CfP POLLEN20 – Mapping [and] Contesting Value Regimes From Political Ecology Perspectives

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

Session organizers

Özlem Aslan (Boğaziçi University, Turkey), Prasad Khanolkar (Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati, India) & Katie Mazer (McMaster University, Canada).

Please send abstracts of no more that 250 words to Özlem Aslan (, Prasad Khanolkar (, and Katie Mazer ( by 20th November 2019.  If there is interest, we will explore the possibility of a journal special issue.

Session description

Developing alternative political imaginaries about political ecology requires dismantling hegemonic value regimes that value particular bodies, geographies, resources, life forms, and ways of being while devaluing others as waste. Importantly, it also requires mapping the contestations between different value regimes: accounting for the creation of these hegemonic value regimes, the fissures in these power structures, and persistent modes of (or aspirations toward) valuing otherwise. In pursuit of these goals, in this session we ask the following questions:

  • What are the different value regimes associated with particular landscapes, species-beings, and other materialities [such as water, waste, oil, minerals, forests, and so on] across varied geographies and governance structures?
  • What kind of processes, practices, discourses, knowledges, and technologies constitute these value regimes?
  • How and why do certain value regimes become hegemonic, and how do they exploit and reproduce power relations of race, gender, caste, capitalism and colonialism across different geographies?
  • What is the nature of the relationship between the hegemonic and ‘other’ value regimes of political ecology?
  • And what possibilities does this relationship offer to challenge, disrupt, interrupt, multiply or alter the hegemonic value regimes?

The session plans to explore these questions, first and foremost, through empirical studies that span diverse disciplines. To that end, we welcome submissions examining a range of geographical, political, and ecological contexts. Scholars who are at different stages of their research and career are welcome to join us in this session. While we are envisioning this as a conventional paper session, we will reserve ample time for discussion in order to develop a possible comparative framework across disciplines and geographies. Possible areas of study include:

  • Capitalist, post-capitalist and non-capitalist value regimes
  • Modernization, development, and the politics of ‘improvement’
  • Science, law, and nature
  • Empirical explorations of the growth imperative
  • Marketization and commodification of nature
  • The politics of work and productivity (e.g. in natural resource industries)
  • Waste economies
  • Just transitions
  • Divestment as a strategy of resistance

CFP Pollen20 – Utopian ecologies of unburnable fuels

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

Session organizers

Please send your abstracts by the 20th of November to Lorenzo Pellegrini ( and Salvatore Eugenio Pappalardo (

Session description

In order to limit the probable increase in global mean temperature to 2°C, about 80%, 50% and 30% of existing coal, gas and oil reserves, respectively, would need to remain under the soil and more ambitious targets would be necessary to comply with the commitments made under the Paris Agreement. While this awareness has been translated into a number of ambitious local initiatives to ‘leave oil in the soil’, ‘coal in the hole’ and ‘gas in the grass’, hydrocarbon extraction at the global level has not in fact been declining. Decarbonization as a goal remains as utopic as it is unavoidable.

This tension between the seeming impossibility and concrete necessity of designating large shares of hydrocarbons as ‘unburnable’ requires urgent attention from political ecologists in at least two parallel streams of inquiry. The first concerns the process of transition away the contemporary centrality of hydrocarbons. This is necessarily a dual transition: away not only from a global economy that is dependent on fossil fuels but also from a global political system whose rules are dictated by state and capital benefiting from extractivism. The second stream has to focus on the shape of what is to come. The work of building a world where the ‘extractive imperative’ has been defanged, requires novel forms of political strategy, geographical criteria, and radical acts of imagination and solidarity.

To meet these analytical and political challenges, this panel will engage with these and other related questions:

  • Where and which resources need to be left untapped? Who should be empowered to make these decisions in a democratic yet urgent manner?
  • What are the institutional structures – economically as well as politically – that need to be constructed to compensate the socio-economic losses of right-holders as well as to resolve conflicts that will emerge at multiple scales? Can this transition be managed without creating centralized and hierarchical political structures that gather their legitimacy from the undeniable urgency of their task?
  • Who will be the main protagonists of this struggle? What forms of intersectional and global alliances are necessary and/or possible?
  • How does a world of unburnable fuels look like? What types of socio-economic, political and cultural changes are likely to emerge in the wake of a successful transition?
  • How geographical imagination and geovisualization can support the overcoming of petroleum-scapes, by defining geographical criteria, mapping unburnable fuels, and bridging disciplines for the climate justice debate.

