Vunidogoloa: What Can We Learn from Climate Change Relocation?

by Giulia Borsa, Researcher

We are the victims of a planet that is warming and ice caps that are melting, pushing sea levels higher and swamping the land that we have traditionally occupied. 

Commodore J.V. Bainimarama (Prime Minister of Fiji)

Because of climate change, many people around the world face serious consequences, including the threat of losing their homes. One of the most serious inhabited areas now under threat is the nation of Fiji. By discussing the case of the Fijian village Vunidogoloa, we can  see the tangible effects  now facing thousands of communities that are being displaced worldwide as a result of our burning planet. In addition, we can learn about the current best practices of community-based relocation.

The story of climate change, though widespread, is not common, and, in many ways, must still be told. The gases in the earth’s atmosphere regulate our climate. Nevertheless, the vast majority of global transportation systems and industries rely on burning fossil fuels which increases the proportion of some gases in the atmosphere.  For instance, agriculture and meat industries release high levels of carbon dioxide and methane. These gases are responsible for trapping ongoing longwave radiation in the climate system. Through such artificial augmentation (by human activity), the natural greenhouse effect becomes stronger and the earth warms. As a result, forests and oceans that have acted as “sinks,” absorbing part of the emissions of greenhouse gases have become “full.” Their capacity to absorb industrial emissions has failed due to various effects such as acidification, warming and pollution. Consequently, climate change now leads to a global warming of the layers of earth, oceans, a change in precipitation patterns, the melting of glaciers, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and frequency of extreme weather, namely storms and heat waves.

One of the locations most impacted by this changing climate are small islands. Regardless of their location, small islands are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Due to their limited size, their natural and socio-political resilience to weather natural hazards and external shocks is much lower than other countries, exposing them to greater risks.

Leaving Vunidogoloa

In the case of Fiji, the country is witnessing the worst impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, warmer temperatures, ocean acidification and intensified ‘El Niño’ patterns (interaction of the oceans and atmosphere modifying temperatures). This intensification of weather events due to climate change implies higher risks of drought and floods, endangering drinking water resources. Indeed, due to coastal floods, the incoming saltwater has destroyed crops, augmented water- and food-borne diseases and endangered the nation’s coral reefs. Such an impact on the ecology of the islands and health of its people is further exacerbated by extreme weather events, such as tropical cyclones and heat waves, that have caused injuries and illness namely vector- and water-borne diseases as well as augmented the risk of malaria and dengue fever.

Vunidogoloa was the first Fijian village to experience the impacts of climate change. Located on the island of Vanua Levu, the village was composed of 26 houses in which 32 families lived. Starting as early as 2006, floods and erosion caused by both sea-level rise and increased rains, started to become stronger, reaching homes and destroying crops. The situation was getting worse every day, with water coming in and taking the land away progressively. The mangroves that used to cover the whole coast were absorbed by the sea. Some houses were, in the words of the headman of Vunidogoloa, “like ships in the water.” The community feared for their children, suffered from agony and experienced the worst consequences on their land: crops destroyed, scarcity of drinking water resources, fewer yields from fishing and endangered access to roads. It ceased to be the idyllic spot it used to be decades before.

In order to manage the risks and impacts of climate change, the village undertook several adaptation action programs. Several of the homes most affected early on were moved using Vunidogoloa’s own resources. They also petitioned the Japanese government, who funded the construction of a seawall to protect from sea-level rise and inundations. However, this ended up being more harmful afterwards. Water that breached the seawall could not flow back unobstructed to the sea; the seawall actually exacerbated flooding.

Broken seawall. Tronquet, Clothilde, From Vunidogoloa to Kenani: An Insight into Successful Relocation, found in The State of Environmental Migration.

