CfP POLLEN22: Anti-Caste Environmentalism: Marginal Perspectives around Political Ecology in India

Session Organizers:
Dr Prashant Ingole, PhD (Cultural Studies & Environmental Humanities): Postdoctoral Fellow, Humanities & Social sciences, IIT Gandhinagar
Camellia Biswas (Environmental Anthropology): Doctoral Candidate, Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT Gandhinagar

Ever since the onset of discussion around environmental politics in India, anti-caste environmentalism and its relationship with nature/ecology is very different from the popular climate change and environmental conservation narrative which is often heard today ( Dalit narratives have particularly been sidelined from mainstream environmentalism due to power politics and caste politics in the co-production of knowledge and scholarship. One may find nature and caste as inextricably interwoven in India. Nature is considered universal and ubiquitous. In contrast, caste as a social construct wherein the Dalits have been subjected to untouchability, owing to their lowest positionality in the Indian caste system (Sharma, 2018). The interrelationship between Dalits and Nature is complex and conflict-ridden. In Political Ecology, environmental conflict as widely explained by Paul Robbins (2004)talks about increasing scarcities produced through an appropriation by state authorities, private firms or powerful sections of the society that accelerates conflict between groups of gender, class or ethnicity. Similarly, the environmental problem becomes “politicized” when local groups secure control of collective resources at the expense of others by leveraging management-administration intervention by development authorities, state agents or private firms. Several such examples can be seen projecting out as some pioneer examples of Dalit environmentalism like the Mahad Satyagraha to drink water from the Chavdar tank at Mahad, led by B.R. Ambedkar, the struggle which is seen as the foundational of the anti-caste movement, the right to access to common resources. However, for Dalits, the idea of common in itself is very exclusionary. While commons are attractive for IEP (since they are seen as collective, inclusive, and supportive), they tend to be null and void for Dalits as Dalits do not have access to them and often see commons as an embodiment of caste segregation, a reminder of pain and suffering. This further brings us back to those elemental questions of who has the access, control and ownership of the nature/environment and its related knowledge? And makes us ponder on whether these inquiries can increasingly make the stakeholders such as state agencies, private or international firms (who are usually operated by upper caste) or even the mainstream Indian Environmentalist scholars ‘not’ ignore the daily struggles of the Dalit and acknowledge the Dalit environmentalism.

Whether it’s Global North, Global South or Just India, Scholarship around the globe has deliberately missed the Dalit perspectives. Mukul Sharma’s (2017) seminal work has investigated the responses of Dalits to the dominant narrative. It foregrounded an alternative vision from the viewpoint of Dalits. They have remained at the margins of both ecological discourses and practices in India. Nevertheless, even in their totality, most empirical research has invisibilized the caste factor in environmental politics and failed to provide a complete picture of the environmental struggles in India. This session plans to open up discussion around the dialectical relationship between the Dalits, caste politics and environmental conflicts. The aim is to determine the reasons and consequences of subjugation and alienation of the Dalits from the discourse of political ecology.

The oppressive politics against the Dalits and the other marginal sections of the society operates through the power of caste order. The exclusionary processes like caste not just create a hurdle in making progress for the marginalized communities, but it closes the doors to the oppressed masses to raise their voices at social, political and cultural levels. Similarly, when it comes to the debate around anti-caste knowledge production and environmental justice there is a lacuna in mainstream academia in bringing anti-caste pedagogical approaches when it comes to environmental studies.As a reason, anti-caste voices and their reading of “environmental casteism” remains invisible.

We invite paper abstracts addressing the challenges and experiences through the perspectives from the margins. Please send your abstract with a short bio (not more than 100 words) that should include name, affiliation, presentation title, abstract (not more than 350 words), and 3-5 keywords.

Please send your abstract to and no later than December 1, 2021. We will submit our final proposal for the paper session, including selected presentations, in the POLLEN portal on December 10, 2021.

