July 30, 2023 | Category: Departmental Seminar September 2023

Learning to be affected by nonhuman others. By Professor Atsuro Morita

Ethnography and DIY as means to reconnect forest and industry in a grassroots experiment in Japan

As climate and ecological collapse looms large, the boundary between knowing and acting in (social) science has been shifting. While environmental scientists have increasingly come closer to policy and activism in order to change the current unsustainable trajectory, the past decades witnessed the growing interest of anthropologists in collaboration with interlocutors. In this talk, professor Morita will discuss an experimental mode of anthropology as a collaborative making of infrastructure for change by drawing on his experience in grass roots experiments to link timber production with forest ecological cycles.

In the past few decades, growing number of Japanese social entrepreneurs and lifestyle activists migrated to rural areas of the country. Many see abandoned houses and farmlands in these depopulated areas as opportunities to experiment on sustainable living and community economy.

The Forest of Craft is one such small-scale experiment to reconnect industry with forest ecological cycles. The project takes up traditional Japanese craft that developed sophisticated use of local forest resources as a model for this circular vision. Through this collaboration, the interlocutor and professor Morita ended up in experimenting with DIY making and ethnography as major means for their effort to reinstall in individuals and the industry sensibility to be affected by changing environment and nonhuman others. This talk put this experience in the context of current debates on collaboration in anthropology, STS and beyond to explore a role of anthropology in a grassroots alliance to tackle imminent ecological crises.

This talk is part of the series 'ACTION,CLIMATE, CRISIS: Anthropological tales in times of climate change’, co-organized by Cristobal Bonelli and Branwyn Poleykett and sponsored by the Worlds of Lithium ERC project.