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Norma network meeting: Critical perspectives on sustainability - flipping the view

Time: Wed 2023-12-06 12.20 - 15.00

Location: KTH Digital Futures, Osquars Backe 5

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A discussion around transformation and the necessity or possibility for alternative transformations. In the meeting, we will “stay with the troubles” of our different times. We engage with coloniality and modernity and explore how efforts for sustainability, while having good intentions, maintain violent power relations. Together, we attempt to imagine what may be meaningful responses for more fundamental change. 

The starting point for our joint exploration will be the work by Henrik Ernstson (Professor at SEED, Docent in Political Ecology), in particular the research-based essay film “THE LINDEKA” created by Jacob von Heland and Henrik Ernstson in collaboration with Anita Mkizwana and Philisiwe Twinjstra, which had its world premiere on November 17 at the SVA Film and Media Festival in Toronto, at the Society for Visual Anthropology (SVA) and American Anthropological Association (AAA) conference. THE LINDEKA is their second cinematic ethnography from South Africa’s cities and it explores situated knowledges, environmental issues and active colonial remains in the postcolonial city. The film is also part of their effort in developing a method of using film and collaboration around the camera as a mode of inquiry and an integral part of research. For a synopsis of the film, see below. The NORMA-meeting will be a possibility to watch the film in company and to ask Henrik about different scenes and how they can be interpreted. Welcome to watch the film with us or join the conversation after!


SVA Film & Media Festival 2023 website

The Lindeka: When a City Ate a Book (2023 / 66 minutes; South Africa and Sweden)

Jacob von Heland and Henrik Ernstson in collaboration with Anita Mkizwana and Philisiwe Twinjstra

Decades after liberation in eThekwini-Durban, South Africa, the young woman Lindeka reads the book Malfeasance. In this essay, philosopher Michel Serres fleshes out the advent of the Anthropocene in his unique “French” manner. Serres does not trace the modern planetary present to the advent of agriculture, the industrial revolution, or even the postwar “great acceleration.” Rather, his narrative of the climate crisis starts with spitting in the soup—with tracing how humans of everyday and age used practices of pollution to own and create property, with industrial society following suit to appropriate land, rivers, and the skies through pollution. Lindeka is fascinated, but finds Serres’ narrative increasingly disturbing for what it omits: Where is eThekwini-Durban, or even Africa in this universalising history of our planet? Striking up a conversation with Michel, Lindeka decides to make her own study of historical difference and global connection. Using the camera and mobilising her city, Lindeka interviews people about ancestors, participates in rituals, walks the streets, and travels to mosques, temples, graveyards, sugarcane fields, and a slaughterhouse. Through this method of enrollment, and becoming enrolled, she reads the French philosopher against the grain of her body, her relations, and her location in the world.

Their first film ONE TABLE TWO ELEPHANTS, which was filmed in Cape Town, can be seen at their Situated Ecologies Platform, Situated Ecologies website  alongside other research-based films.

For more information

Norma – network for normcritical sustainability research


Pernilla Hagbert