Yesterday I finished coordinating and compiling response to proof queries for our forthcoming book Thinking about animals in the age of the Anthropocene. 17 pages, no less.
Thursday, 25 February 2016
Today I taught for another 7 hours in the UiS EVU course "Philosophy of science and health care ethics" (course code FXPSH100). This included 5 hours of student presentations, with feedback and input from me, and two hours of my stand-in "student presentations" in philosophy of science (including issues in positivism and phenomenology).
Wednesday, 24 February 2016
Here is the Table of Contents for our forthcoming book Thinking about animals in the age of the Anthropocene (Lexington Books):
Introduction: Once upon a Time in the AnthropoceneMorten Tønnessen & Kristin Armstrong Oma
Part I: Beyond Human Eyes
Chapter 1: Held Hostage by the Anthropocene
Susan M. Rustick
Chapter 2: Dangerous Intersubjectivities from Dionysos to Kanzi
Chapter 3: Animals in a Noisy World
Part II: Phenomenology in the Anthropocene
Chapter 4: A Phenomenological Approach to the Imaginary of Animals
Chapter 5: Speaking with Animals: Philosophical Interspecies Investigations
Chapter 6: Desire and/or Need for Life? Towards a Phenomenological Dialectic of the Organism
Sebastjan Vörös & Peter Gaitsch
Part III: Beast No More
Chapter 7: Understanding the Meaning of Wolf Resurgence, Ecosemiotics, and Landscape Hermeneutics
Chapter 8: Behaving like an Animal? Some Implications of the Philosophical Debate on the Animality in Man
Chapter 9: Seeing with Dolphins: Reflections on the Salience of Cetaceans
Part IV: New Beginnings
Chapter 10: Out of the Metazoic? Animals as a Transitional Form in Planetary Evolution
Chapter 11: Dangerous Animals and Our Search for Meaningful Relationships with Nature in the Anthropocene
Chapter 12: Don Quixote’s Windmills
About the Contributors
Today I taught for 6 hours in the UiS EVU course "Philosophy of science and health care ethics" (course code FXPSH100). The topic was introduction to philosophy of science for health and social studies.
Tuesday, 23 February 2016
Today I finished the second round of revisions of my forthcoming book chapter "Agency in Biosemiotics and Enactivism".
The last few days I have supervised two students in bachelor thesis in child welfare at University of Stavanger´s Department of social studies, via Skype. This is the first of four supervision sessions.
Friday, 19 February 2016
Abstract for Gathering in Biosemiotics 16: "A brief history of the cultural semiotic of wolves and sheep"
Today I have submitted the abstract below to the organizers of Gathering in Biosemiotics 16 (Prague July 4-8).
A brief history of the cultural semiotic of wolves and sheep
University of Stavanger, Norway
Wolves and sheep go together – at least in the public mind. In terms of ecological range, 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 4–5% of depredation on sheep (Rovdata). 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.
In this paper I will present central and illustrative examples of the symbolism of wolves and sheep from a historical point of view. The historical perspective will help making sense of developments in animal imagery. The topic matter is of interest not only because it says something about how we conceive of animals, but also because our representations of wolves and sheep are often used to construct human identities. As a matter of fact, the cultural imagery of wolves and sheep is just as telling about who we are, as humans, and how we think about ourselves, as it is about actual wolves and sheep.
Acknowledgement: This work has been carried out thanks to the support of the research project Animals in Changing Environments: Cultural Mediation and Semiotic Analysis (EEA Norway Grants/Norway Financial Mechanism 2009–2014 under project contract no. EMP151).
Thursday, 18 February 2016
I have just been informed that the article "The biosemiotic glossary project: Umwelt", which I have co-written with Riin Magnus and Carlo Brentari, has been accepted for publication in Biosemiotics. The review article will appear in #1/2016 (April).
