Workshop ‘Social Ecology meets Political Ecology’

We will host a workshop at the Frankfurt node at ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research on the above topic. In 3 sessions we will explore the topics ‘Researching social-ecological conflicts – Bringing non-human entities into the analysis’ and ‘Synergy or contrast? When political ecology theoretical claims meet practical transdisciplinary challenges in social-ecological research projects’.

The workshop takes place on June 28 14:00-17:30 CET and June 29 14:00-18:00 CET. Participants can register online under the following links:

Topic 1: Researching social-ecological conflicts – Bringing non-human entities into the analysis (Day 1 and 2)

Research on environmental conflicts analyses mainly conflicts between social actors such as conflicts about resource distribution and access. These analyses generally treat nature as an object of contestations or stressor in human-nature interactions. Few authors from different research fields already started to incorporate non-human entities in the analysis asking for their active role and effects in environmental conflicts. As non-human entities, we understand for example animals, plants, soil, rivers, geomorphological formations and things. Incorporating non-humans as agents in the analysis enables to show the entanglements of social actors and non-human entities, which is key for opening up new understandings of the emergence, development and (non-)solution of environmental conflicts. These interrelations can have the form of a network, assemblage, interactions or interdependencies. The interrelations between society and nature are the research topic of Social Ecology and therefore we propose the new term of social-ecological conflicts, whose analysis treats social actors and non-human entities in an integrated way in the conflict analysis. This may involve integration of multiple ways of researching non-hu-mans, ranging from inter- and transdisciplinary approaches combining socio-empirical research methods and natural science methods applied to non-human conflict parties. We want to take stock of the different approaches to non-humans in environmental conflicts to discuss a defini-tion of social-ecological conflicts, the role and effect of non-human entities in conflicts and suit-able methods for the analysis of non-human entities as agents in social-ecological processes. We furthermore seek to explore the potential of social-ecological conflict analysis for conflict trans-formation.

Topic 2: Synergy or contrast? When political ecology theoretical claims meet practical transdisciplinary challenges in social-ecological research projects (Day 2)

Addressing crises in societal relations to nature involves co-creation of knowledge among multiple disciplines and practitioners. Research in transdisciplinary mode involves collaboration with key stakeholders from problem framing to deriving conclusions. At the same time, crises in societal relations to nature are tied to power imbalances, for instance in shaping discourse on ‘sustainability problems’. Addressing these in a transdisciplinary setting involves a series of practical questions, starting from the distribution of funding among the research and practice partners involved in a transdisciplinary research project, especially when conducted in North-South collaborations. Political ecology offers an enriching conceptual framework for systematically illuminating power asymmetries and uneven distributions of environmental change causes and impacts. While critical analyses provide key insights on how power relations reproduce crises in societal relations to nature, solution-oriented conclusions are rarely drawn. Here linking a political ecology lens with those of applied research and of practitioners appears promising. Transdisciplinary research implies the ambition of developing specific solutions towards sustainable and just development by bringing together multiple forms of knowledge. However, a tension evolves around normativity. Researchers are themselves embedded in a web of power relations, and often witness sensitive situations. They thus have to constantly reflect on being both, analytical observers and participants in social transformation processes. Against this backdrop, the panel seeks to take stock of challenges evolving around seeming contradictions, e.g. when working with actors who are subject to criticism, and the thereby arising double roles of actors involved (research subject, partner, analytical observer, participant in transformation) within applied research processes. We furthermore seek to explore the ethics of linking political ecology and transdisciplinary research approaches, methodologically and theoretically. In short, the panel aims to elaborate synergies and contradictions of political ecology approaches in relation to transdisciplinary social-ecological research.

Open call for contributions to an edited volume “Grounding China’s Belt and Road Initiative: The uneven effects of the New Silk Road on place, socionatures and livelihoods from the South, North and beyond”


– Elia Apostolopoulou, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, University of Cambridge; ICTA – Autonomous University of Barcelona

– Han Cheng, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing

– Jonathan Silver, Urban Institute, University of Sheffield

– Alan Wiig, Urban Planning and Community Development, University of Massachusetts Boston

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), announced in 2013 by the Chinese President Xi Jinping, is the single largest infrastructure project since the Marshall Plan with a scope and scale that has no precedent in modern history. It is estimated to cost up to US$8 trillion, involve 130 countries and an impressive number of corporate and state actors, and impact more than 65% of the world’s population. The BRI brings about novel
combinations of large-scale infrastructure and industrial projects i with major investments in the built environment: from railways, airports, ports, industrial parks, optical fiber networks, and special economic zones (SEZs), to smart cities, greenfield investments, real estate and commercial projects. China has already addressed a significant part of the global infrastructure gapii creating hopes that the BRI may create essential life-supporting infrastructures and services contributing to poverty reductioniii.

