Plenary Sessions

The Dot, the Letter and the Rainbow

 Irene Lucília Andrade

( Literary Writer and Artist Born in Madeira Island)

Irene Lucília Andrade (+ info sonn)
The text is comprised by a preamble and a dissertation. The preamble points out the difficulty of the theme considering the diversity of proposals that it offers. It then considers the contribution of utopia and intuition to address the theme. The dissertation considers: nature as artifice, the creation of a Thinker that predated man; Man as an imitating “demiurge”, creator of science, poetics, arts, an observer and handler of transversality; The importance of words to the expression of ideas; The poem as a formula extended to the several versions of human creation, by expressing the nature of the art and the artifice of nature; The poem born from a deep thinking “dependent of the preparation of the spirit” that recognizes, in heterogeneity, the unifying and dynamic process of the Universe, the qualitative aspect of life, and balance and harmony, as common premises between nature and the realization of the human being. Brief mention to the island.

 Do you know? Did you ever imagine? Do you think it matters?: stories as tools in the process of restoring losses and reinventing better relationships between humans and nature 

Isabel Maria Fernandes Alves

(Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro e CEAUL, Portugal)
 
Isabel Maria Fernandes Alves – Teacher of Anglo-American Studies at the Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (Portugal) since 1988, and assistant professor of American Literature since 2000, she holds a Ph. D. on Willa Cather. For the past few years has been studying the relationship between literature and environment and has published essays on authors such as Willa Cather, Sarah Orne Jewett, Henry David Thoreau, Ruth Suckow, Barbara Kingsolver, Jamaica Kincaid, and Mary Oliver, among others. Her research is also focused on comparative literature and has published articles on Portuguese authors. She is a member of ASLE and EASLCE.
S. Merwin’s verses, quoted in the title of this reflection, aim at summarizing the core of the field of study of ecocriticism and environmental humanities — to awake attentiveness, to cultivate care and to forge sustainable ways of imagining the human role on the earth.

My presentation will consider the trajectory of the critical field that began as ‘ecocriticism’ when ASLE was established in 1992, in the United States, and that, nowadays, emerges under the designation of ‘environmental humanities’. On one hand, I will identify several trend-lines in the development of ecocriticism, and, on the other hand, my purpose will be to highlight how a variety of disciplines have come to voice the same urgency: to acknowledge that stories are an authoritative source of knowledge about our living world, and thus, in times of crisis, stories should emerge as a valuable form of sharpening human awareness to the world we inhabit. In this sense, I will explore the idea of relationality, as it stands represented in fictional and nonfictional works, seeking to emphasize that the stories which promote the understanding of the relationships between humans and non-humans emerge as fruitful and creative places where it is possible to imagine more sustainable cultural, social and environmental futures.

Ultimately, and bearing Merwin’s questions in mind, I will invite the audience to rethink concepts and produce new stories, therefore reimagining new ways to think about our relationship with our planetary earth.

Literature and Geography, Art and Science: geograficity, poetry and experience

Márcia Manir

(Universidade Federal do Maranhão, Brazil)

Márcia Manir (+ info soon)
+ info. here 
This lecture aims to discuss the importance of promoting interdisciplinarity in the human sciences taking as example the convergence between two apparently disparate fields of knowledge: Literature and Geography. Thanks to the creation of the autonomous disciplinary field of Humanist Geography during the ´70, it was possible to work towards the convergence between Geography and the Humanities, resulting in the fruitful dialogue with the Arts, and specially with Literature. The aim of this lecture therefore, is to enlighten how that dialogue has been developing since then and what are its results. Among such results, is the poetry of the recently deceased Ferreira Gullar, and the intimate relation between the poet and his city of birth, São Luís do Maranhão, particularly in “Poema sujo” (1975). In this poem, the lyric I situates the reader in a São Luís at the end of the ‘40. In this poem, the flux of memory predominates, starting by poet’s infancy, revisited in time and space, followed by the moment of departure and the consequent feeling of longing, towards the culmination in the third and final moment of the poem which comprises the poetic voice distant from its place of birth. For the analysis of this poem, I will follow Yi-Fu Tuan’s concepts of space, place, experience and topophilia (2012; 2013); Eduardo Marandola Jr.’s work on phenomenology in its close relation with Humanist Geography (2010); Eric Dardel’s recovery of the existential dimension of Man in its relation with the Earth (2010); and Edward Replh’s treatment of the essentiality of the phenomenon place within the Human and Social Sciences (2012).

