Room: Teaching room 1
Format: Standard paper session
Organisers: Alexa D. Spiwak (University of Oslo) – Þóra Pétursdóttir (University of Oslo)
The coupling of heritage landscapes with detrimental designations such as loss, threat and irrevocable change has, regrettably, become a predictable articulation in the Anthropocene era. Melting ice-caps, eroding coastlines and polluted wastelands do indeed appear beyond salvation. Despite our best attempts to shield them from the effects of anthropogenic climate change, heritage landscapes, too, are increasingly becoming places of mourning. Taking this reality seriously, while also understanding that heritage landscapes are beyond our grasp and ultimately impervious to our attempts at management, this session aims to explore possibilities of care in the Anthropocene era. How is it possible to respond to our unpredictable reality, one that is in constant change? How can care for heritage changed or lost move beyond anguish and commemoration? Can loss be re-framed in a more affirmative light? And how can ecologies of care be configured to attend to multi-species relations, becoming more-than-human affairs? With a focus on heritage landscapes (understood in the broadest sense), nature-cultures and natural heritage, we welcome papers that explore these trajectories through case studies and theoretical explorations with reference to heritage management, use and experience.
1. Nature as heritage: on caring in the anthropocene
Author(s): Þóra Pétursdóttir (University of Oslo)
The coupling of heritage landscapes with detrimental designations such as loss, threat and irrevocable change has, regrettably, become a predictable articulation in the Anthropocene era. Melting ice-caps, eroding coastlines and polluted wastelands do indeed appear beyond salvation. Despite our best attempts to shield them from the effects of anthropogenic climate change, heritage landscapes, too, are increasingly becoming places of mourning. Taking this reality seriously, while also understanding that heritage landscapes are beyond our grasp and ultimately impervious to our attempts at management, this session aims to explore possibilities of care in the Anthropocene era. How is it possible to respond to our unpredictable reality, one that is in constant change? How can care for heritage changed or lost move beyond anguish and commemoration? Can loss be re-framed in a more affirmative light? And how can ecologies of care be configured to attend to multi-species relations, becoming more-than-human affairs? This paper will provide an introduction to the session and to the project and project team behind it (www.relicsofnature.com).
2. Care about the future? Exploring semi-natural hay meadows and the role of care in heritage making
Author(s): Ingrid Kvalvik Sørensen (University of Oslo)
As the global climate crisis is escalating, the call for widely applicable initiatives of future- oriented nature preservation becomes ever more salient. But just as important as new solutions As the global climate crisis is escalating, the call for widely applicable initiatives of future- oriented nature preservation becomes ever more salient. But just as important as new solutions to global challenges is knowledge of the practices that have interwoven people and the natural world into the fabric of history, thus bringing about the very ecosystems and nature types that are now on the verge of collapse. One such critically endangered nature type is semi-natural hay meadows — slåttemark —meadows that have co-evolved with humans through particular management regimes. As entangled spaces, hay meadows host webs of relationships between people, plants, animals, environments, and technologies. Yet, how can we understand what binds these worlds together, and makes them fall apart? This talk considers the potentials and limitations of care as a framework in relation to these heritage ecologies. Can care be a generative concept for investigating these relationships in light of, and despite of, irreversible climate change and ecosystem breakdown?
3. Heritage and landscapes of care: looking for positives
Author(s): David C. Harvey (Aarhus University)
Moving beyond perceiving them as mere products or physical artefacts to be ‘preserved’, this paper considers the consequences of thinking processually about both landscapes and heritage. Examining some existential, methodological and intellectual commonalities and trajectories, therefore, I will try to chart a way forward that involves a collaborative conversation between work on heritage and work on landscape. Reflecting on the experience of walking across a small stone bridge that keeps getting washed away, the paper seeks to open up a creative space of heritage landscaping, in which ‘small stories’, haptic experience, ephemerality and movement provide a productive possibility of radical conservation practice. The paper, therefore, raises questions about the work that heritage and landscape does – and can do – specifically in terms of the conceptualisation of temporality, issues of authenticity and the politics of care.
