Documentation from ClimateExistence 2021

First of all we want to thank all you who contributed to and participated in the conference! After a long period of online events we could finally meet in person and continue the important and essential work we all do. Below in program you can watch recorded videos, look though presentation, see photos and get links to further reading and exploring.

Thursday August 12

9.00-10.00 Registration and morning coffee
10.00-10.20 Kieli music
The Sigtuna Foundation and CEMUS Welcome to ClimateExistence 2021
Owl woman performance
10.20-11.15 Jan van Boeckel “Mindful schizophrenia – Keeping one’s sanity in face of the ecological emergency”

Download the presentation: CE2021 presentation Jan van Boeckel (14 MB).pdf

In this presentation, Jan van Boeckel will try to unpack some of his personal explorations of what it means to feel alive today. Whereas Greta Thunberg once said that ‘there are no grey areas when it comes to survival’, another approach would suggest that grey, black and white – and indeed even complementary pairs such as purple and yellow, or orange and blue – can coexist. Perhaps one could be able to see that things are quite hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise. We are not only faced with the grimness of climate grief and eco-anxiety, but there is a parallel suffering of living at a distance from beauty. Mindful schizophrenia suggests that there might be survival value in embracing paradoxes and ambiguity: trying to uphold one’s dignity and integrity with a split mind amidst the unfolding of the ecological emergency.

11.15-12.00 Åsa Elmstam on her art
Mattias Olsson on his filmmaking

12.00-13.15 Lunch
13.15-14.00 Pella Thiel “Aligning Law with Life”

The suffering and misery which darkens the world is the result of breaking the law of Life, not the law itself, according to eco-feminist Elin Wägner. When we perceive the world as consisting of dead matter, we will kill it, and call that development. The need for a transformation of society is becoming increasingly evident. That means we have to collectively question our assumptions about how the world is structured and our place in it. What would such a transformation entail? Is it possible to transform systems before they break apart? How do we align the laws of society with the law of Life?

14.00-15.30 Bishop Martin Modéus “On Holy Ground”

In times of crisis over climate change there is a call for a wide range of tools and perspectives in order to understand ourselves as part of the whole of existence. We need this to be able to respect nature, ourselves and future generations. A major and often unutilized space is the language, images and concepts of faith. Words like creation, holiness, hope and spirituality open up and widen our perspective and deepen our insight.

Bishop Martin Modéus, Anita Goldman and Pella Thiel conversation moderated by Malin Östman

15.30-16.00 Fika and check-in to rooms
16.00-17.15 Parallel sessions
Sofia Ahlberg
Writers on the Storm: A workshop on reading and writing in the Anthropocene

Writing can sometimes seem arduous, constantly challenging and never quite right, but what if…
writing = noticing
writing = feeling
writing = living
In this workshop, I lead participants through a series of exercises designed to reveal how writing can teach us new ways of seeing and being through permanent climate emergency.

I am the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Languages at Uppsala University, Sweden, with responsibility for education and collaboration, and Associate Professor in Literature and Pedagogy at the Department of English, also at Uppsala University. I teach and research on contemporary literature, pedagogy, and ecocriticism. My most recent book Teaching Literature in Times of Crisis (Routledge, 2021) has just been published. My other publications include another monograph Atlantic Afterlives in Contemporary Fiction (Palgrave, 2016) as well as numerous chapters and articles in edited collections and journals, most recently in The Handbook of Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature and Science (Palgrave, 2020) and Teaching the Literature of Climate Change (MLA, forthcoming). I contributed to a highly original edited collection called Loanwords to Live With: An Ecotopian Lexicon (Minnesota UP, 2019) and my essay on the Swedish word “fotminne” can be read about in “Parlör for ett vettigare sätt att tala om klimatet” (SvD, 2020) as well as in “The Search for New Words to Make us Care about the Climate Crisis” in The New Yorker, 2020.

Vidar Vetterfalk
Martin Hultman
Sohanur Raman

Men, Masculinities and Climate Justice. Is changing masculine norms and behaviour an important key to end fossil fueled Patriarchy?

