New Research Project on Crisis, Identities and Natural Resources

With funding from the Carlsberg Foundation a joint research project entitled ”Denmark and the New North Atlantic” commences February 1st 2013.

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The project is based at the University of Copenhagen and unites researchers from Denmark, Germany, the Faore Islands, Iceland, Norway and Greenland revisiting the joint history of Denmark and Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The main focus of the project will be on cultural reactions to current geo-political changes.

My contribution to the collaboration is the postdoctoral project:

“Geographies of Crisis. Post-industrial landscape in the North Atlantic” 

The aftermath of the economic crisis, that has proven also to be a cultural crisis, is influencing many levels of Icelandic society. Academic texts and art works have been dealing with nature as purity and industrial resource. This discussion of nature’s past, current and future role is intertwined with interpretations of the economic, cultural, and environmental crisis.

The increasing critique of environmental policies is one aspect of the post-industrial condition that has succeeded centuries with increased exploitation of natural resources as well as growing urbanisation and industrialisation in the whole region. In the years leading up to the economic collapse in 2008 Iceland, and in the years that have followed, there have been various examples of scrutinizing scholarly self-examination, artistic critique, and political debate concerning environmental policy.

 

In the North Atlantic region there is a critique of the consequences of industrialization in many of the artistic representations of local places. In these works the local, regional and global geographical levels – and related political themes – overlap. Thus, the articles and artworks thematize various geographical levels of the landscape: the immediate environment, the national level (e.g. relations between rural and urban landscapes), the planetary level (focus on climate), the spiritual level (neo-shamanistic and neo-romantic depictions), and the global level (focus on globalization and marked economy). I am interpreting the supra-material critique of past and current developments – including shamanistic, anti-materialistic, and neo-romantic attitudes – that very often also pose suggestions for future directions.

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The future of a region

In the entire region there is a renegotiation of the future role of the natural resources (oil, fish, hydropower) that are at the basis of ideas about national identity. These young nations are in the process of negotiating fundamental values in a global framework. As a part of the joint project I will place the Icelandic attitudes and development in this regional context.

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