However, place-based communities across the globe are increasingly contesting the loss of livelihoods and housing due to the intensification of land grabbing, displacement, and dispossession processes, driving concerns that a new stage of BRI-driven socio-spatial and socio-environmental transformation is emerging which unevenly rescripts political ecologies across multiple scales from the urban to rural and

Emerging grounded research has offered important insights that point to the unequal geographies of BRI projects and the way places, natures and communities are profoundly affected. This includes empirical reflections on: land speculation and the uneven and gendered vulnerabilities for marginalized groups (e.g. women, migrant laborers) living and working in places where BRI projects are materialisedv ; the exclusion of vulnerable populations from mitigation programmes of infrastructure constructionvi; processes of accumulation, dispossession, and exploitation related to
the privatization of strategic infrastructurevii; the intensification of labour precarity, worsening of working conditions, and violation of worker’s rights; the creation of logistical spacesviii, infrastructural hubs, industrial zones, manufacturing areas and commercial projects that alter the geographies of everyday lives by, for instance, turning cities into industrial enclaves and BRI transit corridors. Despite the importance of these analyses for unraveling emerging inequalities, political ecology and critical geographical analyses focused on a comprehensive analysis of the links between BRI-driven transformation and inequality, including how the latter is differentiated along lines of class, gender and race, and an exploration of how different injustices are linked, are still missing from the literature. Further, the critical examination of the BRI’s trans-continental impact itself pushes scholars of political ecology to think across and between these emergent geographies.

In this volume, we invite interventions that offer grounded, real-world analyses of the effects of BRI projects on places, socionatures and livelihoods following political ecology and geographical approaches and drawing on grounded case studies from any location. Potential contributions may focus on, but are not limited to, the following topics:
 Theorizations of the ways BRI-driven transformation reconfigures patterns of inequality that build on and advance (urban) political ecology debates.
 Theoretical and empirical investigation of the links between different forms of inequality (social, economic, environmental, spatial).
 Analysis of the (uneven) ways BRI-driven transformation impacts on places, socionatures, and urban livelihoods.
 How already occurring policies of gentrification, urban regeneration, and city beautification interact with BRI projects.
 The material impacts of BRI projects to socio-natural metabolisms and the geographies of everyday life.
 How local contestation and social conflicts are co-producing Silk Road urbanizations on the ground and how people’s place-based struggles influence the outcomes of BRI projects.
 Methodologies of depicting spatial transformation (e.g. countermapping, storytelling, performance and arts, visualization techniques) and its
effects on places, livelihoods and the geographies of everyday life.
 Postcolonial, feminist, Indigenous and antiracist approaches to analyses of BRI-driven transformation.
 Countermapping practices, community and grassroots activism.
 Comparative methodologies, including relational analysis and countertopographies, from South, North and beyond.
 How the BRI articulates with urban/rural development, contested landscapes, and animal geographies in domestic China, especially the borderland regions.

We are particularly interested to receive chapters that draw on case studies from Africa and Latin America as well as Europe.

If you are interested in contributing to the edited volume, please send a chapter title and an abstract (max. 250 words) to Elia Apostolopoulou (, Han Cheng ( and Alan Wiig ( by June 15, 2022.

i Blanchard, J-M.F., Flint, C. (2017) The geopolitics of China’s maritime Silk Road initiative. Geopolitics 22, 223-245.
ii Chen, X. (2018) Globalisation redux: Can China’s inside-out strategy catalyze economic development and integration across its Asian borderlands and beyond? Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 11(1), 35-58.
iii Liu, W., Dunford, M. (2016) Inclusive globalization: Unpacking China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Area Development and Policy 1, 323–340; Chen, X. (2018) Globalisation redux: can China’s inside-out strategy catalyze economic development and integration across its Asian borderlands and beyond? Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 11(1), 35-58.
iv Apostolopoulou, E. (2021) Tracing the links between infrastructure-led development, urban transformation and inequality in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Antipode 53, 831-858.
v Murton, G., Lord, A. (2020) Trans-Himalayan power corridors: Infrastructural politics and China’s belt and road initiative in Nepal. Political Geography 77, 102100; Beazley, R., Lassoie, J. P. (2017) Himalayan mobilities: An exploration of the impact of expanding rural road networks on social and ecological systems in the Nepalese Himalaya. Springer, New York.
vi Dwyer, M.B. (2020) “They will not automatically benefit”: The politics of infrastructure development in Laos’s Northern Economic Corridor. Political Geography 78, 102118.
vii Neilson, B. (2019) Precarious in Piraeus: on the making of labour insecurity in a port concession. Globalizations 16, 559-574.
viii Gambino, E. (2019) The Georgian logistics revolution: questioning seamlessness across the New Silk Road. Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation 13(1), 190-206.

