Related event: Decolonising the anthropocene

Stef will take part in the following panel at the University of Helsinki’s Tiedekulma (Think Corner) next month. It is shaping up to be an exciting event, please help spread the word! (The announcement below was written in collaboration with Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen.)

De­col­on­ising the An­thro­po­cene: Indigenous and language-ori­en­ted perspect­ives

Thursday April 28th at 13–15 

Think Corner, Stage (Yliopistonkatu 4) 

The term, the ‘Anthropocene’ roughly denotes the most recent 12,000 years of history in which humans have significantly impacted our planet’s climate and ecosystems. Various starting dates for the Anthropocene have been put forward, ranging from the beginning of the agricultural revolution to the first atomic blast in 1945. Although the term has not yet been formally adopted by the International Union of Geological Sciences, it has gained traction in environmental policy circles.

Indigenous scholars, among others, have questioned the universality of the term “Anthropocene”, considering that its framing is largely Western-biased and anthropocentric. Critics have argued that the term dangerously misrepresents all human actions as being inherently destructive, and that it fails to recognize the long-term positive interactions between Indigenous Peoples and their environments. This event aims to re-conceptualise the Anthropocene by discussing Indigenous views of human-environment interactions, and how such connections have shaped –and continue to shape–our planet’s climate and ecosystems. 

The event draws on long term co-research of Indigenous languages, knowledge, and practices. It uncovers the diversity of narratives about humans’ roles in the natural world, and the myriad ways in which human–nonhuman interactions are conceptualised and evidenced in Indigenous languages. In the first year of UNESCO’s Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022–2032), this event also brings together Indigenous Studies scholars addressing the deeply intertwined relations between biological and linguistic diversity.  

The speakers include: 

Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, associate professor of Indigenous Studies. She has worked extensively with Amazonian Indigenous societies, namely Arawakan-speaking Apurinã and Manchineri, addressing Amazonian human-environment complexes, deep past, and Apurinã language revitalization. 

Stef Spronck, postdoctoral researcher in General Linguistics. He has worked with several Aboriginal communities in north-western Australia, primarily recording language under the instruction of Ngarinyin elders with the aim of understanding aboriginal ways of talking about speech and thought and contributing to local language teaching.

Outi Laiti, postdoctoral researcher in Indigenous Studies of University of Helsinki. Her field of research is education and computer science with focus on Sámi culture in video games and programming.

Victoria Soyan Peemot, postdoctoral researcher in Indigenous Studies of University of Helsinki. Her research addresses language and bonds of horses and herders in the Sayan-Altai Mountain Region of Inner Asia.

Álvaro Fernandez-Llamazares, HELSUS postdoctoral researcher. His research areas are ethnoecology and biocultural diversity, largely focusing on the study of the knwledge systems of the Tsimane’ people in Bolivia, and the Daasanach community in Kenya.

Aung Si, postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Linguistics of the University of Cologne. He is a Myanmar citizen, who grew up in India. He completed Doctorates in Biology and Linguistics at the Australian National University, and currently carries out research on the biological knowledge of small language communities. 

Coffee and snacks are served after the event. 

Buresboahtin! W E L C O M E ! 

Welcome to the Think Corner or watch online 

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Organised by the projects: Anthropocene in onto-ethico-lingistic perspective in Amazonia and Language endangerment and wellbeing: Questions for a sustainable linguistics.