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Thursday, 25 March 2010

"Mapping human impact" considered unsuitable

My article "Mapping human impact", where for one thing I critically evaluate the ecological footprint concept, has been found unsuitable for Geografiska annaler by reviewers of that prestiguous journal. Unsurprisingly, I think (as it is very much focused on my own theoretical development of Umwelt mapping, rather than first and foremost relating to established methodology).
It is now likely to appear in the general conference proceedings of the second CECT (Centre of Excellence in Cultural Theory) autumn conference, which as far as I understand is also materializing - though its precise format will only be decided upon in a month or so.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Abstract for "The global species"

The publication of my article "The global species" in Britain's New formations is approaching, and in the process I have just written an abstract for it.
AbstractThe phenomenon of colonialism is in this article treated with reference to our stepwise establishment throughout history of something akin to a global colonial organism. The concept of ‘global species’, which is introduced for the first time, applies not only to the human species but furthermore to several of our affiliated species. Due to disparity in ecological and climatic conditions, global presence may never before have been a typical characteristic of dominating species – but it is today. Humankind’s successful proliferation and dispersal has facilitated the global spread of everything from livestock and crop species to pets and certain bugs, at the expense of wildlife. Though humankind is in this article for the most part taken to be one entity, the author does in no way claim that all cultures are the same, or that we are destined to go on in the same way as we have started out. The word “we”, however, is empathised – as a prerequisite for a truly global awareness and sense of responsibility. What this article suggests, is simply that the global colonial organism we have established is the proper real-life framework for any discussion of the ecological performance of specific cultures and societies.

KeywordsBiosemiotics, Capitalism, Crop species, Global colonial organism, Global culture, Global species, Globalisation, Land use, Livestock, Pets

Academic news in brief V: Group dialogue, editing, and a climate movie

1. Yesterday's town hall meeting with philosophical consultations on the topic of faith (Byhallen, Kristiansand, Norway) went well, with 57 persons taking part at one point or another. We were sitting in a half-circle, to facilitate a cosy, intimate group feeling. I was the facilitator for the last 45 minutes or so.
2. The editing of "Semiotics of Perception", the forthcoming special issue of Biosemiotics, is moving into its very last stages - currently being sent to typesetting. Production next.
3. At the same day as I am giving a talk at Hald International Centre, Hald - May 26th (cf. yesterday's Academic news in brief) - they will sceen the crowd-funded, fictional-documentary climate movie The Age of Stupid. Recommendable, for the most part (I saw it a few days ago, in preparation of this event).

Academic news in brief IV: Group dialogue, networking, and two talks

[Written yesterday]
1. This morning, I was on the radio for 7 minutes (Radio Sør, Kristiansand) talking about this evening's townhall meeting, "Philosophical consultations on faith" [Filosofisk samtale om tro] - cf. former plans made and reported. I will supplement Håvard Løkke in the role as "samtaleleder" (facilitator for the group conversation). Four persons will introduce us to their personal view on faith: Akmal Ali/Noureddine Ramila (muslim), Paul Leer-Salvesen (christian) and the philosophers Ralph Henk Vaags (christian) and Stein Rafoss ("humanist").
2. Yesterday I registered on LinkedIn.
3. Last week I agreed to give a 2 hour English language talk on the environment and human dignity at Hald International Centre (Mandal, Southern Norway) May 26th. The audience will consist of a "class" of volunteers (14 nationalities, I think) that will by then have spent the last 7 months practicing aid and relief.
4. Last week I further committed to giving a 45 minute talk April 5th at the University of Tartu, in an English language ecosemiotics course at master level, led by my collegue Riin Magnus. The topic: The needs of humans and other living creatures... and the possibility of coexistence.

