Anti-disciplinary collaboration

Coordinator: Felipe Fonseca

Karla Brunet
Luciana Fleischmann
Maira Begalli
Yasodara Córdova
Orlando Silva

Collaboration has a number of different, sometimes contradictory, meanings. It is often referred to as something which allows one to overcome the restrictions of a single discipline in order to achieve disruptive practices. That kind of collaboration is meant to foster the development of projects which will have a strong impact on the world, to create a great future that neither isolated discipline would be able to produce. This paper intends to explore a slightly different perspective on collaboration. We are inspired by emergent practices including those of the Brazilian MetaReciclagem network, which celebrates it’s tenth anniversary in 2012, with hundreds of members spread across all regions of Brazil. Whilst openly contrary to becoming a formal institution (which would involve submitting permanently to this or that hierarchical context) and expressing heavy criticism on both academic and artistic circuits, MetaReciclagem is regarded as having influenced experimental production both in academia and the arts, as well as in innovative public policies implemented in recent years. We argue that one of the fundamental reasons of this creative potential and strength is precisely the fact that disciplines are usually ignored or disregarded in this network’s everyday practice and decision making processes.

In 2011, some of the members of MetaReciclagem decided to experiment in a new context: creating and organising an academic conference whose goal was to create bridges between science (in particular, environment related sciences), appropriate technologies (traditional knowledge and vernacular innovation), arts and experimentation, and collaborative networks. The first Cigac (International Conference on Collaborative Environmental Management) took place in June 2012 in the countryside of Paraíba, a state in northeastern Brasil marked by harsh drought and poverty. The Conference was an experiment in its own right, mixing more conventional formats such as the presentation of papers and posters with alternative approaches like panels, open conversations, short courses, workshops and a temporary hacklab.

In this paper, as well as presenting collaborative anti-disciplinary practices in MetaReciclagem, we will also be discussing the many challenges faced in making Cigac happen, and some insights on its relation to the open-ended informal innovation in MetaReciclagem. By doing that, we would like to shed some light into the manifold possibilities of cooperation between different kinds of collaborative practices, while paying attention to potential conflict and dissent likely to appear in such conditions. Such tension in itself will be analysed as fertile ground for anti-disciplinary collaboration.