POLLEN20 storytelling session proposal – Facing authoritarian designs: our emotions, trajectories and methodological reinventions among political ontologies

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organizers

Marco Malagoli (Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brasil) and Lúcia Fernandes (Centro de Estudos Sociais,  Portugal). Please send abstracts of 250 words or less to marcomalagodi@id.uff.br and luciaof@gmail.com no later than November 21st.

Session description

At the present global context with a new wave of neoliberal violences anchored in democratic crisis, worldwide elites propose once again authoritarism as a consensual value and the solution for the presumed social order, giving support to (neo)colonial geopolitcal reinventions – and their “glocalized” systemical forces. With this background a greater reinvention effort of our research and militant agendas is asked, in order to let us be opened to other connections, subjectivities, knowledges, strategies, praxis, network actions and agencies… to go on in the fight for other social transformative models.

The sociabilities, knowledges, memories, innovations and confrontations promoted by the political ecology (PE) offer relevant pathways to rethink our praxis in the world. We desire that they are intertwined multi dimensionally (institutional spaces, temporalities), from renewed epistemological and ontological matrixes.

We invite our participants to put into context their narratives through one or more of the diverse PEs. Among them, we would like to generate discussions from latino-american PEs, urban PEs and feminist PEs, all understood as (radical) contributions that go to the roots of actual dilemmas, focusing the many ways of oppression still concentrated on the (geopolitical, symbolic, intersectional) “South”, such as dominant urbanities and their problematic imaginaries, the subjugation and erasing attempts of subversive/rebel/different othernesses. Such PE currents seem to point out consistent and defying praxiological concepts and strategies to strengthen the militancies, at the same time that they point out for a major empiric-methodological commitment (like in David Harvey and Erik Swyngedouw), a best acknowledgment of the sociocultural diversity of ontological designs (the pluriverses by Arturo Escobar), and the possibility that we can recognize a major complexity by considering the humans/non-humans/super-humans hybrid agencies (as the cyborgs by Donna Haraway).

How the renewed – mainly due to social activisims – notions of praxis, design and agency are contributing to the (re)connection, (re)invention and strengthening of our militancies? How every researcher (re)elaborates her/his praxiological categories and alterities (behind the curtains) in the middle of new threats and emergent solidarities? Until which point we can act and be “not so western”, “not so purely humans”, “not so white and male” in our theoretical-methodological proposals (both academic and political ones)? What other senses and forces we could put into play as to reach, this way, our empirical approaches on environmental conflicts, disasters, social cartographies, pollutions/epidemics, spoliations, imaginaries, socio-ecological militancies, class/gender/ethnic violences, de(re)territorializations, assassination of community leaders, coups d´etat, and dictatorships?

This way we call our participants to review the methodological situations and contexts of their research investigations and militancies, in order that we can reflect alltogether on the heuristic power and limitations of these and other approaches of the PEs, to project – and asking for – a new horizon of new design of transformative praxis. And for that, we suggest a not-fragmented review of our biographies, with their baggage of intuitions and emotions, discoveries, solidarities, utopias, precarities and anxieties (normally wasted by actual academy and politics).

CfP POLLEN20 – The Enemy of Kinship & Kinship with the Enemies: Beyond Invasive Species and Ecosystem Services Parasites

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organizers

Please send your abstracts by the 21st of November to Karin Ahlberg, Stockholm University (karin.ahlberg@socant.su.se) and Panos Kompatsiaris, Higher School of Economics, Moscow (pkompatsiaris@hse.ru).

Session description

In his book the ‘Metamorphoses of Kinship’ (2011), the anthropologist Maurice Godelier speaks about the transformations and shifts in the kinship structures of modern Western societies. Departing from an understanding of kinship based on blood and reproduction, Godelier argues, modern societies gradually move to more open and extensive kinship networks beyond the confines of the biological contract. For Godelier then, this fluidity/ expansion of kinship relations is expressed in the rise of divorces, same sex partnerships, surrogate pregnancies and generally relations in which the levels of proximities are not necessarily dictated by ‘blood’. The socialization of animals and their increasing placement within human proximities can be seen as part of the same process of expanding kinship structures.

With this session we would like to explore and interrogate this opening of kinship networks as it leaks out beyond the human to include animals, microbes and plants, as companions and pets, or simply as entangled codependents of human life and earthly cohabitants. In many ways, the moral mandate for this opening has recently been proposed by several theorists as a question of justice. For instance, from her Species Companion Manifesto in 2003 to her recent Staying with Trouble, Donna Haraway puts forward the idea of ‘making kin’ with non-human others as an ethical imperative based on what Cary Wolfe calls an ‘ethics of compassion’ (2010: 41). Furthermore, Wolfe’s own call for ‘trans-species affinities’ (2010), Timothy  Morton’s call for ‘solidarity’ (2017) or Rosi Braidotti’s call for ‘cross species affection’ (2013) are some of the instances when this ethical mandate for compassion translates to a certain dispensing with the human while kinship networks expand. Yet, other forms of living with the others and through extended codependent networks of life—beyond categories of human exceptionalism, culture over nature, domesticated and wild, free and exploited—have long been practices by indigenous populations as well as other species (MacCormack and Strathern 1980, Ingold 1986, cf. Decola 2013), practices and scholarship that constitute the backbone of these latest trends.

