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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Blurb on forthcoming book on Wittgenstein in translation

My Dutch colleague Dinda Gorlée (cf. previous posts), who is among other things Associate Editor of American Book Review, has written a book entitled Wittgenstein in translation: Exploring semiotic signatures. It is to be published this spring by De Gruyter Mouton (Berlin). Translation theory is her specialty, and she has for years been affiliated with the Wittgenstein archives in Bergen (see her profile page), Norway, so this should be a valuable publication.

Here's a blurb that I got from Dinda:

Apart from the Tractatus, Wittgenstein did not write whole manuscripts for books, but composed short fragments. The current volume reveals the depths of Wittgenstein's soul-searching writings - his "new" philosophy - by concentrating on ordinary language and using few technical terms. Wittgenstein followed St. Augustine (as translator) and Plato (as teacher). Wittgenstein is finally given the accolade of a neglected figure in the history of semiotics, when he moved from Saussure to Peirce and Jakobson. This volume provides an application of Wittgenstein's methodological tools to study the multilingual dialogue in philosophy, linguistics, theology, anthropology, and literature. Translation shows how the translator's signatures in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Swedish can be in conflict with personal or stylistic choices in linguistic form, but also in cultural content. This book undertakes the "impossible task" of uncovering the reasoning of Wittgenstein's original and translated texts in order to construct, instead of a paraphrase, the ideal of a terminological coherence of Wittgenstein's fragmentariness in philosophy.

See also Dinda Gorlée's homepage, and her earlier book chapter on the theme of "Wittgenstein, translation and semiotics" (also available in part through Google Books). She can be contacted directly via

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Web page of Minding Animals Norway under construction

The homepage of Minding Animals Norway is under construction. You'll find a simple English language version here.

For those who understand Norwegian, here's a page where you can register as a member, and here's a presentation of the board members (including me, as the chair of MAN - see my Norwegian language blog Utopisk Realisme for the academic blurb on me).

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Cooperator for wolf article on man-eaters reshuffled once again

For quite some time now I have had an agreement with Estonian wolf researcher Ilmar Rootsi which involves co-writing an academic article on canid man-eaters in the next-to-modern history of Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Norway. In mid-October 2011 Nelly Mäekivi got back into that project, replacing Silver Rattasepp yet again as the third co-writer. By now she's a doctoral student (as is he).

Minding Animals Norway founded; me chair, treasurer

At the last section of the Shared worlds workshop arranged in Oslo October 14-15 2011, a very first general/annual meeting for Minding Animals Norway, through which MAN was founded as an NGO (as one of the first national bodies of Minding Animals International), was held. Not many attended, but a board of six was elected:

* Chair (and for the time being treasurer): Morten Tønnessen
* Deputy chair: Kristin Armstrong Oma
* Secretary: Rhys Evans
* Webmaster: Rune Ellefsen
* Member of the board: Frode Bakke Bjerkevik
* Member of the board: Runar Næss [later withdrew]

Regulations and an activity plan for 2012 were decided on. According to the mission statement, MAN will function as a bridge between academia and activism, and provide a Norwegian forum for the interdisciplinary field that studies human-animal relations, environmental issues included. MAN aims to facilitate discussion between the various interests in this rapidly growing field of research in a way that will improve the status of non-human animals and increase understanding of Man as a natural being.

Among the substantial decisions were these:
* MAN will be a member organization (with annual and lifetime membership)
* MAN will arrange an annual research seminar; and supports and will get involved in Kristian Bjørkdahl's (SUM, UiO) broad HAS conference initiative, which aims to establish an annual conference series involving researchers, activists and people with a livelihood in animal husbandry etc.
* MAN will occasionally produce letters to the editor and chronicles
* MAN will occasionally produce hearing statements (submit "høringsuttalelser" to Norwegian ministeries etc.)

Blurb on activism and academia panel

This is Rune Ellefsen's blurb on the panel on the relation between activism and academia at the Shared worlds workshop arranged in Oslo October 14-15 2011 (see also the program of the workshop).