We have gotten three endorsements/reviews for our forthcoming book Thinking about animals in the age of the Anthropocene (Lexington Books), all from scholars in the US:
In the throes of ecological crisis, it is heartening to encounter an ensemble of essayists determined to critique and remediate human violence (both literal and semiotic) against other animals. Thinking about Animals in the Age of the Anthropocene offers intricately detailed pathways toward empathetic interspecies connections that resist the isolated, narcissistic arrogance of anthropocentrism.— Randy Malamud, Professor of English, Georgia State University
This important collection probes the dangers of the Anthropocene beyond the human perspective. If other animal species are not our slaves but co-authors of our planetary lives, what becomes of nature and of that species once upon a time known as man? These provocative essays draw on a rich diversity of disciplines to address the looming crisis.— Cynthia Willett, Professor of Philosophy, Emory University
The ramifications of climate change are already creating a strange, precarious world for all life on Earth, where the challenges of the Anthropocene extend far beyond the controversies of its labeling by the human animals that have so influenced this moment in geologic time. Examining the roles humans have played in evolving global ecosystems and toward specific animals, this ambitious and provocative collection explores some of the overlapping and interwoven issues of species to argue for human humility and modesty as we all face an uncertain future. This evocative collection comes just at the right time.— Sarah McFarland, Northwestern State University
Yesterday I chaired the board meeting of Minding Animals Norway. This was the new board´s first meeting following the annual meeting in December. The meeting took place in Google Hangouts.
Today I attended Håvard Løkke´s presentation of his new book "Knowledge and virtue in early Stoicism" (Springer) at Sør Bok, University of Agder.
Yesterday I completed and submitted an application for Research Council of Norway´s SAMKUL scheme (on the cultural conditions of societal development), "Umwelt Theory For Our Time" (a rework of my Young Research Talents application from last year).
Monday, 15 February 2016
Last Friday I did some editing in the 2015 report of activities for the research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis" (EMP151), for which I am the Norwegian Project Leader. Overall it was a good year. The report has now been submitted.
Last Friday I revised the review article "The biosemiotic glossary project: Umwelt", which I have co-written with Riin Magnus and Carlo Brentari, for the second time. Mostly reformatting of references etc.
Friday, 12 February 2016
In Google Scholar, I am now listed with 105 citations (+6), and an h-index of 6 (meaning that six of my papers have been cited at least 6 times each, on Google´s count). My 6th paper to reach at least 6 citations is "The statistician’s guide to Utopia: The future of growth" (though these are mainly self-citations).
Total number of citations in 2015 is now up to 38.
Today our appointment of supervisors for bachelor theses has been announced to students and thus been made public at University of Stavanger´s Department of social studies´. This concerns bachelor in child welfare (for which I am the course coordinator) and bachelor in social work.
I will supervise 3 students myself.
Today I have attended the second day of the seminar of the board of the University of Stavanger, at Sola Strandhotell. The 2-day event concluded by lunchtime. A lot of interesting people.
Thursday, 11 February 2016
Yesterday and today I have contributed to proof-reading page-proofs (final sample) of the cover of our forthcoming book Thinking about Animals in the Age of the Anthropocene.
Today I have attended the board meeting of University of Stavanger (as an observer), and the first day of the board´s 2-day seminar. Both events took place at Sola Strandhotell.
Wednesday, 10 February 2016
Lexington Books, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield, has now published a page online on our forthcoming book Thinking about Animals in the Age of the Anthropocene. For now, the page presents the book´s blurb, Table of Contents, and three endorsements, and lists the editors and contributors.
The term “Anthropocene”, the era of mankind, is increasingly being used as a scientific designation for the current geological epoch. This is because the human species now dominates ecosystems worldwide, and affects nature in a way that rivals natural forces in magnitude and scale. Thinking about Animals in the Age of the Anthropocene presents a dozen chapters that address the role and place of animals in this epoch characterized by anthropogenic (human-made) environmental change. While some chapters describe our impact on the living conditions of animals, others question conventional ideas about human exceptionalism, and stress the complex cognitive and other abilities of animals. The Anthropocene idea forces us to rethink our relation to nature and to animals, and to critically reflect on our own role and place in the world, as a species. Nature is not what it was. Nor are the lives of animals as they used to be before mankind´s rise to global ecological prominence. Can we eventually learn to live with animals, rather than causing extinction and ecological mayhem?
