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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Two papers accepted for MAC4, Mexico City

I have been notified by the organizers of Minding Animals Conference 4, to take place in Mexico City January 17-24th, that my papers "The cultural semiotic of wolves and sheep" and "The semiotics of predation and the Umwelten of large predators" have been accepted for oral presentation at the conference.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Abstract for MAC4: "The semiotics of predation and the Umwelten of large predators"

I have just submitted the abstract below to the organizers of Minding Animals Conference 4 (Mexico City, January 17-24th 2018).


The Semiotics of Predation and The Umwelten of Large Predators
This paper aims to present fundamental findings related to the semiotics of predation, and point out a few typical features of the Umwelten (lifeworlds) of large predators.

Carnivores are emblematic of the brutality of nature in that, apparently, in order to live, they have to take lives – as most animals do. Carnivores are generally associated with predatory behaviour, although not all carnivores are predators. Predators thus form a subcategory of carnivores, and are correctly associated with killing – causing death, fear and, to varying degrees, suffering.

In general, when preying on other animals, predators intend to kill, but they do not kill because of any malicious intentions. Nevertheless, historically, predators have a reputation for being beasts ruled by hunger and are still, perhaps unfairly, looked upon as iconic murderers.

What all carnivores have in common is that they eat meat and that they hunt and/or scavenge. As a subcategory of carnivores, besides eating meat, large predatory carnivores have in common that they hunt and kill other animals. In terms of the four main functional cycles referred to by Jakob von Uexküll in his Umwelt theory, predators are thereby characterized by the functional cycle that involves food. The key contrapuntal relation involved in the Umwelten of large predators is, from this perspective, that of predator and prey. Whereas for predators, prey have the functional tone of food, for prey, predators have the functional tone of an enemy – a lethal threat.

These common features of large predator Umwelten indicate selective empathy. However, as any social animal, large predators also, to varying degrees, engage in a number of positive social relations.

Abstract for MAC4: "The cultural semiotic of wolves and sheep"

I have just submitted the abstract below to the organizers of Minding Animals Conference 4 (Mexico City, January 17-24th 2018).


The cultural semiotic of wolves and sheep

Morten Tønnessen
University of Stavanger, Norway

Wolves and sheep go together – at least in the public mind. They are among the most widespread mammals of wild and domesticated species respectively. While the wolf is in several countries the most controversial large carnivore, it is also, and not coincidentally, the most symbolically laden Western carnivore. The wolf is a symbol of large carnivores, governmental interference in local issues, freedom and authenticity, evil, hunger, sexuality, etc. Sheep, on the other hand, represent among other things innocence and vulnerability (and, of course – food, wool and thus economic value).
The juxtaposition of the symbolism of wolves and sheep go all the way back to the Bible, if not even further. In the Bible, this archetypical opposition is only resolved in the vision of a new Earth and new Heavens, when, in this new paradise, “[t]he wolf and the lamb will feed together” (Isaiah 65:25). Meanwhile, everybody “knows” that wolves prey on sheep. However, many would be surprised to learn that in Norway, wolves over time only account for less than a tenth of depredation on sheep. This demonstrates the way in which people are informed not only by facts, but also by cultural imagery.
Familiarity with the cultural imagery of wolves and sheep is arguably a precondition for fully understanding the fierce human emotions that are invoked in social and political conflicts on wolf management and conservation. Although there are local variations, and even though imagery and symbolism can change over time, the “background noise”, as it were, of the historical cultural semiotic of wolves and sheep is significant practically wherever there are, or were, wolves.

Registered for MAC4, Mexico City

I have just registered for Minding Animals Conference 4, to be held in Mexico City in January 2017. this will be my third Minding Animals Conference.

To take part in "Philosophy and Animals" panel

In Bulletin 43 issued by Minding Animals International, I am listed as one of the panelists in the panel "Philosophy and Animals", which is to be held during Minding Animals Conference 4, in Mexico City in January 2018.
I have been assigned a master student in social work for master thesis supervision until next Spring.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Teaching plan for Ex.Phil. composed

Today I have finished composing the lecture and seminar plan for this autumn´s Examen Philosophicum at Department of social studies at UiS.