Panel on the relation between academia and activism in the context of human-animal studies

Participants: Kristin Oma Armstrong (postdoc. in archeology, Oslo University), Kristian Bjørkdahl (PhD fellow & researcher at Centre for Development and the Environment, Oslo University) and Hilde Hammerlin (humanist, Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance).

The aim of this panel is raising awareness and questions about the possibilities and pitfalls of projects where academics and animal advocates interact around common interests in human-animal relations. Scientific human-animal studies are today conducted within a number of scholarly disciplines, focusing on topics and questions of great interest to both scholars and advocates. Issues raised by social movement participants are forming a basis for research and academic inquiry, at the same time scientific knowledge is used by social movements in furthering their cause.

Cooperation and interaction between academics and advocates raises a line of questions: Where does one draw the line between academic activity and activism? What are the advantages and disadvantages of interaction between activists and academics? In what form – if at all – can academia and advocates cooperate? Which experiences exists from other scholarly fields where academics and activists are closely related, as for example within women/feminist studies?

Blurb on horse panel

This is Rhys Evans' blurb on the panel on horses and humans at the Shared worlds workshop arranged in Oslo October 14-15 2011 (see also the program of the workshop).


Panel on the shared worlds of horses and humans

Humans and horses share a partnership which is unique in many ways. It is a partnership which has a deep historical heritage and new contemporary relevance. Historically, humans and horses have worked together to produce food and other commodities, to produce cities, civilizations, and even empires. Now they work together to produce health and well being, lifestyle balance, appreciation of nature, and self-actualization in an increasingly urbanized world. Where the population of horses suffered a precipitous decline with the advent of mechanized farming and industry, now the number of horses in developed economies is once again growing significantly. Much of this is built around the unique partnership forged between horses and humans. The size, willfulness and behavioral possibilities of horses make them different from other ‘companion animals’ and together the two species build unique worlds out of their different but shared potentials.

Yet much of this world-building has been viewed primarily through an anthropocentric lens. What are these shared worlds which the two create, and how can we know what our horses want, what matters to them, and importantly, how they benefit from the partnership? This Roundtable attempts to address the issue of ways of knowing – what do we know, how can we know, and what can we do with that knowledge in order to make the partnership more equal and more satisfying for both parties?

Final program for "Shared worlds" workshop

This is the final version of the program for the Shared worlds workshop (Oslo, October 14-15 2011) arranged by what was during that workshop founded as Minding Animals Norway. I prepared a program booklet, distributed during the workshop, on October 13th.



Friday October 14

09.30-10.00 Registration

Chair of morning session: Morten Tønnessen

10.00-11.00 Rod Bennison: “Considering the exploitation of animals in sport, and understanding the ‘Sport of Queens’”

10.00-10.45 Plenary speech

10.45-11.00 Q & A

11.00-12.00 Panel on the shared worlds of horses and humans

Facilitator: Kristin Oma Armstrong

Panelists: Kristin Oma Armstrong, Lynda Birke, Rhys Evans [the latter by video link]

11.00-11.15 Video introduction by Rhys Evans

11.15-12.00 Panel discussion

12.00-12.15 Coffee break

12.15-13.15 Liv Emma Thorsen: “Shared worlds? Animals in natural history museums”

12.15-13.00 Plenary speech

13.00-13.15 Q & A

13.15-14.45 Lunch break

Chair of afternoon session: Rune Ellefsen

14.45-15.45 Nelly Mäekivi: “(Mis)perceptions in shared environments: The case of zoos”

14.45-15.30 Plenary speech

15.30-15.45 Q & A

15.45-16.45 Tora Holmberg: “Sharing the lives of many: Urban controversies over animal hoarding and animal rescue”

15.45-16.30 Plenary speech

16.30-16.45 Q & A

16.45-17.00 Coffee break

17.00-18.00 Roundtable on the shared worlds of wolves and humans

Facilitator: Morten Tønnessen

Confirmed roundtable participants: Runar Næss, Antonio Poleo, Ketil Skogen, Morten Tønnessen

17.00-17.10 Introduction by Morten Tønnessen

17.10-18.00 Roundtable discussion

Saturday October 15

Chair of morning session: Rod Bennison

11.00-11.15 Rod Bennison informs about Minding Animals International and the 2012 Minding Animals conference in Utrecht

