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Department of Geography

The Miner and the Neon Fish: Decolonizing Alpine Ecologies

Their proposal for the redesign of a monument in the Swiss Alps received an award by the Swiss Academy of Social Sciences. Congrats to Stephan Hochleithner and Rony Emmenegger!

The miner and the neon fish

Next to a serpentine road, halfway up to Grimsel pass when approaching from the North, stands the miner (Der Mineur), silently splitting rock with his pneumatic hammer. The statue was erected to honor the construction workers of the hydropower stations Oberhasli, whose work has been shaping an Alpine landscape since the early twentieth century. 

The sole focus on human achievements, however, obscures the ecological costs and consequences that the extraction of hydropower involves, especially for fish, aquatic organisms, rivers, but also Alpine ecologies more broadly. With our graphic installation – the miner and the neon fish – we aim at problematizing a human-centric historiography of progress that obscures the ecological consequences of hydropower production.

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The "Mal Denken!" campaign is a digital mediation project of the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences (SAGW).

Media release of the Swiss Academy of Humanities and Social Sciences
17.11.2021, in German and French

Weiterführende Informationen


Dr. Stephan Hochleitner

Political Geography

Department of Geography, UZH



Dr. Rony Emmenegger

Affilatied postdoctoral researcher, Political Geography
Department of Geography, UZH
Sustainability Research, University of Basel