ENTITLE blog: 2018 so far and what’s in store

ENTITLE blog - a collaborative writing project on Political Ecology

Dear readers,

before closing shop over the month of August, we ENTITLE blog editors want to look back on this past year and announce some exciting changes in store for the blog later this year.

ENTITLE blog published more than 30 posts and had ca. 26,500 unique visitors in 2018. Our top five posts since summer 2017 include:

Our top five posts of all time include:

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Decolonizing Conservation

We are delighted to share these two inspiring and challenging keynote talks, co-written by Paige West and John Aini, which were presented by Paige at the POLLEN18 conference and by John at the International Marine Conservation Congress.

Paige West

Aini West prof shot

(John Aini and Paige West, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Photo by JC Salyer)

Collaboration

In June 2018 John Aini and Paige West presented joint keynote lectures at The International Marine Conservation Congress in Kuching, Malaysia and The POLLEN (Political Ecology Network) Biennial Conference in Oslo, Norway. John presented their lecture in Kuching and Paige presented their lecture in Oslo. They wrote a single paper together in May 2018 and then worked independently (sitting across a table from each other on both Nago and Nusa Islands, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea) to translate the single paper into two lectures for two very different audiences. Their goal was to talk about their on-going collaboration and the work they have been doing for the past decade to “decolonize conservation.”

Aini and West understand that many indigenous scholars have written about decolonization and decolonizing methodology – their practice draws on this work. They…

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Essay: Political ecologists in solidarity with Nicaragua

By Noémi Gonda, Frédéric Huybrechs, René Rodríguez-Fabilena, Gert Van Hecken, and other political ecologists from Nicaragua whose names are not displayed for security reasons

For over 3 months, Nicaragua has been facing its worst political crisis in recent decades. The simmering discontent erupted as a full-blown crisis on 18 April 2018, when promulgated reforms of the social security system were met by peaceful protests, which were quelled by brutal government violence. An increasingly large part of Nicaraguan society no longer tolerates the government’s authoritarianism. That the protests of April were also sparked initially as a response to the government’s slow and secretive handling of heavy forest fires in the Indio Maíz Biosphere Reserve is not a coincidence. It shows how the current social resistance is partly rooted in environmental conflicts illustrated in recent years by continued peasant resistance against large-scale mining concessions and a 100-year concession given in 2014 to a Chinese millionaire to build a transoceanic canal. There is indeed a glaring contradiction between the official governmental discourse (respect for ‘madre tierra’ and ‘buen vivír’) and its practice, which is in fact largely a continuation of neoliberal and unsustainable development models introduced by earlier governments. In this sense, part of the Nicaraguan population is both disgruntled with the emergence of an autocratic and repressive government and heavily opposed to a development model based on the further depletion of natural resources (e.g. the development of large scale agro-industrial production systems for sugar cane, palm oil and tobacco, leading to the further encroachment on increasingly scarce forest areas) with the involvement of a government that hides its intentions behind a ‘post-neoliberal’ narrative.

In just a few days, the protests were met with the large-scale killing of mostly unarmed civilians by police and government-supported para-police forces. These state-supported violations of human rights and disproportionate violence resulted -at last count- in more than 440 confirmed deaths, over 2800 injured, and 718 disappeared. The victims are mainly unarmed university and high-school students from working class neighbourhoods, and farmers. Many more (supposed) protesters and dissidents are being threatened and live in constant fear. Those who can afford it try to leave the country. The aspiration of ending oppression, ensuring justice for the victims, establishing democracy and the rule of law, and reflecting on how to reconstruct ‘life in common’ –all of which resonates with preoccupations of many engaged political ecologists– has become an urgent and concrete political project and a gigantic challenge. In this, the Nicaraguan students and farmers who are currently heading the protests, bear a particular responsibility. Perhaps the most important challenge will be whether overcoming the crisis will go hand in hand with the transformation of the institutional foundations underlying the current development model towards more equity and justice for all social groups (including marginalized groups, such as indigenous people, small-scale farmers and women) within the principles of environmental justice.

Picture 1 Hessier GARCIA-page-001
Picture 1: painting by Hessier Garcia, representing the violence of police and para-police forces against unarmed civilians, many of them young university and high-school students (Picture from: https://sosnicaraguareporte.com/galeria [retrieved July 30, 2018])).

We, the authors of this blog post who love Nicaragua and its people, are emotionally traumatised by the suffering experienced by our families, friends, and colleagues, as a result of the politics of fear and polarization that have been installed increasingly and perniciously by the Nicaraguan government over the last 11 years. Indeed, current President Daniel Ortega and his wife –and vice-president- Rosario Murillo’s populist measures and narrative have contributed to solidifying a system of extreme social control, nepotism and clientelism. This system of control and polarization has pervaded all levels of society; in the current crisis, the best illustration is perhaps that doctors working in public hospitals have been refusing, under orders of their superiors, to provide care for injured protesters.

Picture 2 Paulette GALO
Picture 2: Painting by Paulette Galo representing the injustices in Nicaragua (Picture from: https://sosnicaraguareporte.com/galeria [retrieved July 30, 2018])).

The gravity of the situation has led the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to visit the country and release a scathing report; the Organisation of American States to condemn the governmental killings; and many countries to issue statements condemning the actions of the Nicaraguan government, which continues to criminalize social protests in its official discourse, depicting protesters as criminals, vandals, terrorists and even Satanists. Under a new Terrorism Act, important leaders of the Nicaraguan peasant resistance have been imprisoned in July 2018, while national peace dialogues, mediated by the Catholic Church between the government and the protesters to negotiate the exit of the President and his wife have been stopped as they refuse to step down.

Despite the growing condemnation of the government’s actions at the international level, global public opinion remains largely polarized and split between supporting either the protesters or the Nicaraguan government. The Ortega-Murillo government is self-proclaimed Sandinista (pretending to continue the historical revolutionary movement which ousted the US-sponsored Somoza dictatorship in 1979), post-neoliberal and promoting buen vivír. The opposition against its authoritarian and dictatorial tendencies and practices has gathered a variety of groups. These include genuine critical historical Sandinista revolutionaries, defeated ultra-conservative political groupings supported by the US, farmers who have felt abandoned and marginalized by all successive governments since Somoza, as well as a younger generation of students and activists born after the 1979 revolution and averse of traditional political structures (political parties, trade unions, etc.). It is therefore an oversimplification and a pity to buy into the governmental discourse qualifying the protests as exclusively neoliberal, right-wing (derechista), supported by the US, and anti-revolutionary; which is what many international Left-wing movements and political parties seem to believe. Therefore, they avoid publicly condemning the Nicaraguan government’s repressive actions for fear of betraying what they think is international Left-wing solidarity. This is factually wrong, and for us ethically unacceptable.

The Nicaraguan crisis also gives new meanings and embodiments to concepts dear to political ecologists, such as ‘resistance’, ‘transformation’, ‘belonging’ and ‘care’. As political ecologists, we are interested in explaining how resistance can lead to transformations; and in supporting radical social and environmental transformation towards equity and justice. Therefore, we see our task as twofold: first, we need to inform the world on what is happening in Nicaragua. Second, we should put our insights and academic and activist energy at the disposal of the Nicaraguans who face the gigantic task of envisioning and constructing a new, democratic, just and equitable future.

Picture 3 Charlie BLANDON -page-001
Picture 3: Artwork by Charlie Blandón including important symbols of Nicaragua, pictures of the victims of the repression, and the slogan of the current popular insurrection: “Patria Libre y Vivir” (“Freedom and life to our Homeland”) (Picture from: https://sosnicaraguareporte.com/galeria [retrieved July 30, 2018]).

Job opportunity: 4 tenure-track positions at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

School for Environment and Sustainability
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

The School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) at the University of Michigan is seeking applications for four full-time, nine-month, tenure-track faculty positions, part of a suite of new faculty hires at SEAS. For more detail, including required application materials visit: http://seas.umich.edu/employment.

Assistant Professor in Data Science, Geovisualization and Design. We seek candidates whose work focuses on the theory and application of data analytics, design and geovisualization within the interdisciplinary field of environment and sustainability. Candidates should be pursuing hypothesis driven research on analyzing, designing and visualizing spatial complexity in environmental systems for sustainability efforts. Topic areas include, but are not limited to, data science techniques, digital and critical cartography, and how humans understand and communicate spatial relationships.

Assistant/Associate Professor in Energy Systems Analysis. We seek a scholar with demonstrated excellence in research and teaching in the energy systems analysis field. This position focuses on integration across technology, science and policy, toward a goal of accelerating adoption of renewable energy technology, energy efficiency, energy demand shifts, and other climate mitigation strategies. Examples of relevant methods/areas of expertise include system dynamics, agent-based modeling, decision-support, life cycle assessment, techno-economic analysis, and policy analysis and design.

Assistant/Associate Professor in Spatial Science of Coupled Natural-Human Systems. We seek applicants whose work advances the frontiers of knowledge in natural-human system processes and relationships at diverse scales using theories, methods, and tools of spatial science. Topical areas of interest are broad. These could include human dimensions of global change as they relate to biodiversity loss, land-cover/land-use change, urbanization, climate change, ecosystem services and valuation,
material and energy flows, and environmental degradation, among others.

Assistant Professor in Water Policy, Politics and Planning, focused on water policy and collective decision-making processes that enable sustainable resource management. Preference will be given to candidates that understand water systems and policy interventions worldwide but have a particular depth in North American policy, institutions and politics. Candidates should be knowledgeable about political behavior and dynamics; emphasis could focus on federal, regional, state, local or collaborative
decision-making and governance.

