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Culturescapes in transformation: towards an integrated theory of meaning making - Hannes Palang

The main objective of the project is to approach the ‘travelling concepts’ of spatiality, textuality, and nation from the point of view of cultural meaning-making processes. The very site of meaning-making is viewed as culturescape – the web of collectively shared practices of meaning-formation that embraces the production, distribution, consumption and preservation of collectively shared meanings. Our intent is to understand how the old and new ways of meaning-making negotiate their positions in transforming the culturescape. Our intent is also to integrate approaches from various disciplines in order to propose an epistemological strategy for understanding culture-dependent meaning-formation processes that are at work in our everyday life and that constitute the way things and events are experienced by human beings in their corresponding cultural contexts.

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Urban Walkscapes: Socio-Material Assemblages of Pedestrian Practices and Regulations in Tallinn, Estonia - Tauri Tuvikene

This human geographical project aims to better understand the ways in which legal and social norms of urban walking relate to one another in physical and socio-cultural landscape. While ‘walking studies’ has rapidly expanded over the last decade, looking into different conditions of walking as well as embodied practices of walking, not much social research attention has yet been paid to the very mundane and regular governing practices that target the ways in which pedestrian activity is carried out. This project takes further my doctoral research finding that governing is never a simple procedure: rather, it has to deal with materiality of regulations and social norms influenced by socio-cultural and historical sentiments. The project uses landscape as a concept that brings together material, visual, embodied and socio-legal aspects to investigate these questions in urban environments. Walkscapes, as conceptualised here, are meshworks of walking practices, environments and understandings of how, where and when it is proper to walk.

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The political economy of industrial health and safety: a social anthropology perspective - Eeva Kesküla

The project asks why industrial accidents and injuries happen and how they are socially produced. It proposes a social anthropology approach to the study of links between Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and industrial injury in mining. The project draws on political economy perspective assuming that OHS is never neutral but socially and historically constructed in the struggle between capital and labour. It takes a step further by suggesting that the focus should not be only on the labour process but the wider relations and world views of communities and corporations and the political-economy frame should be complemented by the study of everyday practices. New methodologies drawing on medical anthropology and study of trauma will be developed in order to study the sensitive topic. The research will use participant observation, survey and interviewing in a comparative study of two mines in Estonia and Kazakhstan to explore the social production of OHS and injuries.

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SustainBaltic - Tarmo Pikner

In a nutshell, SustainBaltic is targeting to: Four ICZM case plans from Estonia (2) and Finland (2), which are produced based on the current spatial data on ecological, land use and human activities. The novelty approach of SustainBaltic is on the close co-working in order to define the most crucial ICZM planning criteria to be utilised and implemented further in Central Baltic Programme area.

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Cultural change and conflict: a theoretical model - Rein Raud

The goal of this project is to develop a model of cultural changes and conflicts, based on the methodology introduced in my book "Meaning in Action: Outline of an Integral Theory of Culture". As a result of globalization, many essentially positive processes such as democratization, decolonization, infotechnological progress etc. have jointly brought about an overflow of information. The institutions meant to handle it, however, are unable to cope with the situation. On the other hand, the growing inequality and insecurity that has been caused by current economic and political developments as well as ecological problems have set in motion large flows of migration and simultaneously inspired an upsurge of xenophobia and nationalism in many parts of the “first world”. These issues cannot be adequately analyzed only in terms of social processes, which is why I intend to develop a model that examines them in the context of the internal dynamics of the cultural field.

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Previous projects
Centre of Excellence in Cultural Theory - Hannes Palang

The project unites 8 internationally recognized research groups in Estonia in cultural theory and empirical cultural studies into one interdisciplinary centre. The centre is made up of the following thematically related research groups: semiotics, archaeology, ethnology, folkloristics, contemporary cultural studies, landscape studies, cultural communication studies and religious studies. The main tasks of the centre are: (a) doing comparative cultural studies and (re)presenting the unique materials about Estonian history of culture through interdisciplinary models of interpretation; (b) raising the methodological and theoretical levels in cultural research, and the sustainability of cultural research in Estonia; (c) creating a methodology for the research of cultural systems and processes, uniting different fields.

Project coordinator is the University of Tartu.

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Sustainable Futures for Europe's Heritage in Cultural Landscapes - Hannes Palang

European cultural landscapes are valued as everyday living environment, countryside, heritage, scenery with aesthetic and recreational qualities and unique biodiversity, and as a source of ecosystem services that they provide to society. Cultural landscapes, however, are undergoing rapid and fundamental transformations across Europe, mainly as a result of an on-going polarization of land use, with abandonment and rural exodus on the one hand, and intensification and (peri-) urbanisation on the other. So far, substantial challenges have inhibited the design of effective responses to safeguard cultural landscape values. The proposed HERCULES project strives for the empowerment of public and private actors to protect, manage, and plan for sustainable landscapes of significant cultural, historical, and archaeological value at local, national, and pan-European scales. By applying and developing innovative technologies and tools for assessing and mapping cultural landscapes, the project will (a) synthesise existing knowledge on drivers, patterns, and outcomes of persistence and change in Europe’s cultural landscapes; (b) perform targeted case studies to develop in-depth insights on dynamics and values of cultural landscapes; (c) develop a typology of cultural landscapes and scale-up case study insights using observations and landscape modelling; (d) develop visions for re-coupling social and ecological components in cultural landscapes and translate them into policy and management options; and (e) design and implement a community-based Knowledge Hub for Good Landscape Practice and demonstrate it with land users, agencies, SMEs, and citizen associations. HERCULES comprises European universities, SMEs, NGOs, and a research institute that are leaders in landscape science and practice. The project follows the European Landscape Convention’s call for transdisciplinary research and involves all actors with stakes in cultural landscapes of historical and archaeological value.

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