Mirko
Winkel

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Mirko Winkel is the coordinator of the mLAB. The artist and curator teaches at the University of Bern and other places with the aim of synthesizing art with scientific research and socio-political concerns.

Susan
Thieme

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Susan Thieme is professor of Critical Sustainability Studies at the Institute of Geography at the University of Bern. She brought the Global Science Film Festival to Bern and co-developed the Social Learning Video Method. She is co-founder of the mLAB.  MORE

Carolin
Schurr

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Carolin Schurr is professor of Social and Cultural Geography at the University of Bern. As a feminist geographer, she has developed and experimented with affectual and visual methods to grasp the emotional effects of globalization processes on our intimate lives. She is co-founder of the mLAB.  MORE

Alexander
Vorbrugg

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Alexander Vorbrugg is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in Critical Sustainability Studies at the University of Bern. His research interests include visual forms of research and science communication. He is part of the coordination group of the mLAB. MORE

Laura
Perler

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Laura Perler is a postdoctoral researcher in Social and Cultural Geography at the University of Bern. In her research she investigates inequalities in relation to reproductive technologies and the Swiss asylum system. In her projects she uses audiovisual approaches and collaborates with artists. Together with Mirko Winkel, she is currently organizing a traveling exhibition on egg donation. She is part of the coordination group of the mLAB. MORE

Stefan
Brönnimann

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Stefan Brönnimann is a professor in Climatology at the University of Bern. His research focuses on weather and climate reconstruction, climate models, climate dynamics, effects of volcanic eruptions on climate and climate and society interactions. MORE

Elisabeth
Militz

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Elisabeth Militz is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Guelph (Canada) and a feminist political and cultural geographer. She experiments with affectual and feminist digital methodologies and advances feminist social media research methods. MORE

Adrien
Mestrot

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Adrien Mestrot is a professor in Soil Science at the University of Bern. Part of his research topics is analyzing the biogeochemistry of soils under global change to improve environmental health and food production.  MORE

Nora
Komposch

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Nora Komposch is a PhD student and assistant in Social and Cultural Geography at the University of Bern. Her research interests are geographies of the body, care and reproduction, migration and labor, and politics of the global intimate. MORE

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More-Than-Human Geographies

Seminar

 

The seminar focused on contemporary relationships between human and non-human, between nature and culture, between people and technologies. Students had the task to explain these relationships to a target group of their choice through an appropriate communication concept.
Based on core concepts of more-than-human geographies such as cyborg (D. Haraway), affect (S. Ahmed) and transcorporeality (S. Alaimo), seminar participants developed content formats (digital exhibition, radio play, self-test, Instagram container) that take seriously the various entanglements and the interplay of human and non-human matter.

After an introduction to central areas and knowledge traditions of more-than-human geographies (i.e., multi-species geographies, animal geographies, feminist geographies of technosciences and posthuman geographies), the seminar participants visited an exhibition on contemporary and historical feminist art positions, in which they engaged with the elaborate and exclusive codes of the art world. The partly frustrating observations and experiences of the participants were transferred to the circles of science and motivated in the further course of the seminar to experiment with experience-based and easily accessible knowledge transfer.

Delivery Formats  

Instagram Class Diary on Corona

(Azad Kaya and Juan Garcia)

 

What for and who?

We have created the five-day class diary @corona_tagebuch2020 on Instagram via a private account in order to convey the concept of affect to 15 and 16-year-old students in the situation of distance learning at the beginning of the global Covid-19 pandemic. As a school teacher, Azad Kaya was already in touch with the participating students from a secondary school in the canton of Bern.

In addition to conveying the concept of affect it was our goal to offer the students the opportunity to express themselves and their thoughts and feelings during the Covid-19 pandemic in April 2020. The private Instagram class diary provided a space for students‘ voices in this special and possibly difficult situation of distance learning and isolation. Despite the lack of social contact, students can be heard by classmates and at the same time compare and reflect on their personal situations.

How?

  • On Friday, April 3rd, 2020, every student should send us a photo of their workplace.
  • On Saturday, April 4th, 2020, we showed them a picture of “the building of their school” and asked them to react freely and express their thoughts.
  • On Sunday, April 5th, 2020, students were asked to explain their personal experiences with distance learning.
  • On Monday, April 6th, 2020, students were asked to describe their day.
  • On Tuesday, April 7th, 2020, the students should express their opinion regarding the completion of their last school year in distance learning mode. In addition to the students, Juan García also fulfilled the assignments from his perspective as a student at the Institute of Geography. Our goal was to mutually affect the students with the anonymized diary entries in order to show them that people who are differently positioned react differently to the same questions and develop different feelings – affect depends on the coming together of different spaces, bodies and experiences.

We have integrated all diary entries from the students and from Juan García (image, sound and written material) into the private Instagram account @corona_tagebuch2020 that we created. We have chosen a uniform design, but have not changed the content of the contributions. At the beginning of the diary, Azad Kaya explains in a first post in a short video message what can be understood as affect and what the students can take away from the diary for the future. The following posts offer the students the opportunity to click around in the diary and read or listen to the contributions of their classmates and Juan García. The last post is a review video spoken by Azad Kaya, which aims to connect the concept of affect with students experiences.

In the video capture you can see the design and structure of the diary on the left and an anonymous example of a contribution by a student on the right.

For data protection reasons, we are unable not publish detailed content or share access to the Instagram account. The class has agreed to participate in this project but does not want the data to be available to the public.