4. A heritagescape in the Appalachians: When a tornado came to Kinzua
Author(s): Katherine Burlingame (University of Oslo)
Deep in the mountains near the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, USA lay the twisted ruins of the Kinzua Bridge, once an important transportation link and landmark for the region’s identity and heritage. Once the bridge fell out of use in the late 1950s, the Kinzua Bridge State Park was created to promote tourism and highlight the region’s identity and heritage. Once the bridge fell out of use in the late 1950s, the Kinzua Bridge State Park was created to promote tourism and highlight the region’s history and exceptional natural landscapes, but tragedy struck in 2003 when a rare tornado tore through the valley and knocked over 11 of the bridge’s 20 towers. A new heritagescape was then created around the ruined bridge with various hiking trails, a visitor center, and a transparent ‘Sky Walk’ out onto the remaining parts of the bridge. Set within a wider discussion of the development of heritagescapes, we position the Kinzua Bridge State Park as a unique example of a landscape transformed by industrial, recreational, and contested heritage use values over time. Given that heritagescapes are intrinsically linked with nature, we also show how natural disasters and climate change can play a significant role in the heritage-making process and that creative adaptations can be viewed as an acceptance and recognition of the natural processes of time while still acknowledging the affective and emotional dimensions embedded in heritagescapes.
5. Radical culture-environment-care
Author(s): Christina Fredengren (Stockholm University) and Andrew Meirion Jones (University of Southampton)
This paper pays attention to a particular term from Swedish heritage management – kulturmiljövård – that is a composite of three terms: culture-environment-care. Kulturmiljövård has increasingly been phased out and replaced with terms such as heritage, conservation, or cultural heritage in many countries. In Sweden also the term kulturvård is used. However, it seems that several aspects have been lost in this shift and we will in this paper draw attention to this and showcase a few examples of how these aspects are entangled in the care for archaeological sites and things. We will also highlight how culture-environment-care can be revitalised by highlighting how it draws on naturecultures, but also could work to entail practices of more-than-human care that reach beyond both value and conservation routines. By considering the impact of traditional ecological knowledge, we argue for a radical culture-environment-care that questions the anthropocentrism in the heritage sector and by altering the relationship to our materialising world, as it is revealed as more alive than we think. This in turn provides other avenues into questions of sustainable development where we link hands with the emergent subject of the environmental humanities.
6. Ruderality and refugia in the ruins: natural-cultural hybridity in post industrial landscapes
Author(s): Alexa D. Spiwak (University of Oslo)
Post-industrial landscapes are places which occupy the murky middle ground between natural and cultural heritage, a line which becomes increasingly blurred by the emergent ecologies and non-human occupants which take up residence in the voids left by extraction. The term “ruderal”, derived from the Latin rudus, meaning rubble or broken stone, is used to describe ecologies which have established themselves within highly disturbed environments. Plants and animals find refuge amongst rust and ruin, an unexpected source of vibrancy in places perceived as wasteland. More than simply the return of nature after industry, their presence in the landscape is intimately tied to and continuously shaped by anthropogenic action. This presentation explores the concepts of ruderality, refugia and heritage hybridity within the conceptual framework of the Anthropocene, an epoch which emphasizes humanity’s inability to emancipate itself from the natural world. In spite of this, UNESCO upholds the divide between nature and culture through the language and policies of its World Heritage Convention. Concepts of heritage conservation and care are similarly divided along the natural/cultural divide. The resulting gap then leaves us to wonder: How do we best care for post-industrial landscapes, in all their messy multispecies complexity? Where do they fit within the rigid frameworks of global heritage policy — do they at all?