Together, this line of work has also unveiled the anthropocentric tendency that underpins analyses of ecosystems in terms of the ‘services’ they provide, or the labor that plants and animals perform for human benefits, profits or landscape engineering (Orion 2015). The problematic inherent in kinship hierarchies and landscape engineering is most visible in the frameworks that render native species (or close kin) as ‘good’ compare to alien and, in particular, invasive species that are  labelled and treated as threatening outsides (Ticktin 2017). Worldwide, organizations and policies engage in pesticide, herbicide and other forms of more, and less, benign warfare against especially foreign supposedly harmful species, often with the pretext to save other species (Kompatsiaris 2018). Under the ‘gendered pretext’ (Hage 2003) to restore and care for damaged ecosystems, a range of killing techniques (-cides) are used – chemical methods, burning or catching and killing – with the result that not only the unwanted other but other species are put at risk (Orion 2015).

This panel sets to explore kinship with the so called ‘enemy’ or ‘subaltern non-human other,’ that critically engage with practices of entangled life beyond the perhaps biggest enemy of the kinship concept – that of false proximity and nativeness.

  • We seek papers that examine how the ethical imperative for kinship and compassion with non-human otherness works via the figure of the parasite, the unwanted species and the invader. The figure of the parasite poses a dialectical intrusion to the affirmative theories of animal love by reinserting antagonism and at the same time opens up the possibility of new forms of coexistence and theorizing life on earth.
  • We seek contributions outside the paradigm of bloodline species-bound kinship and that of ‘invasion ecology’. We are interested in research that reveals insights into ‘unintended’ co-living, eco-symbiosis, syn-poesis or simply love beyond the confines of blood and species kin, that investigates the entangled becoming of mobile and less mobile species and matters in a changing world, or that illustrates how new combinations and lives appear – with, against and beyond human-made categories of us and them, native and foreign.
  • We also welcome contributions that critically engage with interventions in ecosystems in the name of biodiversity or salvage stewardship. In addition, scholarship on exploitation of non-humans species as laborers, for human wellbeing, profit and vision of ideal landscapes are also appreciated.

In sum, we seek research that allows us to see the already practiced entangled becoming beyond kinship as nativeness and blood.

References

Braidotti, R. (2013) The Post-Human. Cambridge: Polity Press

Descola, P (2013) Beyond nature and culture. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press

Hage, G. (2003). Against paranoid nationalism: Searching for hope in a shrinking society. Annandale, NSW.: Pluto Press.

Haraway, D. (2003) Species Companion Manifesto: Dogs, People and Significant Otherness. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Haraway,  D. (2016) Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press

Godelier, M. (2011) The Metamorphoses of Kinship. London: Verso

Ingold, T. (1986). The appropriation of nature: Essays on human ecology and social relations. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Kompatsiaris, P. (2018) “Aliens in the Mediterranean Sea: Monstrous Fish and the (Im)Possibilities of Kinship with Non-Human Others” The Enemy, 1.

MacCormack, C. P., & Strathern, M. (1980). Nature, culture, and gender. Cambridge [Eng.]; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Morton, T. (2017) Humankind: Solidarity with Non-Human People. London: Verso

Orion, T. (2015) Beyond the war on invasive species: A permaculture approach to ecosystem restoration. Chelsea Green Publishing.

Ticktin, M. (2017). “Invasive others: Toward a contaminated world.” Social Research: An International Quarterly, 84(1), xxi-xxxiv.

Wolfe, C. (2010) What is Posthumanism? Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

CfP POLLEN20 – Contested Waters and Fluid Properties in Capitalist Natures

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN 20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organizers

Camelia Dewan (University of Oslo), Knut G Nustad (University of Oslo). Please send your abstract of 250 words by Monday 18th November (17 CET) to camelia.dewan@sai.uio.no and k.g.nustad@sai.uio. We will respond to submissions by 20th November.

Session Description

While much has been written about enclosure of land for conservation as well as exploitation, much less has been written about enclosures of water worlds, both river systems and oceanic.  For oceans, the term “ocean grabbing” has been used to describe these enclosures as actions, policies or initiatives that deprive small-scale fishers of resources, dispossess vulnerable populations of coastal lands, and/or undermine historical access to areas of the sea (Barbesgaard 2018; McCormack 2017), but similar enclosures also take part in fresh water worlds.

