The Institute «Cultures of the Alps» is the brainchild of Boris Previšić. Since 2020, he has also been serving as its Executive Director. His devotion to the Alps dates back to 2007, when he included the subject «Alpine Wastelands» in a group art and music project. He followed that up with the publication of his book Gotthardfantasien (Gotthard Fantasies) in 2016. Today he heads up the Swiss National Science Foundation’s (SNSF) project «Mountain Warfare and Reduits», and is active in thinktanks examining questions relative to the alpine biosphere, energy products, tourism as well as its agriculture and forestry. An acknowledged expert in climate issues, he also authored the book «CO2: Fünf nach zwölf. Wie wir den Klimakollaps verhindern können» («CO2: Five past twelve. How shall we avoid climate collapse?»). Since 2015, Prof. Previšić has been SNSF professor for literature and cultural sciences at the University of Luzern, where he heads up «Musical Paradigms in Literature and Music», a project focusing on the modern day and Enlightenment era.
Romed Aschwanden has been Managing Director of the Institute since November 2019. In an earlier life, he studied history and religious studies in Basel and Bologna, following that up with studies in cultural management at the University of Luzern. In 2019, he obtained his PhD in the history of alpine environmental movements in the context of European integration from the Basel Graduate School of History.
Roland Norer was appointed Professor in 2007 and Chair of Public Law and Rural Law at the University of Luzern in 2015. At the same time, he heads up the Center for Law and Sustainability (CLS) of the University of Luzern. He has provided legal oversight for a number of projects in Andermatt.
Natural Hazard Law
Daniel Speich Chassé was appointed Full Professor of Global History at the University of Luzern in 2018. His interests include digitization, the environment and global economic inequality across the ages. He joined the University of Luzern in 2011 in the capacity of SNSF-sponsored Professor.
Uri in Transition
A journalist for many years, Elias Bricker is responsible for the Institute’s public relations on a project-by-project basis. After graduating from the Swiss School of Journalism (MAZ), he took up history, German language and literature and social sciences studies on a part-time basis at the University of Bern. In 2019, he set up as a freelancer. As historian, member of the Allmend Council, land improvement administrator as well as member of the Uri Nomenclature Commission, he is actively involved in agriculture and natural resources.
Flavia Kempt started working at the Institute as undergraduate assistant in 2021. Earlier on, in 2015, she completed business training at the Cantonal hospital in Uri. After accepting a position at the Swiss Red Cross in Altdorf, she enrolled for a course in welfare work, social policy and history in Fribourg, where she is currently enrolled in the second year. She now wishes to combine the knowledge she acquired with the culture of her native canton to gain experience in new fields.
Aline Stadler graduated with a Master's degree in Cultural Studies and Philosophy from the University of Lucerne in 2022. As a cultural journalist, she worked for seven years at Radio 3FACH in editing and presenting various formats. She is responsible for the proofreading and editing of the online magazine Syntopia Alpina.
Jens Badura runs the mountain_culture_office in Berchtesgaden, Germany, is a member of the think&do tank creativeALPS, and also works as freelance writer. An Austrian citizen, he studied philosophy, biology, history and political science in Constance, Innsbruck and Tübingen as well as cultural management in Vienna. In 2006, he obtained a habilitation in philosophy at the University of Paris VIII, and since 2011 has been working as a lecturer and researcher at the Zurich University of the Arts. His work focuses on cultural philosophy, aesthetics and creative economies. He became a senior research fellow at the Institute in 2020.
Andreas Bäumler was born in Basel in 1985, where he also studied German philology and history. After doing an internship in Würzburg in 2012 and a stint as translator in service of an NGO in 2013, he set up as freelance copywriter and translator. Since 2017, he has been a research associate of SNSF-sponsored Literature and Cultural Sciences Prof. Dr. Boris Previšić at the University of Luzern.
