Methods Seminars are in-depth, interdisciplinary investigations of a particular problem or theme. These seminars focus on ways of knowing the world characteristic of the disciplines represented in the seminar, such that the forms or methods of investigation are as important as the subject matter itself.
There exists a rather intriguing contemporary convergence around the semiotics of Oikos, where at least four major crucial historical practices intersect with each other: political economy, ecology, art and architecture, and cultural studies. Is this a mere coincidence, a simple question of language or does this old Greek word convey a larger meaning, a sort of underground source that may help us navigate the treacherous waters of the present? At a more practical level, the actual conditions of the planet rife with environmental devastation, social, cultural and economic dislocation, technological ubiquity, and psychological anomie call for a creative re-imagining of our place in the earth. The class, then, will be an attempt to develop an "oikoic" cartography or poetic economy of life - an approximation to an aesthetic political economy of the environment. We will revisit certain aspects of these practices not only from the perspective of intellectual history but also from the nomadic angles of cultural hybrids and environmental science, ethics and aesthetics. We will reflect on the "nature-culture" social constructs and dichotomies, and its attendant ideas of the "wild", "primitive", "savage", "civilized", "developed", "cosmopolitan". We will be helped by abundant visual and textual aids, as well as by extensive discussions and class presentations.