For enclosures of these kinds on land, the concept of the Plantationocene has been proposed for ‘the devastating transformation of diverse kinds of human-tended farms, pastures, and forests into extractive and enclosed plantations, relying on slave labor and other forms of exploited, alienated, and usually spatially transported labor’  (Haraway 2015). While the term succeeds in displacing universal man, and making visible (racialised) power relations and economic, environmental and social inequalities in the ruins of global capitalism, its focus retains a bias toward land.

Unlike land, water is not a fixed property, nor does it have fixed properties. The fluid qualities that enable water to connect, means that it can also be a major medium for pollution and a threat when overly abundant. And, being essential to all productive processes, it can readily become a means of control and domination (Krause and Strang 2013).

Water is integral for the production of capitalist natures. At the same time, contested waters highlight how it is (mis)used and inadvertently at the receiving end of the toxic flows of capitalist extraction in ways that threaten liveability of our very planet. What, then the session asks, does the qualities of water matter to processes of plantation-making, the production of capitalist natures, on the 70 percent of the globe covered by water?

Bringing together political ecologies of water with environmental ethnographies focusing on the materialities of water, we welcome contributions that discuss to what extent, if at all, the Plantationocene can be useful in theorising contested waters with its fluid properties.

We invite papers that address one of the following, or related, questions:

  • How does the nature of water enable or hinder its translation as a resource?
  • How does the flow of water distinguish it from other resources?
  • How are processes of scaling up different in aquatic and land-based enclosures?
  • How is property in landscapes marked by flow and movement different from property rights in land?
  • In what ways do water act both as commodity and as a means of production?
  • Can fisheries/other mono aquacultures be scaled in the same way as other plantation systems?
  • What are the restrictions of the Plantationocene in conceptualising capitalist modes of production dependent on, and situated alongside, waterbodies (such as factories, shipbuilding/breaking yards, mines) and their toxic entanglements with [aquatic] livelihoods?
  • What are the limits of Marxist theory of property rights in capturing contemporary processes of the production of capitalist water worlds?

Depending on the number of paper submissions, we may propose this session as a three-hour workshop.

If you have any other questions, please do get in touch with us.

References

 Bakker, Karen. 2012. ‘Water: Political, Biopolitical, Material’. Social Studies of Science 42 (4): 616–23.

Barbesgaard, Mads. 2018. ‘Blue Growth: Savior or Ocean Grabbing?’ The Journal of Peasant Studies 45 (1): 130–49.

Budds, Jessica, Jamie Linton, and Rachael McDonnell. 2014. ‘The Hydrosocial Cycle’.

Geoforum 57 (November): 167–69

Haraway, Donna 2015. ‘Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin’ . Environmental Humanities, vol. 6, 2015, pp. 159-165.

Krause, Franz, and Veronica Strang. 2013. ‘Introduction to Special Issue: “Living Water”’. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology 17 (2): 95–102.

McCormack, Fiona. 2017. Private Oceans: The Enclosure and Marketisation of the Seas. London: Pluto Press.​

CfP POLLEN20 – Is time out of joint? The politics of time in and beyond the climate movement

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN 20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organizers

Anneleen Kenis, Maarten Loopmans​​​. Please send a short abstract (200-250 words) and/or proposal of theses by Monday the 18th of November at the latest. Email addresses: anneleen.kenis@kcl.ac.uk and maarten.loopmans@kuleuven.be

Please don’t hesitate contacting us if you would have any questions.

Session description

Time figures centrally in climate change discourses today, from the temporal scenarios for reducing emissions to the declaration of a climate emergency and the hourglass symbol of Extinction Rebellion. Conventional notions of linear progress, economic growth and steadfast technological innovation are questioned. Yet others argue we actually have to bet on the acceleration of such developments, hoping that in this process lie the germs of previously unthinkable forms of luxury communism (Bastani, 2019; Williams & Srnicek, 2013). In the meantime, Anthropocene thinkers confront us with the need to situate our actions in much broader, geological scales of time (Szerszynski, 2017; Yusoff, 2013).

Time is far from an innocent category but has become politically laden: from the risk that an emergency discourse would play in the hands of authoritarian climate solutions (Asayama, 2015; Szerszynski, Kearnes, Macnaghten, Owen, & Stilgoe, 2013), to the consternation that a focus on future generations threatens to overlook the people who are already living in the apocalypse here and now. As the Wretched of the Earth (2019) write in an open letter to Extinction Rebellion: “You may not realise that when you focus on the science you often look past the fire and us – you look past our histories of struggle, dignity, victory and resilience. A […] truth is that for many, the bleakness is not something of “the future””. In other words, time pressure or a focus on (Western, white, middle or upper class) future generations is not always helpful if we want to bring (post-)colonial, patriarchal, xenophobic, exploitative and elitist relations underlying the climate crisis to the fore.

