With collaboration from:
Verena Gresz - Doctoral Student and Research Fellow
Micha Bröckling - Research Assistant
Lina Weber - Research Assistant
The ongoing climate catastrophe and biodiversity loss have led to renewed attention to alternative conceptions of human-nature relationships. Politically, the notion of rights of nature has been at the forefront of rethinking humanity’s connection with nature. Starting in Latin America, more and more natural entities have been awarded legal personhood to protect them against anthropocentric exploitation. These cases challenge established patterns of conceptualising nature and humans as separate entities in law and leave us wondering: How can a dialogue between humans and nature be established? How can individual and collective interests of humans and non-humans be mediated?
To approach these questions, the ensemble of the Theatre of the Anthropocene engaged in a dialogue with students of the Arts-Based Research (ABR) seminar taught by Jun-Prof Dr Riccarda Flemmer and Verena Gresz this winter semester at the University of Tübingen. Together with other researchers at the University, we engaged in a cross-disciplinary workshop to discuss the potential and pitfalls of alliances between science and art. The exchange brought to the fore how scientific data can inform artistic practices about the issues of our time, such as the climate crisis and the protection from environmental destruction. Further, it also demonstrated how creative - and in this case performative - engagement with academic topics is capable of opening up a range of new perspectives for learning, teaching, and co-generating knowledge through more diverse, pluralistic, and - after all - fun didactics.
In “Lawyers of Nature”, the cross-disciplinary dialogue moved from the seminar room to the stage. The evening's host, Carrie Getman de Agudo, together with Kevin Mooney, guided the audience on an arboreal trip through the past, present, and future of the rights of nature. Every stop on this tour offered a novel and unique perspective on the guiding question of how to connect nature, human, and the law: a 1988 lawyer made the case for awarding Northsea seals legal personhood to sue the German state, a furious philosopher, Karl Christian Friedrich Krause, argued for his foresight in predicting the detrimental effects of anthropocentrism, and a futuristic mediator tried to find common ground between the different interests of the Spree river, politicians, and the locals. The fast pace of the play and its humorous tone gripped the audience's attention, provoked reflection and laughter alike, and made the evening a deeply memorable experience.
The performance took place in cooperation with the University of Tübingen, Riccarda Flemmer Professorship "Political Struggles in the Global South". It was funded as part of the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments.