CfP POLLEN 20 – Migration and conflict in the West African Sahel: political ecology under a changing sky

Session proposal
Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN 20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration 
(https://pollen2020.wordpress.com/call-for-session-proposals/)
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Organizers: Tor A. Benjaminsen, Norwegian University of Life Sciences & Jesse Ribot, American University, Washington DC

Abstract: The West African Sahel has recently become a hotspot of international attention due to: increased armed conflicts such as the rise of so-called ‘jihadist’ groups; migration of, in particular, young men to North Africa and onward to Europe; and climate change which is often depicted in the media to cause drier conditions and desertification in spite of a greening trend since the 1980s.

Despite that the desertification narrative has been questioned in environmental research, including political ecology, over the last three decades, popular media and policy reports continue to present climate change and desertification as key drivers of migration and conflict in the Sahel. This panel will go beyond such simplistic explanations by delving into the micro- and macro-politics of local land governance in order to explain current trends in migration and conflict. To fully understand these trends the studies in this panel are based on a progressive contextualization that starts with a focus on moments of conflict or departure. By focusing on specific crises within their local political-economic context, particularly the political ecological context, and locating those crises and their determinants in a larger set of national and international political-economic forces, the causes of disaster can be discerned. We contend that by understanding these local and distal causes that a broader more-effective response might be developed.  

Contributions to our understanding of migration and/or conflict in any of the West African Sahelian countries is welcome.

Please submit abstracts of maximum 250 words to Tor A. Benjaminsen (torbe@nmbu.no) and Jesse Ribot (jesse.ribot@gmail.com) by the 20th October.


POLLEN 2020: Call for session proposals

The Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
#POLLEN20

When: 24 – 26 June 2020
Where: Brighton, UK
Organized by: The ESRC STEPS Centre (IDS/SPRU, University of Sussex) and The Political Ecology Network (POLLEN) Secretariat (based at Lancaster University 2017 -2019; and moving to the University of Copenhagen 2019 – 2021). The conference is co-hosted by Radical Futures at the University of Brighton, with support from the BIOSEC project (European Research Council) and SIID at the University of Sheffield.
Session proposal submission deadline: 31 October 2019
Session proposal submission form: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/POLLEN2020
Notification of accepted sessions: January 2020
Conference web site: https://pollen2020.wordpress.com/

Call for session proposals

The POLLEN 20 organizing committee is pleased to announce a call for proposals for organized conference sessions. The deadline for submission of session proposals is 31 October 2019, and all proposals should be submitted via online form.

Conference theme

The contested notion of ‘nature’ is one of the central themes in political ecology, and the third biennial conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN), Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration, aims to explore plural natures and plural futures as sites of struggle and possibility whilst critically engaging with and ‘unpacking’ multiple and overlapping crises of our times.

As 2020 is the fifth anniversary of the POLLEN network, the organizers aim for the conference to be a time for taking stock and looking forward; for welcoming provocation and critique; questioning established notions of who is ‘the expert’ and associated epistemological hierarchies; exploring classic questions through novel concepts, lenses, imaginaries, (re)enchantments and embodied and decolonizing practices; and for finding inspiration in emerging debates and new alliances.

The conference will be structured to encourage critical reflection around the entanglements and encounters of political ecology with a variety of theories, approaches and philosophies, including but not limited to post-structuralist and Marxist to anarchist, feminist and queer perspectives within political ecology. As in previous meetings, POLLEN 2020 will combine the objectives of a traditional meeting with the collegiality and dynamism of a less structured, more participatory gathering.

To these ends, this call encourages proposals for themed sessions in a variety of both conventional and novel formats, aspiring to bring together perspectives and ways of sharing from across disciplines and geographic traditions, and welcoming contributions from within and outside the academy.

We particularly encourage transdisciplinary engagements and collaborations in political ecology (i.e. involving, for example, researchers in social sciences, natural / environmental sciences, environmental humanities and development studies; artists; journalists; practitioners; policy professionals; laypersons; activists; environmental justice campaigners and others).

