POLLEN Biennial Conferences


When: 28-30 June 2022
Where: Durban, South Africa
Organised By: The Discipline of Geography and the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and The Political Ecology Network (POLLEN) Secretariat at the Australian National University (ANU).

Support is provided by the South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) and the professional conference organiser is African Agenda.


The POLLEN 2022 Organising Committee is pleased to announce a Call for Proposals for Organised Sessions. As in previous conferences, POLLEN 2022 will combine the objectives of a traditional meeting with the collegiality and dynamism of a less structured, more participatory gathering.

To this end, this Call encourages proposals for Organised Sessions in a variety of both conventional and novel formats, aspiring to bring together perspectives and ways of sharing from across disciplines and geographic traditions, and welcoming contributions from within and outside the academy. Please note that a separate, secondary call for individual papers will be made in due course.

We particularly encourage transdisciplinary engagements and collaborations in political ecology (i.e. involving, for example, researchers in social sciences, natural/environmental sciences, environmental humanities, and development studies; artists; journalists; practitioners; policy professionals; laypersons; activists; environmental justice campaigners; and others).

CONFERENCE THEME: Political Ecology: North, South, and Beyond

The contested notions of the Global North and South, comparative political ecology, and the production of political ecological knowledge are proposed central themes for the 4th Biennial POLLEN conference. This is the first time the conference will be held outside of Europe, and we aim to use the occasion to think with and through the geographies of political ecology research, as well as to revisit the perennial focus of the network on political ecological change in diverse contexts. The conference offers an opportunity to not only expand the POLLEN network and (re)visit political ecology’s own problematics, but to engage with and challenge received wisdoms and persistent dichotomies and categories (spatial, social, ecological, political, economic, etc.) more generally, aiming to critically engage, and where necessary disrupt, our continued reliance on them.

‘First world’ and ‘third world’ political ecologies garnered initial exploration in the early 2000s (McCarthy 2002, 2005; Castree 2007; Robbins 2002; Shillington 2011; and Bryant 2015), in part following Said’s insights that imaginative geographies are produced by discourses, historical-geographical practices, and disciplinary institutions. These engagements in political ecology opened up questions about the relationships between spatiality and regions, and the ways we frame and interpret environmental change and conflict, but also the ways we deploy contested concepts of nature, the `here’, home, and ‘the other’ (Wainwright, 2005). 

One contention is that the terms Global South and Global North can be dialectically and productively employed to capture a ‘deterritorialised geography’ of spaces and peoples negatively impacted by contemporary capitalist globalisation, and solidarities against it, regardless of their geographical location (Mahler, 2017). However, the terms can be dichotomising and reifying, and, given the contemporary pace, scale, and unevenness of global economic and ecological crisis, there is a clear need to think through and beyond ‘north and south’.

As in past POLLEN conferences, we will structure the conference to encourage critical reflection around the entanglements and encounters of political ecology with a variety of theories, approaches, and philosophies, including but not limited to post-colonial, post-structuralist, eco-Marxist, anarchist, feminist, indigenous, degrowth, queer, and racial and environmental justice scholarship. We also invite sessions engaging conference themes with recent debates in political ecology and beyond: pertaining to multi-species entanglements, biodiversity crisis, extinction, climate, racialisation, (de)coloniality, biopolitics, green governmentality, the production and neoliberalisation of nature, uneven and unequal geographical exchange, and the envisioning of alternative sustainabilities for pursuing human and non-human well-being. In particular the themes of de-coloniality and post-coloniality are fitting in the context of the recent ‘Fees Must Fall’ student-led movement for free, decolonised education which swept through South African tertiary institutions. We aim to foster discussion around solidarities within and across the world’s multiple Souths and between the human and nonhuman, as well as scholarship and conceptual engagement which interrogates and cuts across conceptualisation of the north-south, nature and society, natural and artificial, authentic and inauthentic, expert and indigenous knowledges, and bodies and ecologies, as well as other axes of race, ethnicity, sexuality, kinship, age, caste, and identity. As in previous meetings, POLLEN 2022 will combine the objectives of a traditional meeting with less structured, more participatory sessions, and a creative and artistic component.

To these ends, this call encourages proposals for themed sessions in a variety of both conventional and novel formats, aspiring to bring together perspectives and ways of sharing from across disciplines and geographic traditions, and welcoming contributions from within and outside the academy.

As with other network activities, the POLLEN biennial conference is organised in a decentralised way. If you would like to organise a session, you will be expected to develop the session abstract/description, solicit contributions (however you choose), perform the initial review/selection of the submissions you receive, and serve as the main contact person between the Organising Committee and session participants. It is the session organiser’s responsibility to determine time allocations and session roles, and to make sure that session participants are aware of and comply with general conference requirements and deadlines.

