Denise Milstein on Ensayos at ISA Forum of Sociology in Vienna

in Lecture/Programs

Session: The Cultural Dimension of Innovation Processes
Oral Presentation: Trials in Tierra Del Fuego
3rd ISA Forum of Sociology
Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 34 (Main Building)

Denise MILSTEIN, Sociology, Columbia University, USA

This paper examines the emergence of innovation and the articulation of future projects based on participatory action research in Ensayos, a collaborative program that brings together artists and scientists in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of the sub-Antarctic. Over the past five years, the collaboration has grown into an international, multidisciplinary community devoted to engaging with the political ecology of the region. Several projects, both artistic and scientific, pursue common research questions, themes and concerns through overlapping collaborations. These address issues of sustainability for human and non-human populations in Tierra del Fuego, the conflict between the built environment and the protection of wilderness, the transformation of the ecosystem as a result of invasive species, and the impact of migration on indigenous populations. Innovative approaches, both for art and science, have emerged consistently as a result of the interactions between Ensayos participants. The paper describes the participatory action research process itself, and thereby reveals the patterns whereby both innovation and future oriented thinking emerge within the group. Based on oral history interviews and ethnographic observation, we create social networks, both conceptual and narrative, meant to highlight relations within the group. Together with a sculptor from Ensayos, we design a three dimensional representation of these networks and engage participants in building the physical networks over the ceiling of an exhibition space, and reflecting critically on the structure. The process reveals the dynamics of innovation in these uncommon interactions, as well as the research projects and artistic results that they yield.

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