Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina, Elisa Giuliano, Andrés Jaque, Jeanne Penjan Lassus, Alvin Li and Julian Junyuan Feng, Francesca Tarocco

Moderation: Barbara Casavecchia

From the chokepoint of the Malacca Strait to the Gulf of Thailand, from Singapore to the coast of China, and from Taiwan to Japan and beyond to the Bering Strait, the Metropolitan Asia trajectory examines the effects of human activities on the coastal regions of the Asian Pacific. According to Territorial Agency, the seas of Asia can be called metropolitan. They are witnessing an extreme intensification of port-based and seaborne activities equal in magnitude to the rapid urbanization of its littoral areas. Coastal zones have experienced massive urban expansion in recent decades and are extremely susceptible to climate related urban vulnerability. Sea level rise by the end of the century, as forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), would submerge land currently occupied by 470 to 760 million people globally, mainly in East Asia, and affect the livelihoods of more than 1.5 billion people.

This event is in English.

Venice, December 2nd, 2020, at 4.00 p.m.

Participants are required to register for their attendance to the seminar online in a webinar format. Link for online


Pilgrimage to the North (Ziarah Utara)
Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina, artists

Reflecting on state and border controls created from colonialism, nationalism, and capitalism, Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina talk about their ongoing walking interventions on the North Jakarta coastline, proposing eight ways to penetrate the borders of Singapore, inspired by historical acts of seafaring, smuggling, subversion, and sumpah (oath / promise). The ocean waters which flow between and among the coasts, islands, and archipelagos of East Asia have thousands of years of history to share, and they remain battlegrounds for ancient Imperial claims and contemporary forms of territorializing. The rising levels and futures of these waters imperil the lives and livelihoods of humans and nonhumans alike, and diverse actors in the region respond to these dynamics in varying ways.

Shanghai Waterways
Francesca Tarocco

This presentation will focus on Shanghai and its intimate relationship with water. It will introduce the interdisciplinary Zaanheh Project, that explores the history of Shanghai’s urban ecology in order to reimagine the future city as it adapts to a changing environment in the era of climate change. Zaanheh takes inspiration and guidance from Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York, a groundbreaking, decade-long research project led by Eric Sanderson of the Wildlife Conservation Society. The project uncovered the rich ecological diversity of Manhattan in 1609, just before Henry Hudson first arrived on the island and ushered in massive environmental change. Unlike Mannahatta, however, which focuses on a single point of time, Zaanheh takes a more layered temporal approach. Our project approaches the city as a palimpsest, peeling back time to recover older, and hidden, ecologies. What might we uncover of this delta, with its waterways, rich soil, and long history of agriculture and urban gardens? How might the ideas and practices of cultivation, so critical to the Jiangnan region, open new ways of thinking about nature of the future metropolis?.

Land reclamation along Hong Kong coastline
Alvin Li and Julian Junyuan Feng, curators,

From Japan, Shanghai, and Macau to Singapore and Hong Kong, Alvin Li and Julian Junyuan Feng identify massive defensive geo-engineering projects turning mangrove landscapes into concrete-armored coastlines. Singapore and Hong Kong, to name just two examples, are subsidizing unsustainable expansion and gentrification with hugely speculative land reclamation projects, such as the Lantau economic hub in Hong Kong, earmarked to be completed by 2030. By the same year, the government of Singapore plans to increase the city-state’s land area by another 100 square kilometers, making the island 30 percent larger than its original size. These projects exemplify how much global capitalism and its financial apparatus rely on coastal cities as nexuses of commerce, trade, transportation, and innovation. Alvin Li and Julian Junyuan Feng take as a starting point the visual representation of Hong Kong’s sea-girt environment to dive into the histories of land reclamation and the futures of the city in relation to their upcoming project, “Liquid Grounds”, to open at Para Site later in 2020.

On the cusp of land and water
Jeanne Penjan Lassus, Ocean Fellow

The intervention of artist and researcher Jeanne Penjan Lassus explores the nomenclature of a series of islands, in order to undo what is implied in the very act of naming. Her poetic intervention brings to the surface and gives voice to indigenous languages and names of sites that have long been removed and suppressed through colonial domination. Her intervention is part of a final collective endeavor closing the Ocean Fellowship program, which addresses questions such as “How and why do we name, and learn to name, things, places, bodies of water, and beings in a given way? And in accordance with whose culture, histories, ecologies, and interests are these names naturalized and categories codified? What agencies, affects, and associations does the indelibility of naming and nomenclature give rise to and perpetuate—and which might they otherwise?”

Elisa Giuliano, Ocean Fellow, Performance

The ocean waters which flow between and among  the coasts, islands, and archipelagos of East Asia have  thousands of years of history to share, and they remain  battlegrounds for ancient Imperial claims and contemporary  forms of territorializing. The rising levels and futures of  these wareas. Others are  resisting the extensions of land claims for the growth of  market spaces and associated infrastructures that support  heightened mobilities through port, shipping, and energy  systems. Diverse actors in the region respond  to these dynamics in varying ways. Ocean  Fellows Jeanne Penjan Lassus consider  metabolisms of various scales, across human and  urban patterns of commodification of land, labor, and  heritage; changing forms of work and subsistence, land  dispossessions, and uneven development; and the epistemic  delimitations of finite boundaries between land and water.