National Association of Student Anthropologists
Anthropology of Consciousness
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
In Hambach Forest in the west of Germany, activists have been protesting the clearing of ancient forest by the coal company Reinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), using their bodily presence in the landscape to disrupt the process of logging and open-face mining. Since 2012, activists have inhabited the last scrap of forest, originally set to be cleared, in an effort to halt what they see as senseless destruction of the landscape and nonhuman life. Meanwhile, massive machines continue to pull lignite from the bottom of the largest human-created hole in Europe, the open-face mine that has swallowed ninety percent of the forest. How do differences in relation to landscape between massive-scale industry and on-the-ground dwelling manifest in the conflicts of the occupation (protests, evictions, barricade construction and removal), and how do these conflicts contribute to the material and imaginal making of Hambach Forest? This paper will draw on fieldwork conducted with activists during a month living and sleeping in the forest in July of 2019. An examination of the ruined landscape of Hambach will combine interviews with activists with non-textual engagements with the landscape, including observational drawing, audio recording, timelapse photography, and experimental film. This project is a response to Tsing et al.’s (2017) challenge to “think geological, biological, chemical, and cultural activity together, as a network of interactions with shared histories and unstable futures” (176) and to tell stories of damaged landscapes haunted by the effects of the anthropocene.