CfP POLLEN18 – Nurturing “Life-in-Common”: Affective, Emotional and Embodied Practices of/for Abundance Beyond Sustainability

POLLEN18: Political Ecology, the Green Economy, and Alternative Sustainabilities

20-22 June, 2018, Oslo and Akershus University College, Oslo, Norway

Nurturing “Life-in-Common”: Affective, Emotional and Embodied Practices of/for Abundance Beyond Sustainability

Session organisers:

Neera Singh, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Pamela Ngwenya, German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture, Witzenhausen

Andrea Nightingale, Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences

In this session, we invite empirical and conceptual papers that: (1) examine different affective, emotional and embodied dimensions of (and strategies for) nurturing life-in-common and fostering context-specific subjectivities of being-in-common with the world and/or; (2) papers that perform, explore or suggest methodologies of scholarly engagement that are reflexive of the role/significance of academic practices in portraying and engaging with “life-in-common.”

At a general level, we are interested in political ecologies that are constituted through (and are constitutive of) alternative conceptions of sustainability. More specifically, we invite papers that examine different ontologies and contextual/territorial examples of “life in common”, or explore moments/events where such efforts to practice alternative modes of living sustainably in community are undermined. We are especially interested in “alternative sustainabilities” that are premised on the principles of abundance, cooperation and care rather than scarcity, competition and economic growth imperatives.

In the context of a resurgent interest in commoning, not only as a viable model for environmental governance, but as the ground for nurturing postcapitalist politics, we invite attention to the potential role of specific commoning practices in fostering becoming a commoner, or emotional subjectivities that nurture life-in-common. Whereas former articulations of the commons focused on the “problem” of shared material, economic resource bases and the negotiation of competitive and cooperative behavior within and between humans (framed as individual and autonomous rational actors), in this session, we mobilise the theme of “life-in-common” as an alternative framing of commoning that seeks to co-create alternative sustainabilities for the benefit of more-than-human life.

Following feminist scholarship, we consider subjectivities as dynamic and relational.  Further, we highlight the centrality of emotional and embodied subjectivities to the social production of “the commons” and the associated durability of the specific life-in-common that is (re)produced. We are especially interested in exploring the conditions under which ontologies of life-in-common emerge and situations under which associated subjectivities are fostered, contested, or undermined.  In contrast to the utilitarian subjectivity of the “user-group member” that emerged out of participatory development discourses since the 1990s, the notion of “life-in-common” draws attention to the emotional, affective and embodied practices that shape both subjectivities and socio-material relations in particular territories of commoning.

We recognize that our ways of describing the world enact it and hence, the second focus of this session seeks to bring attention to our methodologies of scholarly engagement; our research tools and scripting practices. This session therefore calls for papers that explore or depict alternate ways of “doing theory” – (following Gibson-Graham/ Sedwig’s weak theory or Cindi Katz’s minor theory) – and of going beyond academic critique. We thus take seriously the scholar-activist imperative to enact methodological/scripting processes that foster more hopeful and supportive, but also more abundant, cooperative and careful futures.

Possible subthemes for papers in this session include:

  • Affect, emotion and embodied practices of constituting territories of/ for collective action
  • Spaces of “belonging” in sustainable/intentional/commoning communities
  • Affective and relational ecologies of care/ being-in-common
  • Kin-centric ecology/ indigenous ontologies and the green economy
  • Different conceptions of human in the Anthropocene: e.g. how do ways of practicing life-in-common and relating to the commons recognize or enable different ways of being human to emerge and flourish?
  • Environmental care labour; environment and the care economy

Depending on the nature of abstract submissions and interest, the session will follow the format of 20 minute paper presentations, followed by two discussants. Given sufficient interest, there may be an additional session to allow for further collective debate and brainstorming around the core topics, incorporating a world café discussion.

Please submit abstracts of 200-250 words to: , and

Due: 14 December, 2017



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