The academic literature on time and climate politics is growing. Important critiques have been formulated on emergency discourses (Asayama, Bellamy, Geden, Pearce, & Hulme, 2019), the way it risks to play in the hands of advocates of geoengineering and antidemocratic solutions (Horton, 2015; Hulme, 2014; Markusson, Ginn, Singh Ghaleigh, & Scott, 2014; Yusoff, 2013), the problem of viewing geoengineering as an “emergency brake” (Malm, 2015) or as a way “to buy time” (Surprise, 2018), and the link with ecomodernism and imaginations of  mastery and control (Hamilton, 2013; Surprise, 2019). Furthermore, quite some work has dealt with future imaginaries (Levy & Spicer, 2013; Wright & Mann, 2013; Wright, Nyberg, De Cock, & Whiteman, 2013; Yusoff & Gabrys, 2011), the effects of Anthropocene thinking on our conceptualisations of time (Yusoff, 2013), and the issue of geological time versus historical or human time (Szerszynski, 2017). Still, there remains a striking imbalance between the omnipresence of time discourses in the movement on the one hand, and the more limited theoretical and empirical engagement with multiple meanings of time in climate change discourse on the other. Therefore, this call starts from the contention that time in and beyond the climate movement is in need of greater and more systematic scrutiny.

In order to do that, this panel reaches out to academics, activists, action researchers, scholar activists, and all other people dealing with the issue of time and climate change and aims to encourage a dialogue between those who are making and those who are analysing the discourse (being well aware that the distinction often cannot be clearly made). We particularly reach out to people working in and with the climate movement, but we also welcome analyses taking a more distant look at the issue, as well as purely theoretical contributions.

More specifically, the call welcomes abstracts dealing with, but not limited to, one of the following topics:

  • Discourses and imaginaries on time in the climate movement: from the focus on “future generations”, to the ticking clock and the hourglasses.
  • Movement building both before and beyond the date imagined as the ultimate deadline
  • Future imaginaries: from apocalyptic ‘end’ images (e.g. extinction) until revolutionary change, or imaginaries in terms of the engineering of the earth and atmosphere in the ‘good Anthropocene’.
  • The emergency discourse, its merits and risks.
  • Imaginaries of progress, acceleration, technologisation and robotization versus political understandings of resistance, refusal, crisis and decay.
  • The tensions between different timescales, e.g. geological time and historical time and how they interact, converge or dislocate each other.
  • Linearity versus non-linearity and threshold thinking both in climate science and in the climate movement (its emergence and retreat, ebb and flow, ….).
  • The link between conceptions of time and experiences of (loss of) hope, fear, anger, urgency, activist burnout….
  • Relations between concepts of time and imaginaries of masculinity, heteronormativity versus queer or femininity, xenophobic or racist versus decolonising discourses, exploitative narratives versus actions starting from solidarity and communing.
  • How particular conceptions of time feed into a homogenising discourse on climate change and its solutions. Whose future is imagined in the call to safe “our future”? Which future imaginaries and which conceptions of time do we need from a post-colonial, anti-racist, anti-classist, queer, or feminist perspective?

Please note that each presenter will be asked to present between 1 and 5 theses (using powerpoint, reading them out, through performance, audiotape …), during 5 to 10 minutes. These theses will form the basis of an open talk and discussion between the presenters. We hope this will allow us to fruitfully inspire each other in our understanding of time in relation to climate change. This also means you do not need a full paper. We might do a call for proper papers at a later stage, e.g. if we think the contributions would work well together in a special issue or edited book volume. Please note that you are free to give a creative interpretation to the presentation of your theses, but this is not a requirement, as you can also give a more traditional presentation.

References

Asayama, S. (2015). Catastrophism toward ‘opening up’ or ‘closing down’? Going beyond the apocalyptic future and geoengineering. Current Sociology, 63(1), 89-93. doi:10.1177/0011392114559849

Asayama, S., Bellamy, R., Geden, O., Pearce, W., & Hulme, M. (2019). Why setting a climate deadline is dangerous. Nature Climate Change, 9(8), 570-572. doi:10.1038/s41558-019-0543-4

Bastani, A. (2019). Fully Automated Luxury Communism. A Manifesto

London: Verso.

Hamilton, C. (2013). Earthmasters: Dawn of the age of climate engineering. Yale: Yale University Press.