Circulating calls, proposal preparation and submission

Information about the full conference theme, session formats and participation, guidance for preparing and submitting proposals for organized sessions and frequently asked questions are available on the POLLEN 20 conference web site. You will also find information of the conference venue, travel, accommodations, and accessibility that will be updated regularly in the coming months.

The conference committee and POLLEN secretariat can assist with posting calls to the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN) web site and the conference web site. If you would like to post a call for papers or presenters, please send your call as an email attachment in .DOC format with proposed session title, session details / abstract and instructions for submitting potential contributions to session organizers to POLLEN@sussex.ac.uk with ‘CfP POLLEN 20’ in the subject line. Make sure to include all relevant information for potential participants in your session.

Inquiries about the conference

Inquiries about the conference, co-hosting, or questions about contributions to the Solidarity Fund for travel bursaries can be sent to POLLEN@sussex.ac.uk (please note that this is not the email address for the POLLEN secretariat).

A note on child care

We are exploring options for child care and compiling a list of local child care providers, but we need to gauge the level of interest. Please email POLLEN@sussex.ac.uk by 1 September 2019 if you think you will need child care to attend the conference. In the email, please provide the number of days, age(s) of child/children and any special needs, including special dietary needs, and include ‘POLLEN 20 child care’ in the subject line.

 

 

2nd CfP & extended deadline (5 Dec. 2017), POLLEN18 – Accumulation by Restoration

We have already received a number of excellent and exciting submissions for this session, but have decided to re-circulate the call with an extended deadline of 5 December in hope of making this a double session. Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to both Amber Huff (a.huff@ids.ac.uk) and Andrea Brock (a.brock@sussex.ac.uk) before 5 December 2017. Please do not hesitate to email us with any questions. We have also recently published a short companion piece online in Antipode’s online Interventions section titled ‘Accumulation by Restoration: Degradation Neutrality and the Faustian Bargain of Conservation Finance’.

CfP POLLEN 18 – Accumulation by Restoration
Political Ecology Network (POLLEN) biennial conference, Oslo, 20 – 22 June 2018

Organised by Amber Huff (Institute of Development Studies and STEPS Centre) and Andrea Brock (University of Sussex)

Extended deadline for abstracts – 5 December 2017 30 November 2017

In recent years, scholars have highlighted the changing dynamics of conservation based on a convergence of interests and intensifying alliances between corporate capital, finance and conservation (Büscher et al. 2012; Brockington and Duffy 2010; Sullivan 2006). These changing dynamics have given rise to new politics and practices of resource control and territorialization (Peluso and Lund 2011; Neves and Igoe 2012), including those explicitly linking regimes of nature-based accumulation, knowledge and governance (Smith 2009; Büscher and Fletcher 2014), often under the guise of ‘green growth’, sustainable development and climate change mitigation (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2017).

Green grabbing, the elite expropriation and enclosure of land or resources for ostensibly environmental purposes (Fairhead et al. 2012; Corson et al. 2013), has become increasingly linked to calls for technical management of local landscapes to produce both conservation areas and ‘nature[s] that capital can see’ (Robertson, 2006). To these ends, political ecologists have emphasised the salience of ecotourism (Kelly, 2011), bioprospecting (Neimark 2012) and the direct or indirect valuation of nature to correct ‘market failures’ and produce carbon credits (Bumpus and Liverman 2008, 2011), biodiversity offsets (Sullivan and Hannis 2015) and other ‘non-extractive’ nature-based commodities and financial instruments (Büscher 2014).