CfP POLLEN22: Decolonizing conservation: Strategies of local-to-global initiatives

Session organizers: Dr. Riccarda Flemmer (FU Berlin), Dr. Charlotte Schumann (FU Berlin)

The current redefinition of global initiatives to halt biodiversity loss and prevent climate change (COP 15 CBD; Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework) calls into question the conventional measures to achieve reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the conservation of livelihoods. Especially, classical “fine-and-fence” or “fortress-conservation“ models are challenged by critique of traditional and indigenous peoples and scandals involving the denial of access to traditional land, displacement, persecution, and killing of these communities.

International actors, such as the World Food Organization (FAO), Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) as well as IUCN or WWF, increasingly acknowledge that indigenous peoples and local communities have proved to be more successful in sustaining ecosystems with their traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), than the global system of protected areas (FAO and FILAC 2021; IPBES 2019). Further, civil society actors denounce that conservation projects violate rights to self-determination and Free, Prior and Informed consent as well as in many cases even rights to cultural and physical integrity. In this context, the panel aims to revise and discuss counter-strategies that offer models of local-to-global conservation, in which community driven strategies are at the heart of programs and implementation steps. In between these strategies, we identify for example the strategic use of (inter)national law (Rights of nature and indigenous guardianships); technical solutions (Earth Defender Toolkit); participation structures from below (ICCA Consortium); interventions in (inter)national conservation projects (grievance redress mechanisms); or international funding initiatives (GEF inclusive conservation initiative).

The aim of this panel is to present an overview about current strategies to oppose colonial conservation models as well as to exchange on success stories – what worked, why, and how? Thereby, the panel will contribute to the networking of a global initiative of local-to-global conservation activists and scientists.

We invite contributions on cases from the Global South and North by scholars, practitioners, and activists. If you are interested to join our panel, please send us your abstract (max 250 words) including the title of the paper and your affiliation until 5 December 2021.

Submit to and

CfP POLLEN22: Power, knowledge and multi-species perspectives in smallholder agriculture

Session organizers

Klara Fischer, Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Maya Marshak, Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town
Rachel Wynberg, Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, University of Cape Town

Farming is critical for livelihood security, particularly for smallholders in the Global South (Bezner Kerr, 2013; Fischer, 2021; Marshak et al., 2021), but also in the Global North (van der Ploeg, 2010; Davidova and Thomson, 2014). Multiple agricultural development initiatives target smallholder farming due to its importance for rural livelihoods, but these efforts are often not based on an appreciation of what smallholders want and need. Instead, knowledge is framed as universal and linear, with modernist, science-based knowledge typically characterising ‘successful’ farming (Hebinck et al., 2011; Chenais and Fischer, 2018). Empirical evidence, as well as research on knowledge production, repeatedly tells us that this is a far call from reality. Knowledge is social, contextual and situated; and smallholders’ knowledge production is entangled with their farming practices and the wider agroecological context (Richards, 1993; Chenais and Fischer, 2018).
Research within critical development and agrarian studies has highlighted the ideologies and wider relations of power that prevent agricultural development from being attuned to smallholder needs and priorities (Ferguson, 1990; Scott, 1998; McMichael, 2009; Patel, 2012; Clapp, 2014; Moseley et al., 2015), while participatory and ethnographic research has revealed approaches to understand smallholder farming priorities (Dawson et al., 2008; Mzamu, 2012; Chenais and Fischer, 2018; Lunt et al., 2018; Marshak et al., 2021). These are important contributions that deserve attention. Disentangling the material and ideological dynamics that keep development efforts from being useful for smallholders, and understanding the reasoning of farmers as to why they might adopt or reject new farming practices and technologies such as vaccines, pesticides, or ‘improved’ varieties of crops or livestock, are essential if agriculture development is to support the priorities and needs of smallholder farmers.

