The Symposium is the third installment of the three fold event ‘Under the Landscape’. It will take place in the islands of Santorini and Therasia from 28 April to 1 May 2021. The Symposium aspires to generate an interaction between different fields and forms of knowledge around the study of landscapes. It will comprise keynote lectures by distinguished thinkers, and a three-day workshop for young researchers.
Landscapes provide a common ground to address the complex societal and environmental challenges of the 21st century. Landscapes are loci of coexistence, but they are also the places where human-caused environmental damage becomes evident and even tangible. The Anthropocene finds its meaning(s) in the landscape and its “scars”. In other words, a focus on the landscape allows us to anchor seemingly abstract and remote global challenges to a specific time and space; as Bruno Latour notes, in the landscape we find “a place to land.”
The symposium “Under the Landscape” puts forward the need for a critical reevaluation of the very term and notion of the “landscape”, its different uses, and its potential value as a meeting ground for strategic collaborations. The frequent aestheticization of landscape favors its understanding as a panorama, an object of observation or admiration, rather than a field of everyday practices, social relations, and symbolic economies. It signifies a distancing of the human being from her environment, and obscures the essentially political and ethical dimensions of our everyday relations with it. A focus on the embodied, essentially localized interactions with landscapes can function as an important tool in counterbalancing dominant narratives and existing power hierarchies.
In research and practice, the elasticity of the concept of landscape renders it into a useful concept for a holistic understanding of our surroundings, as well as for the coming together of different forms of knowledge. Yet, the study of landscapes is still fragmented and departmentalized in different disciplinary areas, in ways that often reproduce divisions between the humanities and the ‘hard’ sciences, between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’, between expert knowledge and local knowledge, between the human and the non-human worlds. This fragmentation impedes the formation of substantial, productive collaborations towards new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing. The symposium aims to cross-fertilize different research strands with critical tools and concepts provided by fields such as philosophy, cultural geography, environmental humanities, and ethnography.
In this, the location of the symposium is crucial: These theoretical explorations will interact with the physical landscapes of Santorini and Therasia. The evident contrast between the overdeveloped landscape of the former and the abandoned landscape of the latter creates a productive conceptual space to think towards the future of the landscapes with which we live.
This symposium is a two-fold event. The first day (28 April) will take place in Santorini, as a conference (open to the public). It will feature four keynote lectures by scholars from the fields of philosophy, cultural geography, landscape architecture, and ethnography. In the next three days (29, 30, and 31 April) the symposium will move to the island of Therasia (just a few sea miles from Santorini), taking the form of an itinerant, outdoor workshop that will focus on the research of participants. In order to allow room for substantial dialogue, the number of participants is limited to 16. They will be divided into four sessions that will correspond to the four keynote lectures. Each session will take place in a different location in Therasia (focusing on different instances of its natural and man-made landscape), and it will be chaired by one of the keynote lectures and a second respondent. The participants that will be selected (on the basis of their abstract) will be asked to submit full papers one month before the conference, so that these are circulated among the participants. During the workshop, each participant will present a summary of their paper (10 min max), powerpoint free presentation, which will be followed by comments by the other participants, the respondents, and the keynote speakers. The symposium will conclude with a round-table among keynote speakers and other invited scholars, which will weave together the lessons and insights gained in the different sessions.
 The concept of ‘damage’ comes from Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Heather Anne Swanson, Elaine Gan, and Nils Bubandt (eds) Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet. Ghosts of the Anthropocene (Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 2017).
 The term Landscape Scars is borrowed from Anna Storm. See Anna Storm, Post-Industrial Landscape Scars (New York: Palgrave Macmillan US, 2014)
 Bruno Latour, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime, English edition (Cambridge, UK ; Medford, MA: Polity Press, 2018).
Call for papers.
Please keep an eye on our websites and social media for updates and our announcement when applications are open.
If you have questions in the meantime, please let us know!