UT to host a conference on representations and images of Northern forest

On March 5-6 the University of Tartu will host a conference “Forest. Northern Representations/Images”. The conference will focus on the forest of the northern territories (Estonia, Quebec, Scandinavia, Finland, Russia, Canada, Alaska, Poland and, by extension, the high mountains) and on the complex images it generates.

The image of forest is different for inhabitants living in close relationship with it and for those people who imagine it from a distance, through documentary and fictional representations. It constantly produces cultural ‘discourses’ and geocultural images, evidences of the relationship that develops between it and humans. These discourses add up to offer a more or less substantial ‘idea’ of this space, composed of numerous assemblages of living (trees, mushrooms, insects, animals, etc.) and nonliving (soil, water, climatic elements, devices, etc.) entities, networks whose agency participate to the production of discourses. Nordic forests thus appear like real places, but also mythical, transcendent, wild places or, on the contrary, rationalized by exploitation, shelters or disturbing, dangerous places.

The objective of this multidisciplinary conference is to study representations/images of northern forests considering the relationship between humans and this type of plant community, whose ecological, linguistic, cultural and gendered aspects intertwine in diverse ways throughout history and depending on regions.

Co-organized by the University of Tartu (prof. Sara Bédard-Goulet) and the Université du Québec à Montréal (Daniel Chartier, director of the International Laboratory for research on Images of the North, Winter and the Arctic), this conference will bring together around 30 participants from more than 10 universities and research centers interested in Nordic forest representations.

The participants, including keynote speakers, Rachel Bouvet, professor of the Department of the Literary Studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal and Timo Maran, Professor of Ecosemiotics and Environmental Humanities, University of Tartu, will share their knowledge on various representations of the Nordic forest. They will offer multiple approaches on the topic, which will allow to evaluate the common grounds and distinctions between these representations. This discussion also engages in the growing awareness of the last decades toward the complexity of our local and global relationship to the living and the catastrophic consequences of destructing and overexploiting ecosystems such as forests.

The event will also feature the launch of Daniel Chartier's essay’s What is the Imagined North? Ethical Principles translation into Estonian, previously translated into a number of Nordic languages and presented as a multilingual edition.

Additional information on the conference website.

Contact: Sara Bédard-Goulet, Professor of Romance Studies, Lossi 3-424, sara.bedard-goulet@ut.ee,  +372 5303 2175