At SEAS we are committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive and equitable environment that respects diverse experiences, promotes generous listening and communications, and discourages and restoratively responds to acts of discrimination, harassment, or injustice. Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is deeply rooted​ in​ our values for a sustainable and just society.

The University of Michigan is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer.

Postdoc opportunity: Urban Environmental Governance, University of Lausanne

Postdoctoral fellow in Urban Environmental Governance

Introduction

The University of Lausanne (UNIL) is a higher teaching and research institution composed of seven faculties where approximately 14,300 students and nearly 3,900 collaborators, professors, and researchers work and study. Ideally situated along the lake of Geneva, near Lausanne’s city center, its campus brings together over 120 nationalities.

Presentation

A postdoctoral position is available to further a new research project entitled “Challenges of municipal solid waste management: Learning from post-crisis governance initiatives in South Asia” funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and Swiss Development Cooperation under the r4d program. The position is for a maximum of 4 years, hosted at the Institute of Geography and Sustainability (IGD) and under the responsibility of Professor René Véron.

The IGD is an interdisciplinary community of about 100 academics that work on space, place and the environment. With 15 professors, close to 40 PhD students and several postdoctoral researchers, the department offers a vibrant, stimulating environment for cutting-edge research. It hosts regular lecture series and distinguished guest researchers from around the world.

Job information

Expected start date in position : 1st of November 2018 (or agreed upon date)

Contract length : 1 year, renewable one time for three years, maximum 4 years

Activity rate : 50%

Workplace : Institute of Geography and Sustainability, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Your qualifications

The successful candidate is expected to have earned a PhD degree in geography or a related social science. He/she will have extensive fieldwork experience and a publication record in field of urban environment and urban political ecology, preferably in South Asia (India, Nepal and/or Sri Lanka). Experience in solid waste management/governance would be an additional asset. Furthermore, an aptitude for project coordination and communication activities, willingness to spend significant time in South Asia and English language skills are required.

What the position offers you

Collaboration in an innovative research project with academic and NGO partners in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka will further develop your academic or non-academic career. You will have the chance to travel to and spend time in South Asia. You will also be part of the IGD research group “Development, Societies and Environments”.

Your responsibilities

The successful candidate will contribute to the above-mentioned research project. Apart from co-publishing with other project members, he/she will help coordinating research and communication activities between the different project partners and spend significant time in South Asia.

Contact for further information

Prof. René Véron (rene.veron@unil.ch).

Your application

Deadline : 15th of September 2018

Please, send your full application in Word or PDF, including:

  • letter of motivation
  • full CV, including publication list
  • scans of university degrees and course transcripts/marks
  • PhD thesis and one publication.

Applications through this link: https://bit.ly/2uEGGP5

Only applications through this website will be taken into account.

Additional information

UNIL is committed to promoting gender equality and strongly encourages applications from female candidates.

CFP: III Latin American Congress of Political Ecology

Second Call for submissions
III Latin American Congress of Political Ecology
DECOLONIAL INSURGENCES AND EMANCIPATORY HORIZONS: POLITICAL ECOLOGY AND LIBERATION
Salvador, Bahia, Brazil | March 18-20 2019

Convocatoria en castello aqui, chamada em português aquí

The Latin American Network of Political Ecology, thorugh the organizing
committee of the III Latin American Congress of Political Ecology, invites the academic
community and social movements to participate in this meeting, which will be held in
Salvador, in the state of Bahia, Brazil, from March 18th to 20th, 2018 — NEW DATES.
The main theme of the congress deals with the turbulent times faced by Latin
America, with the emergence of authoritarian and neoliberal governments and the
acceleration of extrativist policies and the desnationalization of natural resources.

Facing this reactionary turn, decolonial insurgences and struggles emerge, regathering
emancipatory horizons, new resistance ecologies that reconfigure the liberation praxis.
Within this urgent political context, the Congress aims to create a space for encounters
and convergences between emancipatory thought and practices, between academy,
social movements and activism.

The congress is organized by the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) and the
Federal University of Recôncavo da Bahia (UFRB), with the research group
Undisciplined Environments and the support of Clacso’ Working Group on Political
Ecology from Latin America Abya Yala, gathering a network of collaboration with other
Brazilian and other latin-american universities and social movements.

New Deadline for proposals (abstracts): August 10th 2018
congresoep.propuestas@gmail.com

Guiding themes:
• Capitalism political ecology and landscapes of inequality
• Insurgent political ecologies
• Decolonial ecologies, environmental epistemologies and cosmovisions
Modes of participation (Portuguese, Spanish and English)
Presentations; Round tables; Dialogues; Workshops; Arts; Experience
Submissions and registration
At the website https://congresoecologiapo.wixsite.com/cachoeira
More information: congreso.ecologiapolitica@gmail.com