Archipelago Aesthetics

May Joseph

(Pratt Institute, New York, USA)

MayJoseph

 May Joseph was born in Tanzania and is Professor of Global Studies in the Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute, New York. Her scholarly research combines critical cultural theory and environmental practice, and she has published widely on globalization, urbanism, performance and visual culture, including books on Fluid New York: Cosmopolitan Urbanism and the Green Imagination (Duke University Press, 2013); Nomadic Identities: The Performance of Citizenship (Minnesota, 1999), and the co-edited Performing Hybridity (Minnesota, 1999). Joseph is founder of the environmental collective Harmattan Theater and has dramaturged and directed Harmattan’s site specific outdoor productions, exploring the history of New York City through architecture, design, and environmentalism. Joseph’s artistic work includes Lisbon and cities in India, where she made a short film about the Yamuna River in Delhi, and is working on a site specific performance along the Fort Cochin seawall.
+ info. here

Reclaiming a city’s archipelagic identity is becoming an increasingly urgent transformation for island cities whose identities were shaped by the car rather than the boat. The case of New York is a startling study in the dramatic rethinking of a bridge and tunnel logic towards a more archipelagic thinking.

New York City is now very much an archipelago in search of an aesthetic and political commitment towards understanding its archipelagic ecology. This is no easy task in the age of environmental defunding and catastrophe climate science denial. My talk will share some of the infrastructural rethinking as well as environmental redesign that is morphing the emerging archipelagic city of New York.

(Eco)cultural mapping and connecting to place:

Island perspectives

Nancy Duxbury

(CES-Universidade de Coimbra;  Simon Fraser University Vancouver)

Nancy Duxbury, PhD, is a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal, and is a member of the European Expert Network on Culture. She is the Principal Investigator for a major three-year research and demonstration project on creative tourism in Portugal, entitled “CREATOUR: Creative Tourism Destination Development in Small Cities and Rural Areas” (2016-2019). This project involves five Portuguese research centres and 40 pilots, and aims to link the cultural and tourism sectors within a context of inclusive and sustainable local and regional development. Her past research has examined culture in local sustainable development; culture-based development models in smaller communities; and cultural mapping, which bridges insights from academic inquiry, community practice, and artistic approaches to understand and articulate place. She is co-editor of Animation of Public Space through the Arts: Toward More Sustainable Communities (published by Almedina in 2013), Cultural Mapping as Cultural Inquiry, and Culture and Sustainability in European Cities: Imagining Europolis (both published by Routledge in 2015). She was born in Canada, and lived on both the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts of the country before moving to Portugal in 2009. She currently splits her time between Coimbra and São Miguel Island, Azores.
+ info. here
Inspired by a major ‘artistic community mapping’ project involving residents of 17 islands in the Salish Sea, on the Pacific coast of British Columbia, Canada, this presentation explores how (eco)cultural mapping can catalyze processes for actively connecting to place and deepening knowledge of a locality, as well as provide a platform for collective expression and action. It considers how these practices may link to issues of cultural sustainability and generativity while emphasizing place-based contextualization and the close intertwining of environmental and socio-cultural dimensions of place.Three developments within the interdisciplinary field of cultural mapping frame this discussion: a shift from documenting tangible cultural assets to articulating the plural meanings of places and their stories; an expanding scope in defining ‘culture’ within local mapping projects; and the growing presence of artistic approaches to cultural mapping, which are enriching perspectives and diversifying methods to understanding place. The presentation is also informed by the closely aligned practices of eco-cultural mapping, counter mapping, and community atlases; recent research on culture and sustainability; and current work on creative tourism in small communities and rural areas.Participatory (eco)cultural mapping projects have been conducted to articulate and make visible culturally important assets and place meanings, to capture elders’ knowledge and inform younger generations, to serve as a shared platform for discussion among different groups, and to guide collective decision-making and actions for future development. Typically these initiatives are focused on involving local residents (only); however, this presentation considers how both local residents and temporary visitors might contribute to building such pluralistic and expressive knowledge platforms.

