Selection of Projects
Joint Research Centre, Knowledge service for European Commission. April 2023.
Researching the potential for arts and science collaborations to lead us to futures beyond capitalism.
Talk given during ethnographic fieldwork following transdisciplinary research collaborations between artists and scientists, as part of the Naturarchy project.
In her talk Sofia will explain some of the critiques of growth and the mainstream narrative of innovation, technology, development and progress, before presenting her thoughts on how we can answer these important questions:
What would Science, Technology and Innovation look like in a world not driven by the endless pursuit of economic growth?
What new worlds might we be able to conceive if human wellbeing and the natural environment were the primary focus of innovation?
Can art and science together help us to conceive of new narratives for innovation and futures in which we harnessed technological and scientific advances for objectives beyond growth
The objective of economic growth generates a series of environmental and social problems, such as biodiversity loss, contamination and ocean acidification, and research shows that these cannot be fixed by technological innovation alone. Indeed technological innovation often exacerbates such problems because the types of innovation we develop and adopt are themselves determined by the objective of maintaining growth, and are driven by narrow definitions of progress and development. It is worrying that these technologies also shut down possibilities, and prevent change on a deeper societal level.
Introduction to Postgrowth Planning, May 2023 (2:30 - 2.48)
Shrinking Cities & Regeneration. Online Symposium. Collaboration between Wuhan University, University of Vigo and others.
20 minute presentation historicising what we mean by "Adapt" and "shrink" when talking about cities. Short literature review of postgrowth planning for symposium on Shrinking Cities in China, which critically frames conceptions of 'adaptation', 'resilience', 'shrinking' and gives an example of what we can call postgrowth planning.
The Conversation, Spain
Article exploring the social and political questions which are ignored by mobility stakeholders and governments adopting Evtols as a 'solution' for sustainable transport and congestion. For English version, please see my blog
Revista TELOS, Fundación telefónica, Spain
Article arguing that sustainability is not a problem for technology to 'fix'. Explanation of how the term "technology" is itself socially constructed, the roles we project onto tech & its politics, via modernism, nuclear power and Xanadu housing. Link
Interactive workshop co-run with Patrick Leon Gross (Doughnut Berlin) and 100+ participants to debate doughnuts
Full event details: https://doughnuteconomics.org/events/170
Theme: Circles, utopia, history of urbanism, Doughnut Economics
Workshop presenting a critical reflection on the history of circular urban design, followed by a guided and open space for discussion between historians, urban planners, and renegade economists to explore the intersections between doughnut cities, circular models, and planning justice. Insight from participants will feed into a scientific publication on the topic.
Doughnut Economics and the Doughnut City occupy a prominent position within discussions about the future of urban design. This concept has been framed as a significant departure from the history of economic thinking, which has long prized GDP as a measure of richness, progress, and wellbeing whilst producing inequality and environmental damage. Also, visually, the Doughnut deviates from mainstream representations of economic ‘laws’ as linear diagrams, offering the circle as a more dynamic and organic image. We suggest that the image of the circle must be understood in the context of another history: the history of ideal city design.
Webinar given with Web2Learn in collaboration with Dr. Anna Berti Suman, Stefania Oikonomou and Katerina Zourou.
Presentation: "The role of arts and technology as means to promote public engagement with scientific research"
6 December 2022
The Erasmus+ project GreenVETers organized a webinar on environmental citizen sensing and its contribution on social participation and deliberative democracy practices through art and new technologies. The webinar presented examples of citizen-sensing actions as well as of artistic expressions designed to foster active citizenship and address social injustices.
Public Participation & Deliberative Democracy Festival. Joint Research Centre, science and knowledge service for the European Commission.
Invited to participate in panel discussion exploring importance of civic monitoring to democracy.
Offered a Postgrowth perspective on the importance of civic monitoring for democratic urban planning.
"We focused on a specific phenomenon of deliberative democracy, known as 'citizens' assemblies'. These are structures and processes through which a representative and stratified sample of ordinary people selected by sortition make political decisions on matters of public interest. We discussed how to bring the reality of citizens' assemblies closer to that of 'civic (environmental) monitoring'. The latter is a social phenomenon in which ordinary people collect data on the state of the environment and/or their health in relation to the environment. Civic monitoring can also apply to other issues such as public funds' expenditure. We posited that the two forms of participation, i.e., citizen assemblies and civic monitoring, could have a complementary value, which might help address some of the respective limitations." (words, Dr. Anna Berti Suman). Session illustrated live by Alice Toietta, who summarised our discussion at the end of the session. This SciArt approach is of great interest to me because it puts art forwards as a tool in science and policy research.
Illustrating Ancient History exhibition, Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge
Dr Javier Martinez-Jimenez, Sofia Greaves and Zofia Guertin
Theme: translation, role of the arts in communicating scientific research
The exhibition explored the role of archaeologists and artists in constructing understandings of the past. The exhibition was focused upon two main questions: 'what responsibilities and difficulties does an archaeologist face when preserving and representing the past?, and 'how does art and illustration play a role in promoting community engagement with excavations?' We examined the processes behind technical drawings and artistic interpretations, and showed how they feed into one another. Work shown by Sofia Greaves and Zofia Guertin. You can view the exhibition online via the link above.
