Greetings from the midst of the second session of Place and Placelessness!
Topic: “Southern Regions Revisited: Eugene Odum, Ecological Research, and the Fallacy of Placeless Knowledge”
Presenting: Levi van Sant from University of Georgia, Thompson Georgia, United States
Hosting this call is Jay Young from York University, Toronto Ontario, Canada
Participating: Elsa de Vienne from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris France
Julia Lane from Trent University, Peterborough Ontario, Canada – but she was in Vancouver
Sean Atkins from University of Alberta, Edmonton Alberta, Canada
Came to the discussion late and it was well into a discussion of the concept of place in the American South. From there it moved on to discussing Odum’s conceptualization of the South and the ecosystems therein. Interestingly, while on the topic of Odum there was an analysis of high modernist ecology which led to the questions: What is and is not science? And how does academic/scientific funding vs. public funding effect the reputation and academic status of scientists? In the case of Odum, Levi explained his academic reputation declined when the only funding he could obtain was from Kellogg. Of course, this brought about a discussion of funding in the sciences…What stood out for me was the evolution of discussion from Odum’s involvement in the environmental movement into the place of biography in telling the histories of movements.
Near the end of the call I asked the participants what the highlights of the discussion were for them. Their answers are below and hopefully I’ve done it justice. (Julia had to leave shortly before the question was asked).
Levi: found the discussion of environmental economics to be very helpful.
Sean: Odum’s transition to pedagogical approaches as a push back against the apathy and inequalities he saw in the academy. This was a generational issue and what one person phrased as “bashing the academy” even though he was part of it.
Elsa: Enjoyed the discussion of biography as a way of writing about the history of environmental politics and saw connections to the way biography was used in the 1980s to write about the civil rights movement.
Jay: The importance of place and the development of ecology stood out most.
The next session is at 4pm EST/2pm MST and is about medieval climate change.