On the 30th of October 2011, the Water, Fish and Fowl Translocal Ecologies Mobile Workship set out on Lake Ontario, cruising the Kingston Harbour and the entrance to the 1000 Islands. The ‘workship’, [pdf] organized by NiCHE’s Transnational Ecologies project, brought together a diverse group [pdf] of scholars and local experts to discuss common interests in mobility, nature, history and knowledge. On the journey, each participant brought an object that connected to her or his particular way of thinking about mobility and materiality, the concept of the translocal/transnational and the ‘workship’ context.
Our objects included:
Laura Cameron and Kirsten Greer were co-workship directors, Laura offered introductions [video], Brian Osborne contextualized the area’s Aboriginal geographies [video], a number of recent books [video] were on display, Dean Bavington [video] and Bob Wilson [video] provided keynotes, the mobile microphone was passed through many hands and graduate students participating in a Histories and Cultures of Fieldwork course at Queen’s University [pdf] took turns documenting the journey with a variety of creative approaches to videography, including participant observation [video], ‘fly-on-the-wall’ [video] and pro-active investigation of otherwise elided ecologies.
An inspiration for this event came a few years when Kingston musician Spencer Evans was performing on the Island Queen, his reggae and sonic-geographical imagination acting as a conduit between the two ‘Kingston Towns’ [video]: the one in Ontario and the one in Jamaica. The show ‘Kingston to Kingston’ has been running for over a decade at CFRC, Canada's oldest campus-based radio station: coincidentally, during the week of the ‘workship’, it formally partnered up with a radio station in Kingston Jamaica: ROOTS 96.1 FM. Providing critical historical background for such connections, Kirsten Greer told more tales of the two cities [video] in her talk-back to Kingston’s own Sir John A. Macdonald, “his” ghostly voice part of the recorded tourist patter over the ship’s PA system. Did you know, for example, that our first Prime Minister’s second wife, Susan Agnes Bernard, was born in Jamaica to a slave owner family?
There are many ways to address the historical movement of things and ideas. ‘Nature’ moves: so does environmental knowledge. As translocal or trans-imperial, natures are often mobile across all sorts of boundaries: national and political, but also economic, social, religious and generational. Environmental knowledge circulates through people (bodily, in memories and stories), objects (commodities, souvenirs, collections), and networks (world system, imperial, scientific), often changing in different times, scales, and contexts. For Hugh Raffles, environmental knowledge of place is “both embodied and narrated and is, as a consequence, often highly mobile: places travel with people through whom they are constituted.”(Raffles, 1999) Ways to frame objects in this Compendium involve engagements with theories of materiality, actor-networks, commodity chains, migration, but above all, each entry is a meaningful, even surprising one, that helped its author to understand how the chosen object has moved (or not) and how it connected with the workship. Authors were free to experiment with encyclopedia style, anecdote, short essay, poem or other. In bringing together scholars working on mobile natures in different contexts, the Compendium provides creative resources for exploring the ways in which ideas and things have moved historically and geographically, as well as how natural knowledge is produced, consumed and circulated.
Translocal Ecologies Bibliography
Object Text Entries by Author/Object
Object Video Clips by Presenter/Object
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