Ex.Phil. presented for child welfare students

Today I presented the course Examen Philosophicum for bachelor students in child welfare at University of Stavanger´s Department of social studies, during the introduction week.

Friday, 11 August 2017

IASS general assembly in Kaunas attended

On June 29th I attended (most of) the general assembly of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, held in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Interviewed on whaling by Süddeutsche Zeitung

A feature story in Süddeutsche Zeitung on whaling, titled "Die letzten Jäger" and featuring an interview with me in capacity as Norwegian Green Party politician, was published in no. 167, 2017, Samstag/Sonntag 22./23. Juli. In the article I am referred to as "Tierschutz-Sprecher der Partei" (the animal protection spokesman of the party). The same article appears to have been published also by the Swiss newspaper Der Bund (July 27th), likely also Tagesanzeiger.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

"Umwelt theory revisited" presented at NASS X in Kaunas

On Friday June 30th, I presented my paper "Umwelt theory revisited - contemporary Uexküllian thought in 10 points" during the 10th conference of the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Course in PhD supervision attended

Today, for some two and a half hours, I attended a Crash-Course/First Aid Course in supervision of PhD students, held by Anne Lee.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Lunch meeting

Today I attended a lunch meeting with two UiS colleagues in relation to my responsibility as course coordinator for "Philosophy of science and research methods".

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Ethology panel in Mexico City cancelled

The ethology panel I was to be part of at the 4th Minding Animals Conference has been cancelled due to lack of interest from other scholars.

Sales data for "Thinking about animals..."

According to a royalty statement from Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group), our book Thinking about Animals in the Age of the Anthropocene  sold 114 copies last year, 24 of which have been returned (net sale: 90, i.e. 82 Cloth and 8 Electronic).

Chair of academic-political panel on green jobs

Yesterday I chaired and co-organised "Grønt Symposium" (Green symposium) at Mellombels Ølstove in Bryne, Norway. The panel, discussing green business and jobs, consisted of two politicians, one environmentalist and two scholars, my UiS colleagues Rune Dahl Fitjar and Klaus Mohn (both economists). The symposium, which attracted some 100 people, was organised by Time and Rogaland Green Party.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Back to work

My holiday is over. Back to work tomorrow.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Semiotic confederations meeting in Kaunas

On June 29th, I attended a semi-formal meeting in Kaunas, Lithuania, for representatives of various international semiotics confederations, representing the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies (NASS). The meeting was convened by IASS President Paul Cobley, and attended by a dozen people or so.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Not able to attend first Council for animal ethics meeting

I have given notice that I cannot attend the excursion and meeting of Norway´s Council for animal ethics, which I have just joined as a regular member representing animal protection NGOs. This is due to teaching obligations at University of Stavanger.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Graded parental leave ended

July 12th was the final day of the second round of my graded parental leave with our twins Alexander and Cecilie (now almost 2 years old).

Summer vacation

This summer, I am on vacation from University of Stavanger in the period July 11th to August 6th.

Paper work for reimbursement

Just before starting on my holiday, I did a full day of paper work at University of Stavanger to get reimbursement for various academic and other trips the last two-three couple of months.

MAC4 panel on animals and philosophy

At the 4th Minding Animals Conference, to take place in Mexico City January 17-24th, I will be one of the participants in the Animals and Philosophy panel.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Search image article finished

On July 9th, the night before July 10th, I finished my article "The search image as link between sensation, perception and action", submitted for a special issue of BioSystems on code biology.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

GroupHouseNet STSM: Ethics of laying hen breeding

GroupHouseNet has issued a call for Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) in 2017-18. I am involved as a host in one of the priority topics:
WG1 Ethics of laying hen breeding, Host Morten Tonnessen, Stavanger, Norway,
(Collaborators Mike Toscano, Christine Nicol, Teun van de Braak) – Ethical considerations of laying hen breeding companies. morten.tonnessen[a]
Application deadline is August 15th.

Erasmus Mundus funding achieved for MFAMILY, second round

The University of Stavanger´s Department of social studies has successfully applied for Erasmus Mundus funding for Master in Social Work with Families and Children (MFAMILY) for a new round. I have been somewhat involved in the application work, in relation to revision and presentation of the course "Welfare state and welfare policy".