Please note that in order to ensure quality sessions and a breadth of participation, organisers will be limited to giving 2 Organised Sessions; more than 2 proposals may be submitted, but a maximum of 2 Organised Sessions per organiser will be accepted.

We hope you’ll take this opportunity to get involved in POLLEN 2022 by submitting a proposal for an Organised Session. The information that you will need to include in your proposal is as follows:

– Organiser/main contact person for Organised Session
– Proposed title of Organised Session (maximum 20 words)
– Abstract/description of Organised Session (maximum 250 words)
– Format of Organised Session (Paper, Panel, Indaba, Exhibition, Poster, Workshop)
– Name, affiliation, presentation title (maximum 20 words), abstract (maximum 250 words), and 3 keywords for each author/participant in the Organised Session (maximum 5 authors/participants per 90-minute session)
– Keywords (maximum 6 keywords)

All Organised Sessions are 90 minutes long. The maximum number of authors/participants is 5.
Various formats are available:

Paper Session A standard conference session with a series of papers/presentations followed by discussion. “Lightning Talks” and “Storytelling” fit within this format.

Panel Session A panel of contributors discussing a particular topic. Sessions with civil society actors fit within this format.

Indaba Session A general discussion of a topic, issue, or proposal. This format includes a facilitator and perhaps an initial introductory presentation, whereafter participants debate and discuss in an open format. This format lends itself to roundtable, open discussion, and networking activities.

Exhibition Session A session format to display and discuss artworks/films/performance pieces with a political ecological focus. Sessions with a broader art/culture focus fit within this format and session organisers are encouraged to allocate time for discussion around the pieces.

Poster Session On-demand sessions for posters (and attached audio).

Workshop Session This format (double session/3 hours) is available if an organiser would like to run their own session independently (‘off platform’) in their own virtual or in-person venue. The Organising Committee will vet proposed Workshop Sessions for relevance, and if accepted will advertise them in the conference programme, but authority and responsibility is given to organisers to run Workshop Sessions themselves.
Further guidelines for Organised Sessions can be found on the conference website

The Organising Committee and the POLLEN Secretariat can assist with posting calls to the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN) website and the conference website. If you would like to post a call for papers or presenters or other participants or contributions to your Organised Session, please send your call as a Word document attached to an email and include the following: proposed Organised Session title, session details, abstract requirements, and instructions for submitting contributions to programme@pollen2022.com with “CfP POLLEN 2022’ in the subject line.

Please make sure to include all relevant information for potential authors/participants in your session, and allow enough time for responses.

Key dates:
Proposal submission deadline: 15 November 2021
Notification of accepted proposals: 14 January 2022

Where to Submit Your Proposal
Submission portal

Please note that the Organising Committee is not accepting individual abstract submissions at this time. There will be a subsequent call for individual abstract submissions, likely in early 2022, to offer further programme opportunities and to fill gaps in Organised Sessions.


Please note that the Organising Committee in conjunction with the POLLEN Secretariat are yet to determine the conference format, whether it be in person, virtual, or hybrid. We will make a determination early in 2022, given the prevailing COVID-19 situation in South Africa and the national, provincial, and University of KwaZulu-Natal guidelines and protocols at that time. Whatever happens, we are committed to providing the best conference we can.


Financial support in the form of bursaries to attend the conference is available through the POLLEN Solidarity Fund. Please indicate in your session proposal if you would like to apply for a bursary and you will be given information about the application process.


If you have questions about the conference or how to submit your proposal for an Organised Session, you can contact the conference organiser on info@pollen2022.com. If you would like to know more about the conference theme, discuss an idea for an Organised Session, or circulate a call for participants/ contributions to your Organised Session please contact the POLLEN Secretariat on programme@pollen2022.com

Other information

The POLLEN network conferences are major biannual events that gather the POLLEN community for exchange of ideas and networking. Host of past and upcoming conference are:

  • POLLEN16 was hosted by Wageningen University and organized by Wageningen University and School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. More information about the POLLEN 2016 conference can be found here .
  • POLLEN18 was hosted and organized by the Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU); the Center for Development and the Environment (SUM), University of Oslo; and the Department of International Studies and Interpreting, Oslo Metropolitan University.
  • POLLEN 2020 is organized by the ESRC STEPS Centre (IDS/SPRU, University of Sussex) and co-hosted by Radical Futures at the University of Brighton, with support from the BIOSEC project (European Research Council) and SIID at the University of Sheffield and the POLLEN Secretariat.

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