CfP POLLEN20 – Conceptualizations and institutionalizations of variegated “green” economies in the global South

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

Session organizers

Jill Tove Buseth (Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences & Department of Social and Educational Sciences, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences) and Mathew Bukhi Mabele (Department of Geography, University of Zurich & Department of Geography, University of Dodoma

Abstracts of 300 words must be sent to and no later than 20th of Nov.

Session description

‘Greening’ economies and development has been key in international politics since the converging triple f crisis and the subsequent Rio+20 meeting (UNEP, 2011). For many, this represented “a unique moment in history in which major environmental and economic challenges could be tackled simultaneously” (Tienhaara, 2014, p. 1). A growing body of research and policy reports discuss different aspects of green transitions and the global green shift. While the green economy unfolds in different directions, there are some tendencies at work in how the green economy is interpreted and implemented across the global North and South. Two key trends stand out. In the developed part of the world, green shifts seem to center around technological and market-based solutions to environmental challenges (Brown et al., 2014). In the global South, however, variegated green economies tend to imply modernization of natural resource management, or transformed control over or access to the use of natural resources such as land and forests (Bergius & Buseth, 2019; Bergius et al., 2017; Büscher & Fletcher, 2015; Ehresman & Okereke, 2015). A rich body of literature – often coming from political ecologists – scrutinize and criticize implications and outcomes of variegated green economies in the global South (Barkin and Fuente, 2013; Fairhead et al., 2012; Fisher et al., 2018; Mabele, 2019; Scoones et al., 2015). In order to understand green economy implementations, it is necessary to look beyond the policies and analyse the various conceptualizations from which the green economy materializes and institutionalizes. Indeed, the haziness and ambiguity of the green economy has resulted in a blending of green agendas in a fluid conceptual base that has consequences for how it is interpreted and implemented in practice. Powerful actors have thus managed to establish policies and schemes framed under the green economy umbrella, but which often represent nothing but business-as-usual under a different branding. Corson et al. (2013, p. 2) discussed this as “grabbing green”, referring to how the environment “is being used instrumentally by various actors to extend the potential for capital accumulation under the auspices of being green.” One evolving key contentious issue of such interpretation, of course, is the framing of social justice, which is predicated on material and economic dimensions of prosperity. Such “fuzzy” green conceptualizations also signify the inattention to contextual aspects such as power imbalances which shape access to targeted environmental resources. There is an overall tendency that variegated versions of “green” is interpreted and transformed in various contexts before reaching implementation level, thus leading to hybrid green economy materializations that may have unfortunate outcomes.

Based on this, we seek abstracts building on ideas related, but not limited to, the following thematic topics:

  • Case studies of green economy institutionalizations in the global South
  • Variegated conceptualizations, interpretations and/ or utilizations of the green economy in the global South
  • Case studies of “green” injustices predicated on hybrid interpretations of the green economy


Barkin, D. and Fuente, M. (2013) Community forest management: Can the green economy contribute to environmental justice? Natural Resources Forum 37, 200–210.

Bergius, M., Benjaminsen, T. A., & Widgren, M. (2018). Green economy, Scandinavian investments and agricultural modernization in Tanzania. Journal of Peasant Studies, 45(4), 825–852. Retrieved from

Bergius, M. and Buseth, J. T. (2019). Towards a green modernization development discourse: The new green revolution in Africa. Journal of Political Ecology, 26, 57-83.

Brown, E., Cloke, J., Gent, D., & Hill, D. (2014). Green growth or ecological commodification: debating the green economy in the Global south. Geografiska Annaler: Series B., 93(3), p. 245–259.

Büscher, B., & Fletcher, R. (2015). Accumulation by conservation. New Political Economy, 20(2), 273–298.

Corson, C., MacDonald, K. I., & Neimark, B. (2013). Grabbing “green”: Markets, environmental governance and the materialization of natural capital. Human Geography, 6(1), 1–15.

Ehresman, T. G., & Okereke, C. (2015). Environmental justice and conceptions of the green economy. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 15(1), 13–27.

Fairhead, J., Leach, M., & Scoones, I. (2012). Green grabbing: A new appropriation of nature? Journal of Peasant Studies, 39(2), 237–261.

Fisher, J. A., Cavanagh, C. J., Sikor, T. et al. (2018). Linking notions of justice and project outcomes in carbon offset forestry projects: Insights from a comparative study in Uganda. Land Use Policy 73, 259–268

Mabele, M. B. (2019). In pursuit of multidimensional justice: Lessons from a charcoal ‘greening’ project in Tanzania. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, DOI: 10.1177/2514848619876544

Scoones, I., Newell, P., & Leach, M. (2015). The politics of green transformations. In I. Scoones, M. Leach, & P. Newell (Eds.), The politics of green transformations (pp. 1–24). Abingdon: Routledge.

