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Urban ethnographies in the Anthropocene: a shadowing lab in Westhafen - Berlin 
Elena Bougleux (University of Bergamo)
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Start time:
23 July, 2016 at
Time zone: Europe/Rome
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

The ethnography of Anthropocene is no small challenge. Layers of meanings, imaginaries, sets of data and networks of people are intertwined in complex patterns. The Lab tries to reproduce the simultaneous investigations constituting the anthropocenic view of the urban area of Berlin-Westhafen.

Long Abstract:

The area of Berlin-Wasthafen is a city port, a former industrial area facing the canals system surrounded by warehouses and cranes [A]. The port, scarcely used for its purposes of water connecting hub during the decades of Berlin's partition, has recently known a new life: the emergencies connected to climate change have triggered a return of interest in the water communication system [B], more sustainable for moving goods than roads or rail - though there is no general agreement on this.

The train station by the port area has in the meantime been transformed into a self organized cultural hub, dedicated at developing artistic views and ideas on urban planning that pursue the path of sustainability, in close connections with the local population, mainly composed by immigrant communities [C]. The entire area has been thoroughly described in an open access Environmental Atlas, sets of interactive maps on water diffusion, usage and waste, spanning over the last two decades [D]. The post-industrial infrastructures and warehouses of Westhafen have been partially renovated, partially conceded as archive spaces to the children section of the Berlin's Staastsbibliotek [E]. The [A]-[E] layers are recursively transforming and shaping each other. The Shadow is the idea connecting the different research layers: shadow of a port, of a station, shadows of migrating identities, shadows of industrial productivity, shifting from one layer to another. The simultaneous representations of the visual, audio, and material layers of the research allow the reconstruction of these mutual ongoing interactions ad meaning's recombination.

Participants are strongly encouraged to use their own personal experience, visions, previous researches, images and multimedia materials, to answer to the questions proposed for the Teamwork. Participants interested in the Lab (max 30) are kindly asked to register, sending

an email to specifying “Lab EASA” in the Object, before July 1st-


Intro - 20’ + 10’

Participants to the Lab are introduced to the keys aspects (“layers”) of the area of Berlin- Westhafen. Participants are divided in groups (max 6 participants in each group).

Each group is assigned a layer to focus on and to develop, corresponding to a key aspect introduced in the abstract, [A]-[E].

Teamwork - 40’

Groups work separately on (some of) the following questions:

- What is the relevance of this layer for the definition of the Anthropocene ?

- What is your background experience on this aspect/layer (if any)?

- How would you develop a research on this key aspect?

- How would you represent your outcomes ?

- Which connections do you expect your layer has with the others?

- How does this layer contribute to the idea of Anthropocene in an urban context?

Output Production - 20’ + 10’

Groups assemble a synthesis of their discussion on the layer: sketches, photos, videos

(max 2’). A collective max 10’ production (video or ppt) on Anthropocenic view on the city port is finally produced.