Prof. Libby Lester (The University of Tasmania)
Libby Lester is Professor of Journalism, Media and Communications, and Associate Dean, Research for the College of Arts, Law and Education at the University of Tasmania. She has authored, co-authored and co-edited six books, including Leadership and the Construction of Environmental Concerns(forthcoming, Palgrave Macmillan), Environmental Pollution and the Media: Political Discourses of Risk and Responsibility in Australia, China and Japan (Routledge 2017), Media and Environment: Conflict, Politics and the News (Polity 2010; Arabic ed 2013) and Transnational Protests and the Media (co-edited with Simon Cottle). She has been awarded three Australian Research Council discovery grants (‘Transnational Environmental Campaigns in the Australia-Asian Region’, ‘Leadership and the Construction of Environmental Concern in Australia’ and ‘Changing Landscapes: Online Media and Politics in an Age of Environmental Conflict’), and is Australian leader of the EU-Australia funded exchange and research program, ‘Europe and Australia in the World: Reporting Political, Social and Environmental Change.’
Her research has appeared in leading international journals, including Media, Culture & Society, International Communication Gazette, Journalism, Forestry, International Journal of Communication, Environmental Policy and Governance, and International Journal of Press/Politics. She has been a Visiting Fellow at Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. Her current research program is focussed on trade, resource extraction and supply, and environmental communications.
Before returning to Tasmania and joining the University, Professor Lester worked as a journalist, reporting on social, political and environmental issues for major Australian newspapers and magazines, including The Age, Good Weekend and the Melbourne Herald. She continues to work with the media industry at local, national and international levels, and has been a judge for the Walkley Awards and chair of judging for the Tasmanian Media Awards.
Kati Lindström is a researcher in environmental humanities at KTH Royal Institute of Technology with a background in semiotics, anthropology, environmental history and geography and trained in University of Kyoto (Japan) and University of Tartu (Estonia). Prior to her present appointment, she has worked as a deputy director of the Neolithisation and Modernisation: Landscape History at East Asian inland Seas project at Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) in Kyoto, Japan, and at the Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu. Her work deals with the interplay of personal and public in the environmental perception, more precisely on how individual experiences and cultural stereotypes influence the delineation and management of natural and cultural heritage sites and the construction and communication of value. Her recent projects cover a wide range of geographical locations from Japan and Chile to Estonia and Antarctica and employ a variety of methods from oral history, anthropological field work, literary text analysis and archival work. Kati Lindström publishes in English, Japanese and Estonian and has served as an acting editor of the foremost international semiotics journal Sign Systems Studies between 2007-2012. She is a founding and board member for the Estonian Centre for Environmental History, a board member for the European Society of Environmental History (ESEH) and the ESEH regional representative in the Baltic Countries. She has been a Visiting Fellow at the Faculty of Letters at Tokyo University in 2018 and held a JSPS post-doctoral fellowship at Nishi-Kyushu University in 2016. During 2015 to 2017, she served as a Visiting Associate Professor at the Mt. Fuji Centre for Mountain Research at the Shizuoka Prefectural Government, Japan.
Title of speech: Perils of Celebratory Framing or Why History and Semiotics Matter for Biodiversity Communication
Abstract: Environmental communication can easily be reduced to a strategy of choosing most popular frames for convincing the public to behave or think in a desirable way. However, in this paper I will argue that environmental communication needs to be mindful of the semiotically constructed values and historical development of the landscapes protected, if the success is to be long-term. Over-representation of certain attractive landscapes in public communication is as perilous as under-representation, leading to overprotection of certain landscapes and lack of protection for other, less prestigious landscapes or species. As an example, I will bring biodiversity communication in Japan. Japan is an active player in international biodiversity politics and has ambitious domestic biodiversity targets. Government considers environmental communication crucial for reaching these, launching many different campaigns such as Satoyama Initiative or Biodiversity Mascot campaign. Employing well-established stylistic devices (court culture, Japanese cute), prestigious meta-narratives (Japanese as nature people) and established institutional systems of tourism and governance, the used frames have reached huge popularity. Yet awareness surveys show that people continue to consider biodiversity a matter of governmental policy rather than individual life style. There has been a positive effect on the localities singled out for campaigns on traditional agricultural landscapes of rice production, but at the same time it has meant that other types of landscapes have been overshadowed. In addition, certain frames used in biodiversity communication evoke discourses and cultural meta-frames that are built on faulty historical grounds, creating a skewed image of what these protected landscapes have historically been during their period of bloom.