This is just my luck: I am writing/researching for an article on the Anthropocene that looks at the work of the Négritude movement, and – bang! – two conferences, one on each of the topics, arrive at once, unfortunately on the same day! Incidentally, they also share the same (affordable!) price tag… While I sort out my dilemma, here are the invitations for both conferences, in case some of you would like to go as well!
Conference 1, entitled ‘Society in the Anthropocene’, is taking place at the University of Bristol on 24 and 25 June 2013.
The draft programme can be downloaded here.
Conference 2, is taking place at the Institut Français on 24 June 2013 and focuses on the poet Aimé Césaire (1913-2008). I will post a flyer and more details as soon as they become available. Here is the info I gathered so far, thanks to Ben Pritchett, who kindly forwarded the conference call to me!
Aimé Césaire: A Centenary Celebration
24 June 2013
Institut Français/French Institute,
17 Queensberry Place,
“Aimé Césaire, the great poet, politician and playwright, was born in Martinique on 26th June, 1913. He has been hailed as the leading francophone poet of the twentieth century and one of the prophets of negritude – the 1930s black consciousness movement whose steadfast aim was to ‘decolonise the mind’ and reassert pride in the African cultural values of the diaspora.
Césaire, who died in 2008, was an intellectual of great discernment and eloquence; an artist of the avant-garde who championed non-Western cultural forms. His influence upon post-colonial discourse is abiding.
An international and inter-disciplinary colloquium on Monday 24th June (9.30am-6pm) will honour and explore Aimé Césaire’s life, work and legacy. Selections of his poetry and plays will be recited and performed, both in English and French.
Confirmed speakers include: Professors Richard and Sally Price (College of William and Mary, Virginia), Charles Forsdick (Liverpool), Roger Little (Trinity College, Dublin), Romuald Fonkoua (Sorbonne, Paris)
Registration fee: £20
Space limited. Advance registration required by 17th June.
To register and for further information, please contact the organiser:
Dr Philip Crispin, University of Hull, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Two more events at the University of the Arts London that might be of interest to readers:
Raphael Jay Adjani | Towards a Deep Ecology of Art, Technology and Being
Date: Wednesday 22 May 2013, 17:15 to 19:00
Location: Lecture Theatre, Chelsea College of ARt
‘In this talk artist and academic Raphael Jay Adjani, discusses the concept of ‘relational being’, a core idea in deep ecology, as well as in other branches of science, certain philosophic thinking, as well in diverse practices in art, architecture and design.
Raphael has been exploring this concept and related ideas, such as notions of ‘zero’, ‘void’, space-time’ and ‘emptiness’, through his art practice as well as in academic publication.
His has been an inter-disciplinary research, drawing on a history of ideas that span different historical periods, cultures, and academic fields of enquiry.
In this talk he will show two of his film works that engage with relational being.’
For more information, please visit the TrAIN website.
The second event is the IN TRANSIT MA Interim Show at the V22 workspace (Bermondsey):
Just spotted this event on the staff mailing list.
Professor François Laruelle
‘In-the-Last-Humanity: On the “Speculative” Ecology of Man, Animal and Plant’
June 3, 5pm, 2013
Central Saint Martins
Lecture Theatre E002, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London.
This is the 3rd in a series of lectures Professor François Laruelle is giving at the London Graduate School, London. This talk is presented with the support of the School of Art, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts.
Following the lecture there will be a reception and book launch for the translation of Laruelle’s Principles of Non-Philosophy, trans. Anthony Paul Smith and Nicola Rubczak (Bloomsbury, 2013).
Professor Laruelle has taught at both the University of Paris X and the Collège international de philosophie, and is a Visiting Professor at the London Graduate School, Kingston University, London. He is the author of over twenty books, including Philosophies of Difference (trans. 2010), Future Christ (trans. 2010), Principles of Non-Philosophy (trans. 2013), and, most recently, The Concept of Non-Photography (2011) and Anti-Badiou (2011, trans. 2013).
This event is open to members of the public (no reservation required, but come early to get a seat).