Friday, 30 June 2017

Representing Biosemiotics at journals fair in Kaunas

Two days ago, on Wednesday afternoon, at the 13th world congress of semiotics (Kaunas June 26-30th), I participated in the semiotic journals fair, along with fellow co-editors of Biosemiotics Alexei Sharov and Timo Maran.

"Uexküllian phenomenology" presented in Kaunas

Yesterday, at the 13th world congress of semiotics (Kaunas June 26-30th), I presented my paper "Uexküllian phenomenology" in the morning session of "Biosemiotics in dialogue". Some 15 people were present.

Another biosemiotics session chaired in Kaunas

Yesterday, at the 13th world congress of semiotics (Kaunas June 26-30th), I chaired the afternoon session "Biosemiotics in dialogue". Some 35 people were present.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

"Biosemiotics in dialogue" session chaired in Kaunas

Earlier today I chaired a brief session in the segment "Biosemiotics in dialogue" during the ongoing 13th world congress of semiotics in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Report from GroupHouseNet stakeholder workshop

Here is a brief report from the stakeholder workshop I co-organised in Skopje, Macedonia, in early June as part of the COST action GroupHouseNet.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Board meeting - MAN

I have just chaired a board meeting of Minding Animals Norway, via Skype.

Friday, 23 June 2017

"Umwelt theory revisited" presentation at NASS X scheduled for June 30th

My presentation "Umwelt theory revisited - contemporary Uexküllian thought in 10 points" has been scheduled for presentation at the 10th conference of the Nordic Association for Semiotic Studies (Kaunas, Lithuania June 26th to 30th) on Friday June 29th at 9.00-9.30.

Uexküllian phenomenology presentation scheduled for June 29th

My presentation "Uexküllian phenomenology" has been scheduled for presentation at the 13th World Congress of Semiotics (Kaunas, Lithuania June 26th to 30th), in the session "Biosemiotics in dialogue", on Thursday June 29th at 9.00-9.30.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

To take part in two panels at MAC4, Mexico City

I will take part in a panel on "Animals and philosophy", and another on "Animals, history and ethology" during Minding Animals Conference 4, which is to be held in Mexico City January 17-24th 2018.

EMP151 field work summary composed and distributed

I have earlier this Spring composed a 7 pp. popular science summary of field work conducted in Norway Spring 2015 as part of the research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis". Today I distributed it via email to interviewees. The video-recorded interviews were about wolves and related animals.

Four bachelor theses graded

I have finished grading four bachelor theses in social work, as the internal examiner.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Record-high Impact Factor for Biosemiotics

The Impact Factor for Biosemiotics for 2016 has been released - a record high 0.964.

Panel participation at MAC4?

I have signalled interest in taking part in three panels at Minding Animals Conference 4, to take place in Mexico City next January, particularly "Ecophilosophy".

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Working lunch

Today I attended a working lunch with some of the teachers in "Welfare state and welfare policy" where we evaluated this Spring´s course.

"Wolf land" cited in Hiedenpää & Pellikka

My article

Tønnessen, Morten 2010. Wolf Land. Biosemiotics 3.3: 289–297 (online version, published April 23, 2010: DOI: 10.1007/s12304-010-9077-x).
is cited in

Hiedanpää, Juha & Jani Pellikka 2017. Preadaptative Transactions and Institutional Change: Wolf-critical activism in southwestern Finland [2010e]. Environmental Policy and Governance 27: 270-281. DOI: 10.1002/eet.1754.
Excerpt (p. 277):
A marriage and a one dollar note are typical examples that Searle uses to illustrate a status function. The wolf-critical civil society has actively claimed that the wolf should not have such a position, since it lacks some essential biological properties and definitely lacks the collective and institutional properties that would constitute its status function. The wolfs status must not be symbolized (for wolf semiotics, see Tønnessen, 2010). Instead, the wolf must be considered according to its actual physical and mental effects and not according to some agreed upon abstract properties, e.g. it being endangered, since there are tens of thousands of wolves in Russia.