Progressively, the severity of floods and erosion made relocation the only hope for the citizens of Vunidogoloa. Considered a last resort, relocating the village seemed their only remaining hope. Hence, the villagers asked the help of their government in 2006. Unfortunately, steps towards a relocation plan were not taken until 2012, when the National Summit for Building Resilience to Climate Change was held. From the beginning, the relocation process was driven by equality concerns and based on consultation, consensus and participative decision-making process. As a result, 30 identical houses were built in accordance with the villagers’ choices, which treated all residents equally. Counting with the works of qualified volunteers provided by ILO (Edwards, 2012), the own villagers and unemployed people, a more sustainable concept of residences was promoted. This included the insertion of solar panels and natural system of draining water. In 2014, the relocation process started, transferring the villagers from the coast to a nearby location (also in Cakaudrove Province) further inland and at higher altitude. The residents named their new home, Kenani, from the biblical word Canaan, meaning promised land.

Satellite view of Vunidogoloa and Kenani. Tronquet, Clothilde, From Vunidogoloa to Kenani: An Insight into Successful Relocation, found in The State of Environmental Migration.
Houses under construction in August 2013. Tronquet, Clothilde, From Vunidogoloa to Kenani: An Insight into Successful Relocation, found in The State of Environmental Migration.

Adapting to Kenani

But the move to the promised land is not all honey and locusts. Relocation is difficult, with significant economic, social and psychological impacts on those making this journey. For instance, relocating a village is expensive. In the case of Vunilodogoa, the move cost a total of 980,000 USD. The Fijian government paid approx. 740,000 USD, and the community paid out approx. 240,000 USD in the value of the logs used to construct the new houses and taken from Vunidogoloa. For the villagers, relocation was also described as “the saddest event of their lives.” Fijians consider their land as part of their identity, as something belonging to their ancestors and in need of care to ensure its prosperity as a dwelling space for future generations. To lose it constitutes a physical, emotional, and psychological ordeal. Leaving the village led the villagers to make the traumatic decision to exhume the remains of their ancestors. Luckily,  the local church provided the transfer of the burial site. Now, the cemetery is closer and more convenient according to one elder villager.

In addition, resident diets and food practices changed with the move. They started planting bananas and pineapples tops provided by International Labour Organization. Additionally, as direct fishing from the ocean was no longer feasible, a shift to fish ponds was made, with the contribution of the Ministry of Fisheries who provided the fish and prawns. In addition, the relocation project aimed to “improve” the lifestyle of the villagers, providing them with separated kitchens, bathrooms and individual taps for washing. Likewise, access to the hospital is not any longer a challenge thanks to the village’s proximity to the main road.

Such changes affected, in particular, women, the elderly, and children. Regarding women, moving impacted them negatively at the outset. Whereas they used to fish daily in Vunidogoloa, men used to work in the farms. However, in Kenani, the sea is not nearby the village, which means that going fishing would involve an extended period of time.  Thus, their husbands—decision-makers in their patriarchal society—would not allow them to go fishing but rather focus on household labor. This made women more dependent on their husbands to subsist in an early stage. However, as fish farms started to be installed, women were able to resume fishing activities. Moreover, having individual taps for washing allowed women to spend less time waiting at the community tap and socialize with other women or recreational activities such as mat weaving. Likewise, many rural women received empowerment training in solar engineering provided by a female villager who completed a UN Women-funded programme on solar engineering. For the elderly, the new location reduced their movement due to its higher position and terrain. Their social daily activities, walking, going to the church, or visiting relatives, were reduced. Children are now able to attend school daily, as they no longer have to cross a tidal river (dangerous under bad weather conditions) and can use the local bus to get to school instead.

Final Thoughts

In the National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) approved in 2012 by the Fijian Government, the report mentions a need for post-relocation monitoring and consultation to identify any long-term issues for relocated or host communities. In an interview, the climate change unit of the ministry of foreign affairs and international co-operation responded that this was to ensure the sustainability of the relocation process for the affected community. However, it remains unclear the consideration of the psychological or social impacts of relocation in such a monitoring program.

