CfP POLLEN20 – Emplacing crisis and theorising nature-society transformations

Call for session participants
The Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom, 24-26 June 2020

 Session organizers

Amber Huff (Institute of Development Studies and STEPS Centre) and Sango Mahanty (The Australian National University)

Preliminary session abstract

In cautioning that our foundational systems for life are being stretched to breaking point, dominant and depoliticized narratives of escalating global crisis bring certain risks. Global crisis narratives can both drive and distract from important synergistic, scalar and place-based processes of change. For example, climate change and species extinctions take form through interactions with changing land use and resource access. At the same time, landscape level changes are also being catalysed through the re-workings of nature-society relations that biodiversity conservation, climate mitigation and ecological restoration regimes require in the form of ‘sustainable’ infrastructure projects, ‘green’ industrial developments and de-carbonised energy transitions. Ironically, such actions are increasingly framed and justified by state and elite actors using the depoliticized language of crisis response.

Yet ‘crises’ can also be seen as moments of rupture or disruption that expose contradictions in prevailing assumtions and the inner workings of institutions. These disruptions in the existing order are ripe with uncertainty; contingent ‘moments’ in which possibilities and risks multiply*. This conceptualization raises new questions about agency, nature and society in a changed world. Through this lens we can explore the sorts of synergies and dynamics described above, and how such change processes are also giving rise to new and networked forms of social agency and contestation that often cannot be explained through conventional notions such as ‘adaptation’, ‘resistance’ and ‘acquiescence’.

The session organizers invite contributions that explore diverse emplaced experiences and theorizations of ‘crisis’ – dynamics and transformations associated with actually-existing processes of socio-natural rupture, disruption and transformation. What can be gained analytically, practically, and socially from repoliticizing, re-imagining, disaggregating and puralizing our understandings of crisis? How and by whom are emplaced socio-natures being (re)made and how do the language, politics and technologies of crisis figure in these processes? What new spatialities, temporalities and forms of networked agency are emerging and at what scales? What tools and concepts do we have at hand and what gaps exist as we attempt to make sense of these evolving society-nature relationships?

To create a dynamic transdisciplinary dialogue around these issues, we invite contributions from inside and outside of academia based anywhere in the world. If you would like to contribute, please send abstracts or expressions of interest of 250 words or less to Amber Huff ( and Sango Mahanty ( by Monday, 18 November 2019.

* Lund, C. 2016. Rule and Rupture: state formation through the production of property and citizenship. Development and Change. 47 (6): 1199–1228.



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