Accepted Paper:

Mis/understandings, incertitude, and their potentials. Anthropology within a multidisciplinary research endeavour on climate change in the River Po Basin (Italy)   


Mauro Van Aken (University of Milan-Bicocca)

Paper short abstract:

Through the experience of a multidisciplinary project involving anthropology on environmental change “The future that has already taken place”, focused on the climate system in the Po river basin (Italy), we will highlights the potentials of main mis/understanding and common questioning at work.

Paper long abstract:

The multidisciplinary project "The future that has already taken place", focused on the climate system changes in the Po river basin in the course of last century (Italy), has put together disciplines, which have seldom spoken and worked together: geophysicists, geologists, hydrologists, institutions of the applied world (the Authority of the Po riven basin management) and anthropologists and other researchers in social and human sciences, coordinated by a non-university institutions, the Museum of Science of Technology "Leonardo da Vinci" of Milan. Five spheres are thus put to work together: hydrosphere, atmosphere, geosphere, biosphere and "anthroposphere", this last coordinated by an anthropologist.

The focus will be not on the denial of the mis/understanding at work, but on the emphasis of relatedness and interdependence within the socio-ecological system of the basin: we will highlight thus the common questions that develop from these mis/understandings, the process of incertitude more than disciplinary certitude, of failures in communication and of joint desire in common questions of research and sustainable futures.

Same main issues at stake in the encounter with anthropology will be developed: the relevance and meaning of "data" in history (between hydrometric measurements or ideas of "nature"); the relations between global and local dynamics; the nature/culture dichotomy in the production of knowledge; the meanings and role of "culture".

These are analysed into the wider politics of knowledge in neolibelar setting, where out of rhetoric and in practice, interdisciplinary work is not evaluated as "productive" and sterile disciplinary confinement is just increasing.

Panel P112
Interdisciplinary research and nature-society interactions