Nevertheless, in many respects, relocation has been a temporary lifesaver for this community that—although having contributed very little to climate change—has been severely affected by it. As noted earlier, this process involves losses and damages; yet, overall, the sources I’ve analyzed outline its success. Some former villagers of Vunigodoloa have even defined their lives as “easier” than before. It seems that women were impacted mostly at the beginning of the relocation process. Still, in a source from 2017, the situation of the elderly did not seem to be improved. Hopefully, we all can learn from Vunidogoloa a lesson of endurance. Moreover, may it serve as a call for action to industrialized countries and future decision-makers the timeliness and urgency for addressing the loss, damage and traumas that come as a result from relocating due to climate change. 

Further materials

  • Books
    • Charan, D;  Kaur, M; Singh, P, “Customary Land and Climate Change Induced Relocation—A Case Study of Vunidogoloa Village, Vanua Levu, Fiji” in Leal, W, “Climate Change Adaptation in Pacific Countries” [2017].

Author Bio:

Giulia Borsa is an International Human Rights jurist. Giulia has been working as a postgraduate researcher for the past two years, and this blog entry is the outcome of her collaboration with the project CLISEL – a Coordination and support action of Horizon 2020. She was one of the participant to the Environmental Humanities Training School that the KTH EHL, organised in Naples in December 2018 on “Loss, Damage, and Mobility in the context of Climate Change.” She holds a bachelor’s degree in law from the University Autonoma of Barcelona and an LLM in International Human Rights Law from Oxford Brookes, with a dissertation written on climate change related displacement. She has also been coordinating the division on Climate Change and Human Rights of the International Organization for Least Developed Countries (IOLDCs) in Geneva, and she is currently working at Ecovadis. She has won several awards, including the Ideas that Change the World Competition in Oxford in 2018.

Undisciplining Political Ecology: A Minifesto*

By Marco Armiero, Stefania Barca and Irina Velicu.

A reflection on the concept that gave the name to this platform, with an invitation to unlearn the disciplinary boundaries of academia and engage in more personal reflections and actions to connect our various struggles, “to build collectives of care rather than mere departments”, and “to investigate ourselves as researchers.” 

A couple years ago, one of us was teaching a graduate course in Political Ecology and gave students papers to comment on. One of the papers, from a feminist scholar, had a very personal approach. The students’ reaction was very interesting: they were totally sympathetic but did not know what to do with that paper, how to report on it, what points to take home from it. This story suggests that scholars are so used to the academic writing style with all its rules that we have lost our ability to relate to and build upon something that does not obey those rules of disciplinary academia. It seems that we are not able to learn from something which does not fit into the template through which we produce and transmit knowledge.

This awareness caused us some sense of trouble. It is a well-known fact that Political Ecology (PE) originated outside academia, as a militant form of knowledge, with the aim to change the world rather than just understand it; an aim that has persisted over the years and can still be found in most PE academic writing. And yet, we found ourselves uneasy with the contradictions that we experience in practicing PE. Having managed to enter the academic fortress, we can now propose unconventional readings, and nonetheless, there is some dissatisfaction in this accomplishment, the feeling that we did not take the Winter Palace of academia, after all, and perhaps it is the Winter Palace that has taken us. Perhaps, we thought, in the process of entering academia, Political Ecology has tried too much to ‘validate’ itself as a discipline (practicing multi-, inter- and even trans-disciplinarity) rather than discrediting the idea of ‘discipline’ itself.

We initiated to reflect about discipline and indiscipline in PE building upon the galvanizing experience we had shared – together with a larger group of like-minded colleagues and friends in the European Network of Political Ecology (ENTITLE) project – in organizing the Undisciplined Environments conference (Stockholm 2016), and by the enthusiastic response that our call had received. That experience pushed us to take undisciplinarity seriously as a tool for practicing Political Ecology. Once starting to open the black box of undisciplinarity, however, we soon found ourselves overwhelmed by a number of questions: what are the risks of such style, and is it even just that? What to do with data, or evidence of any sort? Are ‘misinterpretation’ or ‘validation’ possible, or even important in an undisciplined approach? Where does the meaning of the personal/emotional lie? Does undisciplining feel like ‘liberation’ or does it urge for ‘freedom’? Does it have a programme or purpose, or is it merely a subversive critique? Are we talking about different methodologies, different theories, or different stories? Is undisciplinarity something you are or something you do? How can we not conflate it with creativity/innovation?

