Monica Porzionato

Monica Porzionato

Doctoral Student

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    Personal profile

    Research

    Monica Porzionato is a PhD candidate within the project Rethinking Urban Tourism Development: Dealing with Sustainability in the Age of Over-Tourism at the Department of Strategic Communication, Lund University (Sweden). She holds a BA in Communication from the University of Padova (Italy). She also obtained a MA in Semiotics from the University of Bologna (Italy) and an Erasmus Mundus MA in Women’s and Gender Studies from Utrecht University (The Netherlands) and Central European University (Hungary). She has been exchange student at the University of California - Santa Cruz (Sept. 2009 - May 2010) and at San Francisco State University (Sept - Dec. 2012). Her research interest is primarily concerned with the ways language affects human’s relation to the natural environment, and vice versa how the natural environment affects human’s language. Her current PhD-project explores the possibility of a material-semiotic approach to sustainability communication in the touristic context of Venice.

     

    Area of Research

    My research interests are in interpretative semiotics, pragmatism, post-structuralist communication theory, sustainability communication, new materialisms, speculative realism, feminist onto-epistemologies. In particular, in my work I investigate the boundaries between post-structuralists/interpretative understandings of language and new materialists approaches to communication theory. As such, I research how communicative practices intra-act with the environment into which they take place, paying particular attention upon the ways language affects human’s relation to ‘nature’, and vice versa. In regard to the question of sustainability, in my research I analyze the role played by language and communication in the achievement of sustainable equilibriums between humanist practices and the Earth, arguing for a decentering of the human in the human/nature relation.

     

    Current research project

    The word sustainability detains today a vast array of meanings, so much that it became an empty term, full of speculation. This research project argues that one reason for such semantic multiplicity derives from the fact that the practice of sustainability communication (i.e. the act of talking, interpreting, sharing meanings of sustainability in society) is most often conceived of in isolation from the environment it is performed. As such, it wishes to bring sustainability communication “back on Earth” (Latour 2018) by investigating the ways in which different meanings of the word sustainability affect and are affected both by the body of the enunciator and by the material context in which that body resides. It does this by combining the new materialist approach of assemblage thinking (DeLanda 2016) to communication theory as a way to map the material- semiotic processual character of communication as a practice derived from particular bodily positions in time-space. In this way, then, communication is conceived of as a material (i.e. bodily and spatial) practice which affects and is affected by the bodies it relates to within an assemblage. In other words, assemblage thinking allows for a non-anthropocentric analysis of how communication reaches beyond the human, and is to be found in the working of multiple heterogenous elements (Kohn 2013). The obtained theoretical mix will be then applied to the study of sustainability communication in the touristic setting of Venice (Italy), wherein the project looks at how sustainability discourses and practices aimed at understanding and resisting acqua alta (i.e., high-tide) both affect and are themselves affected by the material relating of human bodies with the bodies of water (Niemanis 2017) flowing into the city of Venice. As such, it considers episodes of high tide as assemblages of humans and non-humans, happening, that is, thanks to the cooperation of multiple agentic bodies and forces, none of which, alone, has the ability to determine and predict the unfolding of events.

    You can read more about the PhD project by clicking on the "Projects" tab above.

    Teaching

    I am currenty supervising BA students' writing assignments at the Department of Strategic Communication.

    Keywords

    • Sustainability communication
    • interpretative semiotics
    • agentic ontologies
    • new materialisms
    • assemblages
    • material-semiotic practices
    • sustainable tourism

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