Insight
is our reward

Publications in Arts & Humanities by NOMIS researchers

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

January 10, 2024

Western Eurasia witnessed several large-scale human migrations during the Holocene. Here, to investigate the cross-continental effects of these migrations, we shotgun-sequenced 317 genomes—mainly from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods—from across northern and western Eurasia. These were imputed alongside published data to obtain diploid genotypes from more than 1,600 ancient humans. Our analyses revealed a ‘great divide’ genomic boundary extending from the Black Sea to the Baltic. Mesolithic hunter-gatherers were highly genetically differentiated east and west of this zone, and the effect of the neolithization was equally disparate. Large-scale ancestry shifts occurred in the west as farming was introduced, including near-total replacement of hunter-gatherers in many areas, whereas no substantial ancestry shifts happened east of the zone during the same period. Similarly, relatedness decreased in the west from the Neolithic transition onwards, whereas, east of the Urals, relatedness remained high until around 4,000 BP, consistent with the persistence of localized groups of hunter-gatherers. The boundary dissolved when Yamnaya-related ancestry spread across western Eurasia around 5,000 BP, resulting in a second major turnover that reached most parts of Europe within a 1,000-year span. The genetic origin and fate of the Yamnaya have remained elusive, but we show that hunter-gatherers from the Middle Don region contributed ancestry to them. Yamnaya groups later admixed with individuals associated with the Globular Amphora culture before expanding into Europe. Similar turnovers occurred in western Siberia, where we report new genomic data from a ‘Neolithic steppe’ cline spanning the Siberian forest steppe to Lake Baikal. These prehistoric migrations had profound and lasting effects on the genetic diversity of Eurasian populations.

Research field(s)
Archaeology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

August 31, 2023

Community supported agriculture (CSA) is an alternative food network that aims to enable sustainable and just food production by bringing consumers and producers together. One version of CSA (Solidarische Landwirtschaft in German or Solidarity Agriculture) requires active labour participation of members as part of the subscription price. This paper uses a relational values approach to explore what motivates members to join and participate in solidarity agriculture cooperatives and how the experience of participation changes their values and behaviour. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 21 members of three co-operatives and analysed using a grounded theory approach. Specifically, we applied the Syntax of Environmental Values Framework, developed by Deplazes-Zemp and Chapman. Results show that members typically hold strong intrinsic values regarding fair compensation for farmer’s work and local environmental sustainability and instrumental values regarding food quality and healthy eating. We found that participation and work practices at the cooperative added to and changed values and behaviour through new relational connections to food, farmers and to nature via the agricultural landscape. These findings provide new insight into the ways that relational values can be adopted and more broadly on the relationship between values and behaviour. This paper concludes that values, especially relational values, can form and change through lived experiences. Our results can help guide programs aiming to foster pro-environmental values in a local population by highlighting one possible mechanism to do so. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog. © 2023 The Authors. People and Nature published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Philosophy & Theology, Philosophy

NOMIS Researcher(s)

March 31, 2023

A review of ideas about the spread of agriculture from the Near East into Europe introduces a bioarchaeological investigation of the question. Strontium isotope analysis is used to make an important point about the transition to agriculture, rather large datasets are available from two areas where the transition to agriculture is well defined and where there are a substantial number of burials—in the Danube Gorges between Serbia and Romania and in Southern Scandinavia. This paper will discuss each area separately prior to a more general synthesis of the results. The moral of the story has to do with mobility and sedentism.

Research field(s)
Archaeology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

January 24, 2023

Values have always tended to play a central role in discourse on the environment, a tendency which is currently particularly evident in the biodiversity context. Traditionally, arguments about the environment have invoked instrumental value to highlight the necessity or utility of a healthy environment for people and intrinsic value to emphasize the importance of protecting nature for its own sake. More recently, this value dichotomy has been challenged, and the notion of a third value category – relational value – has been introduced into the political and social conservation discussion. In the field of environmental philosophy, the idea of a third category of environmental value already has a longer tradition. This article describes and compares several philosophical accounts of third-category environmental value to contribute to a better characterization of relational value and thus to a better understanding of the role this type of value can play in environmental discourse and policy.

