Political Ecology Network (POLLEN) Third Biennial Conference – Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration

Brighton, United Kingdom

June 24-26, 2020


We are happy to announce that the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN) Third Biennial Conference will be held in Brighton, United Kingdom, June 24-26, 2020 on the theme of Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration. POLLEN20 will be organized by the ESRC STEPS Centre (IDS/SPRU, University of Sussex) and co-hosted by Radical Futures at the University of Brighton and the Institute of Development Studies, with support from the BIOSEC project at the University of Sheffield.

Whether framed as object, commodity, construction, actant, resource or relation, the contested notion of ‘nature’ is one of the most central themes in political ecology. The conference aims to explore plural natures and plural futures as sites of struggle and possibility, while critically engaging with the multiple and overlapping crises of our time. What does it mean to decolonise knowledge in political ecology? Questioning established notions of who is ‘the expert’, and associated epistemological hierarchies, we ask: What can we learn across sites of experimentation and through transdisciplinary engagements about ways of ‘doing’ transformation? At the current juncture, how do we make sense of evolving society-nature relationships? How are natures being (re)made through and against crises? How are technological, systemic and value transformations entangled in the process? What novel political ecologies are – or might be – emerging?

Our aim is for the conference to be a space for taking stock and looking forward, exploring classic questions through novel lenses, imaginaries and embodied practices, and finding inspiration in emerging debates and forms of practice that are only beginning to engage with political ecology scholarship and practice. The conference will be structured to encourage critical reflection around the entanglements and encounters of political ecology with a variety of approaches and philosophies from post-structuralism and Marxist to anarchist, feminist and queer perspectives – the ways of knowing, seeing, representing, challenging that often define our work.

To these ends, POLLEN20 will combine the objectives of a traditional meeting with the collegiality and dynamism of a less structured, more participatory gathering. As will be outlined in the call for proposals to be circulated in May 2019, we will be encouraging proposals for themed sessions in a variety of conventional and novel formats, aspiring to bring together perspectives and ways of sharing from across disciplines and geographic traditions, welcoming dialog with our allies within and outside the academy.

We are committed to diverse and equitable participation, so we aim to keep registration costs low. POLLEN members and session organizers who are able are urged to seek funding for participants who have difficulty accessing travel funds (e.g. un/underemployed or under-supported participants, participants from the Global South, self-funded PhDs, non-academic participants, early career scholars, etc.). We will establish a general ‘solidarity fund’ to which POLLEN nodes and groups may contribute to support travel bursaries, and we will offer the option of ‘solidarity registration’ for participants who wish to contribute individually to registration and travel costs of others who do not have access to organizational funds.

A detailed call for session proposals with submission instructions will be circulated in May of 2019. All proposals will be reviewed by a panel and registration will open in late Autumn of 2019. Updates and news will be announced on the POLLEN web site and on a dedicated conference web page. Inquiries about the conference or questions about contributions to the Solidarity Fund for travel bursaries can be sent by email to POLLEN@sussex.ac.uk (please note that this is not the email address for the POLLEN secretariat).

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