Ecologies of Skins

Janina Wellmann, 2017–2018 Radcliffe Institute Fellow
Lisa Haushofer
, University of Zurich 

This workshop brings together researchers from the natural sciences, medicine, and the humanities to study a plurality of skins in their common ecological nature and thus initiate a novel interdisciplinary understanding of one of nature’s most perplexing organs. It builds on recent scientific insights into the skin microbiome as well as historical, anthropological, and art historical investigations to interrogate skins as simultaneously natural and cultural ecosystems. Specifically, the workshop will consider ecological conceptions of skins from the point of view of their historical emergence, temporal configuration, normative role, practical applications, sensory signaling power, and material-organic interchangeability. By focusing attention on skin ecologies, their manifestations and implications, the workshop seeks to renegotiate our understanding of human life in an anthropo-centric world.