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IREES colloquium: Here and Elsewhere: Nature Conservation and Cultural Imaginations of the Dutch Wadden Sea Area | Dr. Eveline de Smalen

When:Th 03-12-2020 15:00 - 16:00
Where:via Zoom

Speaker | Dr. E.R. (Eveline) de Smalen, visiting fellow at IREES.

Title | Here and Elsewhere: Nature Conservation and Cultural Imaginations of the Dutch Wadden Sea Area

Summary | The Wadden Sea, an intertidal UNESCO world heritage site, stretches from the north coast of the Netherlands to Esbjerg in Denmark. As an ecologically and culturally important site, it faces a number of management challenges. One problem that occurs across the Wadden Sea area is the unsatisfactory communication between governments, conservationists and local communities. Several scholars have argued that the former disregard the particularities, customs and desires of the latter. To understand this problem on a deeper level, it is important to understand not only the dynamics of communication but also the wider cultural imagination of the Wadden Sea that exists within the Wadden Sea countries.

In this talk, I will analyse Dutch Wadden Sea literature and demonstrate that much of this literature presents the Wadden Sea area from a distance, as an elsewhere that is marked not so much by any of its physical characteristics but by the fact that is secluded from the known world. As such, this literature often displays a lack of concern for entanglements and local particularities in ecology and community. This neglect reveals that complications in communication are not an isolated problem, but have far wider cultural roots. Critical readings of literature can attune us to such disparities.

While literature can help diagnose this problem, it can also be a tool to remedy it. More locally grounded texts provide insights into the lived realities of local communities and the relations between human and non-human beings. Such texts can improve understandings of local cultures. Using literature, which is neither politically detached nor instrumental, to explore very urgent and specific problems our society faces today, this talk is a foray into unexplored terrain in literary studies. This talk presents a case study and stimulus to think about radically interdisciplinary research that extends beyond adjacent fields and reaches across faculties to enable us to approach challenges productively, thoroughly, holistically and most of all equitably.

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Meeting ID: 848 3742 5197
Passcode: 939058