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Thursday, 18 March 2021

To speak at digital workshop "Animal (Pre)History, Agency & Legacy" May 12th; abstract: "Individuality and subjectivity in animals in light of Umwelt temporality"

I have been scheduled to speak at the interdisciplinary online workshop "Animal (Pre)History, Agency & Legacy", organized by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) at University of Bielefeld, Germany and to be held via Zoom 10-12 May 2021. The workshop is organized by Stephanie Zehnle and Shumon T. Hussain. My talk, "Individuality and subjectivity in animals in light of Umwelt temporality", is scheduled for live presentation on May 12th at 13.00-13.30 CET. The workshop is not a public event, but for invited participants only.


Individuality and subjectivity in animals in light of Umwelt temporality

Morten Tønnessen

In a biosemiotic understanding, all animals are endowed with an Umwelt as described by the German-Baltic biologist Jakob von Uexküll (1864–1944) in his classical Umwelt theory, which was developed in the period between 1909 and 1940. In my work, I have focused on developing perspectives on Umwelt temporality, starting with a notion of “Umwelt transition” (i.e., environmental change as seen from an Umwelt perspective). While some Umwelt transitions are regular (e.g. developmental), others represent historical events. Another central term in my work is “Umwelt trajectory”, representing the path through time taken by a living being as described by way of its changing relations to significant others. These notions may be applied in historical studies as well as futures studies. This provides us with a theoretical framework and methodology for studying animals as agents endowed with individual semiotic agency.

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