Conflict Shorelines, Princeton University Seminar

What is the role of the Humanities in 2016? What are the tasks and challenges young academics as well as established scholars face in this precarious time (and space)? Eduardo Cadava, together with Eyal Weizman and Paulo Tavares, taught the first (Conflict Shorelines I / Amazonia: A Botanical Archaeology of Genocide) of 3 extraordinary classes at Princeton,  exploring the relations among colonial history, contemporary conflicts, and climate change by examining the political, legal, epistemic, and aesthetic challenges this kind of violence initiates.

Reading the forest, reading literature, reading conflict?

A question, that has to be at the centre,  when participating in the seminar of Eduardo Cadava – one of the leading literature and media scholars –  get’s raised in a very particular constellation and intermixture of fields. By reading colonial and urban histories against meteorological and climate data,  environmental modes of detection and imaging were used in order to reveal tropical forests to be archaeological resources in which patterns of human intervention and violence can be read. The Amazon is not only an ecological threshold, but also a political one, and it continues to bear the traces of the deadliest land conflicts in Brazil.

It wouldn’t be one of Eduardo Cadava’s classes if there weren’t another dimension, another experience that enables learning and perceiving far beyond the usual class room setting. Thus, the 12 participants (from various disciplines – architecture, German, Spanish and English literature, anthropology and sociology) went on a field trip to Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, Sinop, Mato Grosso) in order to not only get the opportunity to talk to people involved in conflicts, but also to experience the (political, economical, ecological, legal) space they are inhibiting.

 

The Symposium

In addition to the course and the field trip, a symposium on Conflict Shorelines: History, Politics, and Climate Change that brought together international scholars, climate scientists and activists, architects, geographers, engineers, visual artists, and theorists from around the globe to think about the entanglement of political conflicts along environmental thresholds by examining the political, legal, epistemic, and aesthetic challenges this kind of conflict initiates.

Teaching the Humanities

There is something at stake in the humanities and classes like the Conflict Shorelines series make this not only visible but sensible, expressible and experienceable, necessary and indispensable.

For more details about the seminar and the project follow this link.