For Sullivan (2013), the ‘spectacular financialization of environmental conservation’ has turned overlapping crises into opportunities, creating a new investment frontier, triggering the rewriting of conservation practice in terms of banking and financial categories and engendering new types of ‘human-with-nature relationships’. ‘Spectacle’ (Brockington and Duffy 2010; Igoe 2010, 2013) is fundamental to these transformations, which have given rise to an industry that sells the elite performance of sustainability as these dynamics and mechanisms enmesh distant investors and nature consumers in idealized ‘local’ conservation relations and landscapes (Igoe 2013; Huff and Tonui 2017).

High profile conservation events, celebrity testimonials, mass media messages, corporate social responsibility reports and marketing campaigns with engaging web sites and glossy brochures package and deliver compelling imagery and just-so stories of crisis, stewardship and salvation, not to mention the promise of ‘wins’ for all. Through spectacle, they simultaneously obscure and alienate market-driven conservation schemes, nature-based commodities, financial instruments and investment platforms from the relationships that produce and sustain them, including exclusions that can entrench social and economic inequalities and processes of underdevelopment, result in displacement of people and livelihoods, transform property relations, blur the lines between extraction, mitigation and preservation, and amplify local insecurities through the increasing securitisation and militarisation of conservation practice (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2014; Dunlap and Fairhead, 2014; Marijnen and Verweijen 2016; Büscher and Davidov 2013; Brock and Dunlap forthcoming).

Positioned against these developments that link enclosure, financialization, spectacle and the production of new natures, we point to a new dynamic in conservation finance – the fundamental shift from protection and conservation of ecosystems to an economy of repair (Fairhead et al, 2012). Often linked to offsetting and compensation schemes, the repair mode of conservation relies on the assumption and imagery of degradation and the promise of accumulation through restoration, recreation and recultivation to create new or better-disciplined, legible and substitutable natures.What we term accumulation by restoration relies centrally on the capability to apply metrological standards of economic valuation alongside the institutionalisation of the technical language of ‘neutrality’ or ‘net gain’ of land, biodiversity and other characteristics and functions of nature. This is embodied for instance in the UN’s new ‘Land Degradation Neutrality’ fund (Huff and Brock, forthcoming) and other new environmental initiatives such as the EU’s ‘No Net Loss Initiative’ and the ‘Climate Neutrality’ advocated in the UNFCCC Paris agreement.

Underlying are assumptions about the fungibility of nature and the expectation that we can meaningfully compensate for ‘actually existing degradation’ in one place through restoration and even ‘avoided degradation’ in another place, reducing complex landscapes into abstract, quantified and exchangeable units that can be tallied on global balance sheets of environmental harm or health. It seems to offer, as if by magic, a means to ‘neutralize’ destruction and deliver development co-benefits, through spectacular abstraction, across different real-world contexts and ecologies, and across vast spatial and social distances. Rather than addressing the root causes of economic and ecological crises, we propose that accumulation by restoration amplifies the exclusionary, racist and violent trajectory of neoliberal conservation, exacerbating socio-economic inequalities and power hierarchies; further engraining the dominant ‘exploit-deplete-mitigate’ green growth paradigm and facilitating socially and ecologically destructive development.

To understand these emerging dynamics requires in-depth analysis of the circumstances underlying and resulting from restoration regimes, the policies and finance mechanisms that support it, the actors and alliances involved at different levels, the spatial relations at play, and its outcomes for communities and landscapes. We thus invite conceptual, theoretical and empirical contributions examining the topics covered below, or any other area related to accumulation by restoration:

  • Varieties and manifestations of finance-led restoration regimes, with attention to new alliances and partnerships, including the roles of corporate-NGO partnerships, public-private partnerships and community-level partnerships in legitimising and enabling restoration projects in particular places
  • The role or significance of ‘virtual’ or speculative land grabs in finance-led restoration schemes
  • Intended and unanticipated social and environmental changes associated with finance-led restoration, including the intersection of these politics along axes of social difference including, but not limited to, gender, race, caste and social class
  • The ways that finance-led restoration is implicated in corporate Greenwashing and contributes to / is instrumentalised to address social unrest or resistance against industrial development projects
  • The assumptions, narratives and techniques underlying and/or legitimising a fundamental shift in the conservation paradigm from protection to restoration, including the revival and redeployment of myths of scarcity, degradation and environmental predation
  • The role of restoration at the intersection of conservation, environmental securitisation and militarisation
  • The role of spectacle in international conservation finance and the politics of restoration in the performance of environmental stewardship
  • The implications of finance-led restoration regimes in understanding the changing role and salience of the state in reference to state-society relations, territorialization and the foreignization of space

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to both Amber Huff (a.huff@ids.ac.uk) and Andrea Brock (a.brock@sussex.ac.uk) before 30 November 5 December 2017. Upon acceptance, applicants will still have to register through the POLLEN website in January.

We intend build on this panel to produce a special issue focusing on Restoration by Accumulation and thus encourage the submission of full papers before or shortly after the conference. If you are interested in participating in the special issue, but cannot attend the conference, please do get in touch.

References

Brock, A., & Dunlap, A. (In press). Normalising corporate counterinsurgency: The everyday operations of RWE in the Hambacher Forest and beyond. Political Geography.

Brockington, D., & Duffy, R. (2010). Capitalism and conservation: The production and reproduction of biodiversity conservation. Antipode, 42(3), 469-484.

Bumpus, A. G. (2011). The matter of carbon: understanding the materiality of tCO2e in carbon offsets. Antipode, 43(3), 612-638.

Bumpus, A. G., & Liverman, D. M. (2008). Accumulation by decarbonization and the governance of carbon offsets. Economic Geography, 84(2), 127-155.

Büscher, B. (2014). Nature on the move I: the value and circulation of liquid nature and the emergence of fictitious conservation. In B. Büscher, W. Dressler, & R. Fletcher (Eds.), Nature Inc.: Environmental Conservation in the Neoliberal Age(pp. 183). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Büscher, B., & Davidov, V. (2013). The ecotourism-extraction nexus: Political economies and rural realities of (un) comfortable bedfellows (Vol. 10): Routledge.

Büscher, B., & Fletcher, R. (2014). Accumulation by Conservation. New Political Economy(ahead-of-print), 1-26.

Büscher, B., Sullivan, S., Neves, K., Igoe, J., & Brockington, D. (2012). Towards a synthesized critique of neoliberal biodiversity conservation. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 23(2), 4-30.

Cavanagh, C., & Benjaminsen, T. A. (2014). Virtual nature, violent accumulation: the ‘spectacular failure’of carbon offsetting at a Ugandan National Park. Geoforum, 56, 55-65.

Cavanagh, C. J., & Benjaminsen, T. A. (2017). Political ecology, variegated green economies, and the foreclosure of alternative sustainabilities. Journal of Political Ecology, 24, 200-341.

Corson, C., MacDonald, K. I., & Neimark, B. (2013). Grabbing “green”: markets, environmental governance and the materialization of natural capital. Human Geography, 6(1), 1-15.

Dunlap, A., & Fairhead, J. (2014). The Militarisation and Marketisation of Nature: An Alternative Lens to ‘Climate-Conflict’. Geopolitics(ahead-of-print), 1-25.

Fairhead, J., Leach, M., & Scoones, I. (2012). Green grabbing: a new appropriation of nature? Journal of Peasant Studies, 39(2), 237-261.

Huff, A., & Tonui, C. (2017). Making ‘Mangroves Together’: Carbon, conservation and co-management in Gazi Bay, Kenya(1781183708). Retrieved from Brighton:

Igoe, J. (2010). The spectacle of nature in the global economy of appearances: anthropological engagements with the spectacular mediations of transnational conservation. Critique of Anthropology, 30(4), 375-397.

Igoe, J. (2013). Consume, connect, conserve: consumer spectacle and the technical mediation of neoliberal conservation’s aesthetic of redemption and repair. Human Geography, 6(1), 16-28.

Kelly, A. B. (2011). Conservation practice as primitive accumulation. Journal of Peasant Studies, 38(4), 683-701.

Marijnen, E., & Verweijen, J. (2016). Selling green militarization: The discursive (re) production of militarized conservation in the Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Geoforum, 75, 274-285.

Neimark, B. D. (2012). Industrializing nature, knowledge, and labour: The political economy of bioprospecting in Madagascar. Geoforum, 43(5), 980-990.

Neves, K., & Igoe, J. (2012). Uneven development and accumulation by dispossession in nature conservation: Comparing recent trends in the Azores and Tanzania. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie, 103(2), 164-179.

Peluso, N. L., & Lund, C. (2011). New frontiers of land control: Introduction. Journal of Peasant Studies, 38(4), 667-681.

Robertson, M. M. (2006). The nature that capital can see: science, state, and market in the commodification of ecosystem services. Environment and Planning D: society and space, 24(3), 367-387.

Smith, N. (2009). Nature as accumulation strategy. Socialist register, 43(43).

Sullivan, S. (2006). Elephant in the room? Problematising ‘new’(neoliberal) biodiversity conservation. Paper presented at the Forum for Development Studies.

Sullivan, S. (2013). Banking Nature? The Spectacular Financialisation of Environmental Conservation. Antipode, 45(1), 198-217.

Sullivan, S., & Hannis, M. (2015). Nets and frames, losses and gains: Value struggles in engagements with biodiversity offsetting policy in England. Ecosystem Services, 15, 162-173.

Call for panellists POLLEN18 – Political Ecologies, Authoritarian Populism and Emancipatory Politics

POLLEN Biennial conference, 20-22 June 2018
Oslo and Akershus University College, Oslo, Norway
Organized by Amber Huff (Institute of Development Studies and STEPS Centre)

Deadline for expressions of interest – 5 December 2017

Call for panellists

Political ecologists have long emphasised the significance of understanding how dominant political-economic conditions articulate and manifest in rural spaces. In turn, this is central to grasping the contextual dynamics of socio-environmental change processes and associated contestations, conflicts and struggles. Contoured by the crises of ostensibly ‘progressive neoliberalism’ (Fraser 2017) – as well as its often contradictory nexus of elite cosmopolitanism, militarisation, and unequal globalisation (Rickford 2017) – the current political conjuncture has given rise to new forms and manifestations of ‘authoritarian populism’ (Hall 1979, 1985) with wide-reaching implications (e.g. Scoones et al. 2017). In short, these increasingly demand engagement and analysis by political ecologists.

Authoritarian populism is a term that describes a unique type of political conjuncture in which an exceptional form of the capitalist state has been able to construct around itself a degree of active popular consent (Hall 1979:15). Such conjunctures, resonant with appeals to romantic nationalism, ‘common sense’, and ‘the people’, are replete with imagery of imagined golden ages of prosperity and plenty. They are far from uniform but characterised by a number of often-overlapping themes and phenomena. These include highly contested national elections, especially when perceived to be only nominally democratic or ‘competitively authoritarian’ in nature (e.g. Levitsky and Way 2002); the rise in prominence of discourses of security, aggressive protectionism, and nationalism; xenophobia, cultural or ethnic chauvinisms, and animosity toward often-racialised ‘others’ (Rancière 2016); and allegations that ‘insecurities’ attributed to refugees, migrants, and other ‘newcomers’ have come to replace longstanding concerns about the dangers of growing poverty, inequality, and exploitative labour relations (Neocleous and Startin 2003). In short, this shifting of blame for the very real discontent and socioeconomic exclusion of urban and rural workers, agriculturalists, pastoralists, and other rural populations alongside the rhetorical condemnation of elite politics and corporate power often masks the deepening of extractive capitalism, environmental colonialism, and the militarization of everyday life, society, and nature in both the Global North and South.

Nonetheless, the crises and contradictions of the current conjuncture have also shaped the global terrain of struggle and are opening spaces for the emergence (or increased visibility) of both reactionary movements and emancipatory alliances, philosophies and praxes of intervention. Many of these articulate not just a politics of ‘taking back’ but of creating anew, applying both vernacular and academic theories (broadly defined) in the service of political action (e.g. Huff 2016; Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2017). At stake, not least, are new contestations or positionings against hegemonic value systems and institutions implicated in expanding inequalities, deepening poverty, accelerating environmental devastation, and instigating diverse identity-based antagonisms.

Along these lines, the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative (ERPI) is focused on two major themes. The first is the emergence of authoritarian populism in diverse forms and spaces in order to address the overarching question of how rural landscapes and experiences shape and are being shaped by these wider politics and struggles. The second focus is on the social and political processes and practices in rural spaces that are generating alternatives to regressive, authoritarian politics.

The POLLEN biennial conference presents an opportune moment to explore how political ecologies, alongside a variety of approaches and methods from critical social science and radical practice, can help us to better understand and confront the emergence of contemporary manifestations of authoritarian populism, its consequences for life and landscape, and to engage with transformative and emancipatory politics and praxes arising or gaining new visibility in the context of the contemporary conjuncture. We invite expressions of interest for participants in a panel discussion that engages with the topics / questions covered below, or any other area related to these themes:

  • How can political ecologies and their central concepts, approaches and praxes inform our understanding of the current political conjuncture?
  • How is this conjuncture associated with shifting relationships (or blurring of boundaries) between the state and capital, between society and nature, between resistance and acquiescence?
  • What alternative politics and political-economic practices also emerge or become more visible at this political conjuncture? How do they articulate with, problematize or complement or transform non-capitalist notions of sustainability, society and justice associated with, for example (but not limited to), Degrowth, postcolonial / decolonial, labour, eco-Marxist, feminist, anarchist, indigenous, and environmental justice perspectives?
  • What constitutes ‘emancipation’ or ‘alternative’ rural politics in practice in settings that may simultaneously seem to have been left behind by globalised capitalism yet represent the new frontiers of resource enclosure, extraction and financialization? How are these notions contested?
  • How are new alliances being built between urban and rural movements and spaces, within and outside mainstream politics?
  • How do contestation, conflict and violence both close down and open up new spaces of struggle, theorisation and the development of new forms of resistance, mobilisation, and practices of imagining and creating emancipatory alternatives?

How to participate: We do not envision a standard paper session, but a stimulating panel aimed at generating insights, debate and discussion between panellists and audience members. Therefore, we do not ask for abstracts or papers, but a title and brief expression of interest (200 words maximum) that describes your proposed contribution / intervention / provocation and any empirical cases, events or conceptual issues that you aim to highlight. Please send expressions of interest, along with your name, email address and affiliation if applicable to Amber Huff (a.huff@ids.ac.uk) by 5 December 2017. Upon acceptance, panellists will still have to register for the conference through the POLLEN website.

For background on the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative and a link to the initiative framing paper and other resources, see http://bit.ly/EmancipatoryRuralPolitics.

 

References

Cavanagh, C. J., & Benjaminsen, T. A. (2017). Political ecology, variegated green economies, and the foreclosure of alternative sustainabilities. Journal of Political Ecology 24, 200-341.

Fraser, N. (2017). The end of progressive neoliberalism. Dissent Magazine.

Hall, S. (1979). The great moving right show. Marxism Today, 23(1), 14-20.

Hall, S. (1998). The great moving nowhere show. Marxism Today, 1(1), 9-14.

Huff, P. (2016). Organizing the APoCalypse: ethnographic reflections on an Anarchist People of Color COnvergence in New Orleans, Louisiana. In S. Springer, R. White, & M. L. De Souza (Eds.), The Practice of Freedom: Anarchism, Geography, and the Spirit of Revolt (pp. 85-108). London: Rowman & Littlefield International.

Levitsky, S., & Way, L. (2002). The rise of competitive authoritarianism. Journal of democracy,      13(2), 51-65.

Neocleous, M., & Startin, N. (2003). ‘Protest’ and Fail to Survive: Le Pen and the Great Moving Right Show. Politics, 23(3), 145-155.

Rancière, J. (2016). The populism that is not to be found. In A. Badiou, P. Bourdieu, J. Butler, G. Didi-Huberman, S. Khiari, & J. Rancière (Eds.), What is a people (pp. 101-105). New York: Columbia University Press.

Rickford, R. (2017). A Time of Monsters: Corporate Liberalism and The Rise of Trumpism. Black Perspectives. Retrieved from http://www.aaihs.org/a-time-of-monsters-corporate-liberalism-and-the-rise-of-trumpism/

Scoones, I., Edelman, M., Borras Jr, S. M., Hall, R., Wolford, W., & White, B. (2017). Emancipatory rural politics: confronting authoritarian populism. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 1-20.

 

Call for applications: ESRC STEPS Centre 2018 Summer School, 14-25 May

Applications are invited from highly-motivated doctoral and postdoctoral researchers working in fields around development studies, science and technology studies, innovation and policy studies, and across agricultural, health, water or energy issues.

Participants will explore the theme of pathways to sustainability through a mixture of workshops, lectures, outdoor events and focused interaction with STEPS Centre members. The Summer School takes place at the Institute of Development Studies on the Sussex University campus, near Brighton, UK.

Kate Raworth, author of the bestseller Doughnut Economics, will give this year’s Annual Lecture as part of the Summer School.

How to apply
The deadline for applications is 28 January 2018 at 17.00 GMT. There is a fee to attend, but scholarships are available. For details of how to apply, financial support, programme information, and materials from last year’s event, visit the STEPS website.

Apply for the STEPS Summer School

Watch video about the Summer School
Watch our film with IDS director Melissa Leach and STEPS co-director Andy Stirling talking what the Summer School is about, why we do it and what to expect.

Watch the film

Testimonials
Watch participants talk about their experiences of the Summer School.

Watch testimonials

About STEPS
The ESRC STEPS Centre (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement centre uniting development studies with science and technology studies. The STEPS Centre launched in 2006 and is based at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex in the UK. In 2015, STEPS launched a Global Consortium with hubs in Africa, Latin America, North America, South Asia, China and Europe.

CfP – Emancipatory Rural Politics: contextualising authoritarian populism (I) and resisting, mobilizing and creating alternatives (II)

Call for papers, two sessionsERPI

The 2018 annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG), New Orleans, 10-14 April 2018

Organizers: Amber Huff (Institute of Development Studies and STEPS Centre) & Levi Van Sant (Georgia Southern University)

Abstract deadline: 15 October 2017

 

We are organizing two sessions for AAG 2018 as part of the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative (ERPI), which is focused on the social and political processes and practices, particularly in rural spaces, that are generating alternatives to regressive, authoritarian politics. We are still accepting abstract submissions for both sessions. Please see the session descriptions below, or access the full call online at this link.

Submissions based on papers, conceptual pieces, case studies, and works in progress are all welcome. If you would like to contribute to one of the sessions, please submit a brief abstract or description of your proposed contribution (300 words) along with your name, affiliation and email address by 15 October 2017 to Amber Huff at a.huff@ids.ac.uk. Please include ‘AAG 2018’ and the number of the session you would like to contribute to (I or II) in the subject line.

Contributions by or co-produced with people who are actively engaged in social movements, resistance and building alternatives are especially encouraged.

If your abstract is accepted, you will still need to register for the meeting, upload your abstract to the AAG annual meeting and send your assigned pin to the organizers no later than 25 October, 2017. More information about the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative and a link to the initiative framing paper published in The Journal of Peasant Studies is available at http://bit.ly/EmancipatoryRuralPolitics.

