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Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Annotated bibliography, 3rd quarter

As part of a 4-times-a-year report I am conducting as a researcher in one of the research projects I am partaking in, I write a Selected Annotated Bibliography. Here's my annotated bibliography for the last three months.

Douglas W. MacCLEERY: American forests: A history of resilience and recovery. Forest History Society, 1992. This publication offers a lot of interesting statistics and facts not only since 1930 or so, when the proportion of US land that is forested has generally been stable, after 300 years of deforestation, but also concerning times as far back as to year 1600 (even native indigenous forestry practices are briefly described). The last century several wildlife species have recovered, not least due to the gradual introduction of conservation measures. In conclusion, this work is a helpful source of references and thoroughly examines the full implications of different attitudes to forests and utilization of forest products. Though the situation of Norwegian forests is not identical with the American situation, this book nevertheless provides useful knowledge about the interconnections of conservation efforts and forestry practices/land use.

The Norwegian daily Nationen [The nation], Mon 31st of August – Wed 9th of September. The latest national election in Norway took place September 14th. For 10 days close to the conclusion of the election, I followed Nationen, Norway’s only national daily devoted to matters of agriculture and rural policies. Every day in this period there were articles etc. about carnivore policy; about half of the editions one of them featured on the front page. In many rural areas, wolf and carnivore policy turned out to become one of the defining topics of the electoral campaign, though only 3 parties (Senterpartiet, Fremskrittspartiet and Sosialistisk Venstreparti) talked much about it. For the first time the populist right-wing party Fremskrittspartiet competed seriously for the anti-wolf votes – though Senterpartiet, traditionally the farmers’ party, still dominated the discourse. The carnivore policy for 2009-2013 is now up for negotiations within the re-elected coalition government, which consists of Arbeiderpartiet (the social democrats), Senterpartiet and Sosialistisk Venstreparti (a left-wing party which supports wolf conservation).

Paolo VIRNO: Natural-historical diagrams: The ‘new global’ movement and the biological invariant. Pp. 131-147 in The Italian difference: Between nihilism and biopolitics (eds. Lorenzo Chiesa and Alberto Toscano), Melbourne 2009: re.press. Translated from Italian by Alberto Toscano. Virno’s notion of the natural-historical diagrams of human nature refers to “concrete phenomena, socio-political states of affairs, historical events.” He thus offers an empirical (or emergent) notion of human nature – which can be of interest in the context of my depicting of a natural history of the phenomenal world. Crucial in Virno’s observations is that ‘human nature’ as we know it places us as an “indefinite animal”, an animal without any definitive natural environment. This, he claims, explains our ‘instability’ as a species, and our constant urge for further modifications of the environment. It would be interesting to integrate and try to develop some of his main points in my own work.

Wendy WHEELER: The Whole Creature: Complexity, Biosemiotics and the Evolution of Culture. London 2006: Lawrence & Wishart. In this valuable book, Wheeler outlines some connections between biosemiotics and other complexity science on the one hand and politics and cultural theory on the other. In the context of my work Wheeler’s book represents an important step toward a proper understanding of the cultural implications of competing scientific outlooks and worldviews. While Wheeler on some points simplifies the connections between ‘capitalism’ and mainstream science, her portrayal of the cultural and ethical (and political) implications of a world view of biosemiotic relationism rather than one of capitalist atomism/individualism is in the main informative and telling. The main message – which I do subscribe to – is that human beings are social (and ecological) creatures which can not thrive – or correctly be described on a theoretical level – as isolated individuals. Her stress of the social and ecological aspects of cultural life bears implications not least for economic thought.


Saturday, 26 September 2009

"Outline of an Uexküllian bio-ontology" referred to in encyclopedia article

My article "Outline of an Uexküllian bio-ontology" - my very first academic article, published in Sign Systems Studies in 2001 - is included in the literature list of the entry for "Uexküll, Jacob Johann Baron von (1864-1944)" in volume XXIX of Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL): Nachschlagewerk mit aktuellen Nachträgen (columns 1455-1483 - author: Heike Delitz). This volume was published in 2008 in Nordhausen by the publisher Traugott Bautz.

Full reference:
- Tønnessen, Morten: Outline of an Uexküllian bio-ontology, in: Sign Systems Studies 29 (2001), 683-691
The encyclopedia entry also appears on Spiegel Wissen.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

On site in A Coruña, Spain

I have just arrived in A Coruña (Galicia), Spain, where the 10th world congress of semiotics takes place. It has been a long journey. I have been travelling (first by ferry, and then) by train - more than 3,000 km. It is my first time in Spain. Se my approximate route here.

Friday I will be presenting my talk "The changing imagery of the big bad wolf" - with examples from the Norwegian national election September 14th.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The abstract book of the 2009 world congress in semiotics

... is to be found here.

My contribution (p. 153) ends abruptly, with a word missing.
THE CHANGING IMAGERY OF THE BIG BAD WOLF
Autores/Autors: Morten Tønnessen (UNIVERSITY OF TARTU)

The current work is part of the author’s ecosemiotic analysis of Norwegian/Scandinavian wolf management in the period 1855-2010. In Norway, as in several other countries, wolf management is controversial. For some on the countryside it has come to symbolize the ignorant hostility (and imperialistic tendencies) of the urban elites. There is a wide gap between perceptions on the conservation side and in the antagonistic camp, and the proper role of folklore – which is considered by wolf ecologists as unscientific – has never been agreed upon. Field observations confirm that the political and cultural strife has little basis in actual wolf ecology – sheep, for instance, which play a marginal role in Scandinavian wolf diet, are currently major players in popular imagery (and, ironically, management policies) only. As symbols have grown and developed, cultural representations of wolves appear, at least in part, to have decoupled from ecological reality. In what ways have our conceptions of wolves changed from the extermination campaigns of the 19th century to the conservation efforts of our generation? To what extent have wolves, in modern times as well as earlier, symbolized human traits, religious ideas etc., and to what extent have they represented actual phenomena of nature? By offering a series of examples of animal representations involving wolves – in fiction and popular culture, in myths and in legends – I will inquire into these questions, aiming at approving our understanding of how human cultures has co-evolved not only with wolves, but further with a rich human imagery of these creatures, the infamous ancestors of man’s best
FRIEND.

Reflection piece in Hortus Semioticus

Yesterday I finished a little article entitled "Signs grow - but should they? Semioethics and the dominant semiosis of Homo sapiens sapiens".
What is the nature of semiosis? And what is the culture of semiosis?
To be published in the soon-to-be-published Hortus Semioticus (where the first semioethics interview - with John Deely - will be published as well). "Signs grow - but should they?" represents the first in a series of reflections by young semioticians fully occupied in "the semiotic garden".

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

My first blurb

Yesterday I delivered my first blurb.

Occasion: Paul Cobley (ed.): Realism for the 21st Century. A John Deely Reader - to be published by Scranton University Press.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Research assistant (UiA) - multimodality

I have been assigned as a research assistant of the UiA (Agder University) research project "Multimodalitet, leseopplæring og læremidler (MULL)" - "Multimodality, reading training and educational materials". In this position I will have some work to do this autumn and next spring, related first of all to dissemination of results. The project sorts under the Department of Nordic and media Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Education.

Norwegian language project site here.