The Summer School will take place online - July 6-11, 2020
Recent years have been marked by an alarming escalation of environmental crises, turning climate change, pollution, the depletion of natural resources and mass extinction into some of the most urgent concerns of contemporary society. The X Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture, under the topic “Ecoculture”, intends to reflect on the interrelation between culture and the environment, to examine the growing awareness of the negative impact of human activities and to discuss the necessity to rethink, reconceptualize and redefine the relationship between humans and the non-human world.
The term environment inspires varied meanings and interpretations. Going back to its French roots, environ, the environment is, essentially, what surrounds us. It is usually associated with external physical conditions in which a living organism exists and develops, thus explaining its common usage as synonymous to nature, i.e. something not human and that can be affected by human activity. With this narrow conception of environment, dichotomic assumptions such as man v. environment, culture v. nature, civilization v. wilderness, where one is more valued than the other, multiply. Given its etymology, the term environment hints at a separation between humans and the milieus in which they move, hence spurring the idea of the environment as an entity that exists ‘out there’ and independent of humans, as a place one observes from afar or seeks as refuge. Many scholars have, nonetheless, brought attention to the sense of continuity and interdependence between man and the environment, claiming that the idea of nature necessarily implies the idea of man. Others have also underlined its transcendental essence, the fact that it involves practices and processes, with and without man, that far exceed man’s comprehension.
The environmental movement emerged in the 1960s, largely influenced by Rachel Carson’s seminal work Silent Spring, which critically analyzed the dangers of the misuse of technology and the risks inherent to humans’ ability to change entire ecosystems. The discussion over environmental issues has expanded enormously since then, not only encompassing questions related to natural phenomena and the interconnectedness of all life but also addressing problems concerning the finitude of human life on the planet (or at least of the existing way of life), inequality and injustice in world structures, as well as logics of domination and oppressive frameworks. What many of these raising questions have in common is the centrality of man and man’s actions. This anthropocentric perspective, which has led to the naming of a new geological era marked by human intervention as Anthropocene, places man, unchallenged, at the center of the environment and everything that happens to it, thus reinforcing the idea of man’s supremacy over nature.
The environment and environmental issues have gained space in academy, both as a discipline and a subject relevant to other areas of knowledge; it has also become a hot topic for many artists and different forms of art (photography, painting, cinema, theater, music, among many others). This fact is corroborated by the proliferation of the ‘eco’ prefix, which has come to accompany any discussion related to environmental questions. However, the environment and the increasingly more visible environmental changes have also become the source of great social, economic and political friction. More and more movements, sustained by scientific evidence, have gained ground. Fueled by the belief that saving and bettering what Pope Francis called “Our Common Home” is not only a necessity but a duty, they aim at raising awareness, changing minds and altering behaviors. This standpoint is, nevertheless, challenged by the lack of engagement and consensus in terms of a global response, which fails to integrate ecological discourses and practices and deal with environmental problems in an efficient and speedily manner.
The Lisbon Summer School invites proposals by doctoral students and post-docs that address, though may not be strictly limited to, the topics below:
- Environment in/and the arts
- Representations of environmental crises and catastrophes
- The Anthropocene
- Climate change and global warming
- Pollution, waste and rapidification
- Extinction of species and living systems
- Sustainability and ecocitizenship
- Activism, ecotage, ecoterrorism
- Landscapes, environments and ecologies
- Urban ecology
- Cultural ecology and human ecology
- Human, non-human, post-human
- Natural and built environment
- Digital environments
- Scientific knowledge, skepticism and manipulation
- Isabel Capeloa Gil
- Peter Hanenberg
- Alexandra Lopes
- Diana Gonçalves
- Paulo de Campos Pinto
- Rita Faria
For those interested in attending the sessions, the participation without paper is FREE but it is required a registration here.
Please visit the official website for detailed information.