Emancipatory rural politics I: contextualizing authoritarian populism

Discussant: Wendy Wolford (Cornell University)

Deepening inequalities, socioeconomic marginalization and exclusion, persistent poverty, fractured identities and loss of esteem are all features of rural areas today. All have been associated to differing degrees with failure of ‘progressive neoliberalisms’ (Fraser 2017) and the rise of regressive and often contradictory forms of populism.

‘Authoritarian populism’ (Hall 1979, 1985) describes a broad politics, resonant with appeals to ‘common sense’ and ‘the people’, and replete with imagery of imagined golden ages of prosperity and plenty. It is characterised by a number of often-overlapping themes and phenomena. These include the rise in prominence of discourses of aggressive protectionism and nationalism; highly contested national elections; growing concern over the ‘mobile poor’, including refugees and migrants whose presence is posed as a threat to a shrinking resource base; increasing financialization, bureaucratization, securitisation and militarization across daily life, society and the environment; an intensification of extractive capitalism; and a radical undermining of the capacity of states to regulate private industry, while at the same time utilising state powers to privatise resources and services and increase surplus for a minority.

Contributions to this session will explore the emergence of authoritarian populism in diverse forms and rural spaces and, in different ways, address the overarching question of how rural landscapes and experiences shape and are being shaped by these wider politics. Contributions will use conceptual tools of political ecology alongside other approaches and methods from critical social science and radical practice to understand the emergence of contemporary manifestations of authoritarian populism, its historical and political-economic roots and precedents and its consequences in the rural world, with close attention to how these manifestations are associated with shifting relationships between different social classes and groups within society and between society and environment / natural resources.

 

Emancipatory rural politics II: resisting, mobilizing and creating alternatives

Discussant: Ian Scoones (Institute of Development Studies and STEPS Centre, University of Sussex)

The current political conjuncture has given rise to new forms and manifestations of authoritarian populism with wide-reaching implications. In this session, we ask what alternative politics – and political-economic practices – also emerge at this conjuncture? What are ‘emancipatory’ possibilities or ‘alternative’ rural politics in practice in settings that may simultaneously seem to have been left behind by globalized capitalism yet represent the new (or last?) frontiers of enclosure, extraction and financialization?

Informed by insights from political ecology, alongside other approaches and methods from critical social science and radical practice, contributions to this session will explore relationships between historical and contemporary rural struggles, forms of resistance and mobilization, and practices of imagining and creating alternatives, encouraging a comparative conversation. How are new alliances being built between urban and rural movements and spaces, within and outside mainstream political formations? How and why do informal, unruly styles of politics intersect with or reject more formal organized movements and electoral and institutional politics? How have conflict and violence both closed down and opened up new spaces for the development of new forms of resistance, mobilization, and practices of imagining and creating emancipatory alternatives? How are power, class, the state, participation, citizenship, institutions and democracy conceptualized or contested? Contributions by or co-produced with those actively engaged in resistance and building alternatives are especially encouraged.

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CfP POLLEN18 – Accumulation by Restoration

Political Ecology Network (POLLEN) bi-annual conference, Oslo, 20 – 22 June 2018

Organised by Amber Huff (Institute of Development Studies and STEPS Centre) and Andrea Brock (University of Sussex)

Deadline for abstracts – 30 November 2017

In recent years, scholars have highlighted the changing dynamics of conservation based on a convergence of interests and intensifying alliances between corporate capital, finance and conservation (Büscher et al. 2012; Brockington and Duffy 2010; Sullivan 2006). These changing dynamics have given rise to new politics and practices of resource control and territorialization (Peluso and Lund 2011; Neves and Igoe 2012), including those explicitly linking regimes of nature-based accumulation, knowledge and governance (Smith 2009; Büscher and Fletcher 2014), often under the guise of ‘green growth’, sustainable development and climate change mitigation (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2017).

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