Two special guest lectures on Arctic and Alpine mountain environments
The AAS and Biodiverse Anthropocene lecture series has invited two special guest lecturers to speak on their research on environmental topics across multiple disciplines. The speakers are: Anna-Maria Walter (University of Oulu) talking on “A struggle for remoteness: Skitouring in the Bavarian Alps” and Jasmine Zhang (Swedish Center for Nature Interpretation) talking on "Imaginaries of Svalbard, interdisciplinary research, and fieldwork: Where emergent knowledge surges". Coffee/tea and snacks will be served. The talks take place Monday 20 March from 2pm – 4pm in room LO124.
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A struggle for remoteness: Skitouring in the Bavarian Alps
Dr Anna-Maria Walter
Contrary to the common imaginations of the ‘wild remote’ as marginal and isolated, an active struggle to distance oneself from “civilization” drives many outdoor enthusiasts to render the not-so-remote Alps into a distinct Other, a counterpart to crowded city life. Many seem to overlook that by way of doing so they turn natural environments into tourist hubs. Ski mountaineering, however, remains one of the few opportunities to deviate from preexisting paths: through a “natural selection” of fitness and ability, remoteness in the mountains is established along a vertical axis. Since the number of newcomers has been growing, self-proclaimed experts venture ever further into less frequented valleys. At the same time, many inhabitants of highly touristic regions would prefer to stay off the map. Moreover, wild animals suffer from the disturbance by off-piste activities. The Alpine Club therefore runs campaigns to advocate keeping protective areas free from human intrusion. Under growing population pressure remoteness becomes the desired trope: Everyone tries to get away from others, to preserve – the experience of - a miniature paradise for oneself. What do we learn from this renaissance of remote and mountain places? What does it teach us about contemporary (semi)urban living? And how is the reframing of remoteness connected to changing perceptions of the environment, or ‘nature’ at large?
Anna-Maria Walter (https://www.oulu.fi/en/researchers/anna-maria-walter) is a Postdoc at the University of Oulu and is a researcher with the CONTOURS project. She currently works on conceptions of the self through social media use, digital anthropology, perceptions of mountain landscapes in the Himalayas and the Alps, and the socio-ecological dimensions of Alpine ski touring. More information on her project can be found here.
A struggle for remoteness: Skitouring in the Bavarian Alps Imaginaries of Svalbard, interdisciplinary research, and fieldwork: Where emergent knowledge surges
Dr Jasmine Zhang
In this presentation I look at the interrelationships among interdisciplinarity, on-site fieldwork, and the High Arctic archipelago Svalbard through the lens of imaginaries. Since 2020 I have been part of an interdisciplinary project SVALUR, exploring possibilities of imagining an environmental memory in Svalbard, that combines knowledge generated from different means, for instance environmental monitoring and local experiences and activities. Taking an autoethnographic method, I intend to reflect on and examine my experiences obtained from encounters enabled by this project. Imaginaries provide a productive site to do this if seen more as a means than the central subject of study. Following the curiosity of understanding effects of imaginaries of Svalbard, interdisciplinarity and fieldworking, I am guided by the following questions: why and how did imaginaries of interdisciplinary research and doing fieldwork in a remote place lead me to the imaginaries of Svalbard? How have the imaginaries of Svalbard interacted with my imaginaries of doing research in an interdisciplinary team, and conducting fieldwork in three different settlements in Svalbard? And, how do imaginaries as socio-cultural models interconnect with the spatial, temporal and material systems that also provide important dimensions of imaginaries? I propose that we should remain hopeful in our abilities to imagine with imaginaries with care, compassion, and criticality, as creating conditions for emergent knowledge.
Jasmine Zhang (https://www.slu.se/en/ew-cv/jasmine-zhang) is a researcher at the Swedish Center for Nature Interpretation, where she studies citizens' understanding of the Arctic and the effects of knowledge co-creation on environmental change on Svalbard.