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LandscapeChanges. Cultural Anthropological Perspectives on Mining and Post-Mining Landscapes

Entrance of a mining tunnel, photo: Ira Spieker
Entrance of a mining tunnel, photo: Ira Spieker

Project processing: Ira Spieker, Katharina Schuchardt

In cooperation with Anne Dippel and the Institute for Cultural Anthropology/Cultural History at the University of Jena.

Mining activities have intensively shaped landscapes in Central Germany and Eastern Europe. This project looks at these areas of (former) mining and industrialization with a focus on their development, use, and appropriation. The period starting in 1991, with references to historical development, will be put into perspective: many mining sites have been abandoned, their extraction volumes gradually reduced, and landscapes (re)shaped. The use of these areas has left both legible material and immaterial traces. Recultivation, replanting, and resettlement are shaping the future, as is ongoing hazard and environmental management.

The increased demand for lithium as well as other metals and ores and the exploration of these deposits in the Ore Mountains are once again drawing attention from diverse interests to these regions and the value of their mineral resources. This triggers a discussion that merges into a conglomerate of nature-conservation interests, political responsibility, regional localization, coming to terms with the past, economics, and future technologies. In addition to human influence, geological features and the planting and (re)appropriation of flora, fauna, and other species create landscapes that clearly dissolve any assumed separation of nature and culture. Recent approaches from posthumanism and more-than-human anthropology expand the older view of Anthropocene use and consider entanglements between humans and other entities.

The project reveals new perspectives on the study of landscapes in order to make their ever-changing transmission and reevaluation conceptually tangible. Methodologically, it is designed as comparative perspectives. A cooperation with projects pursuing similar phenomena and problems in the Czech Republic and Poland is planned.