We are still in a quest for understanding what an undisciplined article should look like. We feel all the irony and perhaps the inconsistency of disciplining our quest for undisciplinarity. More than simply writing differently in academia, we are interested in how to escape an academic canon that feels at least boring if not oppressive. Instead of looking for undisciplined ‘models’ –i.e. trying to disciplining undiscipline–, we stay faithful to May 1968 as a democratic collective subversion of orthodox authorities, ideological, scientific or partisan. We have indications that there are various ways to do so. Concepts such as ‘narrative’ or ‘cognitive’ justice would not have emerged if it wasn’t for certain minds to release themselves from certain canons and to think/invent new theories that speak to their new encounters with different realities, often expressed by un-recognized ‘authorities’ in testimonies, biographies and other self-ethnographic exercises.

In our understanding and experience of undisciplinarity, the personal has been crucial. Building upon feminist practice and theory, we believe that there can be no liberation without starting from the self, acknowledging our own positionality, and work to free our minds. We realize that in the process of becoming ‘academics’, we, as persons, are often lost. This text thus represents a call for scholars to connect their own struggles with broader struggles, to build collectives of care rather than mere departments, to investigate ourselves as researchers.

We offer here a list of thoughts that came to mind while trying to think of what undisciplined might mean in practice. They are not organized in a theoretical argument of some sort, but simply fleshed out and exposed as ‘food for thought’ in a metaphorical convivial gathering of people who share concerns with the need for undisciplining academia.

Undisciplinarity is not primarily or necessarily a rational choice, it comes from your personal story, from conditions not of your own making. At the same time, undisciplining ourselves is an existential choice. It means to interrogate what the disciplined self does to our relations to others, to the world, to what we study. And it means undoing it.

  1. To be undisciplined requires (self) training because we are trained to be disciplined. It is not a matter of doing something different. It implies to question our identities.
  2. The personal is always gendered, could not be otherwise: gender is involved in all we do and are as social beings, even when we naturalize it. It may seem trivial, but this still forms the basis of undisciplining academia.
  3. To be undisciplined has something to do with being opened or exposed; one cannot be undisciplined without risking to be off guard. In a way, the primary way to be undisciplined is to be naked, metaphorically, without the usual academic protections.
  4. Being undisciplined does not require you to get expelled from academia. Camouflage can also be a form of undiscipline. Navigate the disciplinary canon in order to sabotage it can be as efficient as openly rejecting it.
  5. Undiscipline can be an esthetic choice, it can be a divertissement or an academic experimentation. Our proposal is to build a politically committed undiscipline, one which rejects the disciplinary code because incompatible with a revolutionary agenda aiming to produce new socio-ecological relations.
  6. Undiscipline is an individual choice but with a strong empathic component. A truly undisciplined scholar supports every colleague who is struggling to free themselves. The short-term aim is to form autonomous undisciplined academic communities, connected with each other. The long-term aim is to free academia from oppressive practices.
  7. Undiscipline cannot become a new discipline. The experience of environmental history and political ecology demonstrate that also a potentially undisciplined field can easily establish its own canon.
  8. Being undisciplined includes in itself a move towards disobedience. One must transgress somehow in order to be undisciplined.
  9. Being undisciplined implies having fun.
  10. Being undisciplined is a process of liberation, not a line to include in your CV. One will never be completely undisciplined and will continue to navigate between the canon and the autonomous zone, exchanging also with the disciplined academic system and with the disciplined self.

We feel that being undisciplined in academia could be part of a wider societal purpose of radicalizing and transforming our way of thinking politically about the socio-ecological conditions of human and non-human existence. There can be many forms of un-disciplining scholarship, ways of practicing it that challenge the oppressive disciplinarity of neoliberal academia. Could these different praxes come together as part of a wider Undisciplined Zone of Academia (UZA), like a Zapatista experiment?

Marco Armiero is an environmental historian and political ecologist. His main topics of study have been environmental conflicts, uses of natural resources, politicization of nature and landscape, and the environmental effects of mass migrations. He is the director of the KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm.