Research field(s)
Philosophy

NOMIS Researcher(s)

August 11, 2022

The Mesolithic in Eastern Europe was the last time that hunter-gatherer economies thrived there before the spread of agriculture in the second half of the seventh millennium BC. But the period, and the interactions between foragers and the first farmers, are poorly understood in the Carpathian Basin and surrounding areas because few sites are known, and even fewer have been excavated and published. How did site location differ between Mesolithic and Early Neolithic settlers? And where should we look for rare Mesolithic sites? Proximity analysis is seldom used for predictive modeling for hunter-gatherer sites at large scales, but in this paper, we argue that it can serve as an important starting point for prospection for rare and poorly understood sites. This study uses proximity analysis to provide quantitative landscape associations of known Mesolithic and Early Neolithic sites in the Carpathian Basin to show how Mesolithic people chose attributes of the landscape for camps, and how they differed from the farmers who later settled. We use elevation and slope, rivers, wetlands prior to the twentieth century, and the distribution of lithic raw materials foragers and farmers used for toolmaking to identify key proxies for preferred locations. We then build predictive models for the Mesolithic and Early Neolithic in the Pannonian region to highlight parts of the landscape that have relatively higher probabilities of having Mesolithic sites still undiscovered and contrast them with the settlement patterns of the first farmers in the area. We find that large parts of Pannonia conform to landforms preferred by Mesolithic foragers, but these areas have not been subject to investigation. © 2022, The Author(s).

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Historical Studies, Archaeology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

June 26, 2022

Fifteen years ago, Jane Guyer (2007) argued that the near future had largely disappeared from collective imaginaries, replaced by longer-term horizons associated with evangelical Christianity and free market capitalism. While not seeking to repudiate Guyer, this article argues that recent developments have radically altered relationships to the future. It points to a previously unrecognized connection between two of the most significant challenges facing humanity today: the experience of living through a global pandemic and international efforts to limit the harmful consequences of climate change. Responses to both phenomena invoke the grammatical structure of the future perfect tense. During the pandemic, people began to imagine themselves living at a future moment in time when they have already resumed participating in those activities they have been prevented from undertaking, an example of the future perfect. The Paris Climate Agreement, which encourages states and other parties to take action in the present so that in the future they will already have saved the planet, also relies on the future perfect. In reaction to the pandemic and climate change, the near future has reemerged as a focal point of temporal attention. This article examines how the future appears in the present and the contribution of the future perfect tense to the creation of alternative futures. © The Author(s) 2022.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Historical Studies, Anthropology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

June 1, 2022

The question of whether or not people are part of nature is relevant to discuss humans’ role on earth and their environmental responsibilities. This article introduces the perspectival account of the concept of ‘nature,’ which starts from the observation that we talk about the environment from a particular, human perspective. In this account, the term ‘nature’ is used to refer to those parts of and events in the environment we perceive as not being shaped by typically human activities. Humans themselves are part of nature insofar as they participate in and are products of natural processes. Therefore, in this account, nature is not only the passive environment, but also something active and generative that does not operate through human creativity, but rather alongside and together with it in shaping our environment. According to the perspectival account, the ‘nature’ concept expresses a particular relationship between the human agent and the non-human environment, which can be the starting point for normative theory.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Philosophy & Theology, Applied Ethics

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

June 1, 2022

Different arguments in favor of the moral relevance of the concept of biodiversity (e.g., in terms of its intrinsic or instrumental value) face a range of serious difficulties, despite that biodiversity constitutes a central tenet of many environmentalist practices and beliefs. That discrepancy is considerable for the debate on potential moral reasons for protecting biodiversity. This paper adds a new angle by focusing on the potential of the concept of natural otherness-specifically individual and process otherness in nature-for providing additional moral reasons in favor of the protection of biodiversity as variety. Four arguments are presented. Two arguments draw on the individual natural otherness of nonhuman living beings and two additional arguments draw on the process otherness of active nature. The upshot is that each of these arguments-if successful-provides a moral reason in favor of the protection of biodiversity.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Philosophy & Theology, Applied Ethics

