CFP: Unsettling Political Ecology: Dialogues on the Legacies of Trauma

Alex Moulton (Clark University)
Stepha Velednitsky (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Dimensions of Political Ecology (DOPE) 2018
University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, Februrary 22-24, 2018

In his reflections on colonialism, decolonization and violence in ‘Wretched of the Earth’ and ‘Black Skin, White Masks’, Franz Fanon elucidates a range of psycho-affective responses of both the colonialist and the colonized. In his contemplations, trauma is both the act and memory of a wounding that haunts the subject of violence. The violence of trauma is both everyday and structural. Fanon’s examination of how trauma is metabolized and affects interpersonal relationships in the post-colony and the metropole suggests uneven geographies of epistemic, ontological and material injury. More recently, a growing number of works in geography emphasizes the essential function of race and coloniality within the production of landscapes (Pulido, 2015; Bonds and Inwood, 2016). As a matter of both theoretical importance and practice, contending with these geographies–including the legacies and ongoing logics of plantations, reservations and settler-colonialism– remains a serious task to which political ecologists should direct attention.

At the same time, following Eve Tuck’s call for a moratorium on damage-centered scholarship within settler colonial studies, we turn to desire-centered spaces of resilience and resistance to settler colonialism and racial capitalism (2006). Drawing on McKittrick’s refiguring of plantation activities as “rebellious and inventive spaces that enunciate ‘the revolutionary demand for happiness’ (2016), we seek to open up theoretical space for a deep transformation of how we figure emotion, difference, and power in place.  Discussions among political ecologists grappling with the uneven geographies of trauma and violence—particularly in ways that enroll the researchers themselves as agents within these landscapes– have been limited. When broached, these conversations can sometimes be short-circuited by post-racial liberalism, bias, white fragility, academic respectability politics.

In this call, we seek persons for a paper and/or panel session(s) that will explore how to attend to the theoretical and personal implications for political ecologists working with the haunting legacies of dispossession, dislocation, displacement and death. We envision the session(s) as space(s) for generative, if uncomfortable dialogue, on political ecologies of trauma and the possibilities for hope and justice. Indeed, rather than flattening power relationships, we hope that these conversations help to carve out new spaces for relations of liberation within and beyond the spaces of political ecology.

We invite papers and panel presentations that explore the political ecologies of the settler-colonial in order to imagine liberatory political ecologies. Topics for papers could include:

  • Black Lives Matter and Black geographies

  • Political ecologies of memorials, monuments and museums

  • Carceral and policing geographies

  • Political ecologies of militarism, borders, immigration, and/or displacement

  • Geographies of resistance and/or reparations

Topics for the panel could include:

  • The subaltern political ecologist

  • The white-ness of political ecology

  • Gendered violence, microaggressions, and politics of relations in academia

  • Healing, hope, and feminist care ethics among political ecologists

  • Reparations and/or decolonization as political-ecological praxis

Please email enquiries and abstracts for papers or panel themes (200-300 words) to Alex Moulton ( and Stepha Velednitsky (  by November 23, 2017. Potential presenters and or panelists will be notified by November 27 regarding acceptance to the session, and will be required to register for the conference and submit their abstracts through the DOPE website ( by the December 1 deadline to be added to the session(s).


Bonds, Anne, and Joshua Inwood. “Beyond white privilege: Geographies of white supremacy and settler colonialism.” Progress in Human Geography 40.6 (2016): 715-733.

Fanon, Frantz. Black skin, white masks. Grove press, 2008.

Fanon, Frantz, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Constance Farrington. The wretched of the earth. Vol. 36. New York: Grove Press, 1963.

McKittrick, Katherine. 2011. “On Plantations, Prisons, and a Black Sense of Place.” Social & Cultural Geography 12 (8). Routledge: 947–63. doi:10.1080/14649365.2011.624280.

McKittrick, Katherine. “Rebellion/invention/groove.” Small Axe 20.1 49 (2016): 79-91.

Pulido, Laura. “Geographies of race and ethnicity 1: White supremacy vs white privilege in environmental racism research.” Progress in Human Geography 39.6 (2015): 809-817.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. 2nd ed. London: Zed, 2012. Print.

Tuck, Eve. ‘Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities.’’ Harvard Educational Review 79.3 (2009): 409–428. Print.

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