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GSI Seminar - How dreams, science & volcanoes can help us enrich environmental intelligence by Ernesto Schwartz-Marin

Event details

In 2016 I was able to research how disaster management agencies, village heads, ritual experts and volunteers participating in monitoring networks at the Merapi Indonesia were able to share spiritual (dreams) and scientific (seismic data, health narratives) signs along with masks as part of their response to volcanic crises. Our findings about Merapi’s networks challenge dominant assumptions in the Disaster Risk Reduction literature that tend to equate building resilience with the substitution of problematic ‘cultural beliefs’ for ‘scientific facts’.  I will contrast our ethnographic work with our findings exploring ‘social volcanology’ in Mexico and then connect these insights with the work our research group on Environmental Intelligence & Science and Technology Studies (STS). I will use the indigenous notions of communities in Indonesia, to explain the work we (a group of brilliant PhD students and me) are performing in different parts of the Global South exploring: Heatwave narratives in Nepal ( with Bura Manju), Glaciers and water in Chile (Ellie Fox), Smart Urbanism in Mexico City (Tom Hogger-Gadsby), and the monitoring of human rights violations via changes in the landscape (Josh Redmond). The point of the presentation is to discuss how insights and methods coming from sociology and ethnography can help us enrich our understanding and engagement with the environment, and how to overcome dichotomies such as fact/fiction, and nature/culture to productively tackle some key aspects of the climate emergency. 

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Forum Exploration Lab 1 and online