Ewa Domanska
Ewa Domanska
Culture historian
Adam Mickiewicz University
Polish Academy of Sciences
Stanford University
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  • Collecting Bald Cypress Knees: An Exercise in Symbiotic Interaction

    In my talk I will focus on the case of the roots of the bald cypress tree [Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.]., considering both the function of their knees as transmitters of oxygen and as objects in collections. I attempt to show that becoming acquainted with the functions of the knees of the bald cypress enables an interesting interpretation not only of the role that they could play as objects in collections but also of the phenomenon of creating collections as such. I will also test the hypothesis that both the presence in the surrounding environment of objects made from the knees of the bald cypress, as well as this tree’s place in parks and gardens, can trigger humans’ chemical memory, thus evoking the atavistic aspects of its current existence.

    Ewa Domanska is Professor of Human Sciences and holds her permanent position at the Faculty of History, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. She is also a corresponding member of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Since 2002, Domańska has been a recurring visiting professor in the Anthropology Department/Archaeology Center of Stanford University. Her teaching and research interests include history and the theory of historiography, comparative theory of the humanities and social sciences as well as the environmental humanities, ecocide and genocide studies. Domańska’s recent publications include: “The Paradigm Shift in the Contemporary Humanities and Social Sciences,” in Philosophy of History: Twenty-First-Century Perspectives, ed. Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen (Oxford, London, New York: Bloomsbury, 2020: 180-197); “Unbinding from Humanity: Nandipha Mntambo’s Europa and the Limits of History and Identity,” (Journal of the Philosophy of History, vol. 14, 2020: 310–336); “The Environmental History of Mass Graves” (Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 22, no. 2, 2020: 241-255).