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Friday, 25 May 2012

Talk at HAS rhetorics workshop slightly rescheduled

My upcoming presentasion "Animals craving for meaning in the Anthropocene - a perspective on the global semiocide", to be presented at next week's animal rhetorics workshop in Oslo, has been slightly rescheduled, to 15.45-16.15 on May 29th.

See also:
Talk at HAS rhetorics workshop scheduled for May 29
Abstract: "Animals craving for meaning in the Anthropocene - a perspective on the global semiocide"

Animals and philosophy roundtable scheduled

The Animals and philosophy roundtable (for which John Hadley is the convenor, and I am the scribe) at the upcoming Minding Animals conference in Utrecht, the Netherlands, has been scheduled for July 4th at 13.00-14.00. In the programme it is referred to as "Study circle discussion". It will take place in a room called Ruppert Rood.

See full programme for the Utrecht conference here.

See also: 

Minding Animals presentations scheduled for July 4th

Both of my presentations at the second international Minding Animals conference have been scheduled for the first full conference day, Wednesday July 4th. 

"The contemporary symbolic construction of Norway's big bad wolf" has been scheduled for 14.00-15.30, partaking in the session "Public perception of animals II" (chaired by Jan van der Valk, room: Ruppert Blauw).

"Biosemiotics and animal ethics" has been scheduled for 16.00-17.30, partaking in the session "Animal ethics: New developments II" (no chair announced, room: Ruppert 040).

Each of these papers will be alloted 17 minutes for presentation and 5 minutes for questions from the audience and discussion, I've been informed.

See full programme for the Utrecht conference here.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Exam assignments designed for UiS

This week I have designed - written - exam assignments for the University of Stavanger (UiS), a multiple choice test and a home exam (two alternative assignments, each divided into A, B and C) respectively. The MC test will take place on May 25th, the home exam May 31st to June 7th. Both are in the subject of Examen Philosophicum (introductory philosophy), which I teach for nursing students - and both are socalled "continuation exams", for students who did not attend or failed at the regular exam.

Grading for UiA conducted and in process

Yesterday I graded 6 papers (from a school exam) in the subject of Examen Facultatum (Ex.Fac.) for the University of Agder (UiA). This was, as far as I understand, the lot that had to be graded by two - with me as the second scholar.

Yesterday I further picked up the 163 exam papers (home exam) I will grade in Examen Philosophicum, for the same university. Got started yesterday and continued today, with 33 papers graded so far.

Unlike much other work I've done for UiA, this work pays really well. For the latter category of exam papers, I get paid for 2 hours for each exam paper - in total for 326 hours (plus 4 hours of preparation).

BranchOut profile

I have registered at BranchOut, a social network for academics. 

Given that I only have a contract for this year for the time being, I'm in principle looking for job opportunities of interest, preferably in Southern Norway.

MA2 scribe instructions received

A few days back I received the instructions for convenors and scribes of lunchtime roundtables at the second international Minding Animals conference, which is to take place in Utrect, the Netherlands, July 4-6. I am the scribe of the Animals and Philosophy roundtable, scheduled for July 4th. According to the memo, scribes will 1) collect a roll of participants/people present, 2) take a short set of minutes detailing decisions made, and 3) "assist the Convenor [in my case John Hadley] where necessary, particularly in coordinating the publication of the refereed academic paper in the ISEE [International Society for Environmental Ethics] Newsletter". Publications from the various roundtables are to appear 2012-2015.

See also:
Minding Animals Norway
Minding Animals International

Registration for 12th Gathering in Biosemiotics

Some days back I registered for the 12th Gathering in Biosemiotics, which is to take place in Tartu July 17-21. I also registered for both of the two pre-conference events: The seminar "Biosemiotics and the Study of Culture" on July 16th and the "Language and life" event on July 17th. 

See also:

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

UiB's presentation of panel on nature view

Here's a link to the University of Bergen's (UiB) presentation of last week's panel discussion at Studia bookstore on nature view and practice (see also more extensive post on the panel). Titles of our intros were not included. I am presented as Associate professor, University of Stavanger.

Panel discussion on nature view in Bergen

One week ago, last Wednesday, I participated in a panel discussion on the theme of "Naturforståelse og praksis" [Nature view [or nature understanding] and practice], along with Fern Wickson (UiT), Jon Hélen Pedersen (HiSF) and Sondre Båtstrand (UiB). The panel discussion, which lasted for 2 and a half hour and included extensive introductions by some of us, took place at the academic bookstore Studia in central Bergen. My introduction was called "Jeg, ulv: Eksistensens økologi" [I, wolf, The ecology of existence], and was first of all a presentation of my chapter in the English language anthology Environment, Embodiment and Gender, which was highlighted at the event. Wickson and Hélen Pedersen contribute to the same anthology. The panel discussion was organized by one of the editors of the anthology, Ane Faugstad Aarø (UiB) in practice and formally by UiB's research group on phenomenology and existentialism. There were about 20 people present all included.

