Animals in changing environments
Norwegian-Estonian Research Cooperation Programme grant EMP151 "Animals in changing environments: Cultural mediation and semiotic analysis"
September 2013 – December 2016
The goal of this project is to study how humans perceive animals in changing environments, how human cultural mediation of animals contributes to environmental change and how environmental change influences human-animal relations. The transformation of environmental relations is a relevant topic for both contemporary Estonian and Norwegian cultures. In this context the project develops the semiotic collaboration between the researchers of the Universities of Tartu and Stavanger. Specifically, the project focuses on problematic cases of human-animal relations (including wild, domesticated, and captive animals) and their cultural representations and analyses these from semiotic, especially from biosemiotic and zoosemiotic perspectives. J. Lotman’s and Th. Sebeok’s modeling systems theory and elaborations of J.v. Uexküll’s umwelt analysis are used as primary research methods.
Socialising foxes (and humans) in Amadeus Dyrepark, Norway. Photo: Laura Kiiroja
|Four case studies will be carried out within the project: animal agency in nature writing as a medium of communication based on Estonian and Norwegian literatures; problematic representations of wolves and cattle in Estonia and Norway; agencies and conflicts of interests in zoological gardens as an environment for mediated communication; adaptation of companion dogs to changing environments. The expected result of the research project is a deeper understanding of the general patterns of cultural mediation of animals, new knowledge gained from the specific case studies, elaboration of better practices of wildlife management and environmental communication. The cooperation between Estonian and Norwegian researchers promotes knowledge exchange between bio- and zoosemiotics and other environmental humanities, and develops a comparative international perspective on cultural mediation of animals.|
- Publishing an edited collection of papers, "Thinking about Animals in the Age of the Anthropocene" (Lexington Books / Rowman & Littlefield 2016, Eds. Morten Tønnessen, Kristin Armstrong Oma, Silver Rattasepp)
- Publishing a joint monograph "Animal Umwelten in a Changing world: Zoosemiotic Perspectives" (authors: Maran, Timo, Tønnessen, Morten, Oma, Kristin Armstrong, Kiiroja, Laura, Magnus, Riin, Mäekivi, Nelly, Rattasepp, Silver & Thibault, Paul; University of Tartu Press 2016).
- Publishing a special issue ”Framing nature and culture” in the journal Sign Systems Studies (Eds. L. Linask, R. Magnus; 2016, 44(1/2)).
- Doctoral defence of Riin Magnus’s thesis “The semiotic grounds of animal assistance: sign use of guide dogs and their visually impaired handlers” 17.12.2015.
- Organizing the conference "Animals in the Anthropocene: Human–animal relations in a changing semiosphere" (17.-19.09.2015, Stavanger).
- Seminar "Assistance and therapy animals: support, communication and services" 10.04.2015. Tartu Environmental Education Centre. See for further information.
- Seminar "Kommunikatsioon looduskaitses ja loomaaias" [Communication in nature protection and in zoological gardens] 20.-21.10.2015, in cooperation with Tallinn Zoological Gardens. The program of the seminar.
- Publishing a special issue of the journal Semiotica on zoosemiotics. (Ed. T. Maran, 2014; issue 198, table of contents)
- Publishing the collection of papers, "The Semiotics of Animal Representations" (Rodopi, eds. M. Tønnessen and K. Tüür, 2014 see the info)
- Organizing the EASLCE-NIES joint conference "Framing Nature: Signs, Stories, and Ecologies of Meaning" (29.04–3.05. 2014, Tartu)
Information about the Norwegian research team can be found here.
Estonian research team
Timo Maran, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu (Researcher in charge)
Riin Magnus, Research Fellow, Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu
Kadri Tüür, Research Fellow, Department of Literature and Theatre Research, University of Tartu
Silver Rattasepp, Junior Research Fellow, Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu
Nelly Mäekivi, Doctoral student, Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu
Laura Kiiroja, MA student, Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu
Norwegian research team
Morten Tønnessen, Associate professor in philosophy at University of Stavanger, Department of health studies (Researcher in charge of the Norwegian research team)
Paul J. Thibault, Professor in linguistics and communication studies at University of Agder, Department of Nordic and Media Studies
Kristin Armstrong Oma, Archaeologist and Human-Animal Studies scholar, Post. Doc. at the University of Oslo
Project is a part of research activities of the Department of semiotics, Institute of philosophy and semiotics at the University of Tartu.
The Norwegian partner of the project is the Department of health studies at the University of Stavanger.
The research project is financed by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 under project contract no EMP151.
Contact: Timo Maran, Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu. Jakobi 2, Tartu 51014, Estonia.
Phone/Fax +372 737 5933; e-mail: timo.maran(at)ut.ee