Call for application: Weekend course in commons

By the Institute of Commoning

The Institute for Commoning, (InCommons) will be running a taster course in commons and commoning in the south of England from 24th-26th June.

The course is a taster for a programme of study for any adult learner who wants to explore the commons as an alternative and challenge to markets, the capitalist state and colonisation.

Course fee: free of charge, although participants will have to cover their own transport costs to get to the venue, which is on the South Downs just outside Brighton. Twenty (20) places are available for this taster course.

The background of the course is explained below and if you are interested in finding out more, please visit the website here, or fill in an application here. The closing date for applications is midnight UK time on Friday 27th May.


Our planet is getting hotter, people are going hungry in every country in the world, the oceans  are filling with plastics, species are disappearing and war is tearing lives apart. Governments,  corporations, think tankers and “opinion-formers” keep offering us the same old solutions,  packaged up in slightly different ways: “solutions” that keep them in power and in profit.  

It doesn’t have to be like this. People are rediscovering and creating new ways of working  together and remaking the world in ways that challenge the status quo and share power. People  are coming together in different ways to create and sustain commons. In practice, commoning  can be as various as indigenous peoples protecting and sustaining their territories, hackers  creating and curating free software, or the collectives that maintain maker spaces, bike co-ops,  neighbourhood health clinics…  


The Institute for Commoning has brought together world-leading scholars, international activists,  expert organisers and dedicated commoners with the aim of offering a programme of study for  any adult learner who wants to explore the commons as an alternative and challenge to markets,  the capitalist state and colonisation. This programme will be rigorous, exciting and roughly  equivalent to a Masters degree. 

In June 2022, we will be running a weekend residential taster course for anyone who wants to learn  more. 


Our programme’s name – Masters in Commons Administration (MCA) – signals its countering of  the ubiquitous and infamous Masters in Business Administration. We reject the MBA’s privileging  of self-interest, competition, and extraction. Instead we focus on collectivity, sustainability and  care. 

The MCA will provide a space, tools and intellectual resources that will enable learners to reflect on  their own practice and experiences, to learn from those of others, and to explore approaches they  may not have previously considered. Although we expect that learners’ experience of the MCA  will inform their subsequent practices – in organising, in activism, at work and so on – the aim of the MCA is broader and richer. It offers students the opportunity to discover and explore the myriad ways, throughout history and pre-history in which human beings have lived, loved, struggled, interacted with each other and with their environments.  

We are offering the MCA outside of the university system. There are great teachers and researchers  in many universities, but the system operates to hinder good pedagogy and scholarship, rarely  to enable it. (Never mind the exorbitant fees it extracts from students.) Modern formal education  appears to be doing its best to extract all the joy, discovery and creativity from learning. These  elements are ignored or even actively suppressed in the interests of meeting the needs of capital  and of producing good workers. We have had enough of this. We think that learning makes life  worth living and can equip people to be curious, to challenge, to take on the power structures that  are ruining so many lives and to simply enjoy exploring ideas, skills and experiences that make  their lives richer. That’s what study should be about and that’s what we intend to offer. 

Teaching will take place in English, through online lectures, workshops, training sessions and  discussion groups as well as, when it is safe and appropriate to do so, residential workshops of  2–5 days each. The MCA will be structured in modules, covering a range of topics, and drawing on  disciplines including, but not limited to: anthropology; critical race theory; ecology; gender studies;  history; organisation studies; political ecology; political economy; science and technology studies;  queer theory. It will make extensive use of case studies. Students will be invited to respond to the  materials and discussions they are offered in writing, speech, video, visual art or another format  appropriate to the theme. Students will also take on their own self-directed research and/or action.  The programme will be part-time and will typically take two years to complete. It will culminate  with an extended project, the student-scholar’s Masterpiece. 