To date, this important field of research has mainly centred on humans and their relationships with each other, and less on the multi-species entanglements in which smallholders act. Because the farming practices and knowledge production of smallholders is intimately related with the environments in which they farm (Chambers et al., 1989; Richards, 1993; Chenais and Fischer, 2018), a wider, more holistic multi-species lens has the potential to add important dimensions to our understandings of how smallholders can be supported in meaningful ways, and with technologies that are appropriate and desirable. Within this context, this session seeks to draw attention to multi-species understandings of the relational agencies that shape smallholder farming; and of how entanglements between crops, livestock, insects and pathogens shape farmers’ practices and situated knowledges. Importantly, we seek efforts that engage in such multi-species perspectives without losing sight of wider systems of power and control.

The multispecies perspective on which this session builds is inspired by feminist science studies (Barad, 2007; Haraway, 2008), science and technology studies (STS) (Latour, 2005), the wider field of environmentally interested social sciences and humanities (Whatmore, 2006) and political ecology (Fischer, 2021; Karlsson, 2021; Sinha, 2021). Like much traditional political ecology, multispecies perspectives address the entanglements between nature and society and strive to shift our ontological standpoints away from modernist dualist places towards relational ways of being and relating. An important contribution of multispecies perspectives to political ecology is the heightened attention to the particular materialities of different plants and animals, in addition to wider ecologies. Although available studies in this growing field highlight the relevance of this perspective for understanding the role of agriculture in political-ecological challenges (Head and Atchison, 2016; Donati, 2019; Guthman, 2019; Fischer, 2021), multi-species social sciences have paid comparatively limited attention to agriculture (Galvin, 2018).

This session aims specifically to bring multi-species social sciences into dialogue with political ecology in an exploration of the relationship between non-human agency, smallholder knowledges and practices and wider systems of governance in agriculture. We invite paper presentations from empirical contexts in the Global South and North, that have a strong interest in smallholder farming and a firm political ecology base, but also have a clear interest in making use of a multi-species perspective for understanding and supporting smallholder agriculture. We will prioritize abstracts that fall within the scope of the session and are academically rigorous. We will also strive to construct a diverse session in terms of presenters and empirical cases presented across the Global South and North.

If you want to present a paper in our session, please send you abstract to no later than December 1, 2021. The abstract should be max 250 words (excluding title and author info).

We will submit our final proposal for a paper session, including selected presentations, in the POLLEN portal on December 10, 2021.


Barad, K., 2007. Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Duke university Press.

Bezner Kerr, R., 2013. Seed struggles and food sovereignty in northern Malawi. Journal of Peasant Studies 40, 867‐897.

Chambers, R., Pacey, A., Thrupp, L.A., 1989. Farmer first: farmer innovation and agricultural research. Intermediate Technology Publications Ltd. London.

Chenais, E., Fischer, K., 2018. Increasing the local relevance of epidemiological research: Situated knowledge of cattle disease among Basongora pastoralists in Uganda. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 5, 119.

Clapp, J., 2014. Financialization, distance and global food politics. The Journal of Peasant Studies 41, 797‐814.

Davidova, S., Thomson, K., 2014. Family Farming in Europe: Challenges and Prospects. European Union, Brussels.

Dawson, J.C., Murphy, K.M., Jones, S.S., 2008. Decentralized selection and participatory approaches in plant breeding for low‐input systems. Euphytica 160, 143‐154.

Donati, K., 2019. ‘Herding is his favourite thing in the world’: Convivial world‐making on a multispecies farm. Journal of Rural Studies 66, 119‐129.

Ferguson, J., 1990. The Anti‐Politics Machine: “Development”, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho. Cambridge University Press.

Fischer, K., 2021. Why Africa’s New Green Revolution is failing–Maize as a commodity and anti commodity in South Africa. Geoforum.

Galvin, S.S., 2018. Interspecies relations and agrarian worlds. Annual Review of Anthropology 47, 233‐249.

