Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bonn

Leaving the academic world behind, I have had reason to reflect about “place”.

As always, Germany speaks to me. I see all this: the light rain in the gardens, the knowledge that I have built a life around escapism, around the reconstructed journey, around small things that I cannot help to notice.

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IHDP

International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change. That is one impressive acronym. Organized by several different UN-related bodies, the 7th IHDP conference certainly has a laudable mission, to integrate social and human perspectives into our thinking about environmental problems.

After one day of intensive panel discussions, poster presentations and plenary sessions, I am both thrilled and scared. Scared about the amount of spin, the number of already overstretched buzzwords finding their way into ever new combinations such as “sustainable adaptation”. Thrilled about all the work that is going on out there, about the great number of people from all over the world coming together to talk about our common future. In my good moments I think that, post-structuralism and financial crises aside, we are still building that planetary civilization. In my bad moments, I fear that all the economic growth assumptions going into those climate models are about to turn sour, that from here on it is simply downhill.

Both exaggerations, I know. But between the lines I cannot help but wonder if the disintegrative forces are not stronger, all things considered? In the past, humanity has had the good fortune that many of our actions, even if driven by self-interest, have led to desirable collective outcomes (just think about the process of capital accumulation). However, as our environment continues to deteriorate, much of this will change. Instead of laissez-faire we will need a conscious understanding of social transformation, an idea of how to get from a troubled present to a democratically decided future. And that on a global level. In time.

I am not saying that it cannot be done. Only that it will require so much good will, idealism and simple patience with each other.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Scandinavian

Landing in Germany after a short hop with the “Mad Dog”, the legendary MD-82 that has become a symbol of Scandinavian Airlines. Though well past its retirement age, it is a plane I love flying with. Like the rest of its near-defunct airline, it brings forth a strange sense of stubborn loyalty telling me that I will keep flying SAS with the faint hope that one day its managers will come to their senses.

Enough aviation. As previously announced I am here for the IHDP conference in Bonn where I will try to learn as much as possible in two days before heading back to Gothenburg just in time for the annual “Valborg”-festivities.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Czechpoint


Trailing Stockholm and even tiny Norrköping, the time has come for Malmö to open its own Czech restaurant. Located at Lilla Torg in a pastel-coloured building that would be well suited for the squares of Malá Strana, the restaurant is cleverly named “Czechpoint” and apparently heavily sponsored by the Pilsner Urquell brewery.

Despite the “Kalte Platte” and the quintessentially Bohemian garden, the overall experience was a bit of a disappointment. Not only did I miss the proper pronunciation of “Pill-zz-ner OOR-kwell” but the food was both pricey and handed out in scant portions. That being said, I am happy to now have a bit of the Czech Republic within commuter train distance.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Laborare omnia vincit

In a surprisingly generous gesture, the evening sky turned blue and the rain dried up. No longer confined to the university library, I took the tram home, went out for five kilometres of running, poured up a glass of Proviva juice, and then found myself back with the dissertation.

Ever since I first enrolled in the PhD programme I knew this time would eventually come. The strange mixture of definite closure, frustrating inability and paralyzing anxiety. But as the days get brighter I feel that I am slowly winning over the spell, falling back into that productive mood that my memory has come to forever associate with American college grounds.

As for the near future I am also looking forward to going to Bonn for an IHDP-conference in late April and a week later to London for an educational excursion with our Lund department. I will try my best to take Rawls & Me along for both.

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