Chiara Garbellotto

Tal Adler

As part of CARMAH’s “Science and Citizenship” research area, in May 2018 I have started my 2nd year of PhD.

Grounded in critical museum anthropology and practice theory, my project studies multiple modes of doing biodiversity in public engagement activities at the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin. The on-going major structural and infrastructural renovations at this museum make it a particularly exciting research context. Issues and objects observed in the daily debates and working practices of the museum include open and citizen science, collaboration between different knowledge cultures, inclusion of and access for different publics, the development of a digital app, and the call for action in regard to biodiversity loss and climate change.

In order to understand the complexity of my research object – the doing of biodiversity – I direct my ethnographic attention to public, designed, mediated, and experience/learning-oriented moments. I specifically attend to guided tours, workshops, special events, and citizen science projects. In these activities – which unfold according to various purposes, means, and thematic focuses – multiple narratives emerge about biodiversity and values concerning human/non-human relations, diversity itself, concepts of eco-services and Nature, ideas of species endangerment and sustainable modes of living.

Furthermore, biodiversity also does something as an epistemic object: it generates specific doers, who can be addressed as “visitors”, “stakeholders”, or “citizens”. To learn about these stories in my field context – by who and to whom they are told – I look at the entanglements between the materiality of the public engagement activities and the agencies of the actors that I am encountering – whether they are humans, tools, alive or dead animals and plants.

In‐between the double movement of doings, I position my ethnographic research as a possible way of diffracting these existing stories and activating new unusual relations between actors.

Prior to joining CARMAH, I completed the Museums, Galleries, and Contemporary Culture Master of Arts at the University of Westminster, London. My final project dealt with informal learning experiences of participatory workshops in exhibiting contexts. It was carried out as part of the artistic project “Museum of Contemporary Commodities” hosted at Furtherfield Gallery.

In 2012, I gained a Masters degree in Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology from the University of Bologna, with a dissertation in Museum Anthropology. In 2011, I undertook a four-month ethnography at the London-based Wellcome Collection, examining verbal and non-verbal processes of meaning construction during guided tours of the permanent exhibition “Medicine Now”.