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.

CfP POLLEN20 – Urban Political Ecology

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

Session organisers

Seth Gustafson (University College London,; Alex Loftus (King’s College London,; Katie Meehan (King’s College London, Please send titles and abstracts of 250 words to all three of us by November 20, 2019.

Session description

We are seeking papers to join our session(s) on Urban Political Ecology. Our goal is to take the pulse of UPE by bringing together a diverse mix of papers that reflect novel conceptual, methodological, and empirical developments in the study of critical urban natures and metropolitan environmental justice.

CfP POLLEN20 – Plant spaces, vegetal places? Placing vegetal life in urban political ecology

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

Session organizer

Marion Ernwein (University of Oxford) and James Palmer (University of Bristol).

Please send 250-word abstracts to Marion Ernwein ( and James Palmer ( by Monday 18th November 2019.

Session description

Efforts to “animate” Urban Political Ecology (UPE) are stemming from multiple directions, ranging from attention to processes of decay within waste infrastructures (Fredericks 2018; Doherty 2019), to the agencies and life histories of urban animals (Barua and Sinha 2019). In this session, we aim to further this agenda by exploring how a situated attention to plant life could open up research avenues for UPE. In short, the session aims to explore what a vegetal urban political ecology (cf. Fleming 2017) might look like, by examining in detail the differences that ‘the vegetal’ makes to our understanding of the politics of cities and urbanisation (Ernwein 2019; Gandy and Jasper 2020).

Recent advances in the plant sciences relating, for instance, to plant communication, intelligence, and memory, are not just spurring new reflections on the part of biophilosophers (e.g. Marder 2017). They are also reshaping practical modes of working with, and extracting value from, plants, in fields as diverse as landscape architecture, air pollution removal technologies, and so-called “nature-based” solutions to a host of urban socio-environmental problems.

In this session, we therefore want to explore how new scientific understandings of plants, as well as new situated social imaginaries of plant life, are reshaping the place of the vegetal in cities, and with what social, environmental, and political consequences. We also want to discuss how urban political ecology might engage with concepts of plant intelligence and communication, among others, to analyse the production not only of plant spaces but also vegetal places (after Wilbert and Philo 2000).

We would particularly welcome papers that address one or more of the following topics:

  • The place of plant intelligence and related concepts within urban “nature-based solutions” and experiments with “non-design” (Gandy 2013);
  • The role of the “smart” cities agenda in shaping (and being shaped by) vegetal political ecologies (Gulsrud 2018) – particularly the processes through which data-driven governance serves to extract value from vegetal life;
  • Modes of working with plants in urban environmental movements: from “seeing the city like a moss” (Gabrys 2012), to sensing pollution through lichens (Gabrys 2018), etc.;
  • How the re-scripting of parks and green spaces as biodiversity havens or green infrastructures is reshaping the biopolitics of plant life, particularly under conditions of advanced neoliberalism and austerity (Ernwein 2019);
  • What methods we, as scholars or scholar-activists, might devise to engage with the specificities of urban vegetal life. Here papers might address the use of (bio-)sensors, archives, filmic methods, embodied methods (Pitt 2015), etc.




Barua, M. and Sinha, A. 2019. Animating the urban: an ethological and geographical conversation. Social and Cultural Geography 20(8), pp. 1160-1180.

Doherty, J. 2019. Filthy flourishing: Para-sites, animal infrastructure, and the waste frontier in Kampala. Current Anthropology60(20).

Ernwein, M. 2019. Les Natures de la Ville Néolibérale: Une Ecologie Politique du Végétal Urbain. Grenoble: UGA Editions.

Fleming, J. 2017. Toward vegetal political ecology: Kyrgyzstan’s walnut–fruit forest and the politics of graftability. Geoforum79, pp. 26-35.

Fredericks, R. 2018. Garbage Citizenship: Vital Infrastructures of Labor in Dakar, Senegal. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Gabrys, J. 2018. Sensing lichens: From ecological microcosms to environmental subjects. Third Text 32(2-3), pp. 350-367.

