Discovering weedy landscapes as sensory commons in the city of Turku, Finland

16:00, Sunday 9 May 2021 (30 minutes)

Inkeri Aula, University of Eastern Finland, Finland

Environmental relationships and our capacity to maintain diversity should be crucial in contemporary social research. Nevertheless, not much is known about sensorially mediated relationships with the more-than-human environment in cities and about how they have changed in recent decades. This paper asks how urban wilderness is experienced through the senses, and explores spaces that often go unnoticed by proposing a concept of ”weedy landscapes” that combines anthropologist Anna L. Tsing’s thinking about ’contaminated diversity’ ) with landscape geography of urban wildscapes (following Jorgensen & Keenan 2012).

Recent changes in environmental relationships are explored with multisensory ethnographic material produced on transgenerational sensobiographic walks in Turku, southwest Finland. This paper asserts the importance of urban wilderness, from forest parks even to small stretches of weedy greens that cross-cut formally planned areas, for the environmental relationships of the city dwellers in Turku. Urban biodiverse sites maintain interrelatedness with other forms of life and the multisensorial atmospheres they provide – smells, sounds, silences, views, moisture, shadow, feeling – could be cherished as ’sensory commons’.

University of Eastern Finland
Researcher, cultural anthropology