This theme explores the connections between identity, culture, technology and natural environment in Scotland, Europe and archipelagic regions across the globe.

The engrained cultural practices, philosophical ideas and psychological resources we derive from inhabiting a territory and passing on our experience and knowledge to future generations through arts, crafts and technology define our identity and relationship to other communities around the world. The archipelagic layout of the Scottish natural environment and its interactions across time with its continental neighbours and islandic nations across the globe, providing creative solutions to global challenges, can be looked at through a trans-disciplinary lens which combines the expertise of practitioners and researchers from the College of Arts (Modern Languages & Cultures, History of Art, Theatre, Humanities, Theology & Religious Studies), College of Social Sciences (Education) and College of Medicine, Veterinary & Life Sciences (Psychology & Neuroscience).

The aim of the theme is to provide a congenial research environment that fosters collaboration across disciplinary boundaries and supports the personal development of Early Career Researchers and PhD students. As a natural extension of the activities organised through the Existential Philosophy and Literature Network (2017-2019) and the Glasgow-Kyushu Research Collaboration in the Arts (2019-2022), the theme seeks to energise links with external partners (such as GalGael Trust, Scottish Centre for Geopoetics, the Alliance française de Glasgow and the French Institute in Edinburgh), and to organise public events to disseminate ideas around nomadism and travel across cultures, inspired by the geopoetic movement initiated by the Glasgow-born Scottish-French writer, Kenneth White. This line of enquiry ties in with cross-disciplinary research on eco-criticism, the impact of technology and human/robot interactions during the pandemic, and the role of creative industries and performative art in tackling mental health and restoring our relationship to the natural environment. 

Current Events

Talk and discussion
Thursday 15 September, 1800 to 1900 hrs (Advanced Research Centre)

Can philosophy help us better understand our cities? For the Greek philosopher Plato, the city represented the ideal means to achieve stability, health and justice for the individual and the collective. Naturally, education played a significant role in this. When Plato first theorised his ‘ideal city’ (Kallipolis), a tiny proportion of the world’s population lived in urban centres. Today, over half of us live in cities or large urban areas. Why are we drawn to live in cities? Are we closer to a state of utopia or dystopia? Does living in cities meet our needs as humans? Is this urban trend sustainable? And what would Plato make of today’s Glasgow? 

Join members of the School of Education at the University of Glasgow, Dr Sarah Anderson, Dr Ria Dunkley and Dr Philip Tonner, as we take a sideways look at the city through the lenses of philosophy, education and sustainability. Chaired by Dr Alan Leslie.

For more information and booking, see Glasgow Doors Open Days Festival.

Previous Events

Performance followed by discussion
Friday 2 September, 1600 to 1800 hrs (James Arnott Theatre, Gilmorehill Halls)

The Seaweed Gatherers performance will take place as the culmination of a three-day workshop led by director Graham Eatough, composer Daryl Jamieson (Kyushu University) and artist Miek Zwamborn. The workshop takes the Japanese Noh play, The Seaweed Gatherers (Mekari) as the basis for a contemporary exploration of seaweed, its cultural history, and its potential as a performance material. The performance will present extracts from Zwamborn’s book, The Seaweed Collector’s Handbook (2020) alongside original composition by Jamieson performed live.

This research builds directly on a previous project involving Eatough, Jamieson and Zwamborn, working with artist Andre Dekker, Floating Worlds: Erraid Sound, a film made in 2021, co-produced by the Hunterian, and screened as part of the University’s activities during COP26.

The workshop and performance forms part of the new University of Glasgow ArtsLab theme, Islands in the Global Age and will be followed by a discussion to which everyone is welcome. This project also extends the strategic partnership between the University of Glasgow and Kyushu University.

The performance and discussion were recorded by Martin Clark and can be viewed below. Our thanks to Martin for his technical assistance and video documentation.

The password is Seaweed.

28-30 March 2022

Online conference and public events organised by the University of Glasgow and Kyushu University.

Completed Projects

Floating Worlds: Erraid Sound is a short film and book publication by artists Graham Eatough and Andre Dekker. It has two distinct geographical and cultural influences: it was created between lockdowns during a residency carried out in the remote coastal landscape and island community of the Ross of Mull, and also draws extensively on the artists’ continuing research into Japanese theatre’s relationship with landscape and the natural world. These two sets of influences both find their place in the film and book that make up the two halves of this project in a structure that draws on the narrative drama of a two-act play.

Associated Staff