Tienhaara, K. (2014). Varieties of green capitalism: Economy and environment in the wake of the global financial crisis. Environmental Politics, 23(2), 187–204. doi:10.1080/09644016.2013.821828

UNEP. (2011). Towards a green economy: Pathways to sustainable development and poverty eradication. A synthesis for policy makers. Retrieved from

CfP POLLEN20 – Creating carbon knowledges: conceptualising carbon ‘on the ground’

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

Session organisers

If you would like to contribute please send a title and abstract to Rebecca Kent at by November 19, 2019.

 Session description

This session seeks to examine how carbon knowledge is absorbed, accepted, rejected, interpreted or assimilated in communities subject to carbon offset projects.

The extension of carbon knowledge in the context of REDD+ or other VCM projects can be considered to represent a process of privileging neoliberal, scientific perspectives to the exclusion of other ways of knowing and being. Within an environmental justice framing this can be conceived as ‘malrecognition’ (Martin, 2017:17). In the context of carbon offset projects, the potential for engagement practices to alter perceptions and re-order cultural and socio-economic relationships to forests and land means that the risk of malrecognition is acute (Boer 2019).

However, in contrast to the extensive literature on the creation of carbon discourse at the international policy level, there has been relatively limited investigation of the processes of knowledge creation around carbon ‘on the ground’ and hence a gap in knowledge of how carbon meanings are reproduced and reinterpreted locally (Twyman, Smith, & Arnall, 2015).  This ‘local messiness’ appears largely invisible to the global gaze of new environmental governance regimes (Asiyanbi 2015). Nonetheless, the bridging of local and global understandings of carbon presents a significant challenge to the incorporation of land-based carbon projects into local settings, and reduces the opportunities for carbon projects to reflect local ecologies, values and needs (Leach & Scoones, 2015).

In this session we invite empirical or theoretical papers from a range of disciplinary perspectives that examine the creation of carbon knowledges. This might include local people’s experiences of information sharing in carbon offset projects; how are messages received and interpreted? What scope exists for scientific understandings of carbon to be accommodated within local belief systems, world views or religions? Is there a case for ‘knowledge diversity’ (Green 2008) in climate change communication in carbon projects?


Asiyanbi, A.P. (2015) Mind the gap: global truths, local complexities in emergent green initiatives. In R.L. Bryant (Ed.), The International Handbook of Political Ecology, (pp. 274-287) Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.

Boer, H. (2019). Deliberative engagement and REDD+ in Indonesia. Geoforum 104, 170-180.

Green, L. J. (2008). ‘Indigenous knowledge’ and ‘science’: Reframing the debate on knowledge diversity. Archaeologies, 4(1), 144-163.

Leach, M., & Scoones, I. (2015). Political ecologies of carbon in Africa. In Leach, M., & Scoones, I. (Eds.), Carbon Conflicts and Forest Landscapes in Africa (pp. 21-62). London: Routledge.

Martin, A. (2017). Just conservation: Biodiversity, wellbeing and sustainability. Routledge.

Twyman, C., Smith, T. A., & Arnall, A. (2015). What is carbon? Conceptualising carbon and capabilities in the context of community sequestration projects in the global South. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 6(6), 627-641.

CfP POLLEN20 – ‘Defenders’, atmospheres of violence in conservation, extraction, and ‘sustainable’ development

Session organizers

If you are interested in contributing a paper, please send a title and abstract to Mary Menton ( by 15 November. If you would like to express interest or discuss the session proposal before sending an abstract, please get in touch with Mary, Philippe LeBillon ( and/or Peter Larsen (peter.larsen@unigh.che)

Session description

This session will address the atmospheres and dynamics of violence surrounding conservation and development projects. Global Witness reports have highlighted the murders of ‘environmental and land defenders’, recording 1748 killings since 2002. For every ‘defender’ murdered, thousands more are threatened, criminalised, and suffer attempts to repress their struggles. This session proposal, which complements the ‘Who/what is an environmental defender?’ panel proposal, explores the drivers and wider contexts of these murders, but also the different forms of violence experienced by environmental defenders, by those who fight for land rights, and other groups who fight against the powerful actors who perpetuate violence against them. We invite papers that explore these issues in the context of ‘sustainable’ development, ‘green’ development, conservation, or extractive industries.

CfP POLLEN20 –Waterscape, hydrosocial territory and other water words. Theorising space in the political ecology of water: Opportunities and challenges

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

Session organizers

If you would like to contribute, please send abstracts (250 words maximum) to Silvia Flaminio ( and Gaële Rouillé-Kielo ( by 15th November, 2019.