Guthman, J., 2019. Wilted: Pathogens, Chemicals, and the Fragile Future of the Strawberry Industry. University of California Press.

Haraway, D.J., 2008. When species meet. University of Minnesota Press Minneapolis and London.

Head, L., Atchison, J., 2016. Ingrained: a human bio‐geography of wheat. Routledge.

Hebinck, P., Fay, D., Kondlo, K., 2011. Land and Agrarian Reform in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province: Caught by Continuities. Journal of Agrarian Change 11, 220‐240.

Karlsson, B.G., 2021. The imperial weight of tea: On the politics of plants, plantations and science. Geoforum.

Latour, B., 2005. Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor‐Network‐Theory. Oxford University Press, USA.

Lunt, T., Ellis‐Jones, J., Mekonnen, K., Schulz, S., Thorne, P., Schulte‐Geldermann, E., Sharma, K., 2018. Participatory community analysis: identifying and addressing challenges to Ethiopian smallholder livelihoods. Development in Practice 28, 208‐226.

Marshak, M., Wickson, F., Herrero, A., Wynberg, R., 2021. Losing practices, relationships and agency: ecological deskilling as a consequence of the uptake of modern seed varieties among South African Smallholders. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 1‐24.

McMichael, P., 2009. Banking on Agriculture: A Review of the World Development Report 2008. Journal of Agrarian Change 9, 235‐246.

Moseley, W., Schnurr, M., Bezner Kerr, R., 2015. Interrogating the technocratic (neoliberal) agenda for agricultural development and hunger alleviation in Africa. African Geographical Review 34, 1‐7.

Mzamu, J.J., 2012. The Ways of Maize: food, poverty, policy and the politics of meaning among the Chewa of Malawi. Social Anthropology University of Bergen Bergen.

Patel, R., 2012. The Long Green Revolution. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 1‐63.

Richards, P., 1993. Cultivation: knowledge or performance? In: Hobart, M. (Ed.), An Anthropological Critique of Development: The Growth of Ignorance. Routledge, Oxon, 61‐78.

Scott, J.C., 1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale University Press New Haven and London.

Sinha, S., 2021. From cotton to paddy: Political crops in the India Punjab. Geoforum. van der Ploeg, J.D., 2010. The peasantries of the twenty‐first century: the commoditisation debate revisited. The Journal of Peasant Studies 37, 1‐30.

Whatmore, S., 2006. Materialist returns: practising cultural geography in and for a more‐than‐human world. Cultural geographies 13, 600‐609.

CfP POLLEN 2022: “From Overtourism to Undertourism…and Back Again? Confronting Post-Pandemic Tourism ‘Regrowth’ with Postcapitalist Pathways”

Organised by:
Asunción Blanco-Romero, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona:
Macià Blázquez-Salom, Universitat de les Illes Balears:
Robert Fletcher, Wageningen University:


The ongoing COVID pandemic has dramatically impacted tourism in nearly every destination worldwide. One of the most striking of these impacts can been the way it quickly and decisively ended growing complaints about “overtourism” in many popular destinations in the years prior to the pandemic, instead replacing these with newfound concerns about the
negative economic consequences of the resulting “undertourism” produced by pandemic travel restrictions. Most tourism planners are now strategizing to manage the tourism regrowth already beginning or projected to begin once the pandemic further recedes. Yet these responses take very different forms in different locations: while some places aim merely to restimulate tourism to pre-pandemic levels or beyond, even further liberalizing regulation to achieve this, others appear to be taking the pandemic as an opportunity to proactively manage or limit tourism regrowth to forestall a return of overtourism and its discontents. But a less analyzed option is degrowth, through a reorientation the activity in the Global North in favor of improvements in equity, justice and collective well-being. Starting from the basis that tourism does not have to be a capitalist activity, it is proposed that sustainable tourism requires the acceptance of limits based on the commons and promoting them through post-capitalist forms of production and exchange.

