Re-Indigenisation of Aquatic Cultures in Europe

Anna Barcz

Re-Indigenisation of Aquatic Cultures in Europe: Translating Rivers’ Voice

Small Group Project 2021

This project seeks to present human societies connectedness to rivers through a study of so-called translation of rivers’ voice. It assumes the possibility to reconstruct lost or mythical entanglement of human-river language by looking at re-indigenisation of selected European aquatic cultures of the major rivers and their tributaries as well as lost rivers (i.e. lost in the process of urban and industrial farming development). This multilingual entanglement of human-river voice can be recreated by researching past, endangered and ethnic minorities’ oral and literary traditions (i.e. poems, songbooks, folk/ethno-textual and music resources, e.g. expressed in Irish, Silesian, Kashubian, or Forest Nenets languages) – and how they can supplement and inspire the dominant Western and Eastern European colonial cultures. Therefore, the project aims to: 

– recognise how the rivers speak beyond the human and political borders and where the indigenous/minor and colonial languages differ and overlap (i.e. Irish and British; Silesian, Pomeranian and German; Ukrainian, Belarussian, Polish and Russian); 

– find commonalities between environmental and colonial borders on the example of river-related cultural heritage; 

– and to establish a new approach to natural heritage protection. 

Re-indigenisation of European rivers involves collecting relevant data from the so-called ‘river people’ who in the past and now have been directly relating to rivers and hearing their voice; and mediating human societies attachment and dependence on rivers. These aqua-cultural sources, prepared within the ISRF’s funding, can be used to develop publicly engaging knowledge in the series of lectures and multimedia presentations organised and exhibited in the major Natural History Museums around Europe (i.e. in London, Berlin, Paris and Vienna). These Museums, historically associated with colonialism and anti-environmental politics of European empires, now could give the rivers and their people voice.

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at [email protected].