Lisa Lee Benjamin has worked as consultant in environmental design, sustainable agriculture and cultural development in the US, Panama, Kenya, Morocco and Switzerland. She holds a Master’s in transdisciplinarity from the Zurich University of the Arts with majors in curating and alpine culture, a Bachelor of Science from the University of Vermont with majors in environmental design and sustainable agriculture, as well as a degree in permaculture design from the Colorado Rocky Mountain Institute.
Dr. Alona Bilokon is an expert in technology transfer and sustainable development and Supervisory Board member the regional accelerator center for innovation, technology, and start-ups in Mykolayiv region of Ukraine. Moreover, she is a mentor of a Business Academy of the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme, provided by United Nations Industrial Development Organization in Ukraine. She got her Master's in international relations in 2011 and PhD in history in 2020 (Petro Mohyla Black Sea National University, International Relations and Foreign Policy Department). She is working with the topics such as energy transition, sustainable development as well as political mechanisms providing green economy.
Madlaina Bundi is a historian, author and project manager. For the past 20 years, she has been managing publication projects from design to fundraising, implementation and marketing, including as partner and co-manager of Hier und Jetzt editions. Her current focus area is hybrid publication, the simultaneous publication of works in digital and print format, a skill she mastered at buch&netz editors and continued with as independent publisher.
A native of Bern, Marcel Cornelissen specialises in early post-glacial archaeology in (pre-)alpine Central Europe. Before setting up as an independent archaeologist, he studied at the UK Universities of Leicester and Reading. In addition to archaeological work done for a number of Swiss cantons and companies, he has been preparing a PhD at the University of Zurich since 2012.
On assignment at the Institute, Mr Cornelissen leads Cultures of the Alps’ Mountain Ice project.
Sebastian De Pretto is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute. His research involves the forced displacement of alpine populations related to dam construction. He has studied history, philosophy and conflict management in Basel, Bologna and Heidelberg. From 2016 to 2019, he prepared a PhD at the University of Luzern on the subject of South Tyrolean memorabilia of the Italo-Abyssinian War.
Sebastian De Pretto is a postdoctoral fellow of the Institute ‘Cultures of the Alps’. His scholarship was awarded by Dätwyler Foundation.
Anne-Laure Franchette (born in Le Plessis-Bouchard, lives and works in Zurich) is a French artist with a background in Human Sciences. Her work deals with urban nature and the circulation of plants in relation to industrial materials. She is particularly interested in the intersections between botany and industry, wilderness and civilised world, authorised or sanctioned migration and spontaneous settlement. Cities as ecosystems, gaps within the system, hierarchies of dignity, strategies of self-organisation and how politics are embedded within the natural are concerns that inform her practice. Since 2018, she has been part of the interdisciplinary research group TETI, which explores the textures and experiences of trans-industriality. She is also co-founder and artistic director of Volumes, a non-profit organisation founded in Zurich in 2013 to support local and international DIY facets of art publishing and introduce them to a wider audience in Switzerland.
Stefanie Hug did a BSc in commercial law at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and a Master’s in law at the University of Luzern. Since 2019, she has been working as research assistant for Chair of Public Law and Rural Law Prof. Roland Norer at the University of Luzern. Her PhD dissertation examines climate protection law and agriculture.
Ndjaka Mtsetwene is a Research Fellow and Federal Scholarship Holder at the Institute «Cultures of the Alps»and the University of Lucerne. She completed a Master’s degree in African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand working to develop a curatorial method of epistemic creativity foregrounding intramural thought and the interstitial. She has taught and convened courses in African Literature across all levels of undergraduate study. She has worked on various collaborative projects focusing on narratives of movement and placemaking across the black diaspora and on the African continent.