Session description

Over the past two decades, various concepts have been put forward by political ecologists to consider the connections between water, space and the social sphere and to acknowledge the influence of power relationships in the shaping of space. The concept of “waterscape” was introduced in political ecology in the late 1990s by Erik Swyngedouw (1999). Previously, it was extensively used in the fields of environmental psychology (Herzog, 1985) and of water history (Hundley, 1987). In political ecology, “waterscape” addresses the hybrid (natural and social) characteristics of a specific spatial configuration. It is also used to elaborate on the “hydrosocial cycle” (Linton and Budds 2014) described as “a mix of hydrological and social processes” (Linton 2010) – waterscapes being considered as “the geographical temporary outcomes of these processes” (Bouleau 2014).

More recently, the concept of “hydrosocial territory” (Boelens et al. 2016) has gained momentum in the anglophone sphere of political ecology and beyond. The concept takes into account “the contested imaginary and social-environmental materialization of a spatially bound multi-scalar network” (ibid.). By focusing on networks, the diversity of “hydro-territorial regimes” (Hommes, Boelens, and Maat 2016) shaped by groups of actors is acknowledged.

While both these concepts -“waterscape” and “hydrosocial territory”- are increasingly used in the literature, so far little attention has been paid to the (distinct) theorisation of space they convey. Against this background, this panel seeks to open a discussion on the opportunities and challenges they represent in a context of competing, sometimes contested, visions of water and of its future among groups of actors.

Therefore, we invite contributions which address this issue, building both on empirical and theoretical perspectives, such as:

  • Papers focusing on the development and use of these concepts. What perspectives have they brought to the theorisation of space in water studies? To what extent do they offer stimulating frameworks to reflect on case studies, such as those which show the unequal distribution of power among actors? Are these frameworks adequate or rather too “encompassing” (Mollinga, 2014) to conceptualise the varying and complex outcomes of the relationships between societies, water and space?
  • Contributions that discuss the fruitful but complex dialogue between concepts reflecting on the social-water-space nexus and approaches relying on differing epistemologies. How are concepts such as “waterscape” or “hydrosocial territory” articulated with the notions of space, place, networks and territories used in social sciences and whose definitions vary along with different epistemological traditions? How can new perspectives developed in other linguistic or national contexts (see Loftus 2017) help enrich the theorisation of space in the political ecology of water?
  • Studies relying on these concepts to analyse empirical data in an effort to make sense of contemporary spatial dynamics entrenched in situated contexts and/or linked to the implementation of conservation projects (PES programmes, urban water demand management, etc.) or infrastructure plans (water supply, irrigation or hydro-power schemes, etc. ) in urban or rural areas.


Boelens, Rutgerd, Jaime Hoogesteger, Erik Swyngedouw, Jeroen Vos, and Philippus Wester. 2016. ‘Hydrosocial Territories: A Political Ecology Perspective’. Water International 41 (1): 1–14.

Bouleau, Gabrielle. 2014. ‘The Co-Production of Science and Waterscapes: The Case of the Seine and the Rhône Rivers, France’. Geoforum 57: 248–57.

Herzog, Thomas R. 1985. ‘A Cognitive Analysis of Preference for Waterscapes’. Journal of Environmental Psychology 5 (3): 225–41.

Hommes, Lena, Rutgerd Boelens, and Harro Maat. 2016. ‘Contested Hydrosocial Territories and Disputed Water Governance: Struggles and Competing Claims over the Ilisu Dam Development in Southeastern Turkey’. Geoforum 71: 9–20.

Hundley, Norris. 1987. ‘California’s Original Waterscape: Harmony & Manipulation’. California History 66 (1): 2–11.

Linton, Jamie. 2010. What Is Water?: The History of a Modern Abstraction. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Linton, Jamie, and Jessica Budds. 2014. ‘The Hydrosocial Cycle: Defining and Mobilizing a Relational-Dialectical Approach to Water’. Geoforum 57: 170–80.

Loftus, Alex. 2019. ‘Political Ecology I: Where Is Political Ecology?’ Progress in Human Geography 43 (1): 172–82.

Mollinga, Peter P. 2014. ‘Canal Irrigation and the Hydrosocial Cycle: The Morphogenesis of Contested Water Control in the Tungabhadra Left Bank Canal, South India’. Geoforum 57: 192–204.

Swyngedouw, Erik. 1999. ‘Modernity and Hybridity: Nature, Regeneracionismo, and the Production of the Spanish Waterscape, 1890-1930’. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 89 (3): 443–65.