Horton, J. B. (2015). The emergency framing of solar geoengineering: Time for a different approach. The Anthropocene Review, 2(2), 147-151. doi:10.1177/2053019615579922

Hulme, M. (2014). Can Science Fix Climate Change? A Case against Climate Engineering. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Levy, D. L., & Spicer, A. (2013). Contested imaginaries and the cultural political economy of climate change. Organization, 20(5), 659-678. doi:10.1177/1350508413489816

Malm, A. (2015). Socialism or barbeque? War communism or geoengineering: Some thoughts on choices in a time of emergency. In K. Borgnäs, T. Eskelinen, J. Perkiö, & R. Warlenius (Eds.), The politics of ecosocialism: Transforming welfare (pp. 180–194). London: Routledge.

Markusson, N., Ginn, F., Singh Ghaleigh, N., & Scott, V. (2014). ‘In case of emergency press here’: framing geoengineering as a response to dangerous climate change. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 5(2), 281-290. doi:10.1002/wcc.263

Surprise, K. (2018). Preempting the Second Contradiction: Solar Geoengineering as Spatiotemporal Fix. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108(5), 1228-1244. doi:10.1080/24694452.2018.1426435

Surprise, K. (2019). Stratospheric imperialism: Liberalism, (eco)modernization, and ideologies of solar geoengineering research. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 0(0), 2514848619844771. doi:10.1177/2514848619844771

Szerszynski, B. (2017). The Anthropocene monument:On relating geological and human time. European Journal of Social Theory, 20(1), 111-131. doi:10.1177/1368431016666087

Szerszynski, B., Kearnes, M., Macnaghten, P., Owen, R., & Stilgoe, J. (2013). Why Solar Radiation Management Geoengineering and Democracy Won’t Mix. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 45(12), 2809-2816. doi:10.1068/a45649

Williams, A., & Srnicek, N. (2013). #ACCELERATE MANIFESTO for an Accelerationist Politics.

WretchedoftheEarth. (2019). An open letter to Extinction Rebellion. Red Pepper.

Wright, C., & Mann, M. (2013). Future imaginings and the battle over climate science: an interview with Michael Mann. Organization, 20(5), 748-756. doi:10.1177/1350508413489818

Wright, C., Nyberg, D., De Cock, C., & Whiteman, G. (2013). Future imaginings: organizing in response to climate change. Organization, 20(5), 647-658. doi:10.1177/1350508413489821

Yusoff, K. (2013). Geologic Life: Prehistory, Climate, Futures in the Anthropocene. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 31(5), 779-795. doi:10.1068/d11512

Yusoff, K., & Gabrys, J. (2011). Climate change and the imagination. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 2(4), 516-534. doi:10.1002/wcc.117

CfP POLLEN20 – Mapping [and] Contesting Value Regimes From Political Ecology Perspectives

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN 20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organizers

Özlem Aslan (Boğaziçi University, Turkey), Prasad Khanolkar (Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati, India) & Katie Mazer (McMaster University, Canada).

Please send abstracts of no more that 250 words to Özlem Aslan (ozlem.aslan@mail.utoronto.ca), Prasad Khanolkar (prasadkhanolkar@iitg.ac.in), and Katie Mazer (mazerk@mcmaster.ca) by 20th November 2019.  If there is interest, we will explore the possibility of a journal special issue.

Session description

Developing alternative political imaginaries about political ecology requires dismantling hegemonic value regimes that value particular bodies, geographies, resources, life forms, and ways of being while devaluing others as waste. Importantly, it also requires mapping the contestations between different value regimes: accounting for the creation of these hegemonic value regimes, the fissures in these power structures, and persistent modes of (or aspirations toward) valuing otherwise. In pursuit of these goals, in this session we ask the following questions:

  • What are the different value regimes associated with particular landscapes, species-beings, and other materialities [such as water, waste, oil, minerals, forests, and so on] across varied geographies and governance structures?
  • What kind of processes, practices, discourses, knowledges, and technologies constitute these value regimes?
  • How and why do certain value regimes become hegemonic, and how do they exploit and reproduce power relations of race, gender, caste, capitalism and colonialism across different geographies?
  • What is the nature of the relationship between the hegemonic and ‘other’ value regimes of political ecology?
  • And what possibilities does this relationship offer to challenge, disrupt, interrupt, multiply or alter the hegemonic value regimes?

The session plans to explore these questions, first and foremost, through empirical studies that span diverse disciplines. To that end, we welcome submissions examining a range of geographical, political, and ecological contexts. Scholars who are at different stages of their research and career are welcome to join us in this session. While we are envisioning this as a conventional paper session, we will reserve ample time for discussion in order to develop a possible comparative framework across disciplines and geographies. Possible areas of study include:

  • Capitalist, post-capitalist and non-capitalist value regimes
  • Modernization, development, and the politics of ‘improvement’
  • Science, law, and nature
  • Empirical explorations of the growth imperative
  • Marketization and commodification of nature
  • The politics of work and productivity (e.g. in natural resource industries)
  • Waste economies
  • Just transitions
  • Divestment as a strategy of resistance

POLLEN20 Call for workshop participants – Challenges of critical knowledge production for a transformation: perspectives and experiences

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN 20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Workshop organizers

If you are interested in participating in this workshop, please contact the organizers Judith Bopp (bopp@geographie.uni-kiel.de) and Jonas Hein (hein@geographie.uni-kiel.de).

