Visualizing Environmental Crisis

Pavel Borecký

“John’s Enigma – photographing Bedouin village in Wadi Rum, Jordan”
Author: Pavel Borecký, November 2018

In 2017 Trump’s administration dismantled the US climate change policies and refused to accept the ground-breaking Paris Agreement. Its actions went as far as crippling US environmental institutions and erasing the results of climatological research from major scientific databases. Without a doubt, what global public witnessed was the single most significant attack on scientific knowledge in the 21st century led by the single most damaging polluter. Simultaneously, in 2017 the term “post-factual” has become the word of the year and the need for fact-checking agencies has grown exponentially. It was as if one suddenly woke up in the new stage of information warfare, where the shells are emotionally-charged tweets and the main battlefield of future-shaping operations are citizens’ cognitive capacities. Under such condition do we need more data? Do we need different data? Do we actually need data at all?

Nowadays, whichever version of empiricism academics ascribe to, and whatever product of their intellectual endeavour is, no homo academicus shall remain blind to the cultural process which renders the contours of (post)modernistic understanding of Truth as redundant. In fact, further from “hard” sciences one operates more prone to the regimes of post-factuality one becomes. The issue is thus of particular importance in the Humanities and Social Sciences, where the status of evidence is embedded in largely compartmentalized disciplinary histories, methodologies, ethics and politics.

Either to communicate particular narratives or to inspire collaborative action more aptly, I dare to choose “vision”, “environment” and “crisis” as the meeting points for this initiative within the new “Engaged Connected Practice” co-lab. Being aware that faking transdisciplinarity and pretending public scrutiny just because it is fashionable and/or pays the bills will not do, I propose to genuinely think ourselves and our practices first. My answers are in haze, yet I will certainly depart from the experience of working as a filmmaker, ethnographer, social innovator and passionate curator (see my project below). The table for conversation is flexible, yet set. Feel free to contact me and enter “Visualizing Environmental Crisis” with your ideas and projects.

As such, this THoR initiative is loosely linked to my PhD project at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern:

“Living Water: An Audio-Visual Exploration of Social Polarization through Water as more-than-human Agent in Jordan”

A progressive extremification of climatic patterns significantly contributes to shortage of water in the Middle East. In Jordan the society goes through the intersectional transformation that entails the adoption of neoliberal policies and the recognition of climate change impacts, which might, eventually, be both distributed unequally. The challenge at hand is to devise more-than-human Anthropocenic theorizing with apt methodological grounding and provide more-than-textual multimedia engagements with climate change.
While “seeing from the water” the research aims to contribute to the understanding of how the climate change awareness affects water-related socio-cultural practices and how lack of water structures subjectivities of marginalized population in the Middle East. Subsequently, being grounded in the fields of sound art, philosophy, human geography and social anthropology, it will empirically and theoretically foster the emerging transdisciplinary scholarship on Anthropocene. The final PhD-project will consist of an ethnographic film and a written dissertation.

Pavel Borecký
Project leader

%d bloggers like this: