Today, public aquariums market themselves as a nexus for environmental engagement. Against the backdrop of climate change, a vulnerable biodiversity and matters of sustainability the aquariums work with the goal of engaging visitors in topics of science and conservation. One important issue in this field of activities is ocean debris. The aquarium staffs participate in beach clean-ups, advocate for lesser use of plastic disposables, and organize exhibits on the topic.
This presentation will discuss the different ways that the public aquariums engage the visitors in this effort. Dr. Lars Kaijser of Stockholm University will argue for an understanding of their engagement through the concepts of banal sustainability and domestication. He will discuss how this encompasses an aesthetization of the problems of plastic waste.
Dr. Kaijser's project investigates how public aquariums produce and stage knowledge of nature and environment. The talk is based on ethnographic fieldwork at public aquariums in Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.