THE SITUATED ECOLOGIES PLATFORM aims to pluralize the approaches to study ecology. We do this through interrogating theory and method. And by developing collaborations with natural and social scientists, with scholars from the humanities, and through working with cultural practitioners.
To be situated means to cautiously attend to difference and to take each location seriously for what it can bring to theory-making, while keeping broader geographies and dynamics in view. It also means to attend to knowledge politics and the origins of theory, how theory has travelled and how it has been embodied in different subject-positions; it means to attend to from where we speak when we theorise a particular place, a city, the environment, people and nonhumans.
We draw upon critical theory related to ontological and epistemological politics; science-and-technology studies (STS); on bio-semiotics and material semiotics; and on interpretative and experimental work in history, theatre and film. We work with natural and social scientists; with directors, dance artists, and illustrators. We work to create engaging outputs through film, design or theatre, something we see as integral to the research we are doing. And we also produce peer-reviewed publications; we give courses and organise workshops for academics, students and civil society, trying to share our learning. Our research aims to bring forth the many voices, experiences and practices that are re-working contested ecologies and to collaborate around theoretical standpoints from where contested ecologies and futures can be understood and engaged.
The Situated Ecologies Platform celebrates texture, richness, immersive outputs, and multiple theoretical viewpoints to understand ecology and its inherent politics.
We contribute broadly to several fields of research and investigation, including human geography, ecology, sociology, post-colonial studies, critical film and design studies, and broadly to the vibrant field of Environmental Humanities.
Any researcher can join and contribute to The Situated Ecologies Platform web space, find collaborative partners and inform about their research projects courses and similar events, post comments and reports. Please contact us.
Background in the study of urban ecology
With a keen interest to better understand the relation between scientific expertise and vernacular place-based ways of knowing (so called epistemological and ontological politics), The Situated Ecologies Platform grew from 2011 out of two larger Formas-grants lead by Henrik Ernstson (Ways of Knowing Urban Ecologies, WOK-UE; and Socioecological Movements in Urban Ecosystems, MOVE). The aim has been to present alternatives of how ecology can be studied, and work against a general tendency in the environmental sciences to use overly simplifying frameworks. This, we mean impoverishes our understanding of what is at stake, locally and globally, and it fails to bring in more “knowers” to contest and produce facts about the environment.
The Situated Ecologies Platform is a curious space. Of particular interest has been the production, re-working and contestations of urban ecologies, and the processes that intersects nature, city, ecology and urbanisation. Urbanisation is rapid, uneven and multi-folded. This has brought a focus on how people and their identities, social and political processes, are mixed up with material ecologies such as wetlands, sand dunes, parks and gardens, but also with infrastructural systems of sanitation, water and electricity. The research straddles the lines of geography, ecology, sociology and history and strives to answer and provoke debates about questions of sustainability and equality, including questions about identity, power and biophysical agency. As such, the Platform has served to develop interdisciplinary collaborations with ecologists to do site-specific biophysical studies in Cape Town and New Orleans, interpreted from how these cities are shaped by historically racialized planning processes. We have developed major research film projects; “theatre action” collaborations with cultural practitioners in Cape Town and Thessaloniki; a collaboration between Konstfack and KTH that explores the borderland between design, art and ecology; and two edited book volumes (Grounding Urban Natures and Urban Political Ecologies in the Anthropo-Obscene). The Platform has also nurtured the creation of a sub-field that uses postcolonial theory to understand the realities of urbanization in the global South, called Situated Urban Political Ecology. In 2017 we decided to create a new website for The Situated UPE Collective rather than having it on this website.
Funding and supportive institutions
The Platform has been funded from 2011-2017 by two research grants from The Swedish Research Council Formas (Dnr: 250-2010-1372 WOK-UE, PI: H Ernstson; and Dnr: 211-2011-1519; MOVE, PI: H Ernstson). Further support has been received from Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation, an exchange grant from STINT, The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education.
We enjoy support from the academic institutions that provide us with institutional homes. Core institutions that provide administrative support for research projects are: The African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town, South Africa; The KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden; alongside Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden; and Tulane University, New Orleans, USA. The Department of Geography, MacQuire University, Sydney, Australia provide an institutional home and co-supervision of one PhD student. Participating researchers have also come from Department of Sociology at Trento University in Italy; SESYNC at University of Maryland, USA; Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University, Sweden; Department of History, Stanford University, USA; University of Pretoria; Department of Geography, Durham University, UK; Urban Institute at Sheffield University and several others. Students and others that have been involved have been from Portland State Univeristy, USA, Makerere Unviersity, Uganda, and several others.