Stefania Barca is a senior researcher at the Center for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra, where she teaches a graduate course in Political Ecology and coordinates the Oficina de Ecologia e Sociedade. She has been a founding member of the Entitle network and collective, and was programme chair of the  2016 Undisciplined Environments conference .

Irina Velicu is a political scientist working on socio-environmental conflicts in post-communist countries at the Center for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal. Her recent publications can be found in journals such as Theory, Culture and Society, Environmental Politics, Ecological Economics, Geoforum, New Political Science, and Globalizations. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Hawaii (USA)

*Mirrored at Undisciplined Environments

The Creep and Leap of Knowledge: On “source criticism” and “semilingualism” as impactful ideas of the human sciences

by Linus Salö and Fredrik Bertilsson

In the not-so-distant future, people in the rich parts of the world will see driverless cars, ‘smart houses’ controlled through 5G applications, and other new inventions, as part of their every-day lives. It will be evident that quite a bit of knowledge has gone into their development. Indeed, many things that surround us are the products of science and technological innovation, which is to say that the products of knowledge-making institutions matter – they have, as it were, an impact.

We also surround ourselves with a multitude of less “thingy” products of insistent research and knowledge production. These constitute products that we often cannot see, touch, smell or use instrumentally, and we often take their existence for granted. But they matter too, and profoundly so. We think of mundane words and concepts that help us make sense of ourselves and the world in which we live. We think of basic societal values, ideas, and ideals that shape how people act, societies work, and political decisions are made. We think of school subjects in the curriculum, social security systems or gender equality policies. Such intangible things are also products of systematic knowledge production, which have made their way into the world through slow, complex processes of knowledge uptake. They are social, conceptual or cultural innovations, and they have a profound impact on how we live our lives.

It is becoming increasingly common to re-think the impact of academic knowledge production in this vein. This is good, we think, not least because new modes of thinking do better justice to the knowledge produced by the human sciences. One part of such an agenda is to find new and better ways of thinking about the ways, modes and time-frames in which knowledge moves, and to become more receptive to the various effects such knowledge might yield. Our colleagues at Humanomics Research Centre at Aalborg University, for instance, frame such movement in terms of “the creep of knowledge,” and have developed quite sophisticated ways of measuring and visualizing the often slow but far-reaching significance of the human sciences.

Set against this backdrop, this blog entry exemplifies two of the manifold cases where ideas developed in the human sciences have crept, but also leapt, into other societal spheres, where they have produced unexpected transformations. These are “source criticism” and “semilingualism” – two knowledge objects which have shaped the social world through their conceptual travels.

Source criticism

Source criticism refers to a scientific method for assessing sources of information. It was originally developed by historians during the nineteenth and twentieth century for distinguishing reliable sources from (e.g.) myths or propaganda. It has had a huge impact on historical research. There have been many revisions of source criticism, but it has remained an important methodological tool of Scandinavian historical scholarship over the twentieth century. It has also been taken up and developed in other domains of research and knowledge production, perhaps most notably in journalism.

Source criticism has also been a natural part of the Swedish psychological defence that developed after the Second World War, concerned with, for instance, protecting the population from propaganda and psychological warfare. It was essential that the population critically assessed information they received. This has become especially acute in relation to the major changes of the media landscape over the last decades, and not least through the broad public use of the internet since the 1990s. The National Board of Psychological Defence (Styrelsen för psykologiskt försvar, SPF) explicitly stressed how the principles of source criticism was essential to everyone using the internet for seeking information and knowledge.

Currently, the significance of source criticism is emphasised in relation to the potential influence of disinformation and deception campaigns on the political development. The Swedish Contingency Agency (Myndigheten för samhällsskydd och beredskap, MSB) underscores how a psychological defence is crucial for the protection of the democratic society and informed decision-making. In turn, it states that psychological defense depends on the capacity of the population of being critical of sources of information and its ability to judge whether information is credible or not. In a similar fashion, the Swedish Armed Forces emphasises that it is “part of everyone’s responsibility for the total defence … to learn more about source criticism, to be vigilant, and seek facts from several credible sources.” The significance of source criticism is also emphasised in the broad efforts of the Swedish government to promote and defend democracy as well as in the national strategy for information and cyber security. In addition, source criticism is part of the teaching on essentially all levels of education. Thus, from the pursuit of advancing the science of history in the nineteenth century, source criticism has now become a crucial tool in safeguarding fundamental democratic principles in the light of present and future challenges.