The taster course will be UK-based and residential. It will run from Friday 24th to Sunday 26th  June 2022, in a site on the South Downs just outside Brighton. (The Institute for Commoning has  no site of its own and the residential courses will be offered in a range of venues that we hope will  be conducive to shared learning). There will be 20 places and it will be free of charge, although we  will be asking participants to cover their own travel costs to get to the venue if they are able.  There will be an introductory session online in mid-May, held in the evening UK time, where  potential participants can find out more and ask any questions they might have. If we have more  applicants than we have space for, we will run a selection process, which will involve potential  participants sending us an email, voicemail or video application.  

If you are interested in finding out more and coming along, please send an email to, or fill in the application form which you can find at or send a message via our website at  


The Rent Relation and Struggles over Distribution in the 21st Century

May 25 2022 8-10:30am EST / 1-3:30pm GMT / 2-4:30pm SAST / 5:30pm-8:00pm IST

School Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester

Zoom Registration Link: Seminar on Rent

Manuel Aalbers (KU Leuven) 

Callum Ward (London School of Economics)

Preeti Sampat (Ambedkar University Delhi)

Kai Bosworth (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Alex Loftus (King’s College London) 

Erik Swyngedouw (University of Manchester) 

Rent shapes the millennial geography of struggles over land and its more than human affordances. Rent emerges as an attribute of private property entitlements that are pivotal to capital. Appropriated in the moment of distribution, rent is nevertheless fundamental to coordinating the flows of value through the moments of production, circulation and consumption. Assetization of land and its affordances enables the appropriation of rent through wide-ranging investments in real estate, infrastructure, agriculture and extractive industry, in turn impacting access to housing, livelihoods, food security and multispecies life. State agencies across the world are instrumental to facilitating these investments through direct consolidation of land, or through enabling legal frameworks. How do we understand the growing role of rent in millennial capitalist accumulation? Is there a fundamental contradiction between the moment of production and the moment of distribution that the rent relation engenders and must contain for ongoing accumulation? Are rentier appropriations new, or how are they specific to this historical conjuncture of accumulation? How do they unleash speculative spirals, financial crises, ghost cities and failed infrastructure projects across variegated contexts? What is their role in reinforcing inequalities (or enabling contingent solidarities) along race, caste, class, gender, ethnicity and other power differences? What lessons do contemporary struggles against dispossession, over land, housing, livelihoods, food security and multi-species life hold, for understanding the geography of rent? This seminar addresses some preliminary questions around the millennial geography of rent and accumulation. 

CALL FOR ASSOCIATE EDITORS – African Geographical Review

Cover image for African Geographical Review


  1. Associate Editor—Human Geography
  2. Associate Editor—Physical Geography
  3. Associate Editor—Geospatial

Background to the Journal

The African Geographical Review (AGR) is a leading international peer reviewed journal for geographical scholarship relating to Africa. It publishes the highest quality research in all fields of geography, including human, nature – society, physical and the techniques. The journal publishes several types of articles, including research manuscripts, commentaries, methodological notes, field notes, featured reflections, and book reviews.

The overall aims of the AGR are to enhance the standing of geography of and in Africa, to promote better representation of African scholarship, and to facilitate lively academic conversations regarding the African continent. 

We are proud to highlight that significant number of AGR submissions come from African scholars working globally and Institutions on the African continent.

  1. ROLE

The Associate Editors will work with the Chief Editor on all aspects of the African Geographical Review, a refereed journal published by Taylor & Francis, on behalf of the African Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers. The Associate Editors shall serve a 3-year term, and if interested and available, be re-appointed for a second 3-year term (for a maximum of 6-years). Associate Editors would have the opportunity to apply to become Chief Editor during their first or second term.

S/he must work hard to support the growth of the AGR which provides an excellent outlet for the publication of geographical material relating to Africa; enhancing the standing of African geography, and promoting a better representation of African scholarship. Additionally, s/he must commit themselves to ensuring that the journal maintains its reputation of publishing the best material on African geography scholarship. The Associate Editors work dutifully with the Chief Editor in the selection, editing, and publishing of all journal content.


The Editors report to the President of the ASG and regularly update the president on the status of the journal. Taylor & Francis is currently publishing the journal 4 times a year and will remain responsible for the marketing aspects of the journal. The Chief Editor and the Associate Editors will work with the publishers and the Editorial Board to ensure successful production of the AGR.  In particular, the editors will supply Taylor & Francis with manuscripts in a timely manner and work with the ASG Chair to ensure that ASG journal subscribers have timely access to the journal.