Zoosemiotic research seminar April 2nd

Tartu Ülikooli semiootika osakond Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu
Tööseminar “zoosemiootika ja loomade representatsioonid” Research seminar in zoosemiotics and animal representations

Tartu, Tiigi 78-324
2.04.2010, 10.00-16.00


10.15 Coffee and introductory words
10.30 Morten Tønnessen. Territory vs. confinement - the Umwelten of free-range vs. captive wolves
11.00 Nelly Mäekivi. Zoological garden as a semiotic environment
11.30 Teevi Subert. Sümboliline kommunikatsioon
12.00 Silver Rattasepp. The changeable and the unchangeable, or how practice becomes metaphysics
12.30 – 14.00 Lunch break
14.00 Timo Maran. Analyzing Th. A. Sebeok’s bibliography: initial results, problems and perspectives
14.30 Elena Grigorjeva. XX XY Indication of the chromosome
15.00 Lona Päll. Vabaduse ökosemiootiline käsitlus Kaplinski “Lahkujate” põhjal
15.30 Kadri Tüür. Birds and herrings: the Estonian tradition of maritime travel literature

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Bear video


Cf. my recent post Bear pics.


I am now included in the online overview of the editorial board of the Springer journal Biosemiotics.

Morten Tønnessen, Department of Semiotics, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

Bear pics

The bear cubs Salt and Pepper of Polar Zoo in Northern Norway were officially let out of the den for the winter this Saturday (2 days ago) (picture in local newspaper, with red ball, here). A few days earlier, when I happened to be present, they tried it out, off the record, to see how the bears would respond. Here's a few pictures of the two leaving the artificial den, and play fighting in the snow.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Tartu brochure online

The testemonial I have written for the University of Tartu (Tartu Ülikool) has so far been online on under the heading "Degree Programmes Taught in English – University of Tartu" (NB! Testemonials rotating).
Now the 4 page brochure in which it appears - about Ph.D. degree studies, and short-term research visits - is also online. The nationality of the three other Ph.D. students featuring with testemonials is Romanian, Latvian and Chinese, respectively.

Friday, 12 March 2010

"We the living" accepted for presentation

I have just been notified by the Scientific Advidory Committee that my submission “We the living: The reception of Uexkull in Norwegian ecophilosophy” has been accepted for presentation at the 10th Annual International Gathering in Biosemiotics, to be held at the Portuguese Catholic University in Braga, Portugal June 22-27, 2010.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

6 more wolf videos - now up-close

Links to the videos at the bottom.

And the wolves they are a-fighting

The general pattern was that Nayla and Ylva were the ones fighting (and Ylva in particular chasing Luna, the omega (bottom of hierarchy) wolf), while Steinulv, the alpha male, kept whining and intervening to keep the peace.
The socialized wolves at Polar Zoo simultaneously carry out their roles vis-à-vis their human caretakers (and visitors to the zoo) and their social roles vis-à-vis each other (this is due to the fact that the zookeepers remain neutral, in stead of taking "a role in the pack"). Accordingly, they can fight one moment and lick a caretaker's face the next, then returning to the fight...

The king of the hill

Wolf kisses

These pictures are of a zookeeper and a long-term visiting animal trainer - but one of the socialized wolves, Ylva, "kissed" me as well. The wolves got used to licking people on/in their mouths as pups, when the zookeepers at times fed them from their mouths.
The taste of wolf - I now know.

Feeding the wolves of Polar Zoo

Here we're inside of the enclosure of the shy canid couple, Nanok (he) and Gaida (she). The box contains animal feed (meat). The adult wolves of the park get in average 2,5 kg each day (Note: they are not fed every day).

The shy couple kept a distance as long as we were inside. In the neighbouring enclosure, that of the four socialized wolves, they also kept a distance as we were up in the "wooden tower" (or rather ladder) from which these wolves are fed.

Nanok and Gaida eat. Correction: Nanok, the male (to the right), eats - and shows his teeth to his beloved Gaida, to signal that she cannot yet approach the food.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the road/path, the socialiced wolves keep track of what's going on, with us and to some extent also with their parents Nanok and Gaida...

Scary animals I met in Polar Zoo

Feeding the lynx: Before entering an enclosure, the zoo keeper has to go through security measures with you. Before entering the lynx enclosure, I was told that they are unpredictable, and "precision hunters". If attacking to kill they would go for my throat. I tried to think of a cat 10 times a cat's size ... which didn't help easing my fear of these Nordic forest cats. On the other hand, they do not commonly attack humans in the wild, and these particular animals are well fed at that.