Developed in the 1960s, semilingualism refers to an assumed form of failed bilingualism, a case of incomplete language learning. The concept implies that an individual does not master any language entirely, but speaks two “half languages.” Among linguists, the concept is nowadays rejected as being morally and scientifically obsolete. In fact, using it exposes the user’s lack of up-to-date knowledge in linguistics. Interestingly, some contemporary linguists seemingly feel ashamed that their field was responsible for producing a concept this flawed. What such linguists have yet to realise, however, is the “appealing” effects that this “appalling” idea had on the introduction of Swedish policies for linguistic minorities in the 1970s.

Insofar as semilingualism has an inventor, it was the Swedish linguist Nils Erik Hansegård. In the 1950s, he moved to Kiruna in the far north where he worked as a teacher. In this part of historically multilingual Sweden, Tornedalen, the state had for decades imposed a hardline Swedification policy, for example though Swedish-only school instruction. Hansegård was critical of this policy-line and started propagating in favour of allowing additional Finnish-medium instruction in the school system. In the 1960s, Hansegård also embarked on an academic career and sought to use his scientific authority and knowledgeability in the local print-press debates that his stances spurred. The idea of semilingualism was a case in point, construed by Hansegård by weaving an intellectual fabric with multiple threads: German cultural linguistics and psychology of language, North American bilingualism studies, structural linguistics, and input from bilingual education practices in Europe. The result was a concept that appeared well-anchored in research.

In the 1970s, semilingualism became a buzzword also in national media as well as in national politics. The fact that it went viral cannot be explained only with reference to its perceived scientific qualities. Rather, the early 1970s was characterised by a particular climate of opinion. The Swedish administration was busy finding viable solutions in immigration-related policy areas. It sought after actionable knowledge. A central concern here was educational language provisions for immigrants and their children. Here, semilingualism came to be readily used as a warning flag: if children are not offered instruction in and about their mother tongue, Sweden would foster generations of linguistically impaired – semilingual – immigrant children. This was a much-unwanted scenario, and through commission work mother tongue instruction (or home language instruction) became a reality. This policy has now been in place for more than 40 years. Over time, the impact that semilingualism had on its introduction has gradually bleached.

Two highly impactful ideas

We have here outlined two highly impactful ideas which originally came into being in the academic world but subsequently traveled into new regions of the social world. While they differ in some ways, as impact stories they share a number of traits. Source criticism arose in the scientific field of history. In due time, it travelled into other societal realms: journalism, the educational system and even the national security apparatus. Semilingualism emerged out of the language sciences, more particularly, early bilingualism research. It later traveled into state politics, where it shoehorned the school subject mother tongue instruction into the curriculum. Gradually, and often discreetly, they have thus impacted the management of major societal areas sometimes far beyond their academic origins. This sort of impactful movement, we think, is neatly captured by the concept of “the creep of knowledge,” which pinpoints the slow and continuous character of knowledge movement. However, both cases also illustrate that knowledge does not only creep. It also leaps. Such leaps are manifested in historical moments where the slow pace of knowledge movement is promptly accelerated in ways which enables it to cross over and move into new and perhaps unexpected regions of the social world. The impact of the human sciences seems to require such leaps, and the leaps seem to invariably depend upon broader social, political and cultural developments which pave the way for their successful travels.

Note: For those who are interested, take a look at this study that focuses on semilingualism, co-authored with David Karlander. 

