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MSCA-Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)

Ecocritical Approach to Land Subsidence in Italy's Po Delta region

Awarded: NOK 2.3 mill.


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Project Period:

2023 - 2025


The phenomenon of land subsidence in river deltas, the sinking of delta’s land surface due to the removal of underground resources, has become a global challenge due to the rise of sea levels, recurrent droughts, and invasive human activities, to the point that by 2040 it will affect almost one fifth of the global population. The accelerating land subsidence in river deltas has been the subject of renewed interest in hydrogeology and environmental policy, in response to a growing concern with the increasing exploitation of the subsoil, further aggravated by the natural gas crisis in Europe. Scientific studies have mostly analysed this phenomenon by focusing on hydrogeological and physical characteristics of the deltaic land. Meanwhile, recent environmental humanities scholars have noted the inadequacy of governmental institutions in managing precarious ecosystems affected by land subsidence. Few researchers, however, have thoroughly examined land subsidence through an interdisciplinary approach to analyse the role of cultural productions – such as cinema and literature – in shaping and giving voice to public understandings of land subsidence. Indeed, a comprehensive ecocritical study of land subsidence has not yet been done. As a result, the scholarship tends to consider the “natural” or “human” aspects of land subsidence in isolation, thus overlooking key, more comprehensive insights for environmental policy and river delta conservation. EarthSea will provide the first comprehensive ecocritical analysis of the ways in which contemporary literature, cinema, and media have actively shaped and contributed to past and present debates over land subsidence. The theoretical and methodological research portions of EarthSea will use Italy’s Po Delta as a case study. The Po Delta represents one of the most important anthropogenic river deltas in Europe and is the largest in Italy, covering 180 km2 and hosting hundreds of animal and vegetable species.

Funding scheme:

MSCA-Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA)

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