CfP POLLEN18 – Doing Equality in Socio-environmental Conflicts: Power, Resistance and The Production of Political Subjectivities

*** Forwarded on behalf of the organizers ***

Call for Papers: Political Ecology Network (POLLEN) Biennial Conference, Oslo, 20–22 June 2018

Doing Equality in Socio-environmental Conflicts: Power, Resistance and The Production of Political Subjectivities

Abstract deadline: 8 December 2017

Organisers: Christos Zografos (Johns Hopkins University – Pompeu Fabra University Public Policy Centre, Barcelona, Spain); Irina Velicu (Centre for Social Studies (CES), University of Coimbra, Portugal)

Typically, power is theorised in its negative connotation, rather than as complex and productive of that which it tries to control. However, power and resistance are mutually constitutive (Foucault 1980): as a consequence, the ‘subject’ is an ambiguous site of power (re)production (Butler 1999). The struggles of ‘doing’ and ‘undoing’ subjects are seldom discussed in environmental politics. Most political ecology work has addressed such issues in the language of ‘environmental justice’ as distributional, procedural, and recognition (identity) politics. In that sense, justice is demanded through a process of ‘participation parity’ (Fraser and Honneth, 2003, Tschakert 2009), which can improve livelihoods according to the interests or dreams of those excluded from decisions. We ask: how, in the absence of alternative imaginaries, could, for instance, miners desire something other than mining? As Ranciere (1992) argues, the (re)production of subaltern identities cannot be brushed aside through naturalising them as ‘rightfully’ entitled to whatever ‘justice’ can distribute (see also Butler 1999).

This is a call for papers that disrupt the official language of ‘justice’ and open it up to a discussion on the constitution, formation and transformation of the ‘subjects’ of justice. More than elements of morality or consciousness, we are interested in interrogating the conditions of possibility for particular ‘subjectivities’ to become ‘legitimate’, ‘recognised’ or (in)visible, which are in themselves historically contingent. We encourage contributions that engage with the conditions that make certain people ‘invisible’ as agents who could create the society they want to live in; demonized as ‘emotional’ and ‘backwards’, not entitled to contest the grid of state/private intelligibility which makes them recognisable only for ‘cheap compensations’ in exchange for licences to exploit, extract and kill (Velicu & Kaika 2015, Velicu 2015). We are interested in the colonial logic of salvation (Mignolo, 2007) for understanding how subjects come to voluntarily accept or actively pursue projects of hazardous or precarious socio-environmental changes where they ‘live, work, play and …eat’ (Gottlieb 2009; Zografos, 2017). We are equally interested in studies showing how ‘affect’ and emotions are mobilised in taking ‘charge’ of own (personal and collective) subjection (Singh, 2013; Nightingale, 2013; Gonzalez-Hidalgo and Zografos, 2017). Eventually, we are interested in the implications of subjection and ‘acts of subjectification’ – when those who ‘had no part’, become visible politically (Ranciere 1999) – for creating new insurgent and equalitarian spaces in common (Swyngedouw 2011).

It is a good moment to take stock of new research on subjectivation in order to comprehensively consider its relevance for pursuing political ecology’s main ethical goal of environmental justice (Blaikie, 2012). This can help reflect on future research and politics agendas on power, performativity and equalitarian socio-environmental politics.

We welcome paper abstracts on (but not limited to) the following themes:

  • Research connecting socio-environmental justice with equalitarian politics
  • Empirical studies of subjectivation, which reflect on the theoretical-conceptual implications of their findings as concerns equality, environmental justice and conflict
  • Conceptual contributions that either challenge established or connect different approaches to subject-making with reflections about environmental justice
  • Original essays reflecting on the performative dimension of justice politics
  • Research exploring the conditions that permit particular ‘subjectivities’ to become ‘legitimate’, ‘recognised’, or (in)visible
  • Studies of links between affect, emotions and subjectivation, particularly  in relation to environmental conflict and transformation
  • Methodological contributions to the study of links between environmental justice and subjectivation

Please send abstracts of up to 300 words to both email addresses below: and Authors will be notified of their acceptance for the session as soon as possible thereafter.



Blaikie, P., 2012. Should some political ecology be useful? The inaugural lecture for the Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, April 2010. Geoforum43(2), pp.231-239.

Butler, J., 1999. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Routledge, New York.

Foucault, M., 1980. Power/Knowledge, ed. Colin Gordon. New York: Pantheon.

Fraser, N. and Honneth, A., 2003. Redistribution or recognition?: a political-philosophical exchange. Verso.

González-Hidalgo, M. and Zografos, C., 2017. How sovereignty claims and “negative” emotions influence the process of subject-making: Evidence from a case of conflict over tree plantations from Southern Chile. Geoforum78, pp.61-73.

Gottlieb, R., 2009. Where we live, work, play… and eat: expanding the environmental justice agenda. Environmental Justice, 2(1), pp.7-8.

Mignolo, W.D., 2007. Coloniality: The darker side of modernity. Cultural Studies21(2-3), pp.39-49.

Nightingale, A.J., 2013. Fishing for Nature: the Politics of Subjectivity and Emotion in Scottish Inshore Fisheries Management. Environment and Planning A, 45(10), 2362-2378.

Rancière, J., 1992. Politics, Identification, and Subjectivization. October 61, 58–64.

Ranciere, J. 1999, Dis-agreement: Politics and Philosophy transl. by Julie Rose (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press).

Singh, N.M., 2013. The affective labor of growing forests and the becoming of environmental subjects: Rethinking environmentality in Odisha, India. Geoforum47, pp.189-198.

Swyngedouw, E., 2011. Interrogating post-democratization: reclaiming egalitarian political spaces. Polit. Geogr. 30 (7), 370–380.

Tschakert, P., 2009. Digging deep for justice: a radical re-imagination of the artisanal gold mining sector in Ghana. Antipode 41 (4), 706–740.

Velicu, I. and Kaika, M., 2017. Undoing environmental justice: Re-imagining equality in the Rosia Montana anti-mining movement. Geoforum, 84, pp.305-315.

Velicu, I., 2015. Demonizing the Sensible and the ‘Revolution of our Generation’in Rosia Montana. Globalizations, 12(6), pp.846-858.

Zografos, C. 2017. Despised locals, unattractive losers: two underexplored subjects in ecological distribution conflicts. 2017-18 ICTA-UAB Ecological Economics, Ethno-ecology and Integrated Assessment Seminar Series, 31 May 2017, Barcelona, Spain.

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