Today I have worked with a colleague on assigning supervisors to ca. 180 students at University of Stavanger´s Department of social studies (bachelor thesis in child welfare / social work). This work has gone on for more than a week, but today we tried to wrap up the details. The assignments will be announced on Friday.
Today, along with Espen Gamlund, I examined a home exam paper in Ex.Phil. for University of Stavanger´s Department of social studies, upon complaint on the original grade given (reassessment).
Tuesday, 9 February 2016
Siri Kalvig has been employed as Associate professor at University of Stavanger and appointed leader of the newly established Research Network in Sustainable Energy, according to a UiS news story. I take this as a signal that this network may get a quite high profile. Siri Kalvig is very much qualified for the job, in terms of science, business contacts, and media abilities.
Monday, 8 February 2016
Last week I completed the financial report of the Norwegian Animal Ethics Conference 2015, which was to a considerable extent funded by the Fritt Ord foundation. Inger-Johanne Marheim composed the written evaluation report.
Friday night I finished proof-reading (along with co-editors Kristin Armstrong Oma and Silver Rattasepp) and compiling the index of the forthcoming book Thinking about animals in the age of the Anthropocene.
Wednesday, 3 February 2016
It appears I will only be credited with some 2,25 publication points for 2015. This is because a book chapter I wrote, "Umwelt and language", was not registered in the Current Research Information System in Norway (CRIStin) with a reported and approved publication channel (Springer Science+Business Media is publishing the Biosemiotics book series, but this book title was registered with Springer International Publishing).
My actual publication activity in 2015, formalities not withstanding (including a publication channel I should have reported, but didn´t), amounts to 3,80 publication points.
Today I have been invited to job interviews at University of Stavanger, for positions as Head of Department of social studies and Head of Department of Media, Culture and Social sciences, respectively. The interview will take place in late February (in a joint session).
Tuesday, 2 February 2016
Some days ago I finished revising the review article "The biosemiotic glossary project: Umwelt", along with Riin Magnus and Carlo Brentari. Particularly, discussion of methodology was added.
Today I have completed reporting activities in 2015 in relation to the research project "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis" (EMP151). I have also coordinated the reporting from other members of the Norwegian research group, and the Norwegian reporting of financial accounts.
Monday, 1 February 2016
I have just submitted the abstract below to the organizers of IVSA (The International Visual Sociology Association (IVSA) 2016 (Lillehammer, Norway, June 22-24).
Synchronicity in human perception of animals
By Morten Tønnessen, Associate professor of philosophy, University of Stavanger
This paper presents findings from 13 video-recorded interviews conducted Spring 2015 in Norway focused on the respondents´ perception of wolves and related animals which are often perceived to be in conflict with wolves. The interviews were conducted in the rural municipalities Kautokeino (Finnmark county) and Rendalen (Hedmark), and the urban municipalities Stavanger (Rogaland) and Kristiansand (Vest-Agder). The respondents were shown images, video-clips and audio featuring wolves, elk, dogs, sheep, reindeer and people, and prompted to explain what they saw and/or heard. In the course of these verbal explanations, accompanied by telling body language, it becomes clear how the respondents sought e.g. to determine the species of featured animals, or understand the situation on display.
I will demonstrate different ways in which human perception of animals is synchronized, and show examples involving simultaneous display of multiple screens and video-recordings. A study of synchronicity in human perception of animals can reveal patterns and tendencies in such perception, and inform us about the respondents´ identity, attitudes and self-understanding. By making use of parameters including geography, demography, occupation and hobbies, this study sheds light on the ways in which human self-understanding is always based in part on our ideas about animals.
Acknowledgements: This work has been carried out thanks to the support of the research project Animals in Changing Environments: Cultural Mediation and Semiotic Analysis (EEA Norway Grants/Norway Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 under project contract no. EMP151). Paul Thibault took part in designing and conducting the interviews; Laura Kiiroja contributed by cataloguing the video-recorded interviews.