  1.   DUTIES
  2. Work in partnership with the Chief Editor, the AGR publishers, the ASG Chair, and the AGR Editorial Board, to define the overall strategic direction for the journal.
  3. Actively solicit manuscripts for journal issues.
  4. Maintain regular communication with the Editorial Board and attend an annual meeting of the Editorial Board to discuss journal review policies and procedures and the general direction of the journal.
  5. Conduct initial screening of all manuscripts and forward those that meet Journal criteria to selected reviewers.
  6. Work with authors to revise manuscripts based on reviewers’ comments and the editors’ recommendations for improvement (e.g., clarity, development of ideas, scholarly accuracy, overall quality, and compliance with publication guidelines). 
  7. Serve along with the Chief Editor as the primary liaison to authors.
  8. Return rejected manuscripts to authors with constructive formal letters.
  9. Coordinate journal production with the Chief Editor to ensure a regular production schedule.
  10. Together with the journal publishers and the Chief Editor, participate in journal promotion and development activities including sponsorships and other appropriate advertising.
  11. Perform other tasks as assigned by the Chief Editor.

The Associate Editors of the Journal must possess the following attributes:

  • Excellent communication (oral, written, and editing) skills
  • Be an active member of the AAG (ASG membership is an added advantage)
  • Be a scholar in good academic standing
  • Have excellent interpersonal skills
  • Have creative ideas and approaches to expand the journals reach and diversity


To apply for this position, please submit:

  • a letter of interest that details your qualifications for the position, the specific position (Human, Physical, or Geospatial) and a visionary statement as the future editor of the journal (2-page max).
  • a current curriculum vitae (5-page max)

The completed application should be received by Friday April 8th, 2022. Please submit electronic copies of your application to the Co-chairs of the Search Committee, Dr. Ben Neimark ( and Dr. Godwin Arku (

Arrangements will be made to interview candidates virtually in April/May, 2022. Please contact Dr Ben Neimark if you have any questions.

New Masters (MA) in Political Ecology – Lancaster University

•The only one of its kind in the UK: dedicated to understanding how the environment and politics intersect with issues of power and justice

•You will work with and learn from one of the largest political ecology research groups in the UK

•You will directly engage with both academic and non-academic practitioners of political ecology, including environmental activists and film-makers

•You will take your learning into the ‘real world’ through innovative teaching sessions that move outside the classroom •

Brief Descriptoin:

Interested in challenging the status quo of the environment and its politics?

Come and join us at Lancaster for our recently launched MA in Political Ecology!

We are the only programme of its type in the UK, offering the conceptual tools and practical skills to ask the difficult questions of human-environment relations and drive transformative action. You will be immersed in one of the UK’s largest and dynamic political ecology research groups, which draws upon diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives. These address and analyse critiques, debates and actions related to environmental concerns over local to global scales. Key themes include the politics of resource extraction, water, climate politics and the green economy. We offer novel approaches to our teaching, engaging our students in creative classes that provide tools to understand a complex planet and the challenges of our living with it.  

For more information, please see: or contact John Childs at 


Project Summary

Concrete Impacts is a UKRI-Economic Social Research Council funded collaboration between Lancaster and Durham Universities examining the socio-ecological effects of military supply chains and wider environmental damage.

At the heart of this research project is ‘geo-political ecology’ – defined as the ‘…synergies between political ecologists’ careful attention to multi-scale environmental politics and the discursive-material co-constitution of global institutional geopolitics.’ (Bigger and Neimark 2018).

Our novel approach uses supply chain analysis – usually reserved as an economic management tool – as a way to measure socio-environmental impact in highly affected population locations or ‘hotspots.’ We will deliver a comprehensive open-sourced datalab that is a user-friendly source for climate, environmental and socio-economic costs of US military procurement of sand, water and cement in a theatre of war.

The purpose of Concrete Impacts is to examine how sand, water & cement were procured and delivered through military supply chains in Iraq and beyond. We do so by developing maps of military supply chains and pinpointing source material hotspots. We will calculate the environmental and pollution footprint of these materials using a novel hybrid Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA).

