Annika Capelán, PhD, Independent/Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

Fibre Interferences. A Comparative Study On How Woolwork Matters in Landscape-Making

In this seminar, I present my research project which explores how wool and woolwork may matter in the making of landscapes. The 2016 meeting of the International Geological Congress declared a new geological epoch, The Anthropocene, in which humans are the greatest factor shaping the planet. While the debate on the Anthropocene reflects a severe environmental crisis, within this view the notion of landscape is usually taken as ‘a piece of nature’, which humans can survey, describe, manage and govern. The current crisis calls for new ways to explore particular interferences with landscapes through deep historical perspectives and contemporary sociocultural interconnections.

Through a more-than-human anthropological focus, the purpose of my project is to provide insights that contribute to a more detailed understanding of landscape-making by attending to the historical, political, industrial, social and inter-species relationships involved in producing and processing woollen fibre. My fieldwork study will compare the interferences associated with woollen fibre on grasslands in Australia and in Patagonia, South America, two important regions for global sheep farming. Landscapes are attended to as dynamic, ever-evolving and multi-layered, and as shaped and reshaped by multispecies encounters through time. The main question I work with is ‘how can wool – an ancient and still globally present material – help us understand the dynamics, effects and possible futures of co-species landscape-making in the Era of the Anthropocene’? This question opens up for more detailed probes and analyses of human-animal-landscape relations and of the livability between and among them. 

Annika Capelán earned her PhD in Social Anthropology from Lund University in 2017. Based on fieldwork in Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia, her thesis, entitled Fibre Formations – Wool as an Anthropological Site, describes how wool both forms part of and gives form to larger wholes: colonialism, global exchange, international standardisation, artistic practices, laboratory science, the dynamics of regional ecosystems, birds in danger of extinction, indigenous identities, industrial manufacturing, farmer’s lives and artisan crafting. She is a visiting postdoc researcher at Alfred Deakin Research Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Melbourne, Australia.

All seminars in the series.