The disastrous effects of the high tide that flooded the city of Venice in November 2019 were rapidly circulated by the media around the world as a reminder of the responsibility that humans share for the rise in global temperatures and sea levels. The threat of a catastrophic alteration of the water-land balance is not a novelty for Venice, shaping the city’s culture and urban environments since its inception. The city’s insularity, which is at once natural and artificial, marks its specific relation to the elements. The balance of water and land has always constituted both a vital resource for its inhabitants and a crucial factor for the very existence of the lagoon. An inquiry into the geo-environmental practices and politics of Venice offers a paradigmatic case study to reflect on the coevolution of humans and their environment. Ongoing research into sustainability and geo-anthropology has brought to the fore the importance of evaluating alternative historical paths to achieve a dynamic integration of human societies and nature.
The Anthropocene Campus Venice (ACV) will take the case of Venice as a point of departure to collectively reflect on geo-environmental politics. This location is ideal, both historically and symbolically, to engage with cross-cultural comparisons and make sure that the multi-dimensionality of the geo-anthropologenic prism can be properly approached, bringing together the social, political, economic, environmental, natural, and geological facets. Over the span of a full week, this forum will provide a space for co-learning, interdisciplinary collaborations, and comparative studies, bringing together environmental scientists, artists, historians of science and technology, geologists, environmental humanities scholars, archaeologists, and architects.
Theaim of the ACV is to establish an interdisciplinary forum for an eco-political reflection on collective human agency and its knowledge-mediated transformative power, as is the case with the environmental history of contexts like Venice. The question of an environmental history of science-mediated human agency stems from the Anthropocene debates on the natural embeddedness of human history. In return, the reconstruction of human water-related practices and praxes in a concrete historical setting contributes to interdisciplinary debates on earth-systems through an improved understanding of collective agency, located at the intersection of anthroposphere, biosphere, and geosphere.
ACV will be divided into four seminar threads, each with its own relevant workshop and field trip:
S1 – Past and Present Waterscapes: Geological Agency in the Longue Durée
Referents: Pietro Daniel Omodeo and Tina Asmussen
S2 – System Thinking for Water Politics
Referents: Francesco Gonella, Giulia Rispoli and Jonathan Regier
S3: Aquaphobia and Beyond: The Water Politics of Representation
Referents: Shaul Bassi and Cristina Baldacci
S4 – Venice Is Leaking: Interventions in the Lagoon-City Continuum
Referents: Ifor Duncan, Heather Contant and Sasha Gora
Local scholars and activists as well as international experts will develop and convene these seminars exploring novel, collaborative, and exploratory epistemological practices and modes of acting upon the urgencies of the Anthropocene.
For full seminar descriptions, please visit the Ca’ Foscari University ACV webpage.
The call addresses researchers from a wide range of backgrounds in the sciences, humanities, engineering, design and the arts. From within academia, the call addresses levels ranging from final-year master’s degree candidates, graduates, Ph.D. students, postdoctoral candidates to tenure and tenure-track faculty.
Artists, actors, and activists from civil society, the arts, and politics (e.g. think tanks, NGOs, etc.) are strongly encouraged to apply as well.
Applicants should be strongly committed to inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration and demonstrate a broad interest in Anthropocene-related research fields, ranging from hydrology, geography, geology, climate and environmental sciences, to history, anthropology, design, landscape architecture, and the arts. Active participation is expected, including the months preceding and following the actual campus week.
Applications can be submitted until April 25, 2021 using the online application form. Applicants are asked to hand in a CV, a brief description of their interest in the Anthropocene and the Water Politics in the Age of the Anthropocene project in particular. Acceptance letters will be sent out by June 1, 2021
Registration and Funding
The registration fee is 200 Euros and will cover workshops, field trips and other campus activities. Participants are expected to procure their own funding and to cover all travel and accommodation costs.