We arealso co-leading a major initiative to track, analyse and close the military emissions gap, and demand that governments disclose their military emissions data to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Learn more here:

Watch a short video about our activities alongside colleagues at the Conflict and Environment Observatory:

The Research team includes: Benjamin Neimark, Oliver Belcher, Kirsti Ashworth, Reuben Larbi & Patrick Bigger

To find out more:

CfP POLLEN22: Other-than-Human Political Ecologies of Wildlife Conservation

Organised Paper Session:

Sayan Banerjee and Anindya Sinha

National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India


Political ecology (PE) has played a pivotal role in examining human–wildlife interactions and their implications for conservation practice. The most commonly researched themes in this domain include impacts of animals on people and related responses from different human actors; nonhuman-mediated re-ordering of landscapes, resource access, lives and livelihoods of local communities; or state-, market- and community-driven actions, their repercussions and the impacts of human social categories on interspecies interactions. While such scholarship has broken new grounds in the understanding of how power and inequality mediate environmental outcomes, the other-than-human has typically been relegated to being a mere object in these endeavours, or as lifeless entities upon which human meanings are inscribed.

This is not to say that PE has ignored such questions (Walker, 2005; Turner, 2015), although there is scope for far greater attention. There are a number of approaches in cognate sub-fields that are beginning to take other-than-human lives and subjectivities seriously in their accounts of social and political life. For instance, ‘more-than-human’ geographers have argued that landscapes and lives are co-constructed by both humans and nonhumans (Hinchcliffe, 2003) while others have called for the development of multispecies ethnographies (Kirksey & Helmreich, 2010), integration of individual- and collective animal subjectivities into geography (Bear, 2011), and the construction of dialogues between geography and ethology (Barua & Sinha, 2017). Recent scholarship (for example, Barua, 2014; Munster, 2016; Lorimer et al., 2017; Evans & Adams, 2018; Govindrajan, 2018; De Silva & Srinivasan, 2019), careful to being attentive to animal lives within the mesh of material and symbolic politics through space and time, have also been successful in demonstrating the purposefulness of more-than-human political ecologies or a political ecology that considers other-than-human lives vital. PE has also started attending to the vernacular ecologies/ethologies of other-than-humans, as centred by the place-based communities and the conservation politics associated with such beings.

This session invites papers from both, the Global North and South, engaging with other-than-humans as actors in the political ecologies of wildlife conservation. In order to develop a particular focus, we would like to limit our consideration of other-than-humans to wild or feral nonhuman species and examine what their lives can teach us about the PE of wildlife conservation or, in other words, explore the linkages between other-than-human agency, political processes and the broader conservation governance of wildlife. We will prioritise abstracts that fall within this scope and directly involve more-than-human perspectives. We thus hope to organise a diverse session, in terms of both presenters and the situatedness of the different empirical case studies that will be discussed.

If you would like to present a paper in our session, please send your abstract to and, no later than December 5, 2021. The abstract should not exceed 250 words in length, excluding the title and author information.

We aim to submit our final proposal for an Organised Session, including selected contributions, to the POLLEN 2022 portal by December 12, 2021.

POLLEN22 CfP: Natures out of place? Spaces, ecologies and materialities of the ‘Weird’

The Fourth Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network
28‐30 June 2022
Durban, South Africa

Session conveners:
Amber Huff (Institute for Development Studies, University of Sussex)
Adrian Nel (Discipline of Geography, University of Kwazulu‐Natal)

Bringing political ecology’s long‐standing concerns with the politics of human‐nature relations into dialogue
with insights from cultural and critical geography, cultural anthropology, the environmental humanities,
geocriticism and genre fiction, this session responds to calls for a departure from primarily reactive analysis
and critique, to develop new, experimental, proactive, playful and speculative approaches in political ecology
(Harris, 2021; Braun, 2015). We ask: what is the potential of ‘the Weird’ and adjacent notions like the eerie,
the uncanny, and the haunted (VanderMeer and VanderMeer, 2011; Fisher, 2016; Fisher, 2012) for
developing grounded and radically ‘alternative epistemic entryways’ that can help us assess, historicize,
recast and subvert dominant framings and ‘anthropocene’ politics of ecology, crisis, control and enclosure
(Hosbey and Roane, 2021), whilst at the same time working for more convivial relations and abundant
futures (Büscher and Fletcher, 2019; DeVore et al., 2019; Collard et al., 2015)?

Background to the session

Colonialism, imperialism, globalization and neoliberalism have reworked socio‐natural relationships in ways
that disrupt and transform material landscapes and warp the ways that people sense and experience them.
For example, Braun et al. (2015) describe the Bakken Oil Fields of North Dakota as a place, ‘where surface
and depth, past and present, inside and outside, are folded together, producing new subjectivities, new
economies, new natures’. Tsing (2015) describes such ‘global landscapes’ as eerie, strewn with the ruins left
behind by extraction, haunted not only by the ghosts of alienated human and non‐human people and
natures, but also forms of power and imagined futures, ‘dreamworlds of progress’ (Tsing et al., 2017: 2).