7. From the Awareness of Care to the Care of Awareness
Author(s): Zoltan Somhegyi (Károli Gáspár University)
Commemorating disappearing glaciers? Highlighting the sheer size of danger and the proportions of the arriving catastrophes? Documenting the drastic transformation of landscapes? Using materials from threatened places to create works of art? There can be numerous forms of artistic engagement with endangered environments, natural ecologies and cultural landscapes. These different approaches to the complex issues of environmental degradation and loss can encompass activism through means of (public) art, references to and aesthetic elaboration of the ambiguous sublimity of the scale of deterioration, developing projects with personal and poetic reflections in the focus and presenting them as a means to universalise the issue. There are thus numerous ways of aesthetically approaching the issues of the rapidly degrading environments. What is important to highlight however that there is no “hierarchy” of the importance of these creative projects. All have their relevance in drawing attention to threat and loss, in offering perspectives of solutions for possibly reversing tragedies, or, in cases where the situation is irreversible, at least providing solace and consolation. In this way, care can include both care for the place itself, and for those living there, and consider the place as their home or have any forms of attachment to it. This also means that we shall not distinguish between natural and man-made environments, since they can both be subject of destruction. In my paper I argue that art plays an essential role in raising awareness of endangered environments. In these cases, aesthetic aspects are thus strongly connected to ethical perspectives; hence it is not merely a prospect of “aestheticizing” the forms and manifestations of danger, but just as much a way of triggering further action. Care starts with awareness, but then, this awareness also needs constant care. It must actively be maintained in order to have actual solutions – or at least to still have some hope of them.
8. Sheep trick, a schizoanalysis: Desiring-machines at work in the production of “organic knitters” and “earth-friendly yarn”
Author(s): Caroline Owman (Umeå University)
In Sweden alone more than 1000 tons of sheep wool is thrown away every year, but the trend is shifting. Efforts are made to take care of this waste, such as the yarn company Järbo that in December 2020 launched a new product ”Svensk ull” (Swedish wool): ”finally a yarn that takes advantage of the resources of our domestic pastures!”. Other similar projects are Organic knitters that provides ”Luxurious wool yarns in soft merino, environmentally and animal-friendly of course!” and Filtmakeriet that ”are passionate about small-scale production with a strong focus on Swedish sheep wool”. These initiatives are marketed as sustainable and eco-friendly, with an outspoken care for the environment, but the anthropocentric focus in all of them is troublesome. This is what I will problematize in my paper. Schizoanalysis was introduced by the philosopher Gilles Deleuze and the psychoanalysist Félix Guattari. It is part of their rich variety of creative somewhat phantasmagorical concepts that may provoke and ontologigally destabilise the material investigated. The well-intended care for discarded wool either omits or mentions only in passing the real producers and around-the-clock-active workers, i.e the sheep. A vast majority of them are killed for their meat and skin in the process. From a deleuzoguattarian perspective I will look into this care-killing-connection and discuss how business as usual is maintained in the name of sustainability.
9. There is No There There: Ecologies of erasure in rural Denmark
Author(s): Tim Flohr Sørensen (University of Copenhagen)
In this paper, I want to discuss how traces of vanishing affect mnemonic futures. Empirically, the paper focuses on the aftermaths of disappeared houses in a rural part of Denmark marked by depopulation and socio-economic challenges, leading to sweeping demolitions of redundant and vacated homes. I will try to make sense of the meek traces of mundane vanishing of rural architecture as a form of ‘mnemonic debris’, which usually goes unnoticed and uncared for within canonised heritage frameworks. I employ the concept ‘ecologies of erasure’ to describe local practices of remembering and forgetting through ongoing acts of redeploying material and narrative traces of that which is fading away. Here, the ‘ecological’ refers to the formation of mnemonic debris as an interrelationship of organisms and their environments, regardless whether these organisms and environments are human or non-human, ‘cultural’ or ‘natural’, causal or random, and whether they are important or ‘useless’. I will argue that vanishing and forgetting are heritage processes in their own right, where ‘memory’ and ‘knowledge’ are not ‘lost’ per se, but redistributed into unruly constellations of facts, assumptions, ambiguous traces, incomplete archives, fragmentary narratives and memory voids. Altogether, this mnemonic debris constitute blurred visions of what is, in conventional terms, ‘from the past’ and ‘in the present’, ‘heritage’ and ‘waste’, ‘place’ and ‘nowhere’; there and not there.