Veronika Studer-Kovacs was born in Hungary in 1986 and studied Hungarian Studies and Romance Studies, (Ma. degree: 2010 and 2012, University Eötvös, Budapest). From 2013, she researched French-Hungarian cultural relations in the 18th century at the University of Sorbonne as part of a French state scholarship. Since 2015, she has lived in Switzerland, where she pursued PhD studies at the University of Lucerne under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Boris Previšić (2017-2022). Her dissertation Taste and Nation. Cosmopolitan patriots and their languages in the field of tension of the Kingdom of Hungary and the Habsburg Monarchy (1750-1795) examines the crucial role of cosmopolitan thought in Hungarian nation-building at the end of the eighteenth century. She has published widely on topics such as cultural hybridity, multilingualism and epistemological change in the late Enlightenment period. She also works as a translator, both in fiction and in specialised literature. In her habilitation thesis (2022-), she analyses, differentiates and categorises narratives in contemporary artefacts such as film and literature in order to develop a theory of planetary narrative for the research project «Not in my Backyard? Facing the Planetary in the Alps».
Not in my Backyard? Facing the Planetary in the Alps
After working for a number of years as primary school teacher, Roman Walker took up studies in singing, choral conducting, school music and church music at the Lucerne School of Music. Originally from the Upper Valais and now residing in Altdorf, Mr Walker was the first secular collegiate director of music at the Engelberg Abbey, where his responsibilities included teacher training and school administration on secondary school level. Since 2019, he has been doing research on the quadrilingual culture of Swiss folk song. This led him to join the Institute in 2020.
The Alps in Song
Rahel Wunderli studied history and ecology at the University of Basel. Her Master’s and PhD theses examined structural change in Uri’s mountain farms. In 2017, she took up employment as research associate at the University of Bern, where her work forms part of the SCALES project and involves subjects like commonlands and the Uri Corporation.
Uri in Transition
Annina Boogen studied environmental and energy sciences. She is a postdoctoral environmental economist at ETH and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). From 2017 and 2020, she did a part-time Master’s in transdisciplinarity at the Zurich University of the Arts. Her transdisciplinary work focuses on socio-scientific issues, on which she casts a researcher’s spotlight in an artistic and aesthetic way. Her current project examines the sensory perception of energy infrastructure in the Alps, in particular to find ways to illustrate and discuss observational and discourse conflicts.
Jana Bruggmann is an art and history scholar, author and curator. She studied at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and completed a master's degree in "curatorial studies" at the ZHdK. Since then, she has worked both in the museum sector and in historical research. She worked at the FU Berlin and the Leibniz Institute for European History in Mainz. Her dissertation project, which she is conducting at the FU Berlin, is located at the intersection of the history of images and the history of knowledge. It deals with visual representations of the planet and the transformation of our understanding of the Earth in high modernity (ca. 1870-1970). She has been curator at the Nidwalden Museum in Stans since May 2021.
Kilian T. Elsasser studied Public History at Northeastern University in Boston. He is a museum expert, exhibition curator and Gotthard specialist. He has published on the transport history of the Gotthard and realised exhibitions such as the Gotthard Tunnel Village Tour in Göschenen (2007) and the History Journey in Seelisberg (2020). He is advising the SBB's department for the preservation of historical monuments on the inventory of the Gotthard mountain route. Until 2004, he was Curator of Rail Transport, Head of Exhibitions and Member of the Executive Board at the Swiss Museum of Transport. He thinks that many questions about the transport history of the 19th and 20th centuries still need to be researched. When it comes to tourism in the canton of Uri, the potential of transport history, which makes the canton unique, is far from exhausted. (www.museumsfabrik.ch)
Sibylle Lustenberger studied social anthropology, history and general ecology at the University of Bern, where she completed a PhD in social anthropology in 2016. She now lectures and does research at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Her current research project involves the social organisational structures of hydropower production in the Canton of Uri. Her aim is to contribute to international efforts aimed at making the power sector both more environmentally-friendly, decentralized and democratic
Andrea Meier has a PhD in cultural studies from the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Potsdam and is a cultural journalist. She is also a photographer and filmmaker, which brings her to the Alps time and again. As a quiet observer of nature, she is confronted with deceleration and the epiphany of the moment. Both events influence the sense of time in our tempo society, which carries a seemingly insatiable longing to slow down. She also researches and teaches about this development in the broad field of relaxation medicine and knows how to apply it both inter- and transdisciplinarily and in a very practical way. In the winter months, this leads her, among other things, to the mountain lakes to the ice fishermen. There, she is currently concerned with the question of what makes people persevere in silence for hours in front of an ice hole in order to go home happy and fulfilled at the end of the day, and often without a catch.
