Dachas, science, and culture: Lilian Pungas and Judith Kiss realise the first transfer event of flumen in Eastern Estonia | 8 & 11 September 2022

Foto: Sanni Seppo

On 8th and 11th of September 2022, two public transfer events of the flumen research group will take place in Sillamäe (Estonia). With these events, flumen would like to facilitate an exchange in the research region of Estonia between scientists, actors relevant to the research topic and the population. On the one hand, our PhD candidate Lilian Pungas will present her previous research results. On the other hand, the topic related to her research will be placed in the context of local transformation processes in discussion and conversation rounds. Lilian Pungas is doing her research on dachas as an example of an agro-ecological circular economy and as a place where socio-economic crises can be cushioned. She is particularly interested in the human-nature relationships of the dacha gardeners. Therefore, she interviewed several stakeholders in Sillamäe and the region Ida-Viru. Especially these interviewees, but also other interested people will have the opportunity to learn more about our scientific interest and our results and to contribute their own views, opinions, criticism, questions, and supplementary thoughts. The latter are also important for us for further reflection on our flumen work. Judith Kiss, who coordinates science transfer at flumen, will also attend and write a short report on the events.

On 8th of September 2022, starting at 5 p.m., our colleague Lilian Pungas, a community representative from Sillamäe and scientists from Tallinn will meet with residents of Sillamäe – especially dacha gardeners – in order to discuss the importance of dachas/allotments for the living conditions of the people, but also for the future development of the region. There will be several short lectures on the dacha culture and the special characteristics of Sillamäe, followed by a discussion with the audience on the topic “Dachas and Urban Gardening – for whom and for what?” At the same time, the Finnish photographer Sanni Seppo will show her photographic works on dachas and urban gardens in Finland and Estonia.


  • Annela Samuel, documentary photographer and currently a PhD student at Tallinn University, is researching the experiences of older people in and with the village of Sillamäe.
  • Saara Mildeberg, who is researching the potential of cultural tourism in Ida-Viru County, will talk about the special “heritage” landscape (heritagescape) of Sillamäe, which can only be experienced on site.
  • Lilian Pungas from the University of Jena will talk about dachas in Ida-Viru County as an example of agro-ecological circular economy and socio-economic resilience, as well as about the gardeners’ human-nature relations.
  • Hardi Murula will talk about future scenarios for Ida-Viru County, where, for example, dachas are an important component of a possible development scenario (the so-called “Estonia of Eco-Communities”) proposed by the Development Monitoring Centre for the county.
  • Bianka Plüschke-Altof looks at the similarities and differences between community/urban gardens in Tallinn/Lasnamäe and dachas in East Estonia.

The Day of Open Gardens will then be celebrated on 11th of September 2022. In the Sputnik allotment cooperative, gardeners will open their gardens to an interested public. Home-grown vegetables, fruit and flowers will be sold, there will be music, entertainment and workshops on various gardening topics. The photo exhibition by Sanni Seppo will also be on display there once again.

Foto: Sanni Seppo

Lilian Pungas in online-discussion “Rethinking Circularity in Bioeconomy” | 5 Sep 2022

Rethinking circularity in bioeconomy: challenges, good practices and future perspectives

5 September 14:00-16:00 (CET) on Zoom platform.


In the context of bioeconomy, circular solutions are considered a means to address climate and environmental challenges, and create new job opportunities and boost economic growth. Circularity is high on the policy agenda, including the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy. However, there is still little evidence from agriculture, forestry and aquaculture about the transition process from the ‘take-make-waste’ model towards circular business and consumption practices. There is also limited discussion of the social aspects of the circular bioeconomy. This online event aims to provide insight into good circular practices in bioeconomy and deepen our understanding of the challenges and opportunities underlying the development of circular bioeconomy. It collects evidence from real-life experiences and facilitates an interdisciplinary discussion on circularity in and across agriculture, forestry and aquaculture.

The discussion will be organised around three key topics each of which will be introduced by a pair of discussants:

  1. What challenges do we face when we talk about the circularity of bioresources? Opening remarks by
  • DIANA MINCYTE, associate professor at the City University of New York-City Tech, USA; senior researcher in the CIRCLE project at Vilnius University, Lithuania;
  • PIA PIROSCHKA OTTE, research manager and senior researcher at RURALIS, Norway.

2. What are promising good practices of the circular use of bioresources in and across agriculture, forestry and aquaculture? Opening remarks by

  • JOANNA STORIE, researcher at Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonia;
  • LILIAN PUNGAS, researcher, Junior Research Group “Mentalities in Flux” (flumen), Germany.

3. What are promising development directions for the circular use of bioresources? Opening remarks by

  • RANDO VÄRNIK, professor at Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonia;
  • TALIS TISENKOPFS, professor at the University of Latvia, board member and senior researcher at Baltic Studies Centre, Latvia.

The chair of the discussion: MIĶELIS GRĪVIŅŠ, researcher at Baltic Studies Centre, Latvia.

More information about the event: sandra.sumane@bscresearch.lv.

The event is organised by the Baltic Research Programme’s project “CIRLCE: Promoting collaboration for sustainable and circular use of bioresources across agriculture, forestry, and aquaculture”, No. EEZ/BPP/VIAA/2021/9, under the EEA Grant of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

More information about the project: https://circle-eea.eu/. Follow CIRCLE on twitter: @CircleEEA.

„Climate heroes in the forest – Heroic (self-)representations in forestry and their consequences“ – next Scientific Coffee ‚Human-Forest-Relationships‘ with Ronja Mikoleit (University Freiburg) | 14 September 2022

We hereby warmly invite you to our next “Scientific Coffee HFR” session. To join the event, please use the Zoom Link below.

14 September 2022

13-15 CET / 14-16 EEST

Input: Ronja Mikoleit (University of Freiburg)

Climate heroes in the forest – Heroic (self-)representations in forestry and their consequences

Ronja Mikoleit is a PhD student and researcher at the Chair of Sustainability Governance at Freiburg University, Germany, part of the DFG research training group ConFoBi (Conservation of Forest Biodiversity in Multiple-Use Landscapes of Central Europe), and is currently also working at the Department of Societal Change of the Forest Research Institute Baden-Württemberg (FVA). In her PhD project on “professional epistemologies”, she explored various fields of practice in forestry, using the management of public forests in the southern Black Forest region as a specific study context. Interested in the dimension of practical and incorporated knowledge, she studied foresters’ everyday work situations inside and outside the forest from a practice-theoretical perspective, conducting participatory observation and interviews. In her talk, she will present a current paper written together with Roderich von Detten, which engages with representations of foresters as ‘climate heroes’ and the tensions and challenges arising from this conceptualization.

zoom-link: https://uni-jena-de.zoom.us/j/61027392103, Meeting-ID: 610 2739 2103, code: 513063

Scientific Coffee “Human-Forest-Relationships”

Let’s sit and talk in the scientific café! The “Scientific Coffee HFR” sessions give room for open and relaxed discussions on current research subjects related to human and society relations to forests. It warmly welcomes all interested in forest-related research to join online sessions.

Each session lasts approximately two hours. It starts with a 30-minutes presentation of a guest speaker. After the presentation, with coffee or tea and cookies at hand, participants have plenty of room for an open discussion and exchange.

The “Scientific Coffee HFR” takes place two to three times per semester on Wednesday afternoons.

Guest speakers wanted! If you are interested in contributing to the “Scientific Coffee HFR”, please contact either judith.kiss(at)uni-jena.de or tuulikki.halla(at)uef.fi with info on your subject (title and short abstract) and a preferred Wednesday (13-15 CET / 14-16 EET).

The idea for a scientific coffee HFR came up during a cooperation between Finnish and German researchers in 2021. The Finnish research project Human-Forest Relationships in Societal Change and the German research group Mentalities im Flux (flumen) organized the workshop “Contested Society-Nature-Relations. Forest related Emotions, Practices & Conflicts in Times of Societal Change” in May 2021. The first “Scientific Coffee HFR” session was held in September 2021.

The “Scientific Coffee HFR” is organized by:

New article by Dennis Eversberg: “Der sozial-ökologische Transformationskonflikt und die sozialistische Jugend in Deutschland 2022″ in the Mitteilungen of the Archive of the Workers’ Youth Movement.

Research group leader Dennis Eversberg writes for the Archive of the Workers’ Youth Movement about the social-ecological transformation conflict, the mentalities of the young generation and perspectives for the Socialist Youth of Germany.


My topic is the social-ecological transformation conflict and the question what role the young generation and especially the socialist youth plays in it today. To this end, I will first clarify what I mean by “socio-ecological crisis” and “socio-ecological transformation conflict.” Then, on the basis of my own research on socio-ecological mentalities, I will outline how the balance of power in the disputes about whether and how socio-ecological transformation has looked in the German population, especially among the young generation, in the recent past, and shed light on the different dimensions of the socio-ecological conflict. Finally, I will try to reflect on these research results against the background of recent political developments and derive some conclusions on the political situation in which the Socialist Youth of Germany (SJD) – Die Falken operates today.

Eversberg, D., 2022. Der sozial-ökologische Transformationskonflikt und die sozialistische Jugend in Deutschland 2022, Mitteilungen 1/2022. Archiv der Arbeiterjugendbewegung, Oer-Erkenschwick.

Article in German available under:

“It always takes people on the ground who have already made the change for themselves” – Dennis Eversberg is a guest in the kulturWelt-Podcast at Bayern 2.

Research group leader Dennis Eversberg is a guest in the kulturWelt on Bayern on 2 August 2022. He reports from the bioenergy villages studied by flumen, talks about renewable energies and how a change in mentality can succeed.

“It always takes people who are trusted and who say, “Let’s do this together!”. For the following reasons and with the following partners. This could be the farmer who already has a biogas plant at his farm, that can be the mayor.”

The whole interview in German is available from minute 8:35 under:

New article by Dennis Eversberg: “Klimarassismus – Neue Polarisierung oder ‘innerimperiale Kämpfe reloaded’?” at the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society (IDZ).

In his article published by the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society (IDZ), Dennis Eversberg, head of the research group, develops three theses on climate racism as (1) a political ideology, (2) a mentality, and (3) a structural relationship of domination.


This article proposes to use the term climate racism more systematically in order to understand more precisely the entanglement of climate change and climate policy with racist ideologies and relations of domination. Three levels of the term’s use can be distinguished: “climate racism” can refer to a) an overtly held ideology, b) socially shared basic attitudes or mentalities, or c) a structural relationship of domination. While the first two levels describe discriminatory attitudes and actions of certain political actors and segments of the population, the third refers to the shared deep entrenchment of climate disruption and racialized global inequalities in the logic of modern capitalist socialization and the “imperial way of life” it enables.

Eversberg, Dennis (2022). Klimarassismus – neue Polarisierung oder ,innerimperiale Kämpfe reloa-
ded’? In: Institut für Demokratie und Zivilgesellschaft (ed.). Wissen schafft Demokratie. Tagungsband
zur Online-Fachtagung „Gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt & Rassismus”, Band 11. Jena, 70-79, DOI: 10.19222/202211/06.


Social relationships with nature: elements of a framework for socio-ecological structure analysis – New article of the flumen team

Dennis Eversberg, Philip Koch, Jana Holz, Lilian Pungas & Anne
Stein (2022): Social relationships with nature: elements of a framework for socio-ecological
structure analysis, Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, DOI:


This primarily conceptual contribution introduces a sociological framework for tracing the effects and the sources of stability or instability of societal nature relations to the thoughts, feelings and doings of actually existing people. Drawing on critical debates on societal nature relations, we argue that modern capitalist societalization is inherently expansionary, that the rapid expansion of human economic activity over the past two centuries was only possible based on fossil resources, and that therefore, moving to a post-fossil world will require reinventing the very essence of what “society” is. To investigate the implications of such a fundamental overhaul at the level of how socialized people relate to socialized nature, we build on the relational sociology of Pierre Bourdieu to suggest the framework of a space of social relationships with nature. We describe the iterative process in which we arrived at this conception, moving back and forth between theoretical considerations and hermeneutic analysis of qualitative material from case studies of bio-based economic activities in four European regions. From the iterative process, we synthesize four elementary forms of social relationship with nature (“natural capital”, “nature as partner”, “natural heritage” and nature as “the environment”) and provide an illustrative corner case for each. From the systematic differences that emerge, we then draw out two principal axes of a spatial representation partly homologous with Bourdieu’s social space: a vertical axis indicating the degree of active involvement in and access to the means of abstract-expansionary societalization, and a horizontal representing the form of that involvement, along a continuum from dualist, instrumental and appropriative to holist, mutual or caring relationships with nature. In conclusion, we propose further research to apply and develop this relational framework across local or national contexts and scales as a means to analyze tensions and conflicts around transformations of the societal nature relations.


Lilian Pungas’ new article on human-nature relationships of Estonian dacha gardeners

In her article published on July 12, 2022, our colleague Lilian Pungas examines the nature relations of allotment gardeners in East Estonian dachas.


This article contributes to the understanding of the complexity of human-nature relationships. Through hermeneutic analysis of more than 60 semi-structured in-depth interviews (2019-2021), I identify five prevalent human-nature relationship models within the Food Self-Provisioning (FSP) practice in Eastern Estonia (‘master‘, ‘user‘ and ‘steward of nature‘ as well as ‘partner with’ and ‘participant in nature‘). As an ambiguous model, the ‘stewardship of nature’ merits my particular attention when exploring how gardeners perceive, relate to and act upon nature in general and their own gardening practice in particular. Using a relational sociological approach, I locate the observed relationship models within the so-called ‘space of social relationships with nature’ (see Eversberg et al. 2022 in this Special Issue) which allows me to capture the various ways in which humans mentally and practically relate to nature. The analysis reveals seemingly contrary yet concurrent manifestations of human-nature relationships that can only be explained by exploring their embeddedness in both social power relations and societal nature relations that constitute the individually observed human-nature relationships. Furthermore, I demonstrate how ‘immediate’ engagement with nature results in rather caring and partner-like relationships whereas ‘abstract’ and alienated experiences often feature instrumental logic with implicit or explicit hierarchy.

Lilian Pungas (2022): Who stewards whom? A paradox spectrum of human–nature relationships of Estonian dacha gardeners, Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, DOI: 10.1080/13511610.2022.2095990


Lilian Pungas and Martin Fritz take part in the XIV European Society of Ecological Economics (ESEE) Conference in Pisa, 14-17 June 2022

Our flumen-colleagues Lilian Pungas and Martin Fritz presented their work at the ESEE-Conference. Furthermore, Martin moderated the Special Track “From an aspirational policy framework to a real agent of change?”

Lilian Pungas gave the following two lectures:

Who stewards whom? A paradox spectrum of human-nature relationships when working with the soil

This contribution is of empirical nature and based on more than 60 semi-structured in-depth interviews with people that ‘work with the soil’ and practice Food Self-Provisioning (FSP) in Eastern Estonia. The ‘space of social relationships with nature’ is used here as a relational approach to locate various manifestations of care and stewardship to each other and to explore their embeddedness in social relations of power and in specific societal nature relations. Directly perceived experiences and challenges towards nature (be it soil, insects or weather) within the FSP practice bring about manifestations towards nature that can seem paradox at the first sight, that are diverse, dynamic and context-dependent. This relational complexity needs to be considered if we want to overcome destructive human-nature relation(ship)s, in general, and cultivate more sustainable and caring agri-food systems, in particular.