In this panel, we explore how a range of prominent tourism destinations previously experiencing overtourism are situated within this spectrum. Taking documentation of the preCOVID debates concerning overtourism as a baseline, we explore how these discussions and associated policy measures have transformed in the time since in preparation for a postpandemic future. We ask how new measures introduced or proposed promise to address the pre- or mid-pandemic tourism impacts to which they are directed and what the likely outcomes of such interventions will therefore be in years to come. We also explore more radical proposals to reform tourism more dramatically away from the growth-oriented model long dominating the global tourism industry. The purpose of this call for contributions is therefore, on the one hand, to diagnose re-growth trends and, on the other, to explore alternative ‘spaces of hope’ to develop a roadmap of pathways towards post-capitalist tourism.

The aim is to develop a programme comprising multiple sessions addressing these different yet interconnected themes, and then to use these discussions to develop, within the next year, two new proposals for journal special theme collections: one focused on current proposals to address post-pandemic regrowth in destinations previously experiencing overtourism; the other focused on possibilities (both conceptual and theoretical) for more dramatic postcapitalist transformation. So in responding to this call, please also indicate whether you are interested to have your contribution considered for either of these collections (and if so which).

Please send a title and abstract (max. 250 words) to, and by Friday 26 November.

We will let you know soon after whether we can include you in the programme for official submission before the 15 December deadline.

CfP POLLEN22: Deagrarianisation: what are the underlying reasons and effects with focus on livelihoods, poverty reduction and climate change

Session organizers:

Klara Fischer, Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Sheona Shackleton, African Climate & Development Initiative, University of Cape Town
Flora Hajdu, Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Across several parts of the world, there is evidence that smallholder farmers are ceasing farming (Hebinck, 2018, Bryceson, 2019, Bilewicz and Bukraba‐Rylska, 2021, Fibæk, 2021, Majumdar, 2020). For example, over half a million households in South Africa’s communal areas (former homelands) disengaged from farming between 2011 and 2016 (Statistics South Africa1); a loss of one in five crop farming households. Going beyond South Africa, deagrarianisation and depesantisation is seen across the Global North and South, stimulated by various drivers and with different consequences for farmers and societies (Hebinck, 2018, Majumdar, 2020, Bilewicz and Bukraba‐Rylska, 2021, Mamonova et al., 2020, Adaman et al., 2018). Abandonment of farming does not necessarily happen because better opportunities arise, nor necessarily because farming is not valued as important by those abandoning it. Deagrarianisation of South Africa’s former homelands is happening in a situation with high joblessness and widespread food insecurity (Hajdu et al., 2020, Fischer and Hajdu, 2015). At the same time, research shows that a currently unplanted field does not mean that it is abandoned or not valued by its owners (Ferguson, 2013).

A combination of ecological, political and economic drivers have been found to stimulate deagrarianisation. New risks associated with climate change are one disincentive for smallholder cropping. More erratic and extreme rainfall, floods, high temperatures and droughts, as well as changes in the start and end of rainy season makes cultivation more difficult (Terra et al., 2012, Brown et al., 2019, Moore et al., 2017). In South Africa, the trend of reduced cultivation has also been linked to many other drivers including access to appropriate and affordable seed, changing urban‐rural linkages,
reductions in the flow of remittances, lack of (or inappropriate) government support, the erosion of collective work parties, changes in livestock ownership and herding practices, soil fertility loss, lack of interest in farming from the younger generation, as well as lack of profitability and high risks farming (Hebinck et al., 2018, Fischer and Hajdu, 2015, Hajdu et al., 2020, Shackleton et al., 2019, Shackleton and Hebinck, 2018). Global trends of the upscaling of farming, concentration of the seed sector, land grabbing, and the supermarketisation of our food systems are other important drivers with impact within and beyond South Africa (van der Ploeg et al., 2015, McMichael, 2009, Hebinck, 2018, Fischer, 2021, Adaman et al., 2018, Mamonova et al., 2020).