Workshop description

Working at the interface of knowledge production requires critical reflection on how to engage or not to engage with powerful actors to bring issues of environmental injustice on political agendas. How to collaborate with political or governmental bodies, or whether at all, is a critical and legitimate question raised among political ecologists. First, existing power structures within governments and the strong influence of corporate actors create risks of co-optation. Second, as Tania Li (2007) raised in “The Will to Improve”, expert engagement has a long and troubled history.

The SDG agenda, the Paris Agreement and recently the Friday’s for Future movement demand radical structural transformations. Transformation is the “new buzzword” (Blythe et al., 2018) across disciplines and ideologies. Transdisciplinarity is considered a necessary ingredient of transformative action, which is appropriated in rather radical Degrowth, post development, and alternatives-to-development approaches, as well as in “domesticated” programs and approaches such as the SDG agenda (Escobar, 2015). The growing field of sustainability science, in particular, builds on the assumption that transdisciplinary approaches provide more legitimate “solution options” (Lang et al., 2012).

In the context of the current boom in transformative research, prefigurative politics, the spread of fake news and fake science, and increasingly vocal demands raised by Fridays for Future and others that governments should follow science to avoid the climate catastrophe, we argue that it is imperative to (re-)discuss the role of science in politics and to politicize transformative research.

This workshop invites scholars and practitioners (governmental and non-governmental) with experience with critical knowledge production to participate in an exchange on the theme of ‘knowing, politicising and doing transformation‘. The session aims at elaborating possibilities of transfer of knowledge and skills, and concrete communication strategies. As such, the workshop provides a transdisciplinary discussion and skill-sharing forum. A further goal is to jointly develop a perspectives paper or a policy brief based on the workshop discussions.

The three-hour workshop will be limited to 20-25 participants. In addition, we will connect through online videocall with a number of experts from Colombia, Germany, India, Indonesia and Kiribati. The workshop will be structured into three phases:

  1. In-depth skill and experiences sharing through round table discussion / 3-4 world cafés
  2. Condensation and contextualisation of shared skills in forum
  3. Documentation of shared experiences in groups and wrap-up

References

Blythe, J. et al. (2018). The dark side of transformation: Latent risks in contemporary sustainability discourse. Antipode50(5), 1206-1223.

Escobar, A. (2015). Degrowth, postdevelopment, and transitions: a preliminary conversation. Sustainability Science10(3), 451-462

Lang, D. J. et al. (2012). Transdisciplinary research in sustainability science: practice, principles, and challenges. Sustainability science7(1), 25-43.

Li, T. M. (2007). The will to improve. Duke University Press.

CFP Pollen20 – Utopian ecologies of unburnable fuels

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN 20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organizers

Please send your abstracts by the 20th of November to Lorenzo Pellegrini (pellegrini@iss.nl) and Salvatore Eugenio Pappalardo (salvatore.pappalardo@unipd.it).

Session description

In order to limit the probable increase in global mean temperature to 2°C, about 80%, 50% and 30% of existing coal, gas and oil reserves, respectively, would need to remain under the soil and more ambitious targets would be necessary to comply with the commitments made under the Paris Agreement. While this awareness has been translated into a number of ambitious local initiatives to ‘leave oil in the soil’, ‘coal in the hole’ and ‘gas in the grass’, hydrocarbon extraction at the global level has not in fact been declining. Decarbonization as a goal remains as utopic as it is unavoidable.

This tension between the seeming impossibility and concrete necessity of designating large shares of hydrocarbons as ‘unburnable’ requires urgent attention from political ecologists in at least two parallel streams of inquiry. The first concerns the process of transition away the contemporary centrality of hydrocarbons. This is necessarily a dual transition: away not only from a global economy that is dependent on fossil fuels but also from a global political system whose rules are dictated by state and capital benefiting from extractivism. The second stream has to focus on the shape of what is to come. The work of building a world where the ‘extractive imperative’ has been defanged, requires novel forms of political strategy, geographical criteria, and radical acts of imagination and solidarity.

