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Experimental Ecologies 
Sandro Simon (University of Cologne)
Stuart McLean (University of Minnesota)
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Peter Froggatt Centre (PFC), 01/020
Wednesday 27 July, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

We invite participants to bring with them experimental works-in-progress loosely situated in environmental anthropology. These are taken as starting points for a collaborative writing experiment where each participant will speculatively advance a work by another participant.

Long Abstract:

In times of accelerating and intersecting transformations, where lives and ecologies become increasingly indeterminate and uncertain, environmental anthropology must find ways to engage such indeterminacy, without seeking to master it or dispel it. Under such conditions, experimentation becomes an ethnographic imperative rather than an aesthetic indulgence. Experimentations with language and form as engaged creative practices, we propose, can be performative means of both disruption and exploration of alternative ways of collective existence. Working with primary data and/or speculative and fictional text, experimentations are affective, foster interaction and multivocality. They are risky, indeterminate and might fail, yet can also lay open hidden dimensions of ethnographic reality and inform theory building. By 'experimental', we think of ethnographically informed practices of speculative and fictional writing, audio-visual work, collage and re-assemblage, installations and conceptual art, drawing and so forth. With 'ecologies' we aim at fostering a relational space of showcasing and collective envisioning in correspondence with the ecologies we inquire and seek to represent. We therefore contend that experimental ecologies can be most effectively explored in a collective setting, in which individual authorship is opened to the exigencies of dialogic exchange. Participants are invited to informally share works-in-progress with the rest of the group. These will serve as starting points for a collaborative writing experiment. Each participant will speculatively advance a work by another participant. The results will then be shared with, discussed, and collaboratively revised by the group as a whole.

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