In this session, we invite presentations from across the Global South and North to discuss how we might understand trends variously discussed as deagrarianisation and depesantisation, how and why trends differ across contexts, and what lessons we might learn from cross‐context comparison. We will present and discuss research and build new networks ‐ forging a better understanding of the reasons behind and the effects of deagrarianisation across contexts, as well as how smallholder agriculture might be revitalized and food security and sovereignty supported.

We invite paper presentations based on empirical studies of deagrarianisation and depesantisation across the Global South and North. If you want to present a paper in our session, please send your abstract to no later than December 1, 2021. The abstract should be max 250 words (excluding title and author info). If we have to make a selection amongst submitted abstracts we will select abstracts based on 1) the academic quality of the abstract, and 2) our aim of getting a diverse session in terms of presenters and empirical cases presented across the Global South and North. We will submit our final proposal for a paper session, including selected presentations, in the POLLEN portal on December 10, 2021.


ADAMAN, F., ARSEL, M. & AKBULUT, B. 2018. Neoliberal developmentalism, authoritarian populism, and extractivism in the countryside: the Soma mining disaster in Turkey. Critical Agrarian Studies, 154.

BILEWICZ, A. & BUKRABA‐RYLSKA, I. 2021. Deagrarianization in the making: The decline of family farming in central Poland, its roots and social consequences. Journal of Rural Studies.

BROWN, P. R., AFROZ, S., CHIALUE, L., CHIRANJEEVI, T., EL, S., GRÜNBÜHEL, C. M., KHAN, I., PITKIN, C., REDDY, V. R. & ROTH, C. H. 2019. Constraints to the capacity of smallholder farming households to adapt to climate change in South and Southeast Asia. Climate and Development, 11, 383‐400.

BRYCESON, D. F. 2019. Gender and generational patterns of African deagrarianization: Evolving labour and land allocation in smallholder peasant household farming, 1980–2015. World Development, 113, 60‐72.

FERGUSON, J. 2013. How to do things with land: A distributive perspective on rural livelihoods in Southern Africa. Journal of Agrarian Change, 13, 166‐174.

FIBÆK, M. M. 2021. Rural differentiation and rural change: Microlevel evidence from Kenya. Journal of Agrarian Change.

FISCHER, K. 2021. Why Africa’s New Green Revolution is failing–Maize as a commodity and anti‐commodity in South Africa. Geoforum.

FISCHER, K. & HAJDU, F. 2015. Does raising maize yields lead to poverty reduction? A case study of the Massive Food Production Programme in South Africa. Land Use Policy, 46, 304‐313.

HAJDU, F., NEVES, D. & GRANLUND, S. 2020. Changing Livelihoods in rural eastern cape, South Africa (2002–2016): diminishing employment and expanding social protection. Journal of Southern African Studies, 46, 743‐772.

HEBINCK, P. 2018. De‐/re‐agrarianisation: Global perspectives. Journal of Rural Studies, 61, 227‐235.

HEBINCK, P., MTATI, N. & SHACKLETON, C. 2018. More than just fields: Reframing deagrarianisation in landscapes and livelihoods. Journal of rural studies, 61, 323‐334.

MAJUMDAR, K. 2020. Rural Transformation in India: Deagrarianization and the Transition from a Farming to Non‐farming Economy. Journal of Developing Societies, 36, 182‐205.

MAMONOVA, N., FRANQUESA, J. & BROOKS, S. 2020. ‘Actually existing’right‐wing populism in rural Europe: insights from eastern Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and Ukraine. Critical Agrarian Studies, 420.

MCMICHAEL, P. 2009. A Food Regime Analysis of the ‘World Food Crisis’. Agriculture and Human Values, 26, 281‐295.

