Project Activities – University of Copenhagen

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Natural Goods? Processing Raw Materials in Global Times > Project Activities

Valuation Workshop

On November 5th-6th 2015 Natural Goods hosted a research workshop titled “Practices of Valuation – Processing Goods in Space and Time”. This event attended by international and Danish researchers provided an opportunity for engaging discussions on value creating processes and how ‘natural goods’ become valuable through practices in specific settings.

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New Collaboration

In August-September 2015, Frida Hastrup has been a research fellow at The Centre for Advanced Studies in Oslo, collaborating with Professor Marianne Lien and others on the project "Arctic Domestication in the Era of the Anthropocene".

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Exhibition on Greenlandic Gold at the National Museum of Denmark

On April 27th 2015 Nathalia Brichet and the rest of the Natural Goods project team inaugurated a small exhibition in the front hall of the National Museum of Denmark. The exhibition centered around a number of ethnographic items collected as part of Brichet's ongoing research into the Nalunaq gold mining enterprise in Southern Greenland.

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Natural Goods Exhibition at the Saxo Institute Library

In December 2014 a small exhibition titled 'Naturlige Goder? Råvarer i en menneskeskabt tidsalder' ('Natural Goods? Raw Materials in a Human-made Era') was installed at the library of the Saxo Institute of Copenhagen University. In it the project members showcased a selection of items collected during their ethnographic fieldworks and reflected upon the ways in which the items offered insights into themes of globalisation, quantification, and valuation. The exhibition closed at the end of April 2015.

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Special Journal Issue on Natural Resources

The November 2014 issue of Tidsskriftet Kulturstudier, a Danish peer reviewed journal, is a special volume devoted to the processing of natural resources in global times. The four members of the Natural Goods group all served on the issue's editorial board and contributed with articles as well. All articles are freely available for reading and download on the journal's website. (Available in Danish language only)

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Tea, Gold, and Apples

The Summer months of 2014 have also been months of fieldwork for several members of the Natural Goods team: 
- Michael Andersen visited the area of Darjeeling in Northeastern India, researching practices surrounding the local production of different brands and kinds of tea. 
- Nathalia Brichet went to Southern Greenland together with a delegation from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency on a mission to supervise the clean-up procedures at a recently closed down commercial gold-mining enterprise at Nalunaq.
- Frida Hastrup went to coastal Southern Norway to explore perceptions and practices surrounding both privately owned fruit plantations as well as publicly accessible wild berries in the mountains.

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World Cocoa Conference

In June 2014 Martin Nicolaisen, Frida Hastrup, and Michael Andersen attended the 2nd World Cocoa Conference held in Amsterdam. This event brought together about 1.400 participants from 55 countries, all variously involved in the global cocoa sector. The stakeholders included international policy makers, business representatives, civil society delegates, as well as academic researchers, and the presentations, discussions, and dealings of the vibrant four-day event provided ample insights into the ways in which cocoa emerges as a natural resource in a setting particularly notable for its geographical distance from the areas where the resource is physically grown and harvested.

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Cocoa Fieldwork

In the Spring of 2014 Martin Nicolaisen did a three month fieldwork in the cocoa producing areas of Southwestern Ghana. Among the places visited were a number of villages and farmsteads, Licenced Buying Companies, private transport contractors, and government institutions. The research has provided a wealth of materials on the ways in which cocoa farming provides not only livelihoods to a diversity of people, but also how the cocoa in turn enables connections between farmers and more distant people and places.

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Visiting Researcher at the University of Oslo

In March 2014, Frida Hastrup was a visiting researcher at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. Frida participated in a reading group for anthropologists interested in nature and domestication practices, presented the Natural Goods project in a talk at the Department seminar, and gave a guest lecture for students of anthropology and development. The Natural Goods group shares a lot of concerns with anthropologists in Oslo and look forward to collaborating more in the future…

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Mining Conference in Toronto

In early March 2014, Nathalia Brichet went to Toronto – a meeting place and trading station for one of the mining industry’s biggest annual conferences – PDAC. Investors, exploration and mining companies of all imaginable sizes were gathered for five days in a huge conference space, welcoming 25.000 curious and eager people. Estimations of tonnage, future demands, smelter prices, mining-friendly nations and risks of all sorts were some of the themes that ran through the discussions. It seemed like the right place to be for investigating some of the vital ingredients in gold – a metal that took up at least half the exhibition space – indeed, we were all there on a treasure hunt.

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Visiting British Library and Kew Gardens

In March 2014, Michael Andersen and Frida Hastrup visited London for archival studies at British Library and Kew Gardens. The purpose was to study colonial records about tea, spices, fruits and other tropical products, and to explore how these goods were turned into tradable objects. Some of the stuff will be published in a special issue of Tidsskriftet Kulturstudier, along with other contributions from the Natural Goods team and colleagues. The issue will be available online by November 1st 2014. 

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Wreckage and Recovery Workshop

In December 2013, Nathalia Brichet and Frida Hastrup presented a paper at a workshop entitled Wreckage and Recovery at the University of Oslo, organized by the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture in collaboration with Aarhus University’s programme for research on the Anthropocene. Nathalia and Frida’s paper was based on fieldwork in a Greenlandic goldmine and discussed conversations with the workers about the complex qualities of the mine as both a site of extraction and unharmed natural beauty. The work will soon be melted into an article.

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Greenlandic gold? Fieldwork in a Remote Centre

In September 2013 Nathalia Brichet and Frida Hastrup conducted fieldwork in the Nalunaq goldmine, located in Kirkespirdalen at the bottom of a fjord in the southernmost district of Greenland. Heavy-duty machinery, cyanide, kitchen staff, Greenlandic youth, metallurgy, baked beans, global gold prices, Scottish miners and tons of ore, among many other things, contribute to making gold in the logistically remote place of Nalunaq. One focus of the fieldwork was to explore the ways in which Greenland as a location continuously appears and disappears in the processing of gold.

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Cross-country Collaboration 
As of September 2013, the Natural Goods project has begun closely collaborating with a fascinating research programme based at Aarhus University. The programme, headed by Professor Anna Tsing from University of California, Santa Cruz, explores multi-species living in anthropocene landscapes. For more see: http://anthropocene.au.dk/