Gabrys, J. 2012. Becoming urban: sitework from a moss-eye view. Environment and Planning A 44, pp. 2922-2939.

Gulsrud, N.M. 2018. Smart nature? Views from the cyborg tree. In Braae, E. and Steiner, H. (eds) Routledge Research Companion to Landscape Architecture.

Gandy, M. and Jasper, S. (eds) 2020. The Botanical City. Berlin: Jovis Verlag.

Gandy, M. 2013. Entropy by design: Gilles Clément, Parc Henri Matisse and the Limits to Avant-garde Urbanism. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 37(1):259–78.

Marder, T. 2013. Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life. Columbia University Press.

Pitt, H. 2015. On showing and being shown plants – a guide to methods for more-than-human geographyArea 47(1), pp. 48-55.

Wilbert, C. and Philo, C. 2000. Animals Spaces, Beastly Places. New Geographies of Human-Animal Relations. London/New York: Routledge.

POLLEN20 Call for workshop participants & input – Bridging environmental research and activism

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

Workshop organizers

Eszter Kovacs at, Leverhulme Fellow the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge, and Jessica Hope, Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, at

Please do get in touch by email if you would like to be involved, either in a presentation capacity, or to share your experiences and thoughts in this area.

Workshop description

As researchers at a time of unprecedented levels of environmental, climatic, social and political change, many of us feel that the conventional research objectives, requirements and outputs of formal institutions are insufficient and inadequate. New skills, forms of expression and ways of engaging with our “research worlds” are necessary, or implied, when we undertake the work of “giving voice” to those on the underbelly and on the frontlines of environment/development trade-offs. Yet these more engaged or ‘activist’ undertakings stretch and strain the structural and temporal expectations and requirements of universities and formally funded research projects.

These societal changes demand a re-think to the roles of universities and of us as researchers. However, these demands are occurring at the same time as unprecedented restructuring within universities, which bring long-term precarity to the sector, as well as multiple (& unrealistic) demands on us as researchers. We find that there are demands placed on early-career teachers and researchers to contribute and extend the ‘impact’ of our work in new and creative ways, to develop communication and output strategies to access and ‘reach’ hugely different audiences (niche audiences and the general public), in easily measurable units of ‘output’. How to manage these varying demands and rationales for our work is hard and informs questions about the extent and depth of our political activism, as well as the purpose and impacts of what we do.

At POLLEN, we propose a workshop (3 hours) to consider the following questions:

  • How do we mobilise effectively as academics, to support the local groups and campaigns of which we are a part, in ways that do not compromise research? What are the trade-offs with this approach?
  • How do we choose when & how to communicate to broader audiences (policy/ publics)? How do communication strategies and intent intersect with (and even potentially compromise) research?
  • What changes can we enact, as researchers, to address the structural confines of the ‘neoliberal’ university? (collectives/ group work/ academic co-ops/ action retreats/journal take-over /manifestos?)

In this workshop, we will do 3 things:

  1. Canvass the challenges faced by workshop participants within their own research contexts for how they currently navigate academia and activism. We are asking people to share what they do and how, as well as what they find challenging about being ‘active/ist’ whilst being an academic.
  2. We will have two ‘external’ speakers (TBC), who are established academics and effective public writers/engagers to speak through their experiences around engagement ‘outside’ of the academy. These presentations and open conversations will specifically focus on
    • Research that attempts to inform policy.
    • Writing for publics in different formats.
    • The question of ‘mobilising’ in environmental or political movements through direct participation, and how to contribute.
  3. Discuss how to organise as academics, in collective & radical ways in order to challenge current directions of change within our university institutions; canvassing of extant practices and initiatives.


In these final planning stages of our workshop, we invite interested participants to send us:

  • Provocations and examples from people about how to navigate promised research “impact agendas” to benefit and engage the wider community/community worked alongside.
  • Examples of types of engagement and writing that “breaks the mould” and goes beyond academic audiences and metrics.
  • Encountered difficulties and challenges around maintaining engagement with ‘researched’ communities in the long-term.
  • Attempts to change research institutions’ incentives from within and ideas for collective organising, for example for how to build more inclusive formal research environments.

CfP POLLEN20 – From the Anthropocene to the ‘Plantationocene’: Describing and defying plantation ecologies, replenishing multi-species worlds

POLLEN20: Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, U.K.
June 24-26, 2020

Session organizers

Session organizers: Vijay Kolinjivadi (University of Antwerp), Jean-François Bissonnette (Université  Laval), Catherine Windey (University of Antwerp), Rut Elliot Blomqvist (University of Gothenburg), Gert Van Hecken (University of Antwerp)

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to Vijay Kolinjivadi   no later than  15 November 2019. Feel free to contact us should you have any questions or ideas about this session. If accepted to this paper session, applicants will still need to register through the POLLEN website.

Session description

Over the last decade, the notion of the Anthropocene has come under fierce critique among social scientists, indigenous scholars, and political geographers alike for its unproblematic  attribution of a particular mode of physical transformation to all of humanity (Malm & Hornborg, 2014; Haraway, 2015; Todd, 2015; Ellis et al., 2016; Moore, 2016; Castree, 2017; Pulido, 2018; Bonneuil & Fressoz, 2013). In particular, this has meant disentangling “humanity” from Euro-centric imperialism, modernization and capitalism, and its violent modus operandi of dispossession of indigenous, black and brown bodies and land. While some have preferred to more aptly conceptualizing the current area as the Capitalocene (e.g. Moore, 2016) or the Chuthulucene (Haraway, 2016), this session aims at exploring and interrogating the underlying drivers of what Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing (2019) call the ‘Plantationocene’ to advance non-binary conceptions of culture-nature relationships.

Distinguishable from the other ‘cenes’, the “Plantationocene” identifies a common root to the inter-relationships between climate change, ecological collapse, capitalism, systemic racism/white supremacy, labour relations, and growing inequality. It emphasizes the disciplining logics that have characterized the history of racialized human labour and ecological complexity of plantation agriculture: homogeneity, predictability, calculability, and control (Ritzer, 1998, Haraway, 2015). For Tsing (2015), plantation logics refer to the efficiency by which the plantation expands in replicating an idealized blueprint modelled on the characteristics of often theoretically-presumed and controlled conditions of the motherland (e.g. global North). For McKittrick (2013), the capacity to substitute racialized labouring bodies and non-human natures as factors of plantation production is in need of paramount consideration. In this sense, we understand the plantation logic as originating from the central western thought of gendered and racialized reason/nature “hyperseparation” that creates hierarchies of superiority and control between linked up dualistic structures: culture over nature, mind over matter, men over women, master over colonized (Plumwood, 1993; Bird Rose, 2011). Plantation logics are thus not limited only to the physical transformation of the earth in the appropriation of human and non-human “resources”, but also to the ordering of the world that polarizes and hierarchizes people along class, racial, gender, and sexual-orientation lines; one that is geared towards faster and more efficient export (of ideas, of products, of experiences), and an intense regulation of human cognition and behaviour (Davis et al., 2019).

Yet, attempts to carry out plantation logics often fail in the face of continual emergence of multi-species unfoldings, the unpredictable and continuous emergence of relationships rooted in connectivity, care and resistance, even as such unfoldings (also) might serve as new ways for plantation logics to maintain their hegemony and reassert their control and seeming all-pervasiveness (Aldeia & Alves, 2019). It is increasingly crucial to identify ways in which multispecies flourishing takes place, in spite of the violence of simplified landscapes and disconnected communities, and the potential this provides for furthering alternative futures. We therefore aim to bring together a collection of presentations that explore the theoretical and empirical basis of plantation ecologies and ways by which alternative ecologies emerge and are sustained even within the realm of the plantation. We invite contributions of diverse multimedia platforms that consider but are not limited to the following:

  • Empirical investigations into unruly relationalities in non-humans and humans alike and their intersections, which do not easily conform to theorized identities or objectified relations within the plantation;
  • Contingent and historically-situated examples of the ongoing history of plantation logics in radically transforming spatial and temporal relationships of human-nature entanglements, from the history of agriculture in colonized lands (Luke, 2018), tourism (Duffy, 2015), biodiversity conservation, cheap labour, the “green economy, (Harcourt and Nelson, 2015)” to the academic ‘production’ of knowledge (Welsh, 2019);
  • Defying plantation logics through “irrational” acts of care, joy, love, reciprocity, empathy- as the conditions to reinstate life- which cannot be rationalized, are at once rooted in defiance, resistance, and/or rage, and are dedicated to life’s incessant becoming into connectivity (Bird Rose, 2011; Stoetzer, 2018);
  • Limits to the Plantationocene concept: theoretical contributions on how far it takes us; pitfalls to avoid, and future research agendas; and
  • Explorations of the cognitive, epistemic, philosophical and historical roots of the plantation logic, and of their continuous reproduction through bio-/body- political techniques and cognitive technologies.


Aldeia, J. & Alves, F. Against the Environment. Problems in Society/Nature Relations. Frontiers in Sociology 4(Article 29). doi: 10.3380/isoc.2019.00029.

Bird Rose, D. (2011). Wild Dog Dreaming: Love and Extinction. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.

Bonneuil, C., & Fressoz, J.B. (2016). L’Événement anthropocène. La Terre, l’histoire et nous: La Terre, l’histoire et nous. Points.

Castree, N. (2017). Anthropocene : Social science misconstrued. Nature 541, 289.

Davis, J., Moulton, A.A., Van Sant, L., & Williams, B. (2019). Anthropocene, Capitalocene, … Plantationocene?: A Manifesto for Ecological Justice in an Age of Global Crises. Geography Compass. doi: 10.1111/gec3.12438.

Duffy, R. (2015). Nature-based tourism and neoliberalism: Concealing contradictions. Tourism Geographies 17(4): 529-543.

Ellis, E., Maslin, M., Boivin, N., & Bauer, A. (2016). Involve social scientists in defining the Anthropocene. Nature News 540(7632).

Haraway, D. (2015). Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin. Environmental Humanities 6(1), 159-165.

Haraway, D., Ishikawa, N., Gilbert, S.F.,  Olwig, K., Tsing, A.L., & Bubandt, N. (2016) Anthropologists Are Talking – About the Anthropocene, Ethnos, 81:3, 535-564, DOI: 10.1080/00141844.2015.1105838

Harcourt, W., and Nelson, I. (Eds.) (2015). Practising Feminist Political Ecologies: Moving beyond the ‘Green Economy.’ Zed Books Ltd., London.

Hopes, A. & Perry, L. (2019). Reflections on the Plantationocene: A conversation with Donna Haraway and Anna Tsing, moderated by Gregg Mitman. Edge Effects Magazine. Nelson Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Luke, T.W. (2018). Tracing race, ethnicity, and civilization in the Anthropocene. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. doi: 10.1177/0263775818798030.

Malm, A., & Hornborg, A. (2014). The geology of mankind? A critique of the Anthropocene narrative. The Anthropocene Review 1(1), 62-69.

Moore, J.W. (Ed.) (2016). Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism. Oakland; PM Press.

Plumwood, V. (1993). Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. London: Routledge.

Pulido, L. (2018). Racism and the Anthropocene. In: G. Mitman, M. Armiero, & R. Emmett (Eds.), Future remains: A cabinet of curiosities for the Anthropocene (pp. 116-128). Chicago; University of Chicago Press.

Ritzer, G. (1998). The McDonaldization thesis: Explorations and extensions. London ; Sage.

Steffen, W., Grinevald, J., Crutzen, P., & McNeill, J. (2011). The Anthropocene: conceptual and historical perspectives. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences369(1938), 842-867.