Report: Dying at the Margins Workshop

by Jesse D. Peterson and Natashe Demos-Lekker

On September 26-27, the Environmental Humanities Laboratory—along with the Division of History of Science, Technology, and Environment at KTH Royal Institute of Technology—hosted the Dying at the Margins Workshop. Put together by PhD students Jesse D. Peterson (KTH) and Natashe Lemos Dekker (University of Amsterdam), this workshop brought together scholars at various stages of their career and from various backgrounds and disciplines to discuss how contemporary perspectives in environmental humanities and the medical humanities might further research on how dying “bodies”—animal (including human), plant, thing, place—challenge natural, normative, and notions of a “good” death. The workshop had two keynote presentations, along with discussions of participant papers and a creative embroidery workshop.

Professor Philip R. Olson presents on human composting

On the first day, Dr. Philip R. Olson (Virginia Tech) presented his work on bodily disposition. Beginning with Roy Scranton’s premise in Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene, he posed the question as to how might the demise of culture impact body care? If the Anthropocene is largely a problem of scale, what challenges and opportunities will face the disposition of human bodies now and into the future? Looking specifically into the practice of “natural organic reduction” (essentially composting human bodies) alongside other disposition technologies—such as alkaline hydrolosis, burial pods, green burial, submersible reef balls, and promession—Olson articulated how these alternative forms of disposition claim to be more environmentally friendly than burial or cremation as well as gentle forms of body recycling. Yet, as he pointed out, individualist norms “die hard,” that is, although a stunning array of new technologies have challenged the social and cultural norms of disposing of a corpse, many end users don’t want to see their loved ones transformed by some kinds of ecological relationships or contaminated by the technologies that process multiple bodies. For instance, what critters and creatures are allowed access to corpses or how do people negotiate the possibility for bodies to be passive rather than active forms of nourishment? As a conclusion, Olson suggested that these issues lead us to consider what kind of species ought we to be, asking us what are the moral virtues to be cultivated and moral vices to shun. He argued that humans not only need a species centered history but a species focused virtue ethics.

The second day, Dr. Marietta Radomska (University of Helsinki and Linköping University)  spoke to us about the need for “queering” death studies. Responding to calls in queer theory and posthumanism that challenge normative conceptions of the human subject, a queer death studies ought to help reconfigure notions of death and practices related to it that have relied upon such conceptions. In other words, by challenging basic assumptions about dying and death, queering death can lead to producing alternative imaginaries about dying, death, and the dead beyond gender and sexuality. It also provides the means for moving away from “normative ontologies”

Marietta Radomska presents Queer Death Studies

Participants were also treated to an embroidery workshop led by Karina Jarrett (Broderiakademi), who stitched together ways in which fine arts feature in memorial, memory, and creative response to loss and grief. Having been working with residents of Malmberget, a town in northern Sweden currently being dismantled and “moved” to allow for the expansion of the local mine (LKAB malmberget), Jarrett curated a personal exhibition and provided the participants with time to express themselves by embroidering a friendship card. The experience highlighted how there is still very much to be done when facing loss even when there feels like there is nothing left that one can do.

Workshop participants practice their stitching.

Thanks to all the participants for their attendance, energy, and enthusiasm.

Crosscuts Film Festival: In-vision Environmental Humanities

by Sofia Jonsson, festivalgeneral

Den 22-24 november är det dags för Crosscuts att inta Bio Rio i Stockholm igen.

Crosscuts är Stockholms första miljöhumanistiska festival för text och film. Temat för i år är Ruptured Times/Brytpunkter. Genom ​dokumentärfilmer, poesiuppläsning och samtal mellan ledande forskare, filmare och aktivister utforskar vi den brytpunkt där vi befinner oss nu, i en tid av politisk ovisshet, globalisering och klimatkriser.

I programmet har vi Saskia Sassen, sociolog och professor vid Columbia University, speciellt inbjuden som hedersgäst för att presentera Fredrik Gertténs omtalade dokumentär Push, där hon även själv medverkar. I en efterföljande panel samtalar Saskia tillsammans med Erik Stenberg, arkitekt och lektor KTH och Marco Armiero, lektor och miljöhistoriker KTH om städers gentrifiering och konsekvenserna av detta. Samtalet modereras av Miyase Christensen, professor i media och kommunikation vid Stockholms universitet.