For further information, contact Prof John Mullarkey – email@example.com
Apparently, there is also at talk by Michael Marder on 8 May at UCL where he will be talking about his recent book Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life. It hasn’t been advertised externally, so I don’t know whether it’s a public event. More information welcome!
Looking forward to next week’s Association of American Geographers conference in Los Angeles.
I will now be speaking in two sessions at the AAG, as I have just been added to a roundtable discussion on the Anthropocene with Nigel Clark (Lancaster), Andrea Nightingale (Edinburgh), Noel Castree (Manchester), Luke Bergman (Washington) and Keith Woodward (Wisconsin-Madison).
This year, there is also a mobile app for the conference, which can be downloaded here.
Image source: PMMC
Geographers heading for the AAG 2013 in Los Angeles and planning on visiting the local beaches, please look out for stranded, ill-looking sea lion pups and keep this number handy: (011+1+) 949.494.3050. The Pacific Marine Mammal Center has issued a ’state of emergency’ due to recent mass strandings. You can read more in their press release. They are currently struggling to finance the rescue operation, so they are encouraging people to visit the centre (free entry) and make a donation. Their opening times are 10am-4pm, and their address is 20612 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 (fieldtrip anyone?).
Here are some instructions from their website:
I found a beached marine mammal, what should I do?
Pinnipeds divide their time between the ocean and the beach, returning to shore to rest, mate, give birth, and for some species molt their fur. Seals and sea lions will come ashore, as well, to stay warm and dry when feeling ill. Because they seek rest on the beach for a variety of reasons, not all seals and sea lions on the beach require intervention. Below are steps to follow if you DO see a seal or sea lion on the beach:
- KEEP YOUR DISTANCE
Marine mammals are protected by Federal Law and it is unlawful for unauthorized persons to handle them. Do not touch or feed the animal. Do not try to return the animal to the water. If the animal is ill, it has come on shore to be warm and dry. Feeding a severely malnourished animal can actually harm them!
- KEEP OTHERS AWAY
To assure the safety of the public and the animal, please keep others and their pets away from the Pinniped. These are wild animals and they do bite, allowing the opportunity for disease transmittal.
- MAKE NECESSARY OBSERVATIONS
From a minimum distance of 100 feet (30 metres), observe the animal’s physical and behavioral characteristics such as approximate length, weight, fur color, and the presence or absence of external ear flaps. This will help us determine the rescue equipment and the number of volunteers needed. Observe the overall appearance of the animal. Is the animal so thin that you can see its ribs and hip bones? Are there visible wounds? Does the animal have any identification tags or markings?
- DETERMINE THE EXACT LOCATION
For accurate directions, determine the exact location of the stranded animal. We will not be able to help the animal if we are unable to find it.
- LOCATE THE NEAREST PHONE
From the nearest phone, call Pacific Marine Mammal Center immediately at 949.494.3050
‘Reflecting the cross-disciplinary nature of the British Library as an institution that spans the arts and sciences, we will host an exhibition created by artists on the Art and Science MA programme at Central St Martins and inspired by the Library and its science collections.
Addressing all who all who visit, research and work here, their artistic interventions installed across our public spaces highlight how science and art have more in common than may seem apparent. Directed by a map, available from the Information Desk and other spots across the Library, you can navigate the public spaces to encounter these thought provoking artworks.’
The exhibition will take place from Monday 25 February 2013 until Sunday 24 March 2013.
(Private view 27 February, 6-8pm).
Open times are 09.30 – 5 pm. Free entry.
Thanks to Coco from King’s College Geography MA for bringing the video to my attention.
Directed by Sustainable John @sustainablejohn (twitter) @罗大翰 (weibo)
Producer: An Na; Editor: Sustainable John; Lyrics: Sustainable John; Choreography: Yu Fei; Filming: Tim Quijano; An Na, Zhang Yuchen; Green PSY: George Ding; Dancers: Liu Dan, Guan Fei, Wang Zhuqing, Sustainable John
Sound: Busy Bee Studios, Beijing
My low carbon style
I live in a big city, but I’m thinking of the planet
A low carbon life, and all my green friends
These ladies and gents wanna spread environmental protection
Walk every green road
It’s low carbon style, every day take the bus, walk, and bike
It’s energy saving style, turn off the lights, use less AC
It’s green style, less meat, more veggies, both green and healthy
It’s low carbon style, have you gone low carbon?
