Method Lab #3

The research lab will take place from 5 to 7 July 2023 at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf (Germany).

The “Method Lab #3” focuses on transformation processes in rural areas. How are processes of belonging and non-belonging stimulated by agricultural industry, industrialisation, renewable energies, political system change, climate change, etc. and what tracks and traces do these movements leave behind in the respective regions we are researching (Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg and Lower Saxony)? How do these transformation processes also change the sense of belonging in an affective sense? How can processes of place-making be understood as „experiencing“ and „sensing places“ (Wattchow 2013) that go beyond a phenomenological approach? What is the role of more-than-human actors such as technological devices and related (digital) practices, landscapes, animals, plants, weather? Do the practices of cultural education in the institutions in rural areas address these entanglements of landscape, feelings of belonging and experiences of loss? And if so, how do they make visible these entanglements in their programs? How can landscapes be narrated, for example?

A central focus of our research project “Wasteland? Rural Areas as Affective Space and Cultural Education as Pedagogy of Situating“ is the question of the complex interrelationships of feelings of belonging and experiences of loss in the face of changes in familiar environments and a resulting change in demands on cultural education. Besides sensory ethnographic research, our project also involves practices of participatory and artistic research, since they operate within non-linguistic and non-discursive processes and can make bodily knowledge perceptible. We want to discuss what knowledge this kind of research produces. At the same time, we ask what knowledge the transdisciplinary researchers (media and cultural studies, art studies, cultural anthropology) actually produce themselves. How can we sketch and condense ‚ethnographic places‘ or, in our case, affective spaces from the empirical material? How can aesthetic-responsive material (Althans/Engel 2016) emerge from the empirical material which reacts to affective dimensions? How does it becomes ‚permeable‘ or sensitive to them? And how should we think about the materiality of the researchers‘ own being on site in the field?

We start from a neo-materialist approach of (cultural) landscape that understands rural spaces as a entanglements of affective and material „cultures of nature“ (Haraway 2016, 2018). What is important to us in exploring affective spaces is that affects cannot be separated from the „affective arrangements“ (Slaby & Mühlhoff 2019) in which they operate. Affects are understood as a relational agency, intensity or potency that emerges between the (more-than-human) actors* in a situation. 

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