Animal rhetoric paper written

Yesterday I finished my paper to be presented at the forthcoming workshop "The Rhetoric of Human-Animal Relations(Oslo, May 29-30), "Animals craving for meaning in the Anthropocene - a perspective on the global semiocide". 14 pages, organized into 5 sections:
1. A footnote on biorhetorics 
2. On biosemiosis, the action of signs in living systems 
3. On the Anthropocene, particularly its animal aspect (and thus the global species concept) 
4. A note on induced semiosis, with repercussions for the global species concept 
5. Last wor(l)ds: On the global semiocide
It remains to be seen whether it will be selected for publication. At any rate it will be distributed among the workshop participants, among with the papers of all the others.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Biosemiotics: ISBS to hold first General Meeting ever

After weeks of discussion by email in the biosemiotic community, the president of the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies (ISBS), Jesper Hoffmeyer, today made clear that he will call for a General Meeting. According to the constitution of ISBS, which has been in place since 2008, such meetings open to all members should be arranged annually. The ISBS, however, has so far been run in an informal way, and these rules have not been put into practice.

On April 30th I wrote this in an email distributed in the biosemiotic community, in reply to an email (one of many) from Marcello Barbieri to all participants at this year's Gathering in Biosemiotics (Tartu, July 17-22).
Dear all, I have not gotten any response from anyone in the ISBS Committee on my prior notice (April 25), which read:
I can not recall ever having been directly invited or encouraged to attend an ISBS General Meeting at a Gathering (and I've been to 5 gatherings). I think this is regr[e]ttable - and problematic in terms of organisational democracy. I sincerely hope that the ISBS will develop a culture of greater inclusion in the future. The General Meetings were never (cf. the ISBS constitution) supposed to be mere meetings of the Executive Committee (in the constitution called "Committee"). 
I now feel compelled to ask explicitly for response, from the ISBS Committee itself. Has my notice been discussed in the Committee? If so, what was the outcome, or the opinions presented? If not, then it should now be discussed by the Committee. In the following I will make clear why this is of the highest importance. 
The constitution of the ISBS says:  
7.1 The supreme authority of the Society is vested in a General Meeting of the members. 
7.2 An Annual General Meeting shall be held.  
Marcello writes that "[a] General assembly [which he defines as "the actual community that is present at a General Meeting"] has never been convened before." My questions, then, are these:  
1) If Marcello is correct, why has the ISBS Committee never convened a General assembly (aka meeting)?  
2) Does not the ISBS constitution explicitly state that such meetings shall be held annually?  
3) If no General Meeting has ever been convened, what is the legality of all the decisions that have been made by the ISBS Committee in the period of 2005-2011? This point concerns rules etc. established by the ISBS (cf. Marcello's case), and more.  
4) If no General Meeting has ever been convened, then what of the validity of elections of ISBS committee members? Cf. the constitution's point 8.2: "Names for the above offices shall be proposed and seconded at the Annual General Meeting and election will follow on a simple majority vote of the members." If no General Meeting has ever been held, then WHO have elected the ISBS Committee members? Surely not the Committee itself??  
5) In case anyone would claim that General Meetings have actually taken place: If so, why have not all ISBS members present - i.e., all participants attending each Gathering - been explicitly invited to take part? Cf., the constitution's 7.5: "Notice of meeting stating the date, time and place of meeting shall be sent by the Secretary to all voting members". Is not the lack of such formal, personal invitations in violation of the spirit and letter of the ISBS constitution, which defines a General Meeting as "a General Meeting of the members"?  
Out of curiosity I also wonder:  
6) Approximately how many persons have been present at the ISBS meetings held during Gatherings so far? How many besides members of the Executive Committee? 
7) What is the proper name for these meetings (at Gatherings up to 2011) - "Committee meetings"? If so, see points 3 and 4 above.  
I am not asking these questions to be difficult, but I do hold that they need to be answered satisfactorily - particularly because this is in terms of organisational democracy a problematic story whether the meetings held have been regarded as Committee meetings (which does not have such a wide mandate) or as General Meetings (which has in case not been correctly convened). 
For a start, the ISBS Committee should explain its practice, and signal whether it intends to follow the same practice in the future, or, if not, on what points it intends to change practice.
I will not, here in Utopian Realism, go into all details of this conflict - most of which has little to do with what has been my concern, as described above - but these were, in brief, the answers to my questions (many of which given by Donald Favareau, the former Vice-President of the ISBS, who withdrew about half a year ago, as a first sign of a looming crisis):

1) Don explained how the ISBS has been run in an informal way, and claimed the constitution was never meant to be taken literally. He accused me of being formalistic.

2) The ISBS constitution does indeed explicitly state that such meetings shall be held annually. The President of the ISBS has now signalled that the constitution will be followed from now on.

