CfP POLLEN20 – Emplacing crisis and theorising nature-society transformations

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

 Session organizers

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

Preliminary session abstract

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

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

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

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

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



CfP POLLEN20 – (Re)making rangelands as new investment frontiers: Case studies, critiques and alternative futures

Session Proposal for Third Biennial Conference of POLLEN
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organisers

Charis Enns (, Kennedy Mkutu ( and Marie Müller-Koné (

Session abstract

Nearly half the Earth’s land surface is classified as rangelands, which are areas where vegetation consists predominantly of grasses, grass-like plants and shrubs that can be grazed by livestock and wildlife. Rangelands contribute to the preservation of biodiversity and provide essential environmental services at local and global levels. Rangelands also  support the livelihoods of more than 500 million people around the world – many of whom are pastoralists.

However, globally, those that rely on rangelands are facing multiple, overlapping crises. The degradation of rangelands is a major global concern with some estimates suggesting that nearly 57 percent are now degraded and unable to sustain people and biodiversity. At the same time, rangelands are being rapidly converted for other uses, including industrial agriculture and livestock production, mining and mineral extraction, urban and infrastructure development, biodiversity conservation, afforestation and climate change adaptation. The narratives driving rangeland conversion – as well as the actors incentivising it – are multiple, complex and contradictory. We are interested in understanding how and why rangelands are being (re)made as new frontiers of investment and the implications of this process.

Specifically, we invite papers that explore questions such as:

  • What are the discourses, logics and practices used to legitimise the large-scale enclosure and transformation of rangelands? Who are the actors that are incentivising rangeland conversion? Are these actors the same or different than those driving other types of land conversion/land grab? Is there anything unique about rangelands?
  • How are the languages, logics and practices of policing, militarization, (in)security, surveillance and violence enabling the large-scale enclosure and transformation of rangelands? How do these changes in practices and institutions of organized violence affect dynamics of peace and conflict in the rangelands?
  • Does the (re)making of rangelands as new investment frontiers resolve, displace, reproduce or deepen the environmental, economic and social crises that rangelands face?
  • Is there potential to address the crises that rangelands face without transforming them into new frontiers of investment? (i.e. strengthening communal governance, formalising recognition for Community Conserved Areas, securing land tenure rights etc.)

In addition to being of academic interest, the topic of this panel is timely as global momentum builds for an International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralism and international organisations, such as the United Nations, confirm that there are significant gaps in knowledge and data on rangelands globally.

We are hoping for theoretical and empirical contributions that engage with the questions outlined above in different contexts across the Global South or Global North. We are also open to contributions at various stages of development, including those from early career academics who are still planning their research. Please send a title and abstract (max. 250 words) for your paper or presentation to the session organisers by 20 November 2019. Authors will be notified of their acceptance for the session as soon as possible thereafter.



CfP POLLEN20 – Comparative perspective(s) on ontological conflicts in extractivism, conservation and development

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

Session organizers

Riccarda Flemmer (GIGA Hamburg), Jonas Hein (University of Kiel).

We invite contributions on cases from the Global South and North. If you are interested to join our panel, please send us your abstract (max 250 words) including the title of the paper and your affiliation until 15 November 2019.

Submit to and

Session description

Ontological conflicts are defined as ‘conflicts involving different assumptions about “what exists”’ (Blaser 2013). Accordingly, ontological politics can be understood as struggles over the meaning and existence of different worlds. This kind of politics is especially virulent in conflicts over the extraction of natural resources (e.g. hydrocarbons, fisheries, forest products), over large-scale development projects (e.g. coastal reclamation projects, hydropower) and in the context of protected area implementation superimposing with indigenous people’s territories or peasant community lands. For political ecology, this is a major concern, because these projects are embedded into often unjust and asymmetric (post)colonial power relations.

In the context of participatory decision-making and inclusive planning exercises ontological conflicts become visible. At least in theory actors guiding these processes are forced to bring together western ideas of human-nature relationships and more holistic views which do not make this distinction and focus on spiritual meaning, collective identities and living beings (de la Cadena 2015; Escobar 2015). Participatory decision making and planning were established in international and national legal frameworks as a means to mediate between top-down imposed development projects promoted by the state and the interests of local populations. Most prominent are prior consultation processes and the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for indigenous peoples or participatory land-use planning.

The aim of this panel is to make ontological politics visible and show how ontological conflicts are dealt with. Thereby, the panel will compare different empirical cases as well as methodological and conceptual approaches. We will bring together experiences from different world regions in order to bring them in comparative perspective and enable the identification of lessons learned.


