Vergangenes: 2017

Workshop “Towards a Techno-Ecology of Participation”

Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany, 7-8 December 2017

The international workshop is organized by Prof Dr Erich Hörl and Dr. Yuk Hui from the Institute of Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media at Leuphana University Lüneburg in cooperation with the Bremen NatureCultures Lab.

It is funded by the German Research Council (DFG) within the frame of the DFG-Research  Group “Media and Participation” and part of the research project “Techno-Ecologies of Participation: New Perspectives from Media Philosophy and Anthropology”.

For program and details see:

Vortrag von Jan Scheve am 20. November

“Managed Retreat in New Zealand – Governing Coastal Property at Risk from Erosion”

Mon, 20.11. | 12:15-13:45 | SFG 2210

The coast as a dynamic environment poses fundamental problems to the concept of ownership in real estate. Commonly, property is perceived as infinite. There are expectations in property to last forever, to remain undamaged, and to increase in value over time. For many property owners their house is a key part of their retirement planning. Equally, political authorities expect their infrastructures to last and generate overall revenue for the community. However, coastal processes such as erosion and sea level rise pose difficulties for the state apparatus in the creation of stable environments. “Two worlds are colliding at the shoreline—the beautiful, flexible, and infinitely adaptable world that is a beach, and the static, inflexible, urban beachfront world.” (Pilkey and Cooper 2014: xi). The ‘development – defend cycle’ describes the phenomenon that capital assets at risk from erosion are protected with a seawall, and that the construction of such a protection structure then leads to further development and an increase in property values, which in turn demands for an upgrade of the seawall. This continuous development has negative environmental and economic effects, and has increasingly been criticized in recent times.
Since 2010 managed retreat is part of the national legislation in New Zealand. Managed retreat stands for the idea to remove defense structures, buildings and infrastructures away from coastal hazards, and to increase the natural resilience of the coastline against flooding and erosion. Starting from the observation that the current regime of coastal management is more and more problematized, I will focus on the different political rationalities and technological tools that were developed by political authorities to govern the coastal environment and properties at risk. Building on insights from Governmentality studies (Foucault 2007; Rose and Miller 1992; Walters 2012) I will argue that managed retreat is an alteration of the current regime of practices in coastal management, where political authorities are governing property owners through the notion of risk. Focusing on one case study on the Kāpiti Coast, I will analyze an ongoing conflict about the assessment and utilization of hazard lines. Hazard lines are projections of potential erosion risk and are currently used for the administration of building restrictions and an overall disinvestment of coastal property. Guiding questions are: How do political authorities problematize and assess coastal hazards? What political rationalities and technologies of government are constitutive for managed retreat? How does protest form?

BNCL Program Winter 2017/18

Please note the program for the Bremen NatureCultures Lab in the upcoming winter semester. Details will follow with the sessions approaching.

20 November 2017 | 12:15-13:45 | SFG 2210
Jan Scheve “Managed Retreat in New Zealand – Governing Coastal Property at Risk from Erosion”
With this session we can continue our discussions on coastal naturecultures and coastal protection practices from Mai (talk Frieda Gesing). With the help of Jan Scheve (artec, INTERCOAST), who will share with us some insights from his PhD research, we will shift the focus however to coastal environments as property.

18 December 2017 | 12:15-13:45 | SFG 2210
Reading and Discussion Session: Ontologies?!
An attempt to get to grips on the talks of the ‘ontological turn’ in anthropology, geography and STS collectively. (Reading will be announced)

8 January 2018 | 12:15-13:45 | SFG 2210 (session in German language)
Annekatrin Skeide “How many bodies should we have?” Methodische & methodologische Überlegungen zu phänomenologischen und materiell semiotischen Körperkonzeptionen

Another session in January 2018 is likely, but has not been confirmed yet.

Please email Katrin Amelang amelang[at] if you would like to join us!

Two Events with Banu Subramaniam

Banu Subramaniam (Prof. of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of  Massachusetts, Amherst) will be our guest for next week.

Writing NatureCultures – Workshop with Banu Subramaniam

Monday, 19.6.17 | 12 (s.t.!)-13:45 | SFG 2210

Against the background of our previous discussions of NatureCultures as heuristic tool or of case studies tackling naturecultures emprically and analytically, this little workshop puts the emphasis on writing naturecultures. For approximating how we can and do write (make visible) naturecultures, we are very happy that Banu Subramaniam will join and share her experiences with writing and mixing genres in “Ghost Stories for Darwin. The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity” (2014, Ludwik Fleck Prize 2016) with us. Taking her book as a starting point we would like to discuss questions like the following:  What are good formats and genres of describing, narrating, storying, assembling, writing the commingling of nature(s) and culture(s)? What consequenses does an „opening up of epistemic authority“ have for writing naturecultures? How does „writing naturecultures“ differ from „writing cultures“? How is the idea of „being haunted“ transforming the author’s position / voice.