3) The legality of all the decisions that have been made by the ISBS Committee in the period of 2008-2011 has not been discussed further. Marcello Barbieri asked me, in a reply to my email, not to ask questions about the past (which he had done a little before). He has in the course of this changed argumentation, and recently focused exclusively on the validity of the constitution, and that a general assembly must be convened.

4) The validity of elections of ISBS committee members has not been addressed by anyone. Election of committee members will now likely start at the first General Meeting, to be held in Tartu in July. 

5) Noone have claimed that General Meetings have actually taken place so far. 

6) The number of persons present at the ISBS meetings held during Gatherings so far have been estimated to less than 10. As far as I understand only members of the Executive Committee (which has 15 members) have been present.

7) The proper name for the meetings (at Gatherings up to 2011) is Committee meetings. No minutes were taken.


Don, who's done a lot of good work for the ISBS over the years, wrote in his reply to my questions that he thought my "approach would be odious, and the final nail in the coffin of this group's long and often contentious journey from a warm fellowship of friends to what it is now: an arena for a war of escalating sides-taking." He talked about the death of good faith (as have many others - it is saddening to hear good colleagues be so defaitistic). But good faith did not die with me. I have not been involved in this conflict, but been a regular member only - and I do doubt very strongly that my concern for organisational democracy could ever be "the final nail in the coffin" for biosemiotics.

Today it became clear that the ISBS will introduce organisational democracy this year. I applaud that, and look forward to seeing it happen. What I cannot accept is that my allegiance should be given to persons (whoever they might be), regardless of ideal and principle. I pledge my allegiance to the cause of biosemiotics, the cause of organisational democracy, and the restoration of good faith.

Introduction chapter for animal representations book finished

This last Friday - or more accurately during the night between Friday and Saturday - I finished writing the introduction chapter for the Rodopi anthology The Semiotics of Animal Representations. The introduction, "Introduction: The Semiotics of Animal Representations", totalling some 7.800 words, is co-written with Kadri Tüür (and the collection co-edited with her). The introduction gives a fairly extensive coverage of how zoosemiotics and related disciplines can be made use of as foundational for the more general study of humans' various representations of animals.

Our submission of the full manuscript is now awaiting language editing of the introduction and some further minute tasks.

More assessments for UiA

Today I was asked to grade a further 50 or 60 exam papers in Examen Philosophicum for the University of Agder (UiA), on top of the 90 we have already agreed on. I was further asked to grade 8 papers in Examen Facultatum (general version). I have said yes on both accounts. I now have 8 papers to grade by May 29th, and a further 140-150 formally by June 11th (but in practice a bit before, since I have travel plans).

These latest assignments bring my approximate workload (Full-time equivalent) for UiA in 2012 up from some 8,5% to 12,5%. Adding this to the 62,5% for UiS, my total paid workload increases from perhaps 71% to 75%.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Talk at HAS rhetorics workshop scheduled for May 29

My forthcoming talk "Animals Craving for Meaning in the Anthropocene: A Perspective on the Global Semiocide" at "The Rhetoric of Human-Animal Relations" workshop (SUM, UiO, May 29-30) has been scheduled for presentation Tuesday May 29th at 16.15-16.45, as the last talk of that day and of the session "Mute Brutes that Hoot in the Dark Are the Moot Root of Quotation marks".

A 10-15 pages paper is due by May 15th.

Wolf lecture in Rendalen scheduled for June 6

My lecture in Rendalen (in the Norwegian county of Hedmark, a municipality just outside the wolf zone) has been scheduled for June 6th at 7-9 pm (this replaces a previous note). The topic of my talk is "Hvorfor konflikten rundt ulv og sau har blitt så hissig: Ulv og sau som symbol og realitet" [Why the conflict on wolves and sheep has become so /fierce/heated/: Wolves and sheep as symbol and reality]. Thomas Strømseth of Hedmark University College will give a lecture at the same event, on hunting dogs. The event will take place on Fagertun school, and is arranged by the project ROSAREN, which has been looking into local attitudes to large predators, and opportunities/consequences for local business.


Som utmarkskommune like utenfor ulvesonen har Rendalen en sentral plassering i debatten om norsk ulveforvaltning. I dette foredraget er temaet hvordan de mange kulturelle bildene av ulv og sau danner grunnlaget for debatten, og hvordan uenigheten i stor grad skyldes forskjellige natursyn. Både landskapet og opplevelsen av det er i endring i vår tid – og særlig vår endrede opplevelse av landskapet henger for en stor del sammen med utviklingen i norsk landbruk, som skaper frustrasjon og håpløshet i mange lokalmiljøer der småskala landbruk ennå er viktig. I løpet av foredraget skal vi blant annet se på natursynet til folk i Rendalen, og foredragsholderen vil også dele noen tanker om fremtiden.