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

January 1, 2022

Anthropologists increasingly turn to design research for inspiration. Yet work in design anthropology is frequently cut off from ethnographic research. To some extent this is intentional, given concerns that ethnographic methods have failed to keep pace with a rapidly changing world. But anthropologists should not have to choose between ethnography and design research. This article examines the author’s participation in an industrial think tank in which anthropologists and engineers collaborated to address the environmental impacts of mining. This included discussion of unrecognized sources of pollution at mining sites and rising penalties for environmental damage. The members of the think tank also developed designs for new technology intended to reduce the exposure of artisanal gold miners to mercury and its release into the atmosphere, facilitate the recycling of electronic waste in developing countries, and reduce the catastrophic risks posed by tailings dams. Our collaborations point to the value of combining ethnography and design research in new ways.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Historical Studies, Anthropology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

January 1, 2022

Tatos Cartozian was naturalized in Portland, Oregon in May 1923, a decision that was immediately challenged on racial grounds. This article follows the Cartozian family – from their sitting for an Ottoman expatriation portrait to exit the Ottoman empire in 1906 to their deft use of advertising and portrait photography in the United States in order to rethink the politics of visibility and legal belonging. As several Asian groups were deemed ineligible for citizenship on account of not being ”white,” the very grounds on which ”whiteness” was to be determined – whether scientific expertise or assumed common knowledge – was continually shifting. In order to become US citizens the Cartozians had to exit the category of “Asiatic” and join the ranks of the unmarked citizenry in the United States. Counterintuitively, they managed to do so while advertising their family business frequently and boldly as ”America’s Largest Oriental Rug Organization.”.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Communication & Textual Studies, Communication & Media Studies

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

December 1, 2021

This paper provides results from a suite of analyses made on human dental material from the Late Palaeolithic to Neolithic strata of the cave site of Grotta Continenza situated in the Fucino Basin of the Abruzzo region of central Italy. The available human remains from this site provide a unique possibility to study ways in which forager versus farmer lifeways affected human odonto-skeletal remains. The main aim of our study is to understand palaeodietary patterns and their changes over time as reflected in teeth. These analyses involve a review of metrics and oral pathologies, micro-fossils preserved in the mineralized dental plaque, macrowear, and buccal microwear. Our results suggest that these complementary approaches support the assumption about a critical change in dental conditions and status with the introduction of Neolithic foodstuff and habits. However, we warn that different methodologies applied here provide data at different scales of resolution for detecting such changes and a multipronged approach to the study of dental collections is needed for a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of diachronic changes.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Historical Studies, Anthropology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

December 1, 2021

According to the received view in the philosophical literature on pictorial perception, when perceiving an object in a picture, we perceive both the picture’s surface and the depicted object, but the surface is only unconsciously represented. Furthermore, it is suggested, such unconscious representation does not need attention. This poses a crucial problem, as empirical research on visual attention shows that there can hardly be any visual representation, conscious or unconscious, without attention. Secondly, according to such a received view, when looking at a picture aesthetically, one both consciously represents and visually attends to both the depicted object and the picture’s surface simultaneously. Thus, contra the empirical research on attention, only conscious visual representations are coupled, by such current view, with attention. And this clearly poses a second problem, as this philosophical account is not in tune with what vision science tells us about the functioning of our visual system. Furthermore, this raises another crucial problem, namely, that of explaining why aesthetic experience of pictures does not feel odd or conflicting, since, as previously noted in the philosophical literature, and contra the received view, if we are simultaneously consciously perceiving both the picture’s surface and the depicted object, there seems to be two things, at the same time, in the foreground of one’s visual consciousness. But, if so, as suggested, this would lead to a conflicting spatial visual experience. This paper offers a new description of the role of visual attention in picture perception, which explains the difference between the usual and the aesthetic way of perceiving a depicted object, without facing the problems reported above. A crucial role in our new account is played by the notion of unconscious attention, the distinction between focal and distributed, as well as top-down and bottom-up visual attention and the relationship between visual attention and visual consciousness. The paper, thus, offers the first theory concerning the exercise of visual attention in pictorial perception that is both philosophically rigorous and empirically reliable.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Philosophy & Theology, Philosophy

