CfP POLLEN20 – Political Ecologies of/at the Edge: Climate Futures, Marginal Landscapes and Infrastructural Imaginaries

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

Session organizers

Aurora Fredriksen (University of Manchester) and Nate Millington (University of Manchester). Paper titles and abstracts of 250 words should be sent to nate.millington@manchester.ac.uk & aurora.fredriksen@manchester.ac.uk by 20 October 2019.

Session description

The promise of climate change mitigation through large-scale infrastructural development looms large in imaginaries of the Anthropocene. Narratives of resilience, new technologies associated with geoengineering, and experiments with planetary repair suggest the possibility of climate proof futures in a moment of deep planetary uncertainty. While infrastructural responses to climate change often carry divergent relationships to the increasingly blurry binary of adaptation/mitigation, many draw together dreams of safety from the vagaries of climate change with forecasts of continued economic growth.  

In this session, we interrogate the blind-spots in visions of adaptation to the climate crisis through infrastructural ‘fixes.’ We ask: 

  • In the policy-making and planning processes associated with these new infrastructures for climate mitigation, which groups and sets of relations – human and beyond – are excluded from the frame of consideration? 
  • Which ways of knowing about and valuing ecologies come to count and how? 
  • How are different relations of power and (in)justice folded into this vision of climate change mitigation through infrastructural builds? 
  • How do the complex spatialities of the contemporary built environment intersect with ongoing calls for profound societal change through ambitious frameworks such as the Green New Deal, Degrowth, and Eco-modernization?

We are particularly interested in the idea of the ‘edge’ within the ecological and political imaginaries of adaptation and mitigation. We understand the edge literally (ie. to refer to coastal and offshore infrastructures) but also conceptually. Attention to the margin can offer insight into broader global processes as they unfold in specific sites. The edge in this sense can be a mechanism for highlighting that which exists at the margin of the contemporary economy. It can be a temporal marker, one inseparable from broader forecasts about the time scales of a warming world and the various precipices that mark contemporary social and ecological thinking. Finally, the edge can signal the theoretical borderlands of political ecology, opening up spaces for speculations and entanglements with other disciplines and approaches to knowledge. 

CfP POLLEN20 – Energising Political Ecology

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

Session convenors

Siddharth Sareen (University of Bergen and University of Sussex) and Stefan Bouzarovski (University of Manchester). Abstracts are due 25th October to Siddharth.Sareen@uib.no and stefan.bouzarovski@manchester.ac.uk

Session description

As global rallies grow around the climate emergency, supported by strong divestment movements and cheap renewable energy technologies, the demand for low-carbon energy transitions gets a strong fillip. Scholarship on sustainability transitions has burgeoned in recognition of key sectoral trends, and socio-technical complements to techno-economic accounts have come into their own during the 2010s (Kohler et al 2019). Yet political ecology has remained shy of engaging. Over the years, notable exceptions have shown the value that political ecology lenses can bring to issues of carbon democracy, extractive dispossession and the agentic force of energy infrastructure and its imaginaries (Lawhon and Murphy 2012; Burke and Stephens 2018). As the importance of energy demand and the everyday navigation of energy landscapes mounts under transitions, they merit attention as issues of governance but also claim-making. We seek to build on such work by the ENGAGER network on energy poverty (http://engager-energy.net).

The current historical moment marks an acute juncture in the remaking of the ecology of energy, which is a deeply political matter (Daggett 2019). Within the energy sector, experts are batting for energy efficiency as a mitigation strategy (Lovins 2018), the integration of renewable energy into energy systems, and the potential to democratise the ownership and functions of a historically centralised sector (Szulecki 2018). These parallel projects are inevitably intertwined, and can very easily be at loggerheads rather than synergistic (Howe and Boyer 2016). Energy efficiency retrofits of buildings, for instance, can lead to low-carbon gentrification (Bouzarovski et al 2018). Moreover, the timing and modalities of energy transitions can determine whether they benefit large oil companies diversifying their asset portfolios or energy communities trying to invest in distributed energy infrastructure (Healy and Barry 2017). Publics and energy transitions clearly matter to each other, but it is unclear which benefits the other (Sareen and Kale 2018).

This session invites contributions that address two classic political ecology concerns in relation to energy transitions: how are large shifts in energy infrastructure transitions governed, and how are the benefits and burdens of these shifts distributed? The first question foregrounds the role of experts in decision-making around changing energy infrastructures and logics. We seek to interrogate the changing nature of institutional authority along with the evolving socio-materiality of the energy sector by adopting a relational ontology that privileges interactions between actors as constitutive of new ecologies (Bouzarovski and Haarstad 2018; Sareen 2019). The second question points to equity and justice, inviting political ecologists to probe the effects that monumental shifts in this vital sector have on marginalised and privileged groups. We welcome empirically and conceptually rich accounts that probe whether transitions are actually geared to secure low-carbon futures, or represent evolving forms of responsibilising citizens in a long-running contestation of power between states and their subjects (Mitchell 2011).