CfP POLLEN20 – Blurred Boundaries and their Political Ecologies: Parties, patronage and bureaucratic practice

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

Session organizers

Please send abstracts of up to 250 words to Elsie Lewison, Rebecca McMillan and Zach Anderson at and by November 19, 2019.

Session description

Over the past decade, political ecology has seen increasingly nuanced theoretical and methodological engagements with the state. From the proliferation of work on neoliberal environments to theorizations of the state as a socio-environmental relation and more recent explorations of authoritarian and populist trends in environmental governance, political ecologists have responded enthusiastically to calls to de-fetishize the state and build on political geography’s attention to scale, territory, and power. More recently, we also find growing interest in anthropological approaches to the state, particularly in its everyday, bureaucratic forms.

Yet, although party politics and bureaucratic practices that “blur” the line between state and non-state actors appear frequently in ethnographic descriptions of natural resource management and socio-ecological struggles, they are rarely foregrounded in political ecological analysis. Attention to such dynamics is more common in work on violent environments, rentier states and regimes of dispossession. However, as Robbins highlighted almost two decades ago, bureaucratic transgressions often follow systems of “normalized rules” that structure everyday state practice and ecological relations. At the same time, neoliberal reforms that subcontract governance activities to community groups, the private sector, and unelected consultants and technical advisors have further blurred state-non-state and public-private boundaries in bureaucratic spaces (while generally being exempted from the label of ‘corruption’). Attention to everyday practices in these spaces is essential for political ecologists concerned with possibilities for more democratic, anti-capitalist, socio-natural relations because it is often through people’s mundane encounters with bureaucracy that the state becomes socially effective or ‘powerful’ and that political subjectivities are (re)produced or transformed.

In this paper session we are interested in exploring how (post)neoliberal environmental governance is disrupted, reproduced, and reworked through its articulation with the political logics of networked or clientelist relations and the blurring of public-private boundaries in spaces of bureaucratic practice. Key questions include:

  • How do pre-existing patron/client networks and forms of rule map onto or subvert neoliberal environmental governance reforms (e.g. commodification, marketization, privatization, decentralization)? And how are geometries of power along such lines as class, caste, race, ethnicity, and gender reshaped through this articulation?
  • How has the participatory turn in (post)neoliberal environmental governance reinforced or undermined patron-client relations? Has participation worked to uproot practices that may be seen as “corrupt” or to further entrench existing power imbalances within and beyond the state?
  • What forms of political subjectivity emerge at the intersection of neoliberalism and other logics of rule?
  • How are environmental governance practices understood (e.g. as public/private or illegitimate/legitimate/corrupt), by whom, and with what effects?
  • In what ways do efforts to eradicate corruption and patronage politics serve to underwrite or reproduce, or alternatively, disrupt or undermine the legitimacy of state and non-state actors? What do these efforts mean for democratic accountability?


Bear, L. & Mathur, N. (2015). Introduction: Remaking the Public Good: A New Anthropology of Bureaucracy. The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, 33(1).

Corbridge, S., Williams, G., Srivastava, M., & Véron, R. (2005). Seeing the state: Governance and governmentality in India (Vol. 10). Cambridge University Press.

Gupta, A. (2012). Red Tape: Bureaucracy, Structural Violence, and Poverty in India. Durham and London: Duke University Press

Gupta, A. (1995). Blurred boundaries: the discourse of corruption, the culture of politics, and the imagined state. American ethnologist22(2), 375-402.

Harris, L. M. (2017). Political ecologies of the state: Recent interventions and questions going forward. Political Geography58(May), 90-92.

Loftus, A. (2018). Political ecology II: Whither the state?. Progress in Human Geography, 0309132518803421.

Lund, C. (2006). Twilight Institutions: Public authority and local politics in Africa. Development and Change, 37(4), 685-705.

Muir, S. & Gupta, A. (2018). Rethinking the Anthropology of Corruption: An Introduction to Supplement 18. Current Anthropology, 59(suppl. 18), S4-S15.

Omeje, K. (Ed.). (2013). Extractive economies and conflicts in the global south: Multi-regional perspectives on rentier politics. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..

Robbins, P. (2008). The state in political ecology: A postcard to political geography from the field. The SAGE handbook of political geography, 205-218.

Robbins, P. (2000). The rotten institution: corruption in natural resource management. Political Geography, 19(4), 423-443.

Robertson, M. (2015). Political ecology and the state. The Routledge handbook of political ecology, 457.

Watts, M. (2001). Petro-violence: community, extraction, and political ecology of a mythic commodity. Violent environments, 189-212.

Williams, A., & Le Billon, P. (Eds.). (2017). Corruption, natural resources and development: From resource curse to political ecology. Edward Elgar Publishing.