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

November 1, 2021

Intellectualists suggest that practical knowledge, or ‘knowing- how’, can be reduced to propositional knowledge, or ‘knowing-that’. Anti-intellectualists, on the contrary, suggest, following the original insights by Ryle, that such a reduction is not possible. Rejection of intellectualism can be proposed either by offering purely philosophical analytical arguments, or by recruiting empirical evidence from cognitive science about the nature of the mental representations involved in these two forms of knowledge. In this paper, I couple these two strategies in order to analyze some crucial reasons for which intellectualism seems not to be the best theory we have to correctly understand and describe practical knowledge. In particular, I will start from a specific philosophical account against intellectualism offered by Dickie (Philos Phenomenol Res LXXXV(3):737–745, 2012), and suggest that it can be supported by current experimental results coming from motor neuroscience. The claim of the paper is that there is at least one kind of practical knowledge, which I call motor knowledge, and which is at the basis of the performance of skilled action, which cannot be reduced to propositional knowledge.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Philosophy & Theology, Philosophy

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

September 1, 2021

The article’s aim is to clear the ground for the idea of aesthetic archaeology as an aesthetic analysis of remote artifacts divorced from aesthetic criticism. On the example of controversies surrounding the early Cycladic figures, it discusses an anxiety motivating the rejection of aesthetic inquiry in archaeology, namely, the anxiety about the heuristic reliability of one’s aesthetic instincts vis-à-vis remote artifacts. It introduces the claim that establishing an aesthetic mandate of a remote artifact should in the first place be part of a quest after the norms of engagement an artifact’s kind signaled to the intended audience by its appearance. Rather than advocating for a new subdiscipline, the concept of aesthetic archaeology serves to bring into theoretical focus an aesthetic engagement with an artifact’s appearance under circumstances that rule out any acquired competence in distinguishing its aesthetic mandate perceptually—and thus rule out any aesthetic expertise.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Communication & Textual Studies, Literary Studies

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

July 15, 2021

Listening is a pervasive and significant act of conservation research and praxis, mattering greatly for the realisation of conservation agendas, not least its ambitions to be outward looking and inclusive in approach. Yet, the value and role of listening has been barely explored in a sustained and reflexive way. This paper is a preliminary schematic of what it might mean to attend to the act of listening, set within the context of a larger field of listening scholarship as well as more specific manoeuvres to embed relational approaches into the study of people and nature interactions. We explore what it means to ‘listen well’ within the context of conservation, highlighting the importance of recognising listening as a relationship and our positions and power within those relationships; the need to care for the relationship through respect and empathy; and the building of inclusive relationships of listening by attending to how space and time influences understanding. We offer examples of how researchers and practitioners can create spaces for listening, illustrating our discussion with personal reflections about listening practices gained through our various conservation and research careers. We provide approaches and ideas which help the reader—academic and practitioner—to both understand and articulate the value of listening in conservation and relational values of nature. We hope to inspire the wider use of listening-based approaches in conservation research and practice, and the recognition and support from senior managers and funders of what is needed to promote long-term and meaningful relationships between people and nature. A free Plain Language Summary can be found within the Supporting Information of this article. © 2021 The Authors. People and Nature published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Philosophy & Theology, Philosophy

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

July 12, 2021

What mental states are required for an agent to know-how to perform an action? This question fuels one of the hottest debates in the current literature on philosophy of action. Answering this question means facing what we call here The Challenge of Format Dualism, which consists in establishing which is the format of the mental representations involved in practical knowledge and, in case they are given in more than one format, explaining how these different formats can interlock. This challenge has generated two parallel debates: the debate between Intellectualism and Anti-Intellectualism on the one hand, and the debate on the Interface Problem on the other. While the former is about whether practical knowledge can be considered a species of propositional knowledge, the latter investigates how motoric and propositional states can be related. Here we offer a unified account capable of explicitly analyzing those two problems within the same philosophical framework. Our account suggests a new way for solving the Interface Problem that paves the way for addressing the debate between Intellectualism and Anti-Intellectualism. © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Philosophy & Theology, Philosophy