 Invisible bioeconomies. A framework to assess the ‘blind spots’ of hegemonic bioeconomy models

As one of the latest buzzwords in agri-food system transformation bioeconomy promises jobs, economic growth and decreased environmental pressure. I will explore the hegemonic narratives and political goals articulated within respective bioeconomy strategy papers of EU (2018) and Estonia (2022) with a specific focus on agriculture and agri-food systems. Doing so I will draw on the Bielefeld subsistence approach and on its three-dimensional colonialism-capitalism-patriarchy nexus. I will demonstrate how 1) different geographical regions, 2) environmental externalities, and 3) widespread BE practices that all contribute to, and constitute the very basis of the hegemonic bioeconomy model, remain unrecognised or devalued as ‚blind spots‘. In fact, current BE models are all built on the prerequisite of the exploitation and devaluation of specific spheres of the BE. As such, the currently proposed bioeconomy models serve as just another label for a ‚green growth‘ program, and will additionally perpetuate the very same power relations while avoiding a ‘genuine’ socio-ecological transformation.

Dr. Martin Fritz presented findings from the representative survey of flumen:

Eco-social mentalities and ways of living in the transformation to an eco-social policy – Empirical findings from a representative survey in Germany 2021/22

An important aspect in eco-social transformations are mentalities and practices. While, for example, mentalities oriented at the growth paradigm and fossil practices like frequent flying are obstacles to the political implementation of an eco-social policy, other more ecological mentalities and caring practices may function as drivers. Based on Bourdieu’s theory of practice and concept of habitus this paper investigates the links between people’s social positions, their eco-social mentalities and practices. In the paper the results of a representative multi-mode survey conducted in Germany 2021/22 are presented. We asked people about social and ecological attitudes, preferences and values, collected data about their everyday practices and their social status and position. Applying dimension reduction methods such factor-, correspondence- and cluster analysis we discover the eco-social mentalities and ways of living that currently exist in Germany and plot them into the space of social positions. Implications for social conflicts and inequalities are discussed.

Next Scientific Coffee Human-Forest-Relationships: Maija Halonen (University of Eastern Finland) – “Socio-economic forest relations in Northern peripheries” | 1 June 2022, 1-3 pm (CET)

Scientific Coffee Human-Forest-Relationships presents:

1st June 2022

13-15 CET / 14-16 EEST

Input: Maija Halonen (University of Eastern Finland)
Socio-economic forest relations in Northern peripheries

Maija Halonen is human geographer with background in social policy. Currently she is working as postdoctoral researcher in the University of Eastern Finland and her research interests focus on the socio-economic development of Northern forest peripheries. In her project founded by the Kone Foundation, she approaches the development in the frames of global sustainability transition and through the case studies from the East and North Finland. 

In her presentation, she scrutinises discursive scenarios and frames which analysis is based on the documents and interviews with regional development actors. First, she describes the alternative scenarios for expected development paths and identifies which factors are related to forests. Then she presents the findings of the hegemonic and alternative discourses on forest-related development and constructs the frames which describe the regional forest relations. Based on the results, aspirations and good will describe different phases of the relations than the current reality and therefore forest relations seem to be transforming but very slowly in Northern peripheries. The most striking note call for understanding, appreciation and acknowledgement of forest relations which people in the middle of the specific forests have and have had for generations. 



Meeting-ID: 610 2739 2103
Kenncode: 513063

The “Scientific Coffee” sessions continue our cooperation and exchange on the relations between society, humans and forests that we started with the workshop “Contested Society-Nature-Relations. Forest related Emotions, Practices & Conflicts in Times of Societal Change” in May 2021. They give room for open and relaxed discussions on current research subjects related to human and society relations to forests. The Scientific Coffee sessions take place as often as we find the time to organise another session – but at least one session per semester is planned.

More info on our past workshop: https://www.flumen.uni-jena.de/workshop-contested-society-nature-relations-forest-related-emotions-practices-conflicts-in-times-of-societal-change-27-28-may-2021-2/c

If you are interested in contributing to the next “Scientific Coffee HFR”, please contact judith.kiss@uni-jena.de with info on your subject (title and short abstract) and a preferred Wednesday (13-15 CET / 14-16 EEST).