To meet these analytical and political challenges, this panel will engage with these and other related questions:

  • Where and which resources need to be left untapped? Who should be empowered to make these decisions in a democratic yet urgent manner?
  • What are the institutional structures – economically as well as politically – that need to be constructed to compensate the socio-economic losses of right-holders as well as to resolve conflicts that will emerge at multiple scales? Can this transition be managed without creating centralized and hierarchical political structures that gather their legitimacy from the undeniable urgency of their task?
  • Who will be the main protagonists of this struggle? What forms of intersectional and global alliances are necessary and/or possible?
  • How does a world of unburnable fuels look like? What types of socio-economic, political and cultural changes are likely to emerge in the wake of a successful transition?
  • How geographical imagination and geovisualization can support the overcoming of petroleum-scapes, by defining geographical criteria, mapping unburnable fuels, and bridging disciplines for the climate justice debate.

CfP POLLEN20 – Conceptualizations and institutionalizations of variegated “green” economies in the global South

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN 20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organizers

Jill Tove Buseth (Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences & Department of Social and Educational Sciences, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences) and Mathew Bukhi Mabele (Department of Geography, University of Zurich & Department of Geography, University of Dodoma

Abstracts of 300 words must be sent to jill.buseth@inn.no and mathewbukhi.mabele@geo.uzh.ch no later than 20th of Nov.

Session description

‘Greening’ economies and development has been key in international politics since the converging triple f crisis and the subsequent Rio+20 meeting (UNEP, 2011). For many, this represented “a unique moment in history in which major environmental and economic challenges could be tackled simultaneously” (Tienhaara, 2014, p. 1). A growing body of research and policy reports discuss different aspects of green transitions and the global green shift. While the green economy unfolds in different directions, there are some tendencies at work in how the green economy is interpreted and implemented across the global North and South. Two key trends stand out. In the developed part of the world, green shifts seem to center around technological and market-based solutions to environmental challenges (Brown et al., 2014). In the global South, however, variegated green economies tend to imply modernization of natural resource management, or transformed control over or access to the use of natural resources such as land and forests (Bergius & Buseth, 2019; Bergius et al., 2017; Büscher & Fletcher, 2015; Ehresman & Okereke, 2015). A rich body of literature – often coming from political ecologists – scrutinize and criticize implications and outcomes of variegated green economies in the global South (Barkin and Fuente, 2013; Fairhead et al., 2012; Fisher et al., 2018; Mabele, 2019; Scoones et al., 2015). In order to understand green economy implementations, it is necessary to look beyond the policies and analyse the various conceptualizations from which the green economy materializes and institutionalizes. Indeed, the haziness and ambiguity of the green economy has resulted in a blending of green agendas in a fluid conceptual base that has consequences for how it is interpreted and implemented in practice. Powerful actors have thus managed to establish policies and schemes framed under the green economy umbrella, but which often represent nothing but business-as-usual under a different branding. Corson et al. (2013, p. 2) discussed this as “grabbing green”, referring to how the environment “is being used instrumentally by various actors to extend the potential for capital accumulation under the auspices of being green.” One evolving key contentious issue of such interpretation, of course, is the framing of social justice, which is predicated on material and economic dimensions of prosperity. Such “fuzzy” green conceptualizations also signify the inattention to contextual aspects such as power imbalances which shape access to targeted environmental resources. There is an overall tendency that variegated versions of “green” is interpreted and transformed in various contexts before reaching implementation level, thus leading to hybrid green economy materializations that may have unfortunate outcomes.

Based on this, we seek abstracts building on ideas related, but not limited to, the following thematic topics:

  • Case studies of green economy institutionalizations in the global South
  • Variegated conceptualizations, interpretations and/ or utilizations of the green economy in the global South
  • Case studies of “green” injustices predicated on hybrid interpretations of the green economy

References

Barkin, D. and Fuente, M. (2013) Community forest management: Can the green economy contribute to environmental justice? Natural Resources Forum 37, 200–210.

Bergius, M., Benjaminsen, T. A., & Widgren, M. (2018). Green economy, Scandinavian investments and agricultural modernization in Tanzania. Journal of Peasant Studies, 45(4), 825–852. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03066150.2016.1260554

Bergius, M. and Buseth, J. T. (2019). Towards a green modernization development discourse: The new green revolution in Africa. Journal of Political Ecology, 26, 57-83. https://doi.org/10.2458/jpe.v26i1

Brown, E., Cloke, J., Gent, D., & Hill, D. (2014). Green growth or ecological commodification: debating the green economy in the Global south. Geografiska Annaler: Series B., 93(3), p. 245–259.

Büscher, B., & Fletcher, R. (2015). Accumulation by conservation. New Political Economy, 20(2), 273–298.

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.

Ehresman, T. G., & Okereke, C. (2015). Environmental justice and conceptions of the green economy. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 15(1), 13–27.