Il Pesch sbatta – The poetry of ice fishing and the rediscovery of silence
Uriel Orlow’s practice is research-based, process-oriented and multi-disciplinary including film, photography, drawing and sound. His multi-media installations focus on specific locations and micro-histories and bring different image-regimes and narrative modes into correspondence. His work is concerned with residues of colonialism, spatial manifestations of memory, blind spots of representation and plants as political actors. Uriel Orlow is a Senior Researcher at University of Westminster London and Docent at University of the Arts Zurich (ZHdK).
Julia Rüegger studied literary writing, theatre and philosophy in Hildesheim, Biel/Bern and Madrid and completed her Master's degree in 2020 with a thesis on radical democratic theory. Her main interest is in linking literary, theoretical and interdisciplinary forms of art and criticism. Since autumn 2021, she has been a member of the doctoral programme in literary studies at the University of Basel. In her dissertation project "Form Experiments in the Anthropocene", she investigates writing strategies in contemporary theoretical and prose production that take on the ecological dislocations and planetary entanglements of our present in (formally aesthetic and epistemologically) productive ways.
Juanita is an environmental scientist whose research focuses on how socio-political contexts influence the implementation of climate change mitigation strategies. As part of her master's thesis, Juanita developed a tool to consider societal factors and interests when selecting sites for carbon capture and storage technologies. Since 2021, she has been pursuing a PhD at ETH Zurich on decision-making processes around Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) methods. As part of this project, she will explore and critically assess the assumptions and imaginaries of decision makers that influence CDR developments. Her goal is to work with stakeholders on the development of tools that help achieve the net-zero goal equitably. At the “Cultures of the Alps” Institute, she is learning about local perspectives on the selection and use of land-based options for carbon storage in Switzerland.
Markus Schreiber is Co-Director of the Center for Law and Sustainability (CLS) at the University of Lucerne, where he works together with Prof. Dr. Sebastian Heselhaus in the Competence centre for Energy Law Lucerne (CELL). This deals with important aspects of Swiss energy law, with a focus on the legal implementation of the Energy Strategy 2050. There is a constant exchange with other universities and colleges as well as various partners from the practice. In addition, the CELL publishes continuously on the research focus of energy law and organises meetings, conferences and workshops.
Daniel A. Walser studied architecture at ETH, Zurich, and at Sapienza in Rome. He now teaches the history of architecture, architectural theory and urban development at the Grisons University of Applied Sciences while also doing research on modern architecture in the Alps. He has published works on architects such as Valerio Olgiati, Bruno Giacometti (1907-2012), Andres Liesch (1927-1990) and Rudolf Olgiati (1910-1995), and curated a number of exhibitions on architecture and buildings in the Alps.
Ariane Zangger studied social anthropology, sustainable development and religious science at the University of Bern, where her Master’s thesis was devoted to the presence of wolves in the Upper Valais and associated problems for local Valais Blacknose sheep farmers. At present, she is preparing a PhD with the SNSF research project ‘Convivial Constitutionality: Human-Predator Interrelations in Complex Socio-Ecological Systems’ under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Tobias Haller. Building on her Master’s thesis, her PhD is devoted to researching wolves in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains.
She is also responsible for the coordination of «Silicon Mountains», an interdisciplinary project of the Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Bern, which involves the Swiss Alps in the digital age.