At the same time, the rise of the world‐flattening discourses of the anthropocene and the ‘post‐natural
environmentalism’ of the planetary set, ‘crisis’ (or at least the ‘crisis’ that matters) seems to have become
disembedded from experience, from its material and social situations, origins and contradictions (Collard et
al., 2015). This process of abstraction does the work to extend and entrench a perceptual boundary between
society and a separate, passive and external nature, rendered virtually unlocatable by high technology, that
either becomes a backdrop to human activity and desire or as dominion to be endlessly parsed, produced
and priced (Sullivan, 2010; Woelfle‐Erskine and Cole, 2015). Disrupting accustomed ways of perceiving time,
space, boundary and scale, this creates perceptual slippages between the concrete and the virtual (Huff,
2021); the actor, the action and the acted‐upon (Ulstein, 2019); certainty and the unknowable. In short, ‘the
world has become weird’ (Tabas, 2015: 16).

In visual art, film and fiction, ‘The Weird’ is distinguished by an uncanny aesthetic, a sensation of
disorientation or imminence that passes from the subject (often a first‐person narrator or storyteller) to the
reader, and that hinges on the experience of two or more different worlds – in an ontological sense – existing
in superposition or becoming entangled in the same or contiguous space. These worlds are often traversed
via some indistinct portal, gateway or breach, revealed through a process of research, subtle noticing or
unveiling (Fisher, 2016; Regan, 2020). The Weird doesn’t stand alone as a genre, but works through slippage
into, most often, adjacent genres of fantasy, horror and science fiction. In the so‐called ‘weird tale’, the
monsters and aliens are not from another planet: they are invaders from another reality system, experienced
through encounters that unsettle ordinary perceptions of time, space, ecology, causality, or agency (Fisher,
2016). This is exemplified in works like Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Jeff VanderMeer’s
Southern Reach Trilogy and Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy, but likewise stories from oral and written
traditions from around the world explore weird, uncanny and realms existing in or alongside our everyday

Materialities of the Weird are transgressive, often expressed in imaginative ecologies and biologies that
challenge binary thinking and biological essentialisms, and which play on and with scientific taxonomies and
commonsense ‘differences’ or boundaries between biological taxa, states of matter, human and ‘other’, the
‘here’, there and elsewhere, and between the anthropogenic and the ‘natural’ (Fisher, 2016; Regan, 2020).
The effect of this is to de‐center the subject and unsettle modes of perception by which one would normally
distinguish between the ‘human’ world and non‐human nature; the earthly and the other, the ‘real’ and the

Resonant with and certainly influential to Haraway’s conceptualization of ‘tentacular thinking’, the Weird
exemplifies a way of thinking and telling that abolishes the ‘rational’ and makes ‘…human exceptionalism
and bounded individualism, those old saws of Western philosophy and political economics, become
unthinkable,’ opening space for both deep critique and an expanded sense of what the material cosmos
might contain (Haraway 2016: 30; Fischer, 2018: 2; VanderMeer and VanderMeer, 2011: 29). encountering
the Weird can be horrific, a source of fear and avoidance. But it can also be a source of re‐enchantment,
fascination or of giving‐over and embracing the inevitability of transformation in a changed and changing
world. As Jeff and Ann VanderMeer (2011) contend, with the ‘abolition of the rational, can also come the
strangely beautiful’.

Call for papers

We invite papers and presentations that explore and develop these themes as they intersect with traditional
and emerging concerns in political and other ecologies that are sensitive to history, relationality and power.
We welcome proposals for contributions based on empirical studies, explorations and encounters in and of
the ‘weird’ spaces, ecologies, materialities and intimacies of the lived ‘anthropocene’, from Global South,
North and ‘beyond’. We are also open to methodological contributions that explore affective and embodied
practices of learning and telling about, from and with ‘weird ecologies’. What pathways, alternatives and
possible futures become visible if we ‘Weird’ the way we see and talk about crises and struggles for possible

If you want to present a paper in our session, please send your abstract in a Word attachment to and no later than December 5th, 2021. The abstract should be max 250
words (excluding title and author info) and should include affiliation (if applicable) and contact information
for all co‐authors. We will submit our final proposal for a paper session, including selected presentations, via
the POLLEN portal on December 10, 2021.


