How Like a Reef

“Laguna dal basso”
A Series of Workshops Exploring
Political Biogeomorphology


01. Project Description
02. Methods
03. Participants

We curated sessions with a deliberately interdisciplinary approach, encompassing marine biologists and scientists, wetland ecologists, and artisanal fishers from the Lagoon. With a select attendance of fewer than 15 individuals, we cultivated an intimate atmosphere conducive to robust group dynamics and facilitating the exchange of collective insights through active listening. In addition to our primary participants, we extended invitations to local stakeholders from Chioggia, enriching the dialogue with insights rooted in community experience. Furthermore, we welcomed water scholars from the humanities, augmenting the interdisciplinary discourse with critical perspectives and theoretical frameworks.

Scientific Knowledges

Alberto Barausse, an Associate Professor of Ecology at the University of Padua, investigates the reciprocal impact of human activities on ecosystems and societal influences. He specialises in ecological modeling and applied ecology, particularly in aquatic environments, with a focus on ecosystem services and nature conservation. He also led the LIFE VIMINE project, aiming to protect salt marshes in Venice's northern Lagoon through community engagement.

Davide De Battisti's expertise lies in salt marsh ecology, focusing on plant adaptation to environmental conditions and their impact on sediment erosion. He actively contributes to marine biology projects in the Lagoon as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Padua.

Filippo Piccardi, a marine biologist, studies invasive species in the Venice Lagoon as part of his PhD research at the University of Padua.

Giovanna Guadagnin, also a marine biologist and PhD candidate at the University of Padua, researches water quality in the Venice Lagoon, particularly focusing on oxygen fluctuations and their effects on coastal organisms, with an emphasis on environmental predictability.

Local Ecological Knowledges

In alignment with ethical principles, we honour the confidentiality of the identities of the fishers who collaborated with us. 

We collaborated with "Moecanti," a term derived from the Venetian dialect referring to Lagoon fishers who specialise in harvesting soft-shell crabs, commonly known as "moeche",  a phenomenon typically observed in early spring. Fishers harvest the crabs just prior to moulting, after which they house them in specially designed baskets. During this period, the crabs shed their hard exoskeletons, emerging with soft shells. The preservation of this unique expertise has been diligently maintained by the fishing communities of Chioggia and Burano for over centuries, adding depth to the cultural and culinary fabric of the region.

Artistic Knowledges

Sonia Levy is an artist whose work examines Western expansionist and extractivist logics while tending to critical forms of engagement with more-than-human worlds. Her practice investigates filmmaking as a device for site-based inquiries and interdisciplinary collaborations, fostering multiple perspectives to consider new worlds.

Chiara Famengo is a curator, archivist and researcher working at the intersection of art and ecology, mostly outside of gallery spaces and exhibition formats.


Alberto Barausse is an associate professor in the Biology Department at the University of Padua. His research focuses on understanding the impact of human activities on ecosystems and the reciprocal influence of ecological changes on society. With the overarching goal of contributing to the formulation of sustainable management strategies, Barausse’s research encompasses various domains. These include ecological modelling, which forms his primary background, as well as theoretical and applied ecology, environmental impact assessment, ecosystem services, socio-ecological systems, and nature conservation, with a particular emphasis on aquatic environments. Barausse was one of the principal investigators for the European Commission-funded “LIFE VIMINE” project, which aimed to implement an integrated approach for protecting salt marshes from erosion in the northern Lagoon of Venice using nature-based solutions via the active engagement of local communities and stakeholders to address environmental challenges.

Amina Chouaïri is a landscape architect and PhD researcher in urbanism at Università Iuav di Venezia. In 2020, Amina graduated with honours from the Delft University of Technology (NL) with her thesis “The Operating Venetian Lagoon: The Agency of Barene”, about the regeneration of the brackish saltmarshes landscape in the central lagoon, was awarded the Best Graduate 2020 prize by the Faculty of Architecture and nalist of Archiprix Netherlands. Her research interests revolve around landscape design with wetness, ecological restoration, and water communities’ practice of environmental and non-human care.

Louise Carver is a human geographer and political ecologist interested in the ways in which knowledge, politics, technologies and norms of governance inform interactions between environment and society. Her work has been preoccupied with the relationships between economistic approaches to wildlife conservation and critical questions of value and valuation in the green and the blue economies. This has shaped long-term commitments towards using this critical research in combination with creative methods and expressions, including those from arts and design, to support, affirm and defend convivial alternatives, both imaginatively and practically. She is presently a senior research associate at Lancaster University and also works with environmental research and contemporary art platform TBA21, with projects related to investigating community-based marine conservation.

Pietro Daniel Omodeo is a cultural historian of science and a professor of historical epistemology at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy. He is chairholder of the UNESCO Chair Water Heritage and Sustainable Development in Venice.
He is the head of the Max Planck Partner Group in Venice The Water City and coordinates the Waterscapes Unit at THE NEW INSTITUTE CENTRE for Environmental Humanities (NICHE) in Venice. He is the principal investigator of the FARE project EarlyGeoPraxis, on the history of Venetian hydrology (funded by the Italian Ministry of University and Research).
Among other publications, he authored Political Epistemology: The Problem of Ideology in Science Studies (2019) and “Hydrogeological Knowledge from Below: Water Expertise as a Republican Common in Early Modern Venice,” in Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte: History of Science and Humanities 45/4 (2022): 538-560. He co-edited (with Cristina Baldacci, Shaul Bassi and Lucio De Capitani), Venice and the Anthropocene: An Ecocritical Guide (2022)and co-edited (with Rodolfo Garau and Giulia Rispoli) Historical Geoanthropology, a thematic issue of the Journal of Interdisciplinary History of Ideas 11/22 (2022):

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