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

April 20, 2021

Does action play any crucial role in our perception of pictures? The standard literature on picture perception has never explicitly tackled this question. This is for a simple reason. After all, objects in a picture seem to be static objects of perception. Thus, it might sound extremely controversial to say that action is crucial in picture perception. Contrary to this general intuitive stance, this paper defends, for the first time, the apparently very controversial claim, never addressed in the literature, that some of the specific and essential relations between vision and action make action (and its motoric basis) crucial in order for us to enter pictorial experience. I first discuss two ways in which vision and action are deeply linked, by describing the famous notions of Vision-for-Action and Sensorimotor Understanding. Then, I describe the special role they play in generating ordinary pictorial experience and suggest that, when we cannot rely on them while in front of a picture, we lose pictorial experience. © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V. part of Springer Nature.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

February 12, 2021

The Late Upper Palaeolithic (Epigravettian) sequence at Badanj has yielded an important dataset about the occupation of the hinterland of the Eastern Adriatic catchment zone in the late Pleniglacial. The site also harbors one of the rare occurrences of Upper Palaeolithic parietal “art” in southeastern Europe in the form of a large rock engraving. Another notable aspect of the site is the presence of engravings on portable objects made from bone. The first excavations at Badanj, conducted in 1976–1979 in the zone around the engraved rock, yielded a surprisingly large number of personal ornaments (over 1000 specimens) from a variety of primarily marine gastropods, scaphopods, and bivalves, and red deer canines. Here we review what is currently known about the site and report our preliminary findings from the study of the collection of personal ornaments as well as osseous tools, some of which were marked by regular incisions forming decorative motifs. We also report two new direct accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dates on antler barbed points.

Research field(s)
Archaeology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

January 1, 2021

With restricted face-to-face interactions, COVID-19 lockdowns and distancing measures tested the capability of computer-mediated communication to foster social contact and wellbeing. In a multinational sample (n = 6436), we investigated how different modes of contact related to wellbeing during the pandemic. Computer-mediated communication was more common than face-to-face, and its use was influenced by COVID-19 death rates, more so than state stringency measures. Despite its legal and health threats, face-to-face contact was still positively associated with wellbeing, and messaging apps had a negative association. Perceived household vulnerability to COVID-19 reduced the positive effect of face-to-face communication on wellbeing, but surprisingly, people’s own vulnerability did not. Computer-mediated communication was particularly negatively associated with the wellbeing of young and empathetic people. Findings show people endeavored to remain socially connected, yet however, maintain a physical distance, despite the tangible costs to their wellbeing.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Communication & Textual Studies, Communication & Media Studies

NOMIS Researcher(s)

June 1, 2020

Picture perception and ordinary perception of real objects differ in several respects. Two of their main differences are: (1) Depicted objects are not perceived as present and (2) We cannot perceive significant spatial shifts as we move with respect to them. Some special illusory pictures escape these visual effects obtained in usual picture perception. First, trompe l’oeil paintings violate (1): the depicted object looks, even momentarily, like a present object. Second, anamorphic paintings violate (2): they lead to appreciate spatial shifts resulting from movement. However, anamorphic paintings do not violate (1): they are still perceived as clearly pictorial, that is, nonpresent. What about the relation between trompe l’oeil paintings and (2)? Do trompe l’oeils allow us to perceive spatial shifts? Nobody has ever focused on this aspect of trompe l’oeil perception. I offer the first speculation about this question. I suggest that, if we follow our most recent theories in philosophy and vision science about the mechanisms of picture perception, then, the only plausible answer, in line with phenomenological intuitions, is that, differently from nonillusory, usual picture perception, and similarly to ordinary perception, trompe l’oeil perception does allow us to perceive spatial shifts resulting from movement. I also discuss the philosophical implications of this claim.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Visual & Performing Arts, Art Practice, History & Theory