Ghosts and Monsters: Reconstructing Nature on the Site of the Berlin Wall
|Dates:||14 March 2023|
|Times:||16:00 - 18:00|
|What is it:||Talk|
|Organiser:||School of Arts, Languages and Cultures|
|Who is it for:||University staff, External researchers, Adults, Alumni, Current University students, General public|
In this presentation I seek to develop a larger argument from a small place that no longer exists. Since 2004 I regularly visited a wasteland or Brache, located on the site of the former Berlin wall, before a process of enclosure and erasure that culminated in the construction of luxury apartments. I draw on my engagement with this temporary space, as a source of reverie and also as a site for ecological fieldwork, in order to reflect on the meaning of urban nature under the speculative dynamics of capitalist urbanization. I consider the intersections between memory, place, and ecology as part of a wider engagement with “spectral ecologies” in the urban realm. I suggest that affective interpretations of urban nature should seek to develop a conceptual dialogue between ethnographic insights and structural analysis of urban environmental change.
This talk was organised by members of the UoM 'Weeds' collective. Our interest lies in biodiversity in urban and 'everyday nature', as well as with the metaphorical meanings evoked by 'weeds' - as life that is marginalised, unwanted, even 'killable'. Weeds complicate how we might understand the 'wild'; thriving in disturbed ground, they are plants 'in the wrong place'; in this, they seem the antithesis of both the romance and threat that forests represent in the Western cultural imagination. Matthew Gandy's most recent monograph, Natura Urbana: Ecological Constellations in Urban Space (MIT, 2022) speaks powerfully and eloquently to these concerns. Examining 'urban nature as a multilayered material and symbolic entity', it considers how 'alternative, and in some cases counterhegemonic, sources of knowledge about urban nature produced by artists, writers, scientists' and 'other voices seldom heard in environmental discourse' offer us a way of thinking about 'the porosity ... between the urban and the rural'.
This event forms part of the 'Forests' research activities organised by CIDRAL (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Arts and Languages)
Role: Professor of Cultural and Historical Geography, University of Cambridge
Travel and Contact Information
Samuel Alexander Building