MOORE, F. C., BALDOS, U., HERTEL, T. & DIAZ, D. 2017. New science of climate change impacts on agriculture implies higher social cost of carbon. Nature Communications, 8, 1607.

CfP POLLEN22: Political Ecology and Film: Cutting Away from Dominant Understandings and Aesthetics

Satya Ambasta; Moving Images India, Srishti Films

Paromita Bathija; Independent Scholar

Sanjay Barnela; Moving Images India, Srishti Films

Nitin Rai; Independent Scholar

Session Format: Exhibition Session


We propose to organise an Exhibition Session at POLLEN2022 to screen and discuss films built around interdisciplinary engagements between political ecology and environmental documentary.

Political ecology has for long analysed the intersections between dominant understandings of the environment and structures such as capitalism, colonialism and discrimination. Political ecologists have explored how popular media around the environment, such as films, TV shows, social media and advertisements, (re)produce dominant narratives and make use of dominant aesthetics. Spectacularised representations in mass-media can consolidate ideas such as a wilderness that needs to be saved, charismatic species, environmental decline, violence and conflict. The viewer is invited into the gaze of the (outsider’s) camera, projected as the wild explorer reaching and surveying the most inaccessible parts of nature; simultaneously, the camera aesthetically distances traditional inhabitants from the screen and thus, the landscape (Cronon, 1996; Clark et al., 2020; Geal, 2021). For example, the film Serengeti Shall Not Die, through its visual and discursive approaches, encourages the audience to identify with a colonial and paternalistic agenda (Boes, 2013). Dissemination of such imagery and spectacle has come to permeate reality, mediating the relationships of people and nature and legitimising structural injustice (Debord, 1995; Igoe, 2017).

Political ecologies – of nature, water, the urban, consumption, health, COVID-19 and beyond – could inform, critique and upend dominant imagery and narratives. In order to do this, the discipline needs to move beyond the ivory tower and towards producing collaborative, accessible and critical written material and media. This session aims to bring together work that has emerged from reflexive collaborations across critical and affective mediums that can subvert dominant processes, visual productions, epistemologies and environmental practices.

In the proposed session, a set of films will be screened, each followed by a panel discussion where the team that made the film, and potentially other invited political ecologists or film theorists, will discuss their interdisciplinary process and intent. Through these discussions, the sessions will explore how alternative media endeavours that engage with critical frameworks can move beyond agenda-driven aesthetic tropes such as ‘saving people’ or ‘saving nature’ to embrace complexity and problematise dominant understandings. The session will similarly explore how political ecology, as a framework that engages with other mediums and practices, can contribute further to public discourse in

environmental practice. The themes that emerge from these discussions will result in articles in film and political ecology journals that move the two areas of enquiry and practice towards an interdisciplinary engagement.

For the proposed session at POLLEN2022, we invite short films and videos (10-35 minutes) that enter into active political (ecological) engagement with the subject as well as the medium of film. Contributors can include experienced and experimenting film practitioners or researchers engaging with documentary practice. Please submit the film/video with the following details – film title, names of team members, film duration, an HD screener copy through YouTube, Vimeo or online file transfer and a 250-word abstract that describes the piece. In addition, for us to curate the discussions around each piece and to understand how contributors are approaching this session, we encourage you to briefly describe your interdisciplinary process, along these lines:

– What were some challenges, questions or reflections that emerged from your process of making this film/video?

– What do you believe are the kinds of possibilities and work that can emerge through further active interdisciplinary engagement between political ecologists and filmmakers?

– What are the ways in which you think/plan for/expect this work and process to give back to the contexts they draw on?

All submissions need to be made by 5th December to A maximum of 5 contributions will be included in our final proposal to the conference. Contact persons for each submission will be informed about the selection latest by 12th December.

Keywords: interdisciplinarity, environmental films, accessibility


Boes, T. (2013). Political Animals: “Serengeti Shall Not Die” and the Cultural Heritage of Mankind. German Studies Review, 36(1), 41–59.