Book Cover Designs
3 Covers commissioned for the academic publication: 'Impact of the Ancient City' series, Oxbow Press.
Each of the covers intends to reflect through process / content the theme of the volume. Click to expand images
1. Remembering and Forgetting. This work explores how our understanding of the past is constantly reshaped by processes of narration and memorialisation. By layering, interweaving and distorting the representational tropes of urbanism - arches, columns, windows, and walls - the image mimics the complexity ways in which memories are formed and embedded within one another.
2. Cities as Palimpsests? This work engages with the metaphor of city as palimpsest. Palimpsests are pieces of parchment, or paper, upon which something is written and subsequently erased, so that the parchment may be used again. This leaves traces of what has come before, producing a layering of different voices and times. Often it is remarked that cities are like palimpsests because they are built and rebuilt over time. This work was produced by layering paint in thin washes and taking it away to reveal an urbanised landscape
3. Colonial Rome. The idea of Rome and the Roman Empire has been key to the history of colonisation, because many empires have sought to emulate and outdo the ancient example. The arched aqueduct was of the most typical expressions of 'Romanitas' and this image thinks about its disintegration in relation with the process of 'de-colonising the Classics' within scholarship, which seeks to understand and deconstruct how the reception of the ancient past has been key to colonial power dynamics and narratives.
Watercolour illustration of the problems economic growth causes for spatial planning
Illustration of political ecology
Watercolour illustration of the problems economic growth causes for spatial planning
Illustrations for Critiques of Growth (forthcoming). Book reviewing critiques of economic growth made through different theoretical lenses
Themes: postgrowth, degrowth, science and technology studies
Illustrations for chapter headings
1. "Don't worry we made a better one" : spatial critiques of growth (Sofia Greaves)
Spatial critiques of growth, a chapter which focuses on urban planning. We are building upwards and urbanising to grow our economy, but undermining our very material foundations. Metaphor of Jenga game.
2. "Political ecology" (Alejandro Fortuny Sicart and Noortje Keurhorst)
Fish paid to leave their pond drown because humans assumed a bath full of money was a fair swap.
PE shows how powerful players gain access to environmental resources to make $$$ by oppressing others and shutting down opposition. How land grabbing, water pollution, soil degradation, enclosure of resources for "conservation" or "development" occurs & its effects (For example).
3. Post structuralist (Elisa Schramm)
The objective of economic growth is normalised by how we speak about it and perform it (for example). We must open up other possibilities via 'the performance of difference', by realising 'projects of the otherwise' to valorise open endedness, non determination and experimentation. 'Otra vida es posible".
4. Ecomarxist Critique (Ben Robra and Jacopo Nicola Bergamo)
Capitalism is the root cause of ecological degradation, see blog.
Prometheus stole fire from Olympus and gave it to mankind, bestowing humanity with new knowledge and the possibility of material advancement as well as destruction. He defied Zeus, king of the gods, who had forbidden this gift. Zeus sought to break even by sending a different offering: Pandora, the first mortal woman, holding a box full of evils, lies and diseases. When Pandora opened her box she released these troubles into the world, and was only able to close it in time to shut ‘Hope’ inside. This exploding tree points out that the root cause of ecological degradation is Capitalism. There is one leaf left on the tree, like Hope in Pandora's box. It is a red hand, which is the symbol of Communism.
5. Postdevelopment (Javier Lloveras)
"The noun development has become synonymous with high rates of economic growth, industrialisation, modernisation and consumerism."
In the Egyptian funerary cult, the deceased is judged to determine whether they are ‘good’ enough to gain immortal life. In the Hall of Maat, the heart is weighed against a feather. The heart is the seat of a person's emotions, intellect, will and morality. Maat's feather represents goodness - truth, justice, harmony, balance, order, propriety, and reciprocity. A good life will balance with the feather, but if the heart should weigh more it will be eaten by a demon making never-ending life impossible. In this bastardisation of ancient history I am subverting the classic story of development which holds that ‘economic growth’ and ‘development’ are equal to goodness and represent a path to never-ending life. Rather, post-developmental theory reveals the opposite: by pursuing these ideals society is marching to its doom.
6. Feminist Economics (Jo Becker).
Mushrooms are the fruits of rich and hidden mycelium networks found in the soil, through which they absorb nutrients. Mycelium supports the mushroom and is vital to wider plants’ health and growth
7. Ecological Economics (Brais Suárez-Eiroa)
Kandinsky produced abstract paintings which represented the complexity of an invisible world after the split of the atom. He believed that abstraction could represent truth and spirituality. I believe that we are living in a symbolic paradise of ideal forms which is a thermodynamic impossibility and that this veils the truth. Circularity giving a false simplicity to the complexity of world’s systems and processes. In this illustration I am arguing that Kandinsky’s paintings seem more representative of the thermodynamic processes, flows and rebound effects which characterise our economic system than the neat circles which are typically used.
International Conference, free. Epidemic Urbanism Initiative
Themes: public health, epidemics, history of urbanism
Epidemic illnesses—not only a product of biology, but also social and cultural phenomena—are as old as cities themselves. The recent pandemic of COVID-19 has put into perspective the impact of epidemic illness on urban life, and exposed the vulnerabilities of the societies it ravages as much as the bodies it infects. How can epidemics help us understand urban environments? What insights from the outbreak, experience, and response to previous urban epidemics might inform our understanding of COVID-19?
Paper which explored what the cholera epidemics in Naples can teach us about top down public health policy interventions and infrastructural choices during Covid-19