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

Fisher, J. A., Cavanagh, C. J., Sikor, T. et al. (2018). Linking notions of justice and project outcomes in carbon offset forestry projects: Insights from a comparative study in Uganda. Land Use Policy 73, 259–268

Mabele, M. B. (2019). In pursuit of multidimensional justice: Lessons from a charcoal ‘greening’ project in Tanzania. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, DOI: 10.1177/2514848619876544

Scoones, I., Newell, P., & Leach, M. (2015). The politics of green transformations. In I. Scoones, M. Leach, & P. Newell (Eds.), The politics of green transformations (pp. 1–24). Abingdon: Routledge.

Tienhaara, K. (2014). Varieties of green capitalism: Economy and environment in the wake of the global financial crisis. Environmental Politics, 23(2), 187–204. doi:10.1080/09644016.2013.821828

UNEP. (2011). Towards a green economy: Pathways to sustainable development and poverty eradication. A synthesis for policy makers. Retrieved from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/126GER_synthesis_en.pdf

CfP POLLEN20 – Creating carbon knowledges: conceptualising carbon ‘on the ground’

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN 20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organisers

If you would like to contribute please send a title and abstract to Rebecca Kent at Rebecca.kent@canterbury.ac.uk by November 19, 2019.

 Session description

This session seeks to examine how carbon knowledge is absorbed, accepted, rejected, interpreted or assimilated in communities subject to carbon offset projects.

The extension of carbon knowledge in the context of REDD+ or other VCM projects can be considered to represent a process of privileging neoliberal, scientific perspectives to the exclusion of other ways of knowing and being. Within an environmental justice framing this can be conceived as ‘malrecognition’ (Martin, 2017:17). In the context of carbon offset projects, the potential for engagement practices to alter perceptions and re-order cultural and socio-economic relationships to forests and land means that the risk of malrecognition is acute (Boer 2019).

However, in contrast to the extensive literature on the creation of carbon discourse at the international policy level, there has been relatively limited investigation of the processes of knowledge creation around carbon ‘on the ground’ and hence a gap in knowledge of how carbon meanings are reproduced and reinterpreted locally (Twyman, Smith, & Arnall, 2015).  This ‘local messiness’ appears largely invisible to the global gaze of new environmental governance regimes (Asiyanbi 2015). Nonetheless, the bridging of local and global understandings of carbon presents a significant challenge to the incorporation of land-based carbon projects into local settings, and reduces the opportunities for carbon projects to reflect local ecologies, values and needs (Leach & Scoones, 2015).

In this session we invite empirical or theoretical papers from a range of disciplinary perspectives that examine the creation of carbon knowledges. This might include local people’s experiences of information sharing in carbon offset projects; how are messages received and interpreted? What scope exists for scientific understandings of carbon to be accommodated within local belief systems, world views or religions? Is there a case for ‘knowledge diversity’ (Green 2008) in climate change communication in carbon projects?

References

Asiyanbi, A.P. (2015) Mind the gap: global truths, local complexities in emergent green initiatives. In R.L. Bryant (Ed.), The International Handbook of Political Ecology, (pp. 274-287) Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.

Boer, H. (2019). Deliberative engagement and REDD+ in Indonesia. Geoforum 104, 170-180.

Green, L. J. (2008). ‘Indigenous knowledge’ and ‘science’: Reframing the debate on knowledge diversity. Archaeologies, 4(1), 144-163.

Leach, M., & Scoones, I. (2015). Political ecologies of carbon in Africa. In Leach, M., & Scoones, I. (Eds.), Carbon Conflicts and Forest Landscapes in Africa (pp. 21-62). London: Routledge.

Martin, A. (2017). Just conservation: Biodiversity, wellbeing and sustainability. Routledge.

Twyman, C., Smith, T. A., & Arnall, A. (2015). What is carbon? Conceptualising carbon and capabilities in the context of community sequestration projects in the global South. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 6(6), 627-641.

CfP POLLEN20 – ‘Defenders’, atmospheres of violence in conservation, extraction, and ‘sustainable’ development

Session organizers

If you are interested in contributing a paper, please send a title and abstract to Mary Menton (m.menton@sussex.ac.uk) by 15 November. If you would like to express interest or discuss the session proposal before sending an abstract, please get in touch with Mary, Philippe LeBillon (Philippe.lebillon@ubc.ca) and/or Peter Larsen (peter.larsen@unigh.che)

Session description

This session will address the atmospheres and dynamics of violence surrounding conservation and development projects. Global Witness reports have highlighted the murders of ‘environmental and land defenders’, recording 1748 killings since 2002. For every ‘defender’ murdered, thousands more are threatened, criminalised, and suffer attempts to repress their struggles. This session proposal, which complements the ‘Who/what is an environmental defender?’ panel proposal, explores the drivers and wider contexts of these murders, but also the different forms of violence experienced by environmental defenders, by those who fight for land rights, and other groups who fight against the powerful actors who perpetuate violence against them. We invite papers that explore these issues in the context of ‘sustainable’ development, ‘green’ development, conservation, or extractive industries.