COSMOVIS- Russia Team

Cosmological Visionaries is a 6-year project funded by the European Research Council Synergy Grant scheme (grant agreement number 856543, acronym COSMOVIS). It is comprised of two synergistically mirrored teams, the Russia Team led by Olga Ulturgasheva, Principle Investigator at the University of Manchester, and the China Team led by Katherine Swancutt, Principle Investigator at King’s College London. 

Cosmological Visionaries explores what global environmental initiatives of the future will look like and sets forth two key research questions: (1) How can scientists, shamans, priests, and other indigenous holders of animistic knowledge collaborate in regions of climatic vulnerability and (2) What are the geopolitics of climate change and the policies that surround it? Starting from the position that cosmology often evokes religious ways of knowing or being, the project brings together anthropologists, ethnologists, historians and philosophers of science and ethics, religious studies experts, space and satellite researchers, indigenous leaders and environmental scientists to examine how climate change is managed at the ethnic borderlands of China and Russia. The widespread deforestation undertaken in Siberia to meet Chinese market demands for wood is melting Russia’s vast permafrost, accelerating the release of ancient greenhouse gases, which carbon capture and storage technologies of the future will not manage.

Our project is an academic and a practical intervention driven by two research teams –  the Russia Team and the China Team  – with a fourfold methodology. Firstly, we will uncover the scientific and indigenous views on climate change in Southwest China and Siberia. Secondly, we will mobilise dialogues between scientists and animistic peoples to mutually inform their approaches to climate change. Thirdly, we will explore how collaboration can benefit both parties. Fourthly, we will map the policies and geopolitics of climate change in China and Russia. Scientists who collaborate with indigenous peoples can get more subtle data than when working alone. Indigenous persons who supply scientists with advice and logistical help can source scientific initiatives for managing local climate change. This feedback loop between scientists and indigenous peoples, advocating for each other, can enable religious leaders and scientists to translate shared findings into visions that everyone can commit to.