Yesterday, I rode my bike, with a lady on the back,
Enjoying it together, who wouldn’t want to?
We gotta protect the environment, our planet, a green life
All my brothers and sisters, come follow me
My low carbon style
We’re all low carbon
My country is paying more attention to climate change
It’s put low carbon concepts in its 12th five year plan
What should we do to help? You and me?
Low carbon life is for future generations
That’s low carbon, imitating grandma with your public transit card
That’s energy saving, looking at energy labels and only buying No 1 products
That’s going green, you always got your chopsticks and reusable bags
That’s low carbon, have you gone low carbon?
I saw a man driving, he looked down on me, he said to me: “Can’t touch me”
This concept, I’m gonna break it, for the planet, for you and me
Can you please come over here and…
Rub my bicycle?
Yeah rub my bicycle.
Public transit is where it’s at.
My brain is a public transit map
I don’t need plastic bags, I just grab that yam
Whoever’s greenest, I’m gonna tap that ass
Hope every country will follow the green path
We’re all low carbon!
Image source: dapd
It is carnival season all over the world (at least for another few hours – happy pancake day!) and there appear to be as many carnival traditions as there are countries, cities or even carnival associations. Although carnival has its origins in ancient culture – examples named include festivals in Mesopotamia of 5000 years ago and the Roman ‘Saturnalia’ – it is most closely associated with Catholicism and the time leading up to lent in our times. In Germany, too, people are celebrating carnival.
Few people outside of Germany know that many Germans spend months (drunk) in the streets (at subzero temperatures), in festival halls or glued to the television looking at grotesque floats and listening to the congregations of ‘idiot’ or jester parliaments (I mean the carnival ones). Every year, around 2 billion euros are spent on costumes, parties and float building materials. Officially, carnival season starts on 11 November at 11:11 hrs – in other countries such as Britain a time of silent remembrance – and finishes on Fat Tuesday. The the biggest and most mediatised days in Germany are ‘Rosenmontag’ (Rose/Shrove Monday), the climax of the season, and Weiberfastnacht (the women’s day of the carnival on ‘Dirty Thursday’/Shrove Thursday). On Weiberfastnacht, women have a special licence for outrageous and ‘unwomanly’ behaviour, which include the performance of symbolic castration acts, such as cutting off men’s ties (my father still mourns the loss of a particularly cherished tie, which he accidentally wore on the wrong day of the year). The media tends to show groups of costumed, giggling and slightly inebriated women wielding large metal, cardboard or foam scissors). It is this spectacle that caught my interest after nearly two decades abroad, which had sufficiently ‘defamiliarised’ this event for me.
Image source: Der Stern
So, how come we have a ‘women’s day’ in German carnival? When was it put in place? What were women’s roles in German carnival over the ages? Looking through academic literature, newspaper articles and blog posts on the subject, an interesting picture of ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ initiated changes emerges. According to medieval historians, German carnival aka ‘legalised anarchy’ has always been a man’s business. Women’s roles in carnival were traditionally taken by men, especially the ‘virgin’ that forms part of the Cologne carnival ‘trifolium’ of peasant, prince and virgin. Cologne has a special position in German carnival, also for women. A big metropolis in the Middle Ages and a city that has defined itself through carnival for two thousand years, Cologne has always been subject to different rules. Not only did it have the most lavish carnival festivities, but these also included women, who wielded more economic power than in other places. While not trusted with important functions in the carnival parliament, they were allowed to join the ‘less serious’ aspects.
The elevated status of women in Cologne did not lead to the institutionalisation of a ‘Women’s Day’ in carnival, however. According to this article (in English) it was a group of disgruntled washerwomen in the Rhine area who were understandably unhappy that the men were off partying while they had to take care of the dirty laundry. Storming the townhall of Beuel and taking hold of the town’s keys – symbol of the mayor’s power to reign – they revolted and established a women’s carnival committee. (I would be interested to hear more about how that worked in detail…) This local revolt has become regarded as the event which started the ‘Weiberfastnacht’ idea and continues to be celebrated even in other places where women continue to storm town halls in solidarity. Apparently, the custom of cutting off men’s ties did not start until the relocation of the West German capital to Bonn, where secretaries started challenging the ministers’ power during carnival season.