Under söndagen har vi äran att presentera en masterclass i filmskapande med vår andra hedersgäst: författaren och filmskaparen Trinh T. Minh-Ha. Efter masterclassen följer en visning av Minh-has uppmärksammade essäfilm Forgetting Vietnam. Filmen visas tillsammans med ett samtal mellan Minh-ha, Athena Farrokhzad, poet, författare och litteraturkritiker samt Jennifer Hayashida, poet, översättare och artist. Vi bjuder även på poesiuppläsning med Athena och Jennifer.

I programmet finns flera Sverige-premiärer, däribland Grit som visar situationen för lokalbefolkningen i olika byar i Indonesien efter ett jordskalv som begravt stora områden i lera. I dokumentärer får vi följa kampen mellan den drabbade befolkningen och det multinationella företag som kan ha orsakat skalvet med sina borrningar efter naturgas.

Under lördagen visar vi den första dokumentärfilmen som gjorts om den kanske mest inflytelserika, just nu levande, franska filosofen Alain Badoiu. Badiou har gett sig på allt från radikal politik till kärlek och antik filosofi i sina böcker. I filmen talar han själv om sitt liv, sina tankar och sitt verk. Efter visningen följer ett samtal mellan regissören Rohan Kalyan och filosofen Ashley Bohrer, verksam vid University of Notre Dame i USA. Samtalet hålls på engelska.

Festivalen avslutas med premiären av Look Away, en dokumentär med avstamp i Calais där vi får följa och ta del av den verklighet som många människor på flykt upplever. Efter filmen följer ett samtal mellan Roberta Biasillo, forskare på KTH och Fabio Gianfrancesco, flyktingaktivist och kapten på en av de båtar som räddar flyende människor på Medelhavet och Shahram Khosravi professor vid Socialantropologiska Intitutionen på Stockholm Universitetet.

Nytt för i år är sektionen Annals of Crosscuts – en filmgranskningsprocess där dokumentärfilmare från hela världen har skickat in bidrag på temat Ruptured times. En panel av granskare från film-, konst- och forskarvärlden har gjort ett urval av filmer och under festivaldagarna blir det världspremiär för dem. I panelen finns bland annat Kalle Boman, Forum för Visuell Praktik, Issraa El-Kogali, kreatör och filmskapare samt Jan Olsson, professor emeritus i filmvetenskap vid Stockholms universitet.

Varmt välkomna till en helg fylld av spännande dokumentärfilmer och samtal!

Fullt program finns på och ​
Crosscuts på Facebook:
Bio Rio på Facebook:

Crosscuts är en internationell festival för film, konst och forskning inom miljöhumaniora. Varje film visas tillsammans med ett samtal med speciellt inbjudna gäster. Festivalen organiseras i år av KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory (EHL) i samarbete med den ledande forskningsmiljön vid JMK, Institutionen för mediestudier, Stockholms Universitet och Bio Rio. Crosscuts arrangerades första gången 2018.

Forskningsmiljön vid JMK:

Sagt om Crosscuts:
This Stockholm Environmental Humanities Festival for Film and Text that was held for the first time in the fall of 2018, was an extremely successful and important event for both academic community and the general public. Madina Tlostanova, professor i postcolonial feminism, Linköpings Universitet. Paneldeltagare under Crosscuts 2018.

Vi är väldigt glada och stolta över att få vara samarbetspartner med Crosscuts och att dessa viktiga filmer och samtal kommer att äga rum på vår biograf. Vi befinner oss i en brytpunkt vad gäller klimatet och Bio Rio vill vara med och skapa den förändring som krävs vad gäller vår miljöpåverkan. Jocke Kellekompu, VD Bio Rio

Sofia Jonsson, festivalgeneral, 0739-108787,
Jacob von Heland, programansvarig samt chefredaktör för Annals och kontaktperson för Trinh T. Minh-ha, 070-727 24 87,
Miyase Christensen, programplanering, ansvarig Stockholms Universitet och kontaktperson för Saskia Sassen, 070-389 20 07,

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