Stoetzer, B. (2018). Ruderal ecologies: Rethinking nature, migration, and the urban landscape in Berlin. Cultural Anthropology 33(2): 295-323.

Todd, Z. (2015). Indigenizing the Anthropocene. Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters among aesthetics, politics, environments and epistemologies, 241-254.

Tsing, A.L. (2015). The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the possibility of life in capitalist ruins. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Welsh, J. (2019). Dispossessing academics: The shift to ‘appropriation’ in the governing of academic life. European Journal of Social Theory. doi: 10.1177/1368431019854998.


CfP POLLEN20 – Prefiguring Indigeneity at Capitalist Frontiers: Conservation-Extractivism and Resource Making in the Age of Climate Change

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

Session organizers

Melis Ece, British Academy Newton International Fellow, School of Global Studies, Anthropology, University of Sussex, UK (

James Fairhead, Anthropology, University of Sussex, UK (

Madhuri Karak, Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow, Washington D.C., US (

This panel invites contributions of 300-500 words or less from academics and practitioners working in any geographical region. Please email your abstracts to Melis Ece ( and Madhuri Karak ( by November 20, 2019.

Session description

Resource conservation and extractivism increasingly merge in forested frontiers of the Global South as conservation becomes a ‘for profit’ endeavour linked to climate finance and climate commodity markets.  Extractive mining projects claim carbon or biodiversity offsets for ‘landscape restauration’ and, forest carbon conservation projects aim at “revenue-generating” via carbon credits and extractive activities.

Although they commodify and financialize different ‘bits and pieces of nature’ (McAffee 2015, Sullivan 2013, Leach and Scoones 2015), extractivism and conservation share many similarities. They both create enabling conditions for resource grabbing (Fairhead et al. 2012; Borras et al. 2011; Kelly 2015; Kay 2018). Yet, neither of them can be considered to simply commodify ‘natural’ resources, as both depend greatly on ‘resource-making processes’ that bring together or “assemble” specific governance and market relations and a wide array of actors in the creation and valuing of ‘resources’ (Li 2004; Corson et al. 2019).

Recent work in political ecology has focused on the importance of material qualities of the resource-in-the making (Bakker and Bridge 2006) as well as on the production of ‘socio-natural resource commodities’, shaped by ‘situated histories’ of violent territorialisations, primitive accumulation, and privatization (Peluso 2012).  Less discussed are the ways in which notions of indigeneity, autochthony and belonging are brought into this assemblage, whether in the creation and valuation of resources or dialectically in prefiguring counterstrategies against market-based conservation and extractivism.

Notions of indigeneity (or autochthony) have long been important tropes in the governance of peoples and resources in variegated colonial and postcolonial, national histories and geographies of the Global South. They have played a key role in framing and re-organizing “natural resources,” re-shaping local relations with the natural world and in re(constructing) territorialized conceptions of belonging.  In the era of climate “crisis”, the place of indigeneity has intensified as a central aspect of resource making. Those driving ‘resource making’ in accordance with market prerogatives do not only seek to make the resources legible to capital (Robertson 2006) and to the state (Scott 1998). They also endeavour to render extractive or conservation regimes legitimate and persuasive. In this context, the existence of an ‘indigenous’ community with legitimate claims may help conservation and extractive initiatives claim ‘inclusivity’, drawing the community itself into assemblages that ‘make resources.’ However, indigeneity may also become a sign post around which community counter-claims and counter-strategies are prefigured and enacted.

This panel invites papers to reflect on one or more of the following questions:

  • In what ways has indigeneity and its experience become entangled in resource making processes, assemblages and practices?
  • What new challenges are faced by peoples positioned (cf. Hall 1995, Li 2000) as indigenous/autochthonous when drawn into assemblages that are rendering their environment as a resource.
  • What forms of exclusion, erasure and conflicts are being enacted as a result of indigenous peoples’ recruitment into market-based assemblages of conservation-extractivism?