There's three lynx in Polar Zoo. This female appears to be the most curious/courageous of them. She tried to get to eat straight from the zoo keeper's box with meat, and hissed at him when he wouldn't let her. To the left: A piece of animal feed (meat).

The same female lynx was not afraid of getting close to us - but run off when the zoo keeper pointed the spade at her.

Feeding the musc oxes: Ester (left) came to eat first, Klaus (right) was more wary of us.

Two times he faked an attack at us - first by leaping ahead and stamping with his front feet, and then, after a few minutes, by "running towards us" - for 1 meter. It did the trick for me - I felt scared (although I was well aware that these were only early warning signals). I wouldn't want to run into this fellow unprotected on a plain.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Wolf pics II

Norway looks like a cake these days.

This poor wolf escaped from soon-to-be-established Polar Zoo in 1993, only to end up, in its afterlife, as a trophy in the zoo's café.

Wolf pics 1

This is not a wolf. The head looks like a wolverine - but the body more like a fat fox...

My first picture of the socialized wolves in Polar Zoo. I am inside of the enclosure.

Man and wolf.

Wolf videos

Legg til bilde

Here's five videos I have recorded today, during my research visit to Polar Zoo:

Ylva the wolf wants to play fight

Howling to the wolves of Polar Zoo

Howling with the wolves in Polar Zoo

Wolves coming to join us in Polar Zoo

Wolves take off

Monday, 8 March 2010

Up North

Today I arrived in Polar Zoo, in Bardu municipality, Norway. At 68,5 degrees North, it is the Northernmost zoological garden in the world. At the moment it is -6 degrees Celsius, but yesterday it was raining - and last week temperatures were at winter lows of -31.
Polar Zoo has kept wolves since its start in 1994. There's currently 6 wolves here - 4 of them socialized (the alpha male - their father, and one of the two shy wolves - is 10 years old, and was born in the zoo). I will meet them all tomorrow (and until Thursday). Plus the brown bear cubs Salt (female) and Pepper (male).
This afternoon I have been talking with the staff (3 permanently here (of which I have met 2), and an additional 2 visiting at the moment). Bear trainers and the like. A lot of information to digest.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Semiotics of Perception progressing

I have just submitted the second lot of papers to Biosemiotics' editor-in-chief Marcello Barbieri, to the forthcoming special issue 'Semiotics of Perception'. One paper remains - but much of the editorial work is at any rate concluded by now.

Topic for zoosemiotic seminar

I have decided the topic for my short talk at the zoosemiotic seminar in Tartu April 2nd:

Territory vs. confinement - the Umwelten of free-range vs. captive wolves

Tomorrow I'm flying North, to Polar Zoo, to spend three days there.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Festschrift to be published in June

The Festschrift wherein will appear my piece on Juri Lotman (and his encounter with Sebeok in Bergen), co-written with Dinda Gorlée, will appear in print not in February, as originally planned, but only in June.

Summer Symposium on Sustainable Systems

Unfortunately I did not get the chance to submit an abstract to the Summer Symposium on Sustainable Systems (4S), an interdisciplinary symposium for doctural students and post-doctoral researchers (Sannäs, Finland, June 14-17, 2010).
The aim of the symposium is to bring together motivated researchers and high level keynote speakers with an interest in interdisciplinary systemic approaches to complex issues under the theme of closed-loop sustainable material systems.
4S theme this year:
Harmonizing Policy, Technology, Product Design and Resource Management

Town hall meeting on faith approaching

Tuesday 23rd of March, the Filosofisk Forum of the Agder University will arrange a town hall meeting in Kristiansand, Norway, on the topic of faith. I am involved in the planning of this event (and might take part in the execution of it as well).
At this event, we'll apply the methodology of "philosophical consultations". Before the general, open dialogue, four representatives will talk about their personal faith, or lack thereof (a Christian professor of ethics, a Christian philosopher, a Muslim imam, and a non-believing philosopher).
Here's a link to the (Norwegian langauge) Facebook group of the event.