If consumption is to decrease, surely those who consume most should take the lead, rather than those who struggle to access even basic forms of energy (Bouzarovski 2018). And if we are putting in place solutions that claim to reduce the demand that consumption places on our energy resources, then it would be good to make sure that this is truly so rather than a pipe dream (Sareen and Rommetveit 2019). By throwing down this normative gauntlet, we invite political ecologists to hold energy transitions to account through our apt but under-utilised sensibilities.

References

Bouzarovski, Stefan. Energy poverty: (Dis) assembling Europe’s infrastructural divide. Springer, 2017.

Bouzarovski, Stefan, and Håvard Haarstad. “Rescaling low‐carbon transformations: Towards a relational ontology.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 44.2 (2019): 256-269.

Bouzarovski Stefan, Jan Frankowski, and Sergio Tirado Herrero. “Low carbon gentrification: When climate change encounters residential displacement.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 42.5 (2018): 845-863.

Burke, Matthew J., and Jennie C. Stephens. “Political power and renewable energy futures: A critical review.” Energy Research & Social Science 35 (2018): 78-93.

Daggett, Cara N. The birth of energy: Fossil fuels, thermodynamics, and the politics of work. Duke University Press, 2019.

Healy, Noel, and John Barry. “Politicizing energy justice and energy system transitions: Fossil fuel divestment and a “just transition”.” Energy Policy 108 (2017): 451-459.

Howe, Cymene, and Dominic Boyer. “Aeolian extractivism and community wind in Southern Mexico.” Public Culture 28.2 (79) (2016): 215-235.

Köhler, Jonathan, et al. “An agenda for sustainability transitions research: State of the art and future directions.” Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions 31 (2019): 1-32.

Lawhon, Mary, and James T. Murphy. “Socio-technical regimes and sustainability transitions: Insights from political ecology.” Progress in Human Geography 36.3 (2012): 354-378.

Lovins, Amory B. “How big is the energy efficiency resource?” Environmental Research Letters 13.9 (2018): 090401.

Mitchell, Timothy. Carbon democracy: Political power in the age of oil. Verso Books, 2011.

Sareen, Siddharth (Ed.). Enabling Sustainable Energy Transitions  Practices of legitimation and accountable governance. Palgrave, 2019. https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030268909

Sareen, Siddharth, and Sunila S. Kale. “Solar ‘power’: Socio-political dynamics of infrastructural development in two Western Indian states.” Energy research & social science 41 (2018): 270-278.

Sareen, Siddharth, and Kjetil Rommetveit. “Smart gridlock? Challenging hegemonic framings of mitigation solutions and scalability.” Environmental Research Letters 19 (2019): 075004.

Szulecki, Kacper. “Conceptualizing energy democracy.” Environmental Politics 27.1 (2018): 21-41.

The Case for Convivial Conservation

By Bram Büscher and Robert Fletcher

Published by Undisciplined Environments on October 1st, 2019

In the face of the sixth extinction, rising wildlife crime and biodiversity under dire threat around the globe, environmental conservation finds itself in desperate times. A new approach is needed, one that takes seriously our economic system’s structural pressures, violent socio-ecological realities, escalating extinctions and increasingly authoritarian politics. Convivial conservation is such an approach.

Read the full article here.

Political Ecologies of/at the Edge: Climate Futures, Marginal Landscapes, and Infrastructural Imaginaries

Call for Papers: POLLEN 2020

Brighton, United Kingdom

24-26 June 2020

https://pollen2020.wordpress.com/

Political Ecologies of/at the Edge: Climate Futures, Marginal Landscapes, and Infrastructural Imaginaries

Aurora Fredriksen (University of Manchester)

Nate Millington (University of Manchester)

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CALL FOR PAPERS – 25 years of Living Under Contract: Contract Farming and Agrarian Change in the Global South

International workshop, 29th April  – 1st May 2020, Wageningen University, the Netherlands

// Keynote participation by Michael Watts (UC Berkeley)

// Organizers: Niels Fold (University of Copenhagen), Helena Perez-Nino (University of Cambridge), Mark Vicol (Wageningen University & Research), Sudha Narayanan (IGIDR Mumbai), Caroline Hambloch (ICRISAT)

// Aim

This workshop will bring together prominent contract farming and agrarian political economy scholars to mark the 25th anniversary of Living Under Contract (Little & Watts, 1994) by reflecting on the past 25 years of critical scholarship on contract farming (CF), asking what have we learnt and what do we still not understand. Given the ongoing debates in the critical literature on CF about its significance and contemporary character, as well as renewed policy interest, it is timely to take stock of the ‘state of play’ of CF studies. There is a need to both evaluate the insights and findings of the past decades, as well as to identify and propose ways to address existing conceptual and methodological lacunae at the intersection of CF, smallholder livelihoods and agrarian change in the Global South. Selected papers from the workshop will be invited to submit for publication in a special issue marking 25 years since Living Under Contract proposed to the Journal of Agrarian Change, to be edited by the organizers. Read more