If you have not yet had the chance to read/look into the book please check out at least the attached introduction for preparation.If you are interested in reading further but do not have access to the book, write an email to and we will provide you with the files.

Counter-Narratives of the Enlightenment: Tales from the edges of Science and Religion in India – Talk in the World-of-Contradiction lecture series

Wed, 21.6.17 | 18-20h | Rotunde (Cartesium)

Banu Subramaniam explores the worlds of science and religion in contemporary India. In contrast to other religious fundamentalisms, Hindu nationalism embraces science as an important and critical part of religion. Religious nationalists in contemporary India have selectively, and strategically, used rhetoric from both science and Hinduism, modernity and orthodoxy, western and eastern thought to build a powerful but potentially dangerous vision of a Hindu nation. With aspirations for a global and modern Hinduism, she argues that scientific and religious practices in contemporary India are inextricably interconnected and result in fluid processes and practices of both institutions. In her presentation, she explores how mythological narratives, preternatural tales, and ghostly apparitions mingle effortlessly with animist traditions as well as the material, experimental, and institutional practices of technosciences. This emerging “syncretic pragmatism” challenges us to move beyond the oppositional stances of science and religion, to consider counter narratives to the enlightenment tales of reason and unreason. Ultimately to understand contemporary technoscience in India, we need new epistemological and methodological tools, and story making practices to make visible the many phantasmogoric naturecultural worlds within.

Vortrag von Sven Bergmann am 30. Mai

Das Auftauchen von Mikroplastik: Meeresmüll, marine Wissensproduktion, Umweltgerechtigkeit und die Politik der Maßstäbe

Dienstag, 30.5.2017 | 18:15-19:45 | Rotunde im Cartesium (Enrique-Schmidt-Str. 5)

Plastik(müll) im Meer ist ein hybrides Objekt, emblematisch für Natur-Kultur-Vermischungen und ihre noch unbekannten Auswirkungen. Mit der Etablierung des Begriffs Mikroplastik im Jahr 2004 wurde ein Maßstab eingeführt, um Plastikkonzentrationen im Verhältnis zu Plankton (Salzwasser) oder Fischlarven (Süßwasser) zu bestimmen. Doch was bedeutet eine hohe Konzentration von Mikroplastik in der Umwelt oder in spezifischen Ökosystemen? Was bedeutet es, wenn an bestimmten Stellen in Gewässern viel Mikroplastik enthalten ist oder wenn ein Teil des Sandes am Strand nun aus Plastik-Pellets besteht? Wann wird mit der Problematisierung dieser Maßstäbe ein eher ästhetisches Problem identifiziert und wann wird damit ein Potenzial von physischer oder toxikologischer Gefährdung adressiert?

Wenn menschliche Hinterlassenschaften dazu führen, dass in den Ozeanen neuartige Lebensformen entstehen, irritiert dies die konventionelle Unterscheidung in Kategorien wie Natur und Kultur. Stattdessen fordert es die Sozial- und Kulturwissenschaften heraus, einen neuen analytischen Umgang mit diesen hybriden Gegenständen zu finden.

In seinem Vortrag wird Dr. Sven Bergmann entlang einer anthropologischen und einer STS-Perspektive diesen Verschränkungen nachgegangen. Dabei wird er – ausgehend von seiner ethnografischen Forschung in Deutschland, Neufundland/Kanada und Chile/Rapa Nui – sowohl simple Konzeptionen der Trennung von Natur und Kultur sowie vereinfachte Schemata der technischen Lösung des Problems kritisch diskutieren.

Dr. Sven Bergmann ist wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter am Institut für Ethnologie und Kulturwissenschaft der Universität Bremen und arbeitet derzeit an zwei Forschungsprojekten zur wissenschaftlichen und politischen Problematisierung von Plastik(müll) in den Meeren:
“Plastik als neue Lebensform” (Volkswagen-Stiftung) “Knowing the Seas as NatureCultures” (M4 Explorationsprojekt).