Clark, K., Hawkins, R., & Silver, J. J. (2020). Gender, nature and nation: Resource nationalism on primary sector reality TV. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 3(4), 1196–1214.

Cronon, W. (1996). The Trouble with Wilderness: Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature. Environmental History, 1(1), 7–28.

Debord, G. (1994). The society of the spectacle. Zone Books.

Geal, R. (2021). Ecological film theory and psychoanalysis: Surviving the environmental apocalypse in cinema. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Igoe, J. (2017). The nature of spectacle: On images, money, and conserving capitalism. The University of Arizona Press.

CfP POLLEN22: Synergy or contrast? When political ecology theoretical claims meet practical transdisciplinary challenges in social-ecological research projects

Organizers: Fanny Frick-Trzebitzky1* (, Heide Kerber1 (, Markus Rauchecker1 (

ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research, Hamburger Allee 45, 60486 Frankfurt am Main

* Contact organizer


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 transdisciplinary research appears promising, as the latter implies the ambition of developing specific solutions towards sustainable and just development. However, what happens when the research subject is concurrently research partner? How to analyse power structures through the critical lens of political ecology while at the same time jointly defining a common research object and seeking knowledge integration as a transdisciplinary researcher? Furthermore, tension evolves around normativity. Researchers in political ecology and transdisciplinary research 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.

Keywords: actor involvement, social-ecological research, co-production, power asymmetries, transdisciplinarity

Format of session: Panel

Call for Papers

We invite paper abstracts addressing practical challenges and experiences with reference to the aspects outlined above. Please send your abstract and additional information as follows:

Name, affiliation, presentation title (maximum 20 words), abstract (maximum 250 words), and 3 keywords

Submission deadline: November 30, 2021

Invitation for contribution: December 15, 2021

CfP POLLEN22: The political ecology of China’s Belt and Road Initiative: A grounded analysis of 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
Han Cheng, 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 gap (ii) creating hopes that the BRI may create essential life-supporting infrastructures and services contributing to poverty reduction (iii). 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 beyond (iv).

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 materialised (v); the exclusion of vulnerable populations from mitigation programmes of infrastructure construction (vi); processes of accumulation, dispossession, and exploitation related to the privatization of strategic infrastructure (vii); the intensification of labour precarity, worsening of working conditions, and violation of worker’s rights; the creation of logistical spaces (viii), 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 session, 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.

If you are interested in contributing to the session, please send a title and an abstract (max. 250 words) to both Elia Apostolopoulou ( and Alan Wiig ( by Friday, November 26. Please note that
organisers are limited to giving two organised sessions. This means that if more papers are received that can fit in two sessions, we will make decisions based on the broader coherence of the sessions. Participants will be notified by December
7, 2021.


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.

CfP POLLEN22: Researching social-ecological conflicts – Bringing non-human entities into the analysis

Session proposal for POLLEN 2022

Call for Abstracts

Organisers: Markus Rauchecker1,* ( or & Fanny Frick-Trzebitzky1 (

ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research, Hamburger Allee 45, 60486 Frankfurt am Main

* Contact organiser


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-humans, 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 definition of social-ecological conflicts, the role and effect of non-human entities in conflicts and suitable 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 transformation.

Format of organised session: Paper

Keywords: Environmental conflicts, non-humans, materiality, social-ecological transformation


We invite for paper abstracts addressing environmental conflicts with reference to the topic outlined above. Please send your abstract and additional information as follows:

Name, affiliation, presentation title (maximum 20 words), abstract (maximum 250 words), and 3 keywords

Submission deadline: November 30, 2021

Invitation for contribution: December 15, 2021


Dr. Markus Rauchecker

Wasserressourcen und Landnutzung | Water Resources and Land Use

ISOE – Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung | ISOE – Institute for Social-Ecological Research

