3SIP2C at the ‘Plastic Time’ Research Workshop, St Andrews

June 14, 2023

The “Plastic Time” 3-day research workshop, organized by Dr Patrick O’Hare and Dr Richard Irvine (University of St Andrews) was held on June 13-14, 2023, at the New Arts Building, University of St Andrews. The event was funded by Dr O’Hare’s UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship and hosted many scholars from various universities in the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland.

Representing the 3SIP2C project Dr Inna Yaneva-Toraman, Dr Giang Van Trong, and Dr Duc Nguyen presented a research paper titled “Not my plastics: time, movement, and connectedness through marine plastics.” The presentation illustrated how Vietnamese aquaculture communities experience plastics by exploring: (1) How plastics move through waterways and connect or disconnect different communities, places, and time; 2) how the increase of plastics can be understood as a result of development and response to climate change effects; and 3) what are people’s perceptions of plastics as decaying or permanent within a scalar context of time and space. The presentation received excellent feedback and resulted in a lively discussion with the participating researchers.

The 3SIP2C researchers also had the pleasure to learn about ongoing research on plastics in Europe, Africa, and Asia and build further collaborations with the GCRF-NERC funded ‘SPACES’ project (Prof Catherine Alexander, Dr Felix Ringel, and Dr Declan Murray from Durham University) and others. The papers presented at the event provided multidimensional perspectives on the complex interaction between humans and plastic in different environments, cultures, and time. A central issue that the researchers discussed was the importance of integrating both the social and the environmental sciences into policy-making towards global solutions to plastic pollution. This was particularly prominent in the keynote speech by Dr Trisia Farrelly (Massey University), which explored the UN global plastics treaty negotiations and their response to the temporalities of plastic pollution.

The research workshop also included two very impressive activities. On the first evening, the researchers participated in the sensorial and performative event titled “Single Use Ethnographies: Sensing Plastic” delivered by Georgia Koumantaros (Cornell University) and Nicole Marchesseau (York University). This participatory event involved thinking about the rhythms and flows of plastics in our lives by providing critique on fast consumption, fast fashion, fast media, and disposable/single-use cultures. The researchers engaged in fast writing, collaborative writing, and creative presentations through visual media and performance arts. On the last day of the workshop, the participants took part in a beach cleanup event at St Andrews west beach. The collected materials were brought to the University Museum and sorted for recycling. The event also featured a hands-on demonstration by Doba Studio recycling artists, who transformed the plastic waste into new reusable objects. The participants witnessed the entire process of plastic recycling, from sorting, cleaning, cutting, moulding, to finishing, and creating beautiful and meaningful souvenirs from plastic.

The event program with papers presented at the event can be found here: https://events.st-andrews.ac.uk/events/plastic-time-2/

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