View, download the presentation: Men, Masculinities and Climate Justice 2021-08-12 (pdf) (38 MB)

In this session we will mix theory and research with practical examples and exercises.
Martin Hultman, Vidar Vetterfalk and Sohanur Raman will share about research on links between masculinity norms and the climate crisis, practical examples and exercises of how to engage more men as part of the solution and we will listen to the voice of youth from areas which are most affected by the climate crisis right now – how they lead the work to end fossil fueled Patriarchy and how they see the interlinks between Social Justice and Climate Justice.

Martin Hedberg
Scenarios – how to deal with uncertainty and transformation

Show description

Mattias Olsson
Campfire Podcast Presentation. Audio clips from inspiring people I’ve met along my path of transition
17.15-18.30 Pre-dinner programme – bar and possibility to book sauna (talk to the reception)
Art and installations
17.30 Qigong with Gröna Draken 17.30
18.30-20.00 Dinner
20.00 Mattias Olsson film “Into the Soil” and conversation

Friday August 13

7.00-08.30 Breakfast
8.30-10.50 Parallel sessions including fika (fika avalible 10.00-11.00)
Jan Van Boeckel
Ceciel Verheij
Linking the missing links: an artful workshop on metamorphoses of organic forms

This artful activity foregrounds opening space for “what we do, when we don’t know.” Participants work with clay as the start to another way of dialoguing with each other about the urgent issues of today.

Pella Thiel
Rights of Nature – a regenerative movement on personal and political level

Rights of Nature is a concept which challenges the fundamental assumption of the western civilisation: that humans are separate from the rest of the living world, and has the right, or even duty, to use it as a resource. As such it is a transformative idea, simultaneously paradigm-shifting and practical. What becomes possible if we acknowledge more-than-human beings as subjects with rights rather than objects for our our use? We explore Rights of Nature, both as an embodied, felt experience and as a policy tool.

Rickard Fornstedt
Helena Fornstedt

The climate comic – Building climate transition narratives through sequential arts

In this session, we will ponder the difficulty and possibilities of carrying narratives about our time from academia to the public. We will discuss the importance of putting science in narratives, in contrast to stating isolated facts without connecting them to a larger context. We think that instead of handing out pieces of patchwork, it might be even more essential to give suggestions on how the pieces might fit together. This is especially important when the science has implications that contradict central ideas in the current economic, political, cultural and social paradigm.

When communicating complicated issues such as climate change-related knowledge, there is a difficult balance between, on the one hand, deep and nuanced descriptions and, on the other, simplified facts detached from context. Thus, this session not only grapples with how science can be communicated through narratives but also how it can be made accessible for people who do not live their lives in books.

In the session, we will reason together with you around these communications issues, but we will also show you our attempt to, at least in part, meet some of these challenges. We will present our ongoing work with a comic book that offers a narrative of the climate crisis and the needed transition to a fossil-free world. We hope that the book could be one small component in changing the narrative about the time in which we live. The comic book is to a large part based on Professor Staffan Laestadius books “Klimatet och välfärden” and “Klimatet och omställningen”. Laestadius is collaborating with us in this and is portrayed as the narrator of the story. We will show some examples of comic book “adaptations” of academic papers to make the core idea of said papers more accessible for non-academics. You will also be taken through visual narratives from our comic book, namely a narrative about the History of Emissions and one about Economic Growth.

Ingrid M. Rieser and Nora Bateson
Live podcast session: An Ecology of Mind, a Forest of Thought

In this session Ingrid will be talking to Nora Bateson about her life and work, and how she brings together a variety of fields to study the patterns of living systems. In her work Nora asks the question: “How can we improve our perception of the complexity we live within, so we may improve our interaction with the world?” In this session we’ll be exploring modes of thinking and personal experiences that help us delve into this question, also touching on ideas developed by Nora and her father Gregory Bateson.

During and after the fika break we’ll be discussing together in the group, sharing experiences and questions.

Nora Bateson is a filmmaker, writer, educator and President of the International Bateson Institute.
Ingrid Rieser is the host of Forest of Thought, a podcast that explores our ecology of ideas, re-examining the familiar and catching glimpses of the new:

11.00-11.40 Mikael Kurkiala “Beyond the pandemic: Some reflections on post-covid realities”

Although Covid-19 will probably have a negligible direct impact on challenges such as climate change and species extinction, the spread of the virus might contribute to a more profound change in our perceptions on these and other issues. In his talk, Mikael Kurkiala argues that the pandemic is a reminder of our inter-connectedness and vulnerability but also of the frightening fact that there is no escape in the modern world.

11.45-12.30 May-Britt Öhman “What if it was the Sámi who ruled the Sweonas and not the other way round? Indigenous perspectives challenging Western modernity and the destructive detachment from loving relationships to lands, waters, humans and more-than-humans”
Followed by conversation with Mariam Carlsson Kanyama
12.30-13.30 Lunch
13.30-15.55 Parallel sessions including fika (fika available 15.15-16.00)
Nora Bateson
Warm Data Lab and test of rigor
Papersession/Reflections on ethics, fiction and the great falsification

Pia Skoglund
The great falsification – Life in the abyss between story and reality. Thoughts concerning the need for a deep philosophical approach to environmental crisis

Show description

Maud M.L. Eriksen
Science Fiction as a Source of Hope and Despair. Margaret Atwoods Concept of “Ustopia” as Interpretative Key to Facing Unknown Futures.*

Science Fiction is not primarily about the future, but about the dreams and nightmares of today. It is about highlighting ideas, opportunities, conflicts and realities of the time and context in which a narrative is conceived. That is my point of departure.

My goal is to examine and discuss what the impact of studying a particular imagined future might have on our understanding of current ethical discussions on climate change and ethics of nature. I relate my discussion to Margaret Atwood’s Maddaddam trilogy (Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009) and Maddaddam (2013)).

Ustopia is a word made up by Atwood, and corresponds to an ambivalence of utopian versus dystopian thought. For me, the ethical implications are significant: Utopia needs dystopia to be a convincing ideal, and dystopia needs utopia in order that despair does not quench initiative and action. The ambivalence of ustopia contains a moral imperative that arises from coping with the paradoxical nature of hope mingled with despair when facing imagined and yet only all to familiar futures.

The novels help to articulate what I see as an important ethical guideline: The positive guidance and hopeful spur for action that an utopian vision of a good life provides, must be intermingled with dystopic warnings – and vice versa. In the current situation where climate change and its underlying visions of society, humans and nature to many of us often seem as runaway trains that cannot be stopped, but only accommodated, it is crucial that hope prevails in ethical reflections and calls to action.

* This paper develops further some ideas from an article I wrote in 2015 together with Mickey Gjerris, which was published as Eriksen & Gjerris: “On Ustopias and finding Courage in a Hopeless Situation” in Baron, Christian (ed): Science Fiction, Ethics and the Human Condition. Springer, Cham, Switzerland 2017.

Eylem Ertürk
Ayşem Mert

Walkshop: Shared Walks / Climate Change Edition

How can we walk with others as climate change makes life increasingly difficult? The emotional, as well as physical loss suffered due to climate change, can be overwhelming, and debilitating. Join the Shared Walks / Climate Change Edition (in the participatory research phase) and explore how embodied experience can turn into reflection and awareness, and how this can, in turn, enable agency and action.

