Second Year: Research Roundup

Graham Huggan, February 2022

It has been a year since our last research roundup and longer than that since our opening workshop and AGM, so it seems timely to provide an update now. The global pandemic started at the same time as our project funding, and inevitably it has continued to necessitate changes to our research design and our collaborative work. However, the project has not only managed to keep afloat, but has produced some excellent outcomes, and as project co-leader I am delighted to be able to share some of these with you now.

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New Publication by Pavla Šimková

Pavla Šimková and Astrid M. Eckert have contributed a chapter about the European Green Belt project along the former Iron Curtain to the new handbook “Greening Europe: Environmental Protection in the Long Twentieth Century”. Their contribution highlights the connections between borders and the natural environment on the example of the Šumava and Bavarian Forest national parks.

Workshop Report: Teaching the Wadden Sea through Literature 2

After an exploratory online workshop on “Teaching the Wadden Sea through Literature” in June 2021, Eveline de Smalen organised a follow-up workshop in collaboration with the Waddenacademie on 16 and 17 November 2021. While it was scheduled as an in-person event, the worsening Covid-19 situation in Europe and the Netherlands in particular meant that it had to be moved online at the last minute. Thanks to the good will and flexibility of all participants, the move online went as smoothly as could be hoped for.

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IUCN World Congress, Marseille, September 2021

By Jonathan Carruthers-Jones

After the endless months of COVID enforced routine, a trip to the IUCN World Congress in Marseille felt like quite an adventure. The IUCN congress is the world’s largest conservation event, attended by thousands of practitioners, researchers and policy people working on conservation. But as things turned out, the day in Marseille was only the beginning…

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Team workshop in the Pyrenees National Park

During the week from 30 August to 5 September, the Corridor Talk team convened in the Pyrenean region of southwest France, more specifically the pleasant spa town of Bagnères-de-Bigorre, for a series of half-day field trips and business meetings. The trips, to the neighbouring mountain areas of Cauterets and Lac d’Estaing, involved short hikes (and inclement weather!), the latter accompanied by senior Pyrenees National Park ranger Etienne Farand, who recounted stories of regular bear attacks in the region, and who – echoing the figures given by Marco Heurich for Bavarian Forest NP last year – explained the pressures being put on the National Park by increased visitor numbers during the pandemic, and by the emergence – welcome in other ways – of new demographics for tourism in the region, at least some of the visitors associated with which had never been to a national park before.  

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Following the Science?

by Graham Huggan

The German Association for Postcolonial Studies (GAPS) is one of the liveliest around, and I’ve been lucky enough to participate in several of their conferences. The latest of these (May 2021), hosted by the University of Oldenburg, focused on the relationship between science, culture, and postcolonial narratives. Since COVID appeared on the scene, I’ve attended several online conferences, always with a certain sense of trepidation. How should we gauge audiences we can’t see? And how, when our turn comes to present, should we deal with questions, half-formulated in the first place, that suddenly appear – and that demand equally instant responses – in the chat?

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Workshop Report: Teaching the Wadden Sea through Literature

On 22 and 23 June, Corridor Talk’s Eveline de Smalen and Katie Ritson co-convened a workshop on literature, education and the Wadden Sea, in which academics in the fields of literature, history and cultural geography and practitioners working in nature conservation and visitor centres came together to discuss ways in which they can learn from, and use each other’s work in their education practices to integrate ideas from nature conservation in literature education and vice versa. The workshop kicked off on 22 June with short introductions to Corridor Talk and the workshop objectives by co-conveners Eveline and Katie (both RCC), after which each participant introduced themselves with the aid of an object they brought to the workshop.

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Pyrénées fieldwork

Now that we are emerging from COVID19-enforced hibernation, fieldwork is continuing on Work Package 2 – Immersions – in the Pyrénées.

Things are moving slowly of course, and Jonathan has been staying safely outside and well ventilated, but the weather has been favourable as we listen in and learn along some participant led ‘transect walks’. These walks take us on a gradient of landscape change from those more human-influenced areas to the wilder end of things, the places where our non-human animals choose to spend the majority of their time. Some images below from a recent walk in April show extracts from the 360 video footage captured for documentary purposes during these walks, as we move from the valley floor up into the middle mountains, passing through an old-growth forest area on the way.

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Vanishing Coasts?

Katie was a speaker in a seminar entitled “Vanishing Coasts” as part of a three-part series Coastal Connections convened by an international team for the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London. The seminar session, which took place in February, was put together by Joana Gaspar de Freitas, PI of the ERC-funded project DUNES – Sea, Sand, People and featured coastal research on four continents. A short blog post outlining the research covered in this wide-ranging seminar and discussion can be found here.

Photo by Katie Ritson