Image source: op-online.de
Yet the washerwomen’s intervention was not the only one in German women’s carnival history. Unsurprisingly, major changes occurred during the reign of the National Socialists and their ‘Strength Through Joy’ programme. Of all eras, it was under Nazi leadership that more women were incorporated into the carnival. On the whole, the Nazis tried to move carnival away from its Christian association and towards a Germanic ‘heathen’ and patriotic interpretation. Carnival was to be centralised and cleansed of regional dialects and characteristics. This loss of local identity was to be compensated by generating a sense of unity through antisemitism and hatred towards other countries. Christian symbols, including many traditional costumes, were to be purged, too, from the carnival repertoire. As Die Welt reports, some carnival associations were so thorough in their acts of purification, that people started to look too normal and ‘German’ in their clothing, and parades became criticised for blurring the boundaries between ‘idiot’ and ‘everyday life’. (The sentiment that carnival has become too normative is still felt by many ‘non-normative’ groups and has, amongst other events and critiques, led to the formation of Cologne’s ‘alternative carnival’.)
The enforcement of normativity went further. While being wildly enthusiastic about the potential of carnival as mass seduction – to represent and amplify a Germanic cultural community – the Nazis were also horrified by the criticism, anarchism, effeminacy and lewdness that were inseparately linked with the festivities. Eroticism, in particular, was deemed ‘un-German’ and diagnosed as Jewish corruption. The first thing that had to go were men in dresses. The ‘virgin’ could no longer be portrayed by a man and had to be a ‘real woman’, elected to embody the Nazi ideal. The last male ‘virgin’, who went through the streets of Cologne in 1935, was both cheered (by the traditionalists) and booed (by the NS party members). Here is a poster introducing the first female ‘virgin’, taken from a recent article German newspaper Die Welt entitled ‘The Nazi fear of gay virgins’. (Now that’s some title!). I am quite surprised that the lady wasn’t blond…
‘Paula I’, the article tells us, was received enthusiastically by the crowds – at least according to Nazi propaganda, but probably in reality, too. Although a myth of a 1935 ‘Narrenrevolte’, an anti-Nazi jester plot, exists, authors of a book on Hitler and carnival found the protest to be constructed by carnival officials to mask their Nazi activities (documents of actual goings-on were found destroyed). According to current evidence, the ‘revolting’ high jesters merely desired more power and subsequently obliged in the de-queering and ‘proper feminisation’ of carnival. After all, carnival had just restarted and gained state support after about two decades of dismissal and great poverty, so the carnival revival was something to be preserved. Despite the dangers, protests did occur, and it seems as if women themselves were not comfortable with this top down role-change. Still excluded from the all male carnival societies, they were given an awkward representative function.
The other thing we know is that the female carnival virgin was the first novelty to disappear from Cologne carnival after the war. Men re-asserted this role (despite the vast surplus of women) and still carry it today. The only measure of Nazi ‘straightening’ that remained was the female ‘Tanzmariechen’ – a female soldier who dances in cute, revealing 18th century style uniforms. Traditionally, this ‘dancing Mary’ was also portrayed by a man – performing parodies of military discipline by swinging his legs can-can style or otherwise inappropriately (you can see the dance of a male Tanzmariechen in this documentary from 21mins24). Today, the Tanzmariechen (or Funkenmariechen) has less comical and more artistic merit, simultaneously sanitising and re-eroticising the role’s origins in the figure of the (female) sutler, a military (adult/child) prostitute, for the disciplined heterosexual man. Still, male Tanzmariechen have not died out entirely, and ‘gender confusion’, initiated by both sexes, remains an all-present feature.