Braun B (2015) From critique to experiment? Rethinking political ecology for the Anthropocene. The
Routledge handbook of political ecology. Routledge, pp.124‐136.

Braun B, Coleman M, Thomas M, et al. (2015) Grounding the Anthropocene: sites, subjects, struggles in the
Bakken oil fields. Reportno. Report Number|, Date. Place Published|: Institution|.

Büscher B and Fletcher R (2019) Towards convivial conservation. Conservation & Society 17(3): 283‐296.

Collard R‐C, Dempsey J and Sundberg J (2015) A manifesto for abundant futures. Annals of the Association of
American Geographers 105(2): 322‐330.

DeVore J, Hirsch E and Paulson S (2019) Conserving human and other nature: A curious case of convivial
conservation from Brazil. Anthropologie et Sociétés 43(1): np.

Fisher M (2012) What is hauntology? Film Quarterly 66(1): 16‐24.

Fisher M (2016) The weird and the eerie. London: Repeater Books.

Fredriksen A (2021) Haunting, ruination and encounter in the ordinary Anthropocene: storying the return
Florida’s wild flamingos. Cultural Geographies. 14744740211003650.

Harris DM (2021) Storying climate knowledge: Notes on experimental political ecology. Geoforum 126: 331-339.

Hosbey J and Roane JT (2021) Black Ecologies Initiative.‐ecologies
(accessed 20 October).

Huff A (2021) Frictitious commodities: Virtuality, virtue and value in the carbon economy of repair.
Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space. 25148486211015056.Regan M (2020) Strange trees:
the aesthetics of ecology in Weird Fiction. In: Poetics, politics, popular culture.
Available at:‐ecology/.

Sullivan S (2010) ‘Ecosystem Service Commodities’‐a new imperial ecology? Implications for animist
immanent ecologies, with Deleuze and Guattari. New Formations 69(69): 111‐128.

Tabas B (2015) Dark places: Ecology, place, and the metaphysics of horror fiction. Miranda. Revue
pluridisciplinaire du monde anglophone/Multidisciplinary peer‐reviewed journal on the English‐
speaking world.(11).

Tsing AL (2015) The mushroom at the end of the world: on the possibility of life in capitalist ruins. Princeton
University Press.

Tsing AL, Bubandt N, Gan E, et al. (2017) Arts of living on a damaged planet: Ghosts and monsters of the
Anthropocene. U of Minnesota Press.

Ulstein G (2019) ‘Age of Lovecraft’?—Anthropocene Monsters in (New) Weird Narrative. NORDLIT‐Tidsskrift
i litteratur og kultur 42.

VanderMeer A and VanderMeer J (2011) The weird: A compendium of strange and dark stories. Tor Books.

Woelfle‐Erskine C and Cole J (2015) Transfiguring the Anthropocene: Stochastic reimaginings of human‐
beaver worlds. Transgender Studies Quarterly 2(2): 297‐316.

PhD Course ‘Mitigating Climate Change: The Politics of Net Zero and Carbon Removal’

PhD Course (7.5 ECTS credits) ‘Mitigating Climate Change: The Politics of Net Zero and Carbon Removal’, 13-17 June, 2022, Copenhagen.

In this 5-day intensive course, students will be acquainted with the promises and pitfalls of ‘net zero’ mitigation
pathways and the technologies that are supposed to help bring these about. The course gives students a critical
overview of the current net zero conversation against the background of the history of climate politics, and goes into
some of the main tendencies, tensions and opportunities that characterize net zero pathways. It mainly draws on
conceptual tools in the fields of political economy, political ecology and science and technology studies.

Lecturers will be Holly Jean Buck, University of Buffalo, US; Wim Carton, Lund University, Sweden; Inge-Merete Hougaard, Lund University, Sweden; Jens Friis Lund, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Nils Markusson, Lancaster University, UK; and Camila Moreno, Humboldt University, Germany.

Course participants should be enrolled in a PhD program and can be at any stage of their studies. Participants will need to submit a draft essay prior to the start of the course. This essay will be discussed with colleagues and lecturers during the course.

A €100 course fee will be charged. Participants are expected to pay for their own travel and accommodation. Participation will be capped at about 20 students.

To apply send a 1-page CV & 1-page motivation letter, to: and, DEADLINE 15 January 2022. The letter should describe the PhD project and specify its relation to the theme of the course.