Deepta Sateesh (PhD) holds the Dr. TMA Pai Endowment Chair in Adaptive Ecologies & Climate Extremes – Decolonizing the Anthropocene. She is a design researcher, educator, architect/planner, and movement artist, working in contentious landscapes. Deepta’s design practice is oriented to creating new pathways in design, eco-pedagogies, and policy, towards nature-culture synchronicities. Her research is framed by soaking ecologies, gathering situated practices, movement, and politics of the colonial eye. Her transdisciplinary practices draw relations between dwelling/home and terrain/ground. She is a trained dancer, photographer, novice equestrian and amateur cellist.


Inhabiting Thresholds: Transhuman Practices and Relations across Anchors of Wetness

Abstract: Amidst the dark wet jungles and hamlets of certain parts of South and Southeast Asia, are sentient beings who inhabit watery ecotones (Neimanis, 2012), dwelling between mountains and plains, between day and night, and between the rains and monsoonal respite. They move and shapeshift with the rhythms of seasons, listening to the terrain, enlivened in the advent of dramatic change. These transhumans hold deep and intimate relations with the natural world, nurtured through attentiveness and care for the more-than-human beings, material processes of terrain, and earth-atmosphere fluidities. They move and correspond with non-linear rhythms, responding to unpredictability. This paper explores the world of indigenous animist practices as movement arts, thinking through the notion of liminality, inhabiting thresholds, across “anchors of wetness.” By walking through the environment, a transcorporeal engagement, the paper weaves these customary practices as waterlines (Coelho 2021) amongst humans, biota, and earth. It exposes orientalist views of these practices as articulated by colonial explorers, surveyors, and missionary workers, who described these ancient practices as “devil-worship,” initiating the erasure of relationalities between humans and landscape, humans and other beings, in these contentious and aqueous tropical terrains. The paper attempts to decolonize thinking around environment-custodian relations by immersing in an aqueous imagination, to highlight the operations of these wetscapes and their transformations. Situated knowledges of these places are held in everyday practices of dwelling and fluid embodiments of walking, revealing the importance of continually reading patterns of environmental change, and how to respond to them in these shifting ecologies.
Keywords: movement arts, liminality, wet ontologies, situated knowledge, decolonization