Multiple ‘confusions’ at the author’s local carnival (feel free add your own caption below)
After the war, the idea of the Weiberfastnacht continued to gain more widespread support and was finally instated as a fixture of German carnival. While still a very male domain, today’s carnival is seeing women’s societies, conferences and prominent female carnival poets/singers. The change in status, as during previous ages, appears to have less to do with the inherent permissive, performative and/or visceral nature of carnival, as many social theorists claim, but with women’s economic power. Following carnival caricature mode, one could say: in top down ‘feminisation’, women are expected to perform their ‘traditional’ role for male convenience, whereas in bottom up feminism, women chose to be jolly, scissor swinging maniacs. This mechanism does not only seem to hold true for carnival, but for other areas of women’s struggle as well. A recent essay by Despina Stratigakos on female architects at the turn of the last century stresses a similar point. When women built networks and pooled resources, they were able to compete more closely on equal terms. When women’s equality was introduced by the Weimar Republic government, women failed to challenge the status quo, because many of them felt that they no longer had to keep on fighting for equality. Another example can be found in the activities of the Barefoot College, which first tackles women’s education and economic power to assist bottom up struggle (the documentary Solar Mamas is well worth watching). As a German carnival historian put it (at the end of this documentary), carnival is not really a reversal of society, but a mirror. It is up to us to look at it, laugh at the absurdity of the situation and take action.
OPEN CALL FOR PAPERS – DEADLINE 8TH MARCH 2013
A Multidisciplinary Research Conference at Chelsea College of Art & Design Supported by the Transnational Art, Identity, & Nation Research Centre (TrAIN), CCW Graduate School, University of the Arts London
Conference Date: May 8th 2013, 10:00am- 5:30pm, Banqueting Hall and Red Room, Chelsea College of Art and Design.
Following on from a highly successful symposium in 2012, doctoral candidates affiliated to the TrAIN research centre at CCW Graduate School are issuing an ‘open call’ for papers on the theme of spaces of re-contestation to encourage dialogue between PhD researchers inside the University of The Arts London and outside in the wider research community.
‘Our keynote speaker last year, Eyal Sivan, urged us to ‘re-vision’ these spaces, through acts of appropriation and re-appropriation.’
Submitted papers (which could include practice based research material) will hopefully raise questions around and build on either or both themes, in their various interpretations. Interdisciplinary contributions will be encouraged. Though this list is not exhaustive, research topics relevant to this year’s conference might explore multiple imaginings and articulations of ‘re’-contested sites/sights in relation to the following:
- Revisiting : Histories and memories of place making
- Belonging and ownership: Constructions of private vs. public spheres
- “Safe” spaces of consensus versus spaces of conflict
- “Transgendered”/“queered” spaces
- The Body
The purpose of this conference is to meet with other University researchers and exchange knowledge on themes and issues, which are relevant to our own, shared practices. We are hoping for a response from a diverse range of doctoral researchers.
Keynote speaker to start off the day, followed by presentation Panels chaired by senior TrAIN members.
Wine reception to follow conference
Presentations will be limited to 20 minutes. The selection committee encourage traditional and non-traditional presentations, which avoid a lecture and slide show format (for example, special consideration will be given to performances, conversation and interactive workshop style presentations).
Responses to the open call
Please send an abstract of maximum 200 words and include details about your affiliation and research topic.
Deadline: March 8th 2013
Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org
You will be notified by Thursday 21st March 2013
Contested Sites/Sights Committee
Ope Lori, Pamela Kember, Idit Nathan, Corinne Silva, Caroline Rabourdin
Spatial Politics: A Conversation
Friday, 8 March 2013, 11:00 – 17:00
Royal Geographical Society, London
‘Spatial Politics is a collaborative event has been organised by the Geography Departments of Durham and Glasgow, the Open University’s OpenSpace Research Centre together with the Royal Geographical Society. The event is intended to spark debate around the question of ‘Spatial Politics’ – the relationship between space and politics, broadly conceived. It has a particular focus on forging political alternatives in the current conjuncture, especially by considering translocal solidarities, opposition to austerity, emerging political cultures, and the like. The day long event is structured around plenaries and workshops, all designed to foster and further conversations about alternative futures, political spaces and spaces for politics. The event which is being timed to coincide with the publication of Spatial Politics: Essays for Doreen Massey (edited by David Featherstone and Joe Painter).’
Tickets: £5 Students, £20 everyone else.
For more information, please visit the Open Space website.