CfP POLLEN22: Political ecology of memory: Memories of violence and socio-environmental struggles


Esther Marijnen (Wageningen University and Research), David Mwambari (Kings College, London), Emmanuel Akampurira (Ghent University)

For this panel, we are looking for contributions that aim to make connections between political ecology and memory studies. To date, political ecologists have only spent sparse attention to the politics of memory related to ecologies and different types of landscapes, with notable exceptions (Osterhoudt, 2018, Mathevet et al. 2015, Moore, 1993; Baird and le Billon, 2012), while research in environmental history and environmental anthropology have probed the importance of how memories of violence become written on the land, and continue to influence politics of belonging and inform contemporary political contestations (Ranger, 1999; Katto, 2014; Poole, 2009). Osterhoudt (2018) is the first to explicitly introduce a “political ecology of memory” approach to history, “Examining how memories of extra-local political histories become embodied and articulated through personal stories of local ecologies” (2018). As Osterhoudt integrated political ecology and environmental anthropology to study the political ecology of memory, we aim to further this line of inquiry by integrating methodologies, theories, and concepts from memory studies.

Traditionally memory studies have focused extensively on World War I and II (Nora, 1989; Assmann and Czaplicka, 1995), yet with the transcultural debate research on the politics of memory increasingly looks beyond the ‘Global north’ (Bond and Rapson 2014), and beyond ‘the nation-state as the main agent of memory’ (Erll,2011), recognizing that memory is dynamic, multidirectional and is not site-bound (Rothberg, 2010). As such, there is an increasing body of literature focussing on the politics of memory in post-genocide and post-conflict societies globally (Longman, 2017; Jessee, 2017, Purdekova, 2017; Coundouriotis, 2006; Otele, 2021; Oyola, 2021). Focusing on what is remembered and/or forgotten in these memory processes, and how they shape societies in aftermath of violence (Buckley-Zistel, 2009; Rosoux, 2007; Eastmond and Selimovic, 2021). Debates have also explored relationships between both official and unofficial means of remembering (Mwambari, 2021); and interdisciplinary connections with forced displacement (Creet and Kitzmann, 2011).

We see ample opportunities to bring political ecology research together with memory studies, by not only asking how the politics of memory shape societies in the aftermath of violence, but also how they shape socio-environmental relations, struggles and landscapes in conjunction with each other.

Papers might focus on the following subjects/questions:
– How are people’s memories of violence attached to certain rivers, forests, mountains, and lakes, and how does this continue to influence their relationship with these landscapes?
– How do memories of past forms of violence, continue to inform current contestations around the control, ownership, and access to nature, and certain landscapes?
– How do memories of forced displacement, for example, continue to inform people’s practices and claims on certain landscapes, in, but also, beyond protected areas?
– How does the political ecology of memory help us to understand contemporary conservation conflicts?
– How are different environmental struggles impacted by memories of a violent past?
– How do environmental NGOs and interventions take into account people’s memories of violence within the landscapes, they aim to protect, restore or conserve?
– Critical reflection of the “cultural value approach” to conservation, where conservation NGOs ask people to relive their past cultural lives for conservation or tourism in areas where their ancestors were displaced.

Paper proposals are due 8 December 2021. We will let you know the result by the 10th of December.

Final submission to the conference organizers is on 15 December. Please send a 250-300 word abstract and title to,, and


Assmann, J., & Czaplicka, J. (1995). Collective memory and cultural identity. New german critique, (65), 125-133.

Baird, I. G., & Le Billon, P. (2012). Landscapes of political memories: War legacies and land negotiations in Laos. Political Geography, 31(5), 290-300.

Bond, L., & Rapson, J. (Eds.). (2014). The transcultural turn: Interrogating memory between and beyond borders (Vol. 15). Walter de Gruyter.

Coundouriotis, E. (2006). The” Contemporaneous Local” in Time: Problems of History in Shalini Puri’s The Caribbean Postcolonial. small axe, 10(1), 198-205.

Creet, J., & Kitzmann, A. (Eds.). (2014). Memory and migration: Multidisciplinary approaches to Memory Studies. University of Toronto Press.

Eastmond, M., & Selimovic, J. M. (2012). Silence as possibility in postwar everyday life. International Journal of Transitional Justice, 6(3), 502-524.

Jessee, E. (2017). The danger of a single story: Iconic stories in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Memory Studies, 10(2), 144-163.

Katto, J. (2014). Landscapes of belonging: Female ex-combatants remembering the liberation struggle in urban Maputo. Journal of Southern African Studies, 40(3), 539-557.

Longman, T. (2017). Memory and justice in post-genocide Rwanda. Cambridge University Press.

Mathevet, R., Peluso, N. L., Couespel, A., & Robbins, P. (2015). Using historical political ecology to understand the present: water, reeds, and biodiversity in the Camargue Biosphere Reserve, southern France. Ecology and Society, 20(4).

Moore, D. S. (1993). Contesting terrain in Zimbabwe’s eastern highlands: political ecology, ethnography, and peasant resource struggles. Economic Geography, 69(4), 380-401.

Mwambari, D. (2021). Agaciro, vernacular memory, and the politics of memory in post-genocide Rwanda. African Affairs, 120(481), 611-628.

Nora, P. (1989). Between memory and history: Les lieux de mémoire. representations, 26, 7-24.

Osterhoudt, S. (2016). Written with seed: the political ecology of memory in Madagascar. Journal of Political Ecology, 23(1), 263-278.

Otele, O. (2021). Mourning in reluctant sites of memory: from Afrophobia to cultural productivity. In PostConflict Memorialization (pp. 35-54). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Oyola, S. M. R. (2021). Restoring the Human Dignity of Absent Bodies in Colombia. In Post-Conflict Memorialization (pp. 195-212). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Poole, A. (2009). Landscape and memory in peasant–state relations in Eritrea. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 36(4), 783-803.

Purdeková, A. (2017). Displacements of memory: struggles against the erosion and dislocation of the material record of violence in Burundi. International Journal of Transitional Justice, 11(2), 339-358.

Ranger, T. O. (1999). Voices from the Rocks: nature, culture & history in the Matopos Hills of Zimbabwe. Indiana University Press.

Rosoux, V. (2007). Rwanda: The Impossibility of a National Memory?. Ethnologie francaise, 37(3), 409-415. Rothberg, M. (2010). Introduction: Between memory and memory: From Lieux de mémoire to Noeuds de mémoire. Yale French Studies, (118/119), 3-12.hberg, 2010.

Buckley-Zistel, S. (2009). Nation, narration, unification? The politics of history teaching after the Rwandan genocide. Journal of Genocide Research, 11(1), 31-53.

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