Participatory (eco)cultural mapping projects have been conducted to articulate and make visible culturally important assets and place meanings, to capture elders’ knowledge and inform younger generations, to serve as a shared platform for discussion among different groups, and to guide collective decision-making and actions for future development. Typically these initiatives are focused on involving local residents (only); however, this presentation considers how both local residents and temporary visitors might contribute to building such pluralistic and expressive knowledge platforms.

Barbuda: A small island with a big heart.

Neocolonialism in the aftermath of Irma

Sophia Perdikaris

(City University of New York/ Brooklyn College, New York, USA)

Sophia Perdikaris is an environmental archaeologist with a specialty in the analysis of animal remains from archaeological sites in the North Atlantic and the Caribbean. She is interested in people-environment interactions and how heritage work can inform sustainability questions for the future. Environmental sustainability is a challenge for every community, including communities in Antigua and Barbuda. Working toward sustainability means understanding human and environmental change over time: what is changing, how it is changing, why it is changing, and what we can do to mitigate change, adapt to change, or both. As a director of the Human Ecodynamics Research Center (CUNY Graduate Center) and director of the Barbuda Research Complex (Codrington, Barbuda, West Indies), she is focusing on a transdisciplinary approach to explore issues of sustainability projects combining the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the arts in a collaborative research perspective that connects scientists, local communities, and youth. Her early work concentrated on the transition from the Viking Age to medieval times in northern Norway and how the early commercialization of the cod fisheries (AD 1200) affected the people and the economy of the area. She has been excavating in Norway for the last 12 years, in Iceland for seven years, and in Barbuda for six years, and takes students with her in the field to Barbuda.
On September 5, 2017, the small island of Barbuda saw the passage of one of the strongest hurricanes in recorded time, Irma. The storm decimated the island; the residents were removed by a mandatory evacuation, 90% of the structures were affected, most mature trees are gone, the mangroves and shrub vegetation stripped from leaves, many animals are dead and dying and all of them left roaming the island with no human hosts. While this picture is gruesome the ugly reality of neocolonialism has been worse than the hurricane itself and disaster capitalism is active in the cultural genocide of Barbudan people. This presentation will explore some of the influences affecting the recovery of Barbuda and threatening a restructure of the Barbudan cultural landscape.  A post disaster assessment of both intangible cultural heritage and historic cultural heritage will also be presented.

The sea in a bottle of water

Teresa M. G. Jardim

(Visual Artist and Literary Writer born in Madeira Island)

Teresa M. G. Jardim is a visual artist and writer from Madeira island.
(+ info. soon)
The sea in a bottle of water – island imaginary, memory and representation. An island is as portable as a bottle of water, or as an umbrella, as strong as it is fragile and perishable, exposed to the tempest. Fearless islands, we are all insular. Lines of culture between mirrors, our head in the front, challenging reflexions. Who creates, accepts the solitary game among the others – faces reflected in the mirror surface of the waters. Symbolic language games with which we have become uncomprehending of ourselves, of the others, of the surrounding reality.

The artistic creation is evermore liquid landscape that blends different components of the human life, alive still despite its clashes, particularly the expansion and contraction of space between natural and artificial, or between ethics and aesthetics. Disaster as eminent reality?

In this eminent reality, I underline the founding importance of experience and the providing vocation of the artistic language. A foot in the water, another in dry land, in the middle the given name that breathes through my mouth.

I propose, in this lecture, to present a performatic testimony of my creative process, discussing poetry and plastic arts and the border-crossing relation between them.