CfP POLLEN20 – Calling postgraduate students and early career researchers: please contribute ideas! Extended deadline 22 November

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

In connection with the upcoming Third Biennial conference of the Political Ecology Network in Brighton from 24-26 June 2020, a working group made up of postgraduate researchers at the University of Sussex and Brighton University are organizing a special track for PhD and early career researchers within the conference.

The goal of this track two-fold. First, we aim to  create a space within the conference for and by junior researchers  and activists from a broad range of disciplines and backgrounds who are focused and working on a diverse range of topics on political ecology. Second, we aim to ‘unconference’ POLLEN 20 by introducing a  ‘productively disruptive’ dynamic for the benefit of all attendees and participants.

At this time, our working group invites proposals and ideas from PhD and early career researchers for both formal and not-so-formal conference activities such as field trips, theatre and role plays, masterclasses or dynamic interventions within and around the conference. If you have an idea that you would like to discuss in advance of submission, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

Please submit any ideas by the 22nd November 2019 to: Please limit proposals to  between 300-500 words, and include a description of activities and how you think these will benefit postgraduate researchers and the broader POLLEN network.

Focali Annual Meeting and 10-year Anniversary, 5-6 November

The Focali (the Forest, Climate, and Livelihood Research Network based in Sweden) Annual Meeting and 10-year Anniversary 5-(6)th of November is approaching. Please see the invitation and draft outline for the event here.

Here’s how you can contribute:

  • Submit a theme/draft title for a speadtalk about your research/work to the thematic sessions (approx. 5 min presentation). 
    The theme of the presentation should be within the broad thematic area of Focali: Forest/landscapes, climate & livelihoods. The aim is to give participants a chance to get to know the focus/concerns/visions of many members and partners in these sessions prior to the discussion session and mingle time.
  • Suggest a theme/questions for the World Café discussion tables – members and partners can host discussion tables on different themes during this interactive exercise where participants can select tables in their interest. The aim with this session is to provide a space for deeper interactions between researchers and actors on different Focali relevant themes.  
  • Ideas for the 10-year anniversary celebrations during/after the dinner? Anything you can contribute with? Let us know!
  • Submit your speadtalk/theme/ideas to 
    Deadline submissionsOctober 15
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Geopolitical Ecologies of Violence and Resistance

Call for Proposals: POLLEN20

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

Session organizers: Benjamin Neimark & Patrick Bigger, Lancaster University,; Oliver Belcher, Durham University,; and Andrea Brock, University of Sussex,

In early October 2019, hundreds of frontline fossil fuel protesters took direct action against hard coal infrastructure across Germany. Under the banner of #deCOALonize, they blockaded railways, ports and utility companies, demanding an end to ‘coal colonialism’ and an immediate phase-out of coal combustion. The state response was predictable: physical violence by police officers, harsh policing and holding protesters for days in custody following nonviolent action. Still making the rounds in the same media cycle was the story of drone strikes targeting the Aramco oil facility in Saudi Aribia, knocking out 50 percent the Saudi’s capacity and 5 percent of global supply. While we generally understand the casual links between fossil fuels and geopolitics, less studied are the direct and indirect geopolitical entanglements of fossil fuel violence – violence against those resisting them, and the inherent violence to humans and ecosystems.

In this session, we look to these events and others as a way to bring together scholars’ understandings of violence, resistance and critical geopolitics of, and through, nature. Beyond direct violence, we also include more entrenched/indirect forms, such as criminalisation, stigmatisation and framings as domestic extremist or eco-terrorism and allowing for looking at more bureaucratic forms of violence, and everyday policing (by non-police – e.g. welfare state, teachers).

We hope to expand on work in geopolitical ecology and other similar frameworks to explore new considerations of contemporary violence and resistance – the role of institutional, state and non-state actors in violent encounters over planetary futures. We also hope to open up our geographic focus of fossil fuels to violence surrounding different forms of energy lock-ins and carbon-based infrastructures and discourses, including alternative energy and financial schemes around carbon trading and exchange. We are also interested in new forms of resistance to fossil-fuelled institutional violence – from digital (e.g., guerrilla archiving, hacktivists) to grassroots student strikes– are now being used to contest against such violence. In doing this, we aim to grapple with the complex picture of what successful resistance might look like. How can diverse coalitions be formed between environmentalists and anti-imperialism activists? How are environmentalists confronting militarism? How are anti-war activists confronting climate change? What political formations can be forged to facilitate a climatically changed future that is just, liveable, and sustainable? How do we envision a world of less violence – environmental and imperial?