(4) The gender ratio in the class is balanced, but the level of education.

“At the beginning of the diary, Azad Kaya explains in a first post in a short video message what can be understood as affect and what the students can take away from the diary for the future. The following posts offer the students the opportunity to click around in the diary and read or listen to the contributions of their classmates.” (4)

After we created the diary, the students received access to the diary via a parallel Instagram account we set up for this purpose. The students can see the account, read the posts, leave comments, but cannot delete content.

 

 

 

 

Spatzevogel: A Radio Play for Young (and Old)

(Simon Boog and Sylvan Burki)

 

We wrote an audio play with the aim of conveying the concept of affect to children. The audio play “Spatzevogel” was developed for children from approx. 5 years on but is also suitable for adults. With the story, we want to convey to children that geography is more than just memorizing the world map.

The whole audio play is here to find in Swiss German. Please find a translation of the first few minutes describing the context of the story below:

lived in the meadows next to the river, where the sparrow wanted to take a sip of water. These athletes were always on the move, they ran against each other, they played games with a ball in the meadow, they swam in the river and wanted to hop, do gymnastics and fidget all day long – their main thing was to keep moving.

Once the sparrow almost flew into a paper plane that came out of one of the colorful houses in the village where the Farblis lived. And what did the Farblis do? They loved to do handicrafts, to draw, to paint and everyone ran around with paper, pens, brushes, all sorts of colors and handicrafts – always ready to do something with their hands……

After production, we shared the audio play with a couple of children and asked them to share their thoughts and affective knowledge of the play:

MAX(9Y)
MORITZ (5Y)
DOMINIK (12Y)
SANDRA (7Y)
Which group do you belong to and why?
Sportlis, because they too do sports.
Naturlis, because I always want to be outside.
Sportlis, I like to do sports and play soccer.
Farblis, because I paint beautifully.
What did the creatures think of the unknown objects? Why did some have fun with the new items and why not others?
In the beginning they weren't happy, but
a few had invented new things afterwards
I want to play now.
Some enjoyed it, others didn't. Because someone found it exciting to discover new things and someone else had already experienced
Some enjoyed it, others didn't.
Someone thought the flowers smelled nice, but someone else thought the flowers were poisonous.

 

 

 

Are We All Cyborgs? – A Digital Self-Test

(Christian Beutler and Svenja Mülhauser)

 

Human interaction with machines of all kinds can bring dangers as well as open up possibilities. In her Manifesto for Cyborgs (2000 [1985]), Donna Haraway critically examines the disappearing boundaries between machines and biological organisms, but also the potentials of this conception. How much cyborg is in us anyway? Using the example of the so-called smartphone zombie, our provocative format aims to encourage participants to reflect on cyborgs, dangers and possibilities of the (partial) loss of humanity. For this purpose, Haraway’s cyborg concept is to be experienced literally through an online self-test. On the website, participants can use an everyday story and a self-experiment to find out how much of a cyborg they already are.

Click here to go to the website with the test and self-experiment.

During the seminar we asked our fellow seminar participants to do the self-test and experience the ways in which they are cyborg at home. At the end, participants received an assessment of their cyborgization. In order to capture the format in a visual form, the seminar participants were asked within the self-test to represent their cyborgization with the help of a cyborg-photo-app (left).

 

Birth control pill transcorporeal – a virtual exhibition

(Rahel Kobel and Anna Meier)

 

The concept of transcorporality attempts to dissolve dualisms such as between nature and culture and to outline a new understanding of the biological and the social (Strüver 2019: 224). Transcorporeality views humans and the environment as a unity in one body, interrelated through intra-action (Strüver 2019). The human body is seen as a site where social, spatial, and environmental injustices materialize (Strüver 2019: 225). The concept draws on theories of new materialism whose works include, for example, NatureCultures by Donna Haraway and posthumanist performativities by Karen Barad (Strüver 2019: 224).

Employing the format of an exhibition, which became a virtual one due to the pandemic, we intended to communicate the concept of transcroporality to different people. During the creation of the website we tried to involve as many people as possible in the project, so that already in the production process different people would become familiar with the topic of transcorporality. To illustrate the concept, we wanted to choose a topic that many people are confronted with in their everyday lives. So we decided on contraception and finally narrowed down the topic to the birth control pill. The ways in which the contraceptive pill is transcorporal and/or generates transcroporality can be discovered on our website:

Birth control pill transcorporeal – a virtual exhibition
More-Than-Human Geographies

Bibliography

Ahmed, Sara. 2014. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.

Alaimo, Stacy. 2008. “Trans-Corporeal Feminisms and the Ethical Space of Nature.” In Material Feminisms, edited by Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman, 237–64. Bloomington, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Barad, Karen. 2003. “Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28, no. 3 (März): 801–31.

Haraway, Donna. 2000. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” In The Cybercultures Reader, edited by David Bell and Barbara M. Kennedy, 291–324. London, New York: Routledge.

Strüver, Anke. 2019. “Von der Inkorporierung und Verkörperung des Sozialen zur Somatisierung der Umwelt: Posthumanistische Überlegungen zum biosozialen Subjekt.” Geographica Helvetica 74, no. 2 (June): 223–33.

Whatmore, Sarah. 2006. “Materialist Returns: Practising Cultural Geography in and for a More-than-Human World.” Cultural Geographies 13, no. 4 (October): 600–609.