11.15-12.15 Position note workshop on the relation between academia and activism, part I

11.15-11.30 Video introduction by Rhys Evans

11.30-11.45 Philosophical practice: Questioning of Rod Bennison (by Morten Tønnessen) on his honest, deeply held beliefs and intuitions on human-animal relations

11.45-12.15 Group work

12.15-13.15 Panel on the relation between academia and activism in the context of HAS

Facilitator: Rune Ellefsen

Panelists: Kristin Oma Armstrong (UiO), Kristian Bjørkdahl (SUM – UiO), Rune Ellefsen (UiO), Hilde Valbjørn Hagelin (Dyrevernalliansen))

13.15-13.30 Coffee break

13.30-15.30 Position note workshop part II

15.30-17.00 Lunch break

17.00-18.00 General meeting of Minding Animals Norway

Program for Tartu research seminar in zoosemiotics

Here's the program for the 3rd Research Seminar in Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations, which took place in Tartu (Jakobi 2-306) October 25th 2011, in conjunction with the Department of Semiotics' doctoral seminar. The research seminar was arranged by the research project Dynamical Zoosemiotics and Animal Representations, where I am involved.


14.15 Timo Maran. Introducing research grant – dimensions of zoosemiotics

14.45 Nelly Mäekivi, Communicative zoo: prospects for future inquires

15.15 Elena Grigorjeva. Learning from animals online [later cancelled]

15.45 Kohvipaus | Coffee break

16.00 Kadri Tüür. Estonian fishing narratives of 1930ies

16.30 Morten Tønnessen. The cultural semiotic of wolves and sheep

17.00 Silver Rattasepp. Animal studies and the correlationist two-step [later cancelled]

17.30 Conclusions. General discussion.

October foray to Rogaland: University, university college visited; teaching job agreed on

In early October 2011 I visited Stavanger and Klepp (Oct. 3-5). In Stavanger I met with Kari Vevatne, Head of department at Department of Health studies, to discuss possibly being temporarily hired to teach philosophy. That meeting went well, as did a meeting with subject teacher Kjellaug Kaldestad Johannessen, who is responsible for the UiS' online Bachelor in nursing, where Examen Philosophicum is included as a compulsory subject. Kari and I agreed there and then that I would work at the department as a teacher both spring (25%) and (100%) autumn 2012, responsible for Ex.Phil. for nursing students and further for a Master course in the philosophy of science and moral philosophy in health studies. Part of the background is that Professor aka philosopher Sebastian Rehnmann will get research leave the autumn of 2012.

At nearby Klepp I then met, for the first time, with the honorable HAS researcher and "bygdeforsker" (rural studies scholar) Rhys Evans, with whom I had already cooperated for a year or so in preparing the Minding Animals workshop "Shared worlds". I thus got to see the Norwegian University College for Agriculture and Rural Development, where he works, in addition to being hosted by Rhys in his home. At the university college I shot a couple of videos for the Shared worlds workshop featuring Rhys, who could not attend after all due to conflicting obligations.

Article on formal/informal predator management to be submitted to Materialisten

While in Oslo in mid-October I was invited by the editor of Norwegian journal Materialisten, an interdisciplinary journal devoted to scholarly and social critique, to submit an article in early 2012. I later scheduled with editor Cecilie Høigård (a criminologist) that my contribution, worktitled "Formell og uformell rovviltforvaltning [eventuelt ulveforvaltning] i Norge [eventuelt Skandinavia] [Formal and informal predator management [possibly: wolf management] in Norway [possibly: Scandinavia]], should be submitted by February 15th 2012.

Profile page at University of Stavanger

My profile page at the University of Stavanger (UiS), where I have been temporarily hired as Associate professor, can be found here. Picture has not been published yet, but there's quite a lot of info (in Norwegian), including extensive bibliography.

Uppsala paper presented

My paper "Two global species and their age-old foe: The semiotic eth(n)ology of wolves, sheep and people" (see abstract here) was presented as the very first paper on the second day of the Uppsala Zoo-ethnographies workshop Tuesday October 18th. Attendance at the workshop was good - and I enjoyed the company of the other presenters, which included Lynda Birke, and of the organizers.