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Odde - Center for Design Research in Monsoon Terrains

“… In the Tamil poems, culture is enclosed in nature, nature is reworked in culture, so that we cannot tell the difference. We have a nature-culture continuum that cancels the terms, confuses them even if we begin with them.”
- “Is there an Indian Way of Thinking?”
- A. K. Ramanujan


Odde

Centre for Design Research in Monsoon Terrains

Director:

Deepta Sateesh


About Odde

“Odde” in Kannada means wet, humid, moist, soaked, damp. It is a condition of being in the world. This is an everyday condition inhabited, negotiated, experienced, and worked with. In a wet imagination, nature and culture are intertwined, continually making and transforming one another.

At Odde Centre for Design Research in Monsoon Terrains, we immerse, investigate and act privileging conditions of wetness, in order to uncover narratives of landscapes and communities, and imagine new futures synchronous with environmental change.

We move design thinking out of the institution into the field, pushing towards activating and catalyzing change. We believe that the art and design initiate transdisciplinary approaches to reading complexities and contradictions on the ground in sensitive places. Here, design is a practice that stretches across inquiry, investigation and engagement in aqueous ecologies.


The focus of Odde – Center for Design Research in Monsoon Terrains is an intertwining of immersive investigations in wet places and extensive practice-based experimental projects at the Design+Environment+Law Laboratory.



An early morning in February in Agumbe, during the least wet season, moisture condensing on a wood spider web. Photo credit: Deepta Sateesh.


Vision

The research at Odde is focused on imagining new ways of investigating, recording and engaging in the environment, that are respectful of, and correspond with it and its transformations. We develop deep practice-based research, eco-pedagogies and inventive environmental frames for policy-making. 

The research gathers from multiple fields of knowledge and creative practices, and is primarily driven by immersive contextual engagements. The research is oriented to uncovering new socio-ecological futures that are inclusive, participative and responsive to environmental processes that reveal and/or create nature-culture synchronicities, through transdisciplinary and inventive approaches.

Research responds to contemporary fields of the anthropocene, ecocene, climate change, conservation futures, and more-than-human worlds, working through the challenges of environmental, cultural, economic and legal frameworks.


Research Areas & Inquiry

Our research areas are broadly investigating monsoonal worlds, more-than-human worlds, and the gap between policy-making and the everyday practices of inhabitants of monsoonal landscapes. At Odde we focus on developing creative situated practices of discovering and investigating, simultaneously with critical thinking, towards, devising new data and visualisations of the world. In this way of we ask important questions in the areas of climate change, biodiversity conservation, and the relationships amongst environments and communities.

In a gradient of wetness lie multiple knowledges of ways of dwelling in changing weather. How do we consider, act and live with rain and in wetness?

As we dwell and move, so must other creatures and materials – animals, plants, earth, atmosphere. How do we think and do and live with the more-than-human, negotiating them in the everyday with sensitivity?

From grappling with these questions, can we begin to explore the possibilities of everyday practices to inform designing context-sensitive policies that emerge from an inclusive framing of the environment, by engaging in the ground?


Current Research Projects


Image courtesy: Deepta Sateesh.


1. Resilient Wayanad

Design research in Wayanad involves immersion in a world of seepage, ancient cultivation practices and imagining new ways of recording landscapes. Here, we also investigate policy-making between the universal and the situated.

2. Reimagining the People’s Biodiversity Register

The complexity of traditional knowledge is limited by the current structure of the PBR that is based on scientific categories and hierarchies. Research practice here is to re-think, re-imagine and re-design the way knowledge of the environment is recorded, interpreted and represented, and shared.

3. More-than-Human-Animal

Everyday practices of movement and temporal dwelling shape the environment, while the environment affords these engagements. Here, we develop creative multi-species approaches of engaging and reading flux in and with the environment. This research is oriented to uncovering and creating alternative frames for the ecocene.

4. Beyond Hortus Malabaricus

This research project brings together multiple practitioners, and practices of growing, nurturing, and healing, among others. We investigate beyond botanical knowledge, to understand our everyday engagement with plants and, as well as ethical questions.



Master’s student Falguni Gupta recording narratives of rainfed cultivation with Cheruvayal Raman and Santhosh, in Mananthavady. Photo credit: Deepta Sateesh.


Opportunities

1. Academic Programs

Odde offers research opportunities for students enrolled in SMI’s postgraduate programs, including, but not limited to, the MA in Environment & Society and the Master’s-PhD Program in Reimagining Transitions. We encourage learners from any program to explore with us, who have a strong interest in environment, decoloniality and material practices.

2. Monsoon Internships

Odde offers internships to postgraduate students at SMI, as well as other institutions across MAHE.

3. Collaborations & Partnerships

Odde has a wide network of Indian and international researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and creative professionals working in the field of wet ontologies. Please contact us for more information on this.


Recent Events

1. CEP Film Series, April 2021

Deepta Sateesh & Marcello di Paola have a conversation about cities, drawing lines, environment, plants, weather, and agency, to initiate critical thought and creative action. Marcello and Deepta are both members of the Consortium of Environmental Philosophers.

Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJcPlaXl0Pg


2. Wayanad Community Seed Festival, 2019

In March 2019 was the Wayanad Community Seed Festival, MSSRF, Wayanad. A seminar was held, where the importance of creative practices and traditional knowledge in dealing with climate change was highlighted. Along with local farmers who are rainfed cultivators, the significance of disaster resilient strategies of the local farmers in the district was highlighted, and how to strategise with them towards a new District Development Plan, as well as begin a new program on seed banks and knowledge-sharing. This was particularly important after the 2018 floods and landslides.



Farmers, community leaders and researchers met at the Seed Festival, Wayanad.


3. Webinar, Design Thinking for Conservation, 2019

Deepta Sateesh, along with Dr. Balakrishna Pisupati (Chairman, FLEDGE), conducted a webinar in January 2019 as a follow-up to the Side Event at the UN COP14, titled “Design Thinking for Conservation”. The event was co-hosted by IUCN Commission on Education and Communication.

Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wKNC_OqbP8.


4. Wayanad Report Launch, 2019

Immersive research of the pilot project, Resilient Wayanad, led to the creation and launch of an important report titled “Sustainable Development Goals & Climate Change Strategies, Wayanad District, Kerala”.

The report was the result of a studio and internship, and was co-authored by Deepta Sateesh, and Master’s students Akriti Srivastava and Falguni Gupta.



Akriti Srivastava speaking at the report launch, one of the inaugural events at the LeNS-India Conference. Photo Credit: Rahul Bisht.


Enquiries

For more information, please contact Deepta Sateesh, Director of Odde, at deepta.sateesh@manipal.edu.