Papers in any form may address a broad number of topics related to geopolitical ecologies of violence and resistance, including but not limited to:  

  • Pipelines and pumps
  • Theoretical, empirical, and/or methodological interventions that critically (re)assess the nature-state relationship regarding violence
  • Frontline and back-end resistance, from ‘tree-huggers’ to eco-hacktivists
  • Resistance to eco-state restructuring under multiple ‘Green New Dealings’
  • Paramilitarities and ‘ramping up’ by non-states
  • Climate change adaptation/mitigation, statecraft, and security
  • New hegemonies of ‘green’ political-economic power
  • ‘Green’ developmentalism and violent dispossession
  • War/violence and biodiversity/resource conservation
  • Settler-colonial environmentalisms
  • Financing violence through MDBs or transnational banks
  • Links between ‘slow’ and ‘fast’ violence

Please send abstract of 250 words or less to Ben Neimark, by November 4th 2019.

CfP POLLEN20 – Irrigation issues in emerging economies

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

Session organisers

This session is being organized by Adnan Mirhanoglu ( and Maarten Loopmans ( Please submit abstracts between 250 and 500 words and full contact details to both organizers by the 28 of October 2019.

Session description

In countries like China, India, Turkey, Brazil, Ethiopia, rapid social and economic changes are affecting the countryside. Rural-to-urban migration, agricultural modernization and the emergence of new economic sectors are all changing the demography and socio-economic relations in rural areas. Whereas new large scale irrigation projects create social, environmental and political tensions on their own (Madramootoo and Fyles, 2010; Boelens, Shah & Bruins, 2019), traditional irrigation systems are equally facing new challenges, as demands for water change, climate change is affecting availability, new water users appear on the scene, and political and infrastructural changes are demanding new forms of water governance (Gany, Sharma & Singh, 2019). In this session, we want to discuss and theorize the particular issues, conflicts and challenges related to irrigation water governance in emerging economies.

Irrigation systems have always been fraught with power imbalances and conflicts of interest, and poses particular theoretical challenges to theory-making (.e.g Ostrom & Gardner, 1993). Present-day socio-economic  transitions exacerbate these tensions, and presents us with new practical and theoretical dilemma’s (Playan, Sagardoy & Castillo, 2018; Ahlborg & Nightingale, 2018;) which we hope to discuss in this session. We invite both theoretical and empirical papers on irrigation governance and economic expansion in emerging economies. We are particularly keen on discussing multiscalar analyses linking interpersonal, water network and national/global political economy. The following topics (non-exhaustive) can be considered:

  • small and large scale irrigation infrastructures and water justice
  • head- and tail-ender conflicts under global market pressure
  • gendered and racialized politics of irrigation
  • infrastructural modernization and changing power relations
  • climate change, land use change and irrigation politics


Ahlborg, H. and A.J. Nightingale 2018. Theorizing power in political ecology: the where of power in resource governance projects. Journal of Political Ecology 25: 381-401.

Boelens, R., A. Shah & B. Bruins (2019) Contested knowledges: large dams and mega-hydraulic development, Water 11: 416-443.

Gany, A. H. A., Sharma, P., & Singh, S. (2019). Global Review of Institutional Reforms in the Irrigation Sector for Sustainable Agricultural Water Management, Including Water Users’ Associations. Irrigation and Drainage68(1), 84-97.

Harris, L. M. (2006). Irrigation, gender, and social geographies of the changing waterscapes of southeastern Anatolia. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space24(2), 187-213.

Madramootoo, C. A., & Fyles, H. (2010). Irrigation in the context of today’s global food crisis. Irrigation and Drainage: The journal of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage59(1), 40-52.

Ostrom, Elinor, Roy Gardner. (1993) “Coping with Assymetries in the Commons: Self-Governing Irrigation Systems Can Work”. Journal of Economic Perspectives – Vol 7, Number 4, pp.93-112.

Playán, E., Sagardoy, J., & Castillo, R. (2018). Irrigation governance in developing countries: Current problems and solutions. Water10(9), 1118.

Köpke, S., Withanachchi, S. S., Pathiranage, R., Withanachchi, C. R., & Ploeger, A. (2019). Social–ecological dynamics in irrigated agriculture in dry zone Sri Lanka: a political ecology. Sustainable Water Resources Management5(2), 629-637.