Talk by Friederike Gesing, 16 Mai

Working with Nature in Aotearoa New Zealand: An ethnography of coastal protection

16 Mai 2017, 18h, Rotunde im Cartesium

This talk opens up a conceptual perspective on coastal natures emerging from coastal protection practices. To work with nature and not against it: this sociotechnical imaginary provides a shared understanding of alternative, soft coastal protection for a growing community of practice. Based on long-term fieldwork in Aotearoa New Zealand, Friederike Gesing draws on close ethnographic encounters with dune restoration volunteers, coastal management experts, surfer-scientists, and Maori conservationists. Understanding their soft protection projects as sociomaterial practices, she shows different coastal naturecultures in the making, emerging as do-it-yourself protection, native landscape, threatened public space, or nature enhanced through soft engineering.

Friederike Gesing (University of Bremen, artec) is senior researcher in the research area of sustainable development and environmental governance. For her excellent dissertation he was rewarded the Bremer Studienpreis 2016.

Find all information on the flyer.

Talk by Uli Beisel, 8 Mai

8 Mai 2017, 12:15-13:45, SFG 2210
„One Health(y) Future? Entanglement of Health and Agriculture; Past, Present and Future in Insect Control in Ghana“ – Talk by Uli Beisel (University of Bayreuth)

The Anopheles gambiae mosquito embodies malaria’s past, present and future. Malaria’s past is inscribed in today’s and tomorrow’s mosquito genome. However, encoded are not only past malaria control interventions, but also agricultural pest control choices. This talk analyses these entanglements of health and agriculture and discusses those with reference to the health futures the One Health movement imagines and makes (im)possible.




Uli Beisel is Juniorprofessor for Culture and Technology in Africa at the University of Bayreuth. Her work is inspired by feminist and postcolonial science and technology studies, and by medical, environmental and multispecies anthropology and geography:

“I have worked on mosquito-parasite-human entanglements in malaria control in Ghana and Sierra Leone, and continue to be fascinated by boundary practices between human and nonhuman organisms, as well as their possibilities of coexistence. My research is guided by the question how we might live well with organisms and substances that are harmful to human health. In this context I am interested in mutating mosquitoes and resistant parasites; zoonotic diseases; insecticides and pesticides; global health technologies, infrastructures and their crises; practices and politics of diagnosing and testing; evidence, speculation and ignorance; and the shifting landscapes of energy and waste in sub-Saharan Africa.”



Exploring Marine and Coastal Epistemologies

On 23rd January 2017, BNCL co-hosted a roundtable workshop entitled “Exploring Marine and Coastal Epistemologies” at Hamburg University. The workshop brought together twenty human geographers, social and cultural anthropologists, historians and sociologists from universities and research institutes in Bremen, Bremerhaven, Hamburg, Kiel and Dublin for a cross-thematic dialogue focussed on marine and coastal knowledge practices. Please find the workshop report here.

BNCL Program Summer 2017

For summer semester 2017 we are looking forward to three events of Bremen NatureCultures Lab. Changes will be updated regularly on this page.

10 April 2017, 12:15-13:45, SFG 2210
NatureCultures vs. Political Ecology – Real buzz or old in a new bottle?
Reading & Discussion Session based on: Anna Tsing (2015), The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Part III/chap 11-15, p 149-213.

8 Mai 2017, 12:15-13:45, SFG 2210
Talk by Uli Beisel: „One Health(y) Future? Entanglement of Health and Agriculture; Past, Present and Future in Insect Control in Ghana“

16 Mai 2017, 18:15-19:45, Rotunde im Cartesium (attention: different time and location)
„Working with Nature in Aotearoa New Zealand: An ethnography of coastal protection“ – Talk by Friederike Gesing (University of Bremen)

19 June 2017, 12:00 (s.t.!!!)-13:45, SFG 2210
Writing NatureCultures – Workshop with Banu Subramaniam (details will be announced)

Ethnography of Coastal Protection

Working with nature – and not against it – is a global trend in coastal management. This ethnography of coastal protection by lab member Friederike Gesing follows the increasingly popular approach of “soft” protection to the Aotearoa New Zealand coast. Friederike Gesing analyses a political controversy over hard and soft protection measures, and introduces a growing community of practice involved in projects of working with nature. Dune restoration volunteers, coastal management experts, surfer-scientists, and Maori conservationists are engaged in projects ranging from do-it-yourself erosion control, to the reconstruction of native nature, and soft engineering “in concert with natural processes”. With soft protection, Friederike argues, we can witness a new sociotechnical imaginary in the making.

The book (E-Book or softcover) can be ordered from the publisher here. It is also available as an open access version via the State and University Library Bremen.