Shared Walks is an initiative that opens a playful space for the exploration of the environment and others by walking. Based on this artistic/urban/participatory methodology, Shared Walks / Climate Change Edition was developed as an experimental contribution that aims to respond to the climate emergency, trace its influences and our experiences on the human psyche and the more-than-human environment by walking. Participants walk in pairs and collect and share observations, impressions, thoughts, feelings, memories, stories, associations etc.; mapping their surroundings from different perspectives. Shared Walks / Climate Change Edition consists of a set of cards with different walking prompts. They propose minor changes in the way we normally walk, to pave the way for an appropriation of places, connect with others and trigger self-awareness related to the themes: the traces of climate emergency in the places we live/work/walk, the emotions emerging from our experiences of climate change (such as anger, anxiety, grief, hopelessness), the actions these emotions can bring about (ranging from collecting and maintaining memories to solidarity and passionate political action). By walking in pairs around Sigtunastiftelsen, in accordance with the challenges and questions proposed by the card set, participants of the walkshop will investigate the emotional and physical traces of climate change in their immediate environment, and explore the ways in which we can understand and act on climate change.

André Dutra
Workshop: What can we teach them? – a brief reflection on Sustainability and Education in Latin America

In this session, André will share his political and educational background and involvement, in Brazil and Sweden, focusing on the relations between the Global North and Latin America. You, as a participant, are encouraged to join discussions, reflections and to share your experiences with the lecturer. Different forms of communication and comprehension of cultures, educational systems, and realities will be explored throughout the session, leading the group to create knowledge collectively and to question how Europe and the Global North influence education and sustainable development in Latin America and vice-versa.

16.00-17.00 Anita Goldman “A Temple in Time or Why God can play a role in Climate Activism”

Anita Goldman speaks about how we as humans can relate to Creation in a different way, arguing that the Biblical perspective can be an inspiration instead of something to be rejected and criticized . Drawing from the ancient Biblical text and from Jewish practice of Sabbath, Anita Goldman leads us into a ritual where we celebrate Creation in a mindful and joyous way.

17.00-18.30 Pre-dinner programme – bar and possibility to book sauna (talk to the reception)
Art and installations
18.30-20.30 Dinner
21.00 Maria Niwa with Kieli Concert

Saturday August 14

7.00 Breakfast
7.45- Alexander Crawford Elective morning walk/reflection
8.45-09.25 Nora Bateson “A brand new piece of theory to meet the insidiousness of systemic transformation”

9.30-10.15 Ida Lod The Owl Woman is a poetic and musical oracle living in the borderlands between life and death. She welcomes you to join her interactive performance-rituals where you will be invited embrace death and to honor the Unseen
10.15-10.45 Fika and check-out of rooms (at the latest)
10.45-12.00 Stefania Barca “Undoing the Anthropocene. An ecofeminist perspective”

The concept of Anthropocene, coming from the natural sciences, has been incorporated within a hegemonic narrative that represents ‘Man’ as the dominant geological force of our epoch, emphasizing the destruction and salvation power of industrial technologies. Based on decolonial and transfeminist perspectives, I will offer a counter-hegemonic narrative of the climate and earth-system crises.

12.00-13.00 Lunch
13.00-14.15 Anita Goldman and Dan Jönsson 20-tal conversation “Utopian dreams, Climate Change, and the Issue of Class”

Photo: Viktor Gårdsater and Harald Carlinger

Since the dawn of human civilization, societies have developed different views on the relationship between humanity and the surrounding environment. In the early modern era, previous dreams of a lost paradise – such as Eden or Jannah– were partly replaced by dreams of undiscovered lands. However, ideas concerning what these societies should become ranged from new royal provinces to utopian communities free from oppression. Following the industrial revolution, many also dreamt of sustainable societies that were more in tune with the environment. At the beginning of the 21st century, visions of a new Utopia seem to be conditioned by the dominance of global, neoliberal exploitation. Is it still possible to think outside of a paradigm that has forced people to internalize concepts such as economic rationalization, political pragmatism, and constant growth? Do we need look past »failed« ideas of a better society and develop new ones?

Dan Jönsson, author of the book The Paradise Gene. Four Utopian Horizons, discuss the problems facing the utopian visions of the future with Anita Goldman, author of books such as If the Rocks Could Speak in Palma de Mallorca (2019) and Even If I Have to Travel to Los Alamos (2009).

Isak Stoddard and guests End of conference conversations
Kieli music

15.30-16.00 Fika and end of conference