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Event Description

There is a forest beneath the waves off the western coast of South Africa that is as biologically rich as a tropical rainforest. Few people have experienced the Great African Kelp Forest like the members of the Sea Change Project, a small group of journalists, scientists, photographers and filmmakers who have developed a unique methodology for exploring and learning about, from and with nature called ‘underwater tracking’.The Sea Change Project has spent thousands of hours exploring these wild ‘algal gardens’ and the creatures that live in them, skin- and breath-hold diving in the frigid waters of South Africa’s Cape Peninsula. The group has identified new species and learned to read subtle signs and that give insight into lives, deaths and relationships of the kelp forest’s creatures, a process one member describes as delving deep into ‘the biological mind of the forest’.The acclaimed Netflix documentary 'My Octopus Teacher' is one example of the project's approach to ‘multispecies storytelling’, an affective, aesthetic and sensorial approach that focuses on connections, embodied experience and interspecies learning to help people see, experience and value the African Kelp Forest in new ways.In this event with the film’s director, Pippa Ehrlich, and other members of the project, we will explore Sea Change’s approach to exploring, researching and communicating about the ‘forest beneath the waves’. How does their approach diverge from dominant approaches in ecology and marine conservation? Can embracing ecological alterity and developing meaningful intimacies with the hidden, ‘alien’ and ‘weird’ aspects of nature nourish new ‘kinships’ and ‘commoning' of our relations with others? What are the impacts of such an approach on public awareness and attitudes to conservation?The conversation will be moderated by Amber Huff (STEPS Centre) and Adrian Nel (University of KwaZulu-Natal).This event is part of the ESRC STEPS Centre's theme of 'Natures'. It is organized in partnership with the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN), the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Sea Change Project.

Event Dates
  • November 30, 2020 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM Ended
About the event organizer

Research centre hosted at the Institute of Development Studies and SPRU, University of Sussex.

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