Sunday, 30 August 2009

Presentation in TÜ seminar on the methodology of the humanities

Title for my talk: "Methodological challenges in analyzing wolf ecology and wolf management within a semiotic-phenomenological framework".

The seminar takes place at the department of semiotics, and will be organized by Peeter Torop.

Date T.B.A.

Friday, 28 August 2009

New timetable for "Semiotics of Perception"

Kati Lindström and I have just agreed with the editor-in-chief of Biosemiotics, Marcello Barbieri, that the special issue "Semiotics of Perception", an outcome of the SemioPhenomenon workshops in Tartu February 2009 ("The Ecology of Perception" and "Animal Minds"), for which we are the guest editors, will be published as no. 2, 2010 (August) in stead of as no. 1, 2010 (April), as originally planned.

David Abram
John Deely
Kalevi Kull
Kati Lindström
Timo Maran
Silver Rattasepp
Renata Sõukand & Raivo Kalle
Morten Tønnessen
Wendy Wheeler

Thursday, 27 August 2009

University teacher

Today I wrote the contract for teaching in the history of philosophy at Agder University (UiA), Kristiansand, Norway this autumn. Hopefully I will be reassigned for next spring (Kristiansand) and summer (Lesvos, Greece) at a later point.

First lecture took place this Monday, in the biggest auditorium of the university, named after Henrik Ibsen, with some 200 students present - the second on Tuesday. At the very first one, I took some time telling about the history of examen philosophicum (which started out in Copenhagen in the 17th century) in Norway, not least Arne Næss' role in modern times; and the ongoing debate on the place of Ex.phil. in the Norwegian education system (after decades and centuries of revisions and cuts).

I am now a:
- Ph.D. student
- Researcher (in 3 research projects)
- University teacher ("universitetslektor")

Friday, 21 August 2009

Report from China to appear in Norwegian media

One of the talks I appreciated the most at the First World Congress of Environmental History, in Copenhagen, August 4-8, was "The Rise, Development, and Influence of the Environmental NGOs in China" by professor Xueqin Mei and Da Mao from Beijing, China. I have composed an article based on their talk. This article has been accepted for publication (possibly only in a few weeks) in a regional Norwegian newspaper with fairly good circulation.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Where are the Estonians?

I am here at the First World Congress of Environmental History as the only Estonian representative (as a Norwegian Ph.D. Student at Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu). This March I was in Copenhagen at an international climate conference, with around 1,500 participants - as the only Estonian representative. Where are the Estonians?

Here at the environmental history congress there are maybe 550 participants, judging by the list of participants. Though scholars from Europe and the US dominate (along with participants from Canada, Australia, New Zealand), there are some representation of other regions of the world as well, South America and Asia (China, Japan, India, Taiwan, Nepal ...) included. As for Africa, there's 9 participants (15 % of world population, 1-2 % of world congress participants) - in addition to South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and Lesotho are represented (Lesotho 2, Estonia 1).

Norway, with its 7 representatives - me not included - almost compares to Africa in participation. That's not surprising, however, given that Norway is a neighboring country. Then again, so is practically Estonia. And yet, I am the only one here - nor are there any participants from Latvia or Lithuania; making me the sole representative from the Baltic states.

Q & A with Paul Crutzen

Here at the First World Congress of Environmental History (Copenhagen/Malmø August 4-8) Nobel laureate in chemistry Paul J. Crutzen gave the first traditional plenary talk, entitled "The Anthropocene: Humans as a force in global environmental cycles". A good talk it was (though in the context of climate change I would not pragmatically allude to geo-engineering - which Crutzen did refer to in conclusion, "out of despair" (being clear, to be fair, that it was only a "last resort", and that other solutions should be sought).

I asked him a question in the Q & A session following Crutzen's talk. First I referred to his mention of the incredible economic growth of the last century, and said I understood his despair with regard to climate change. But what role has the economy to play in this context? Is our current economic model viable, or not?

Paul Crutzen answered, after a moment of hesitation, that he though the current economic crisis is evidence that our current economic model is not viable (laughter from the audience).

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Copenhagen (WCEH)

The full program - including abstracts - of the world congress in environmental history, to take place in Copenhagen next week, is available at
Why is it that so many academic events have such high-society profiles? At WCEH2009, lunch + coffee can be bought for 2000 DKK - 400 DKK (around 50 Euros) per day! Such prices discourage participation from low-income countries, and persons (as well as for scholars and students who don't mind - or even prefer - normal standards).
Same story with hotels (pensions and B&B are more often than not not even mentioned as options - cf. the upcoming world congress in semiotics in La Coruna, Spain).
As for the program, I am to be found at p.7 (program) and 183 (abstract).

1001 Estranged, Endangered, Extinct. Lessons from the Extinction of the Scandinavian Wolf
Morten Tønnessen, University of Tartu
After thousands of wolves had been shot, the Scandinavian wolf went extinct. But it reappeared – and in Norway it’s had the status of a protected species since 1972. For many sheep farmers – widely regarded as the clearest antagonists of the wolves – the current wolf management remains a symbol of their modern estrangement. In what way does the estrangement of sheep farmers relate to the equally evident estrangement of the still endangered wolves?
Other Norwegian topics at WHEC2009:

380 Making yourself at home in nature: The conflict between public access to land and leisure cabin ownership in Norway, 1850-2000
Finn Arne Jørgensen,, NTNU
473 Local knowledge in a global industry: the formation and movement of the science of salmonaquaculture
Stephen Bocking,, Trent University
914 War over Whales: Radical Environmentalist Organizations and Scientific Knowledge in Whaling Controversies
Morten Haugdahl,, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
959 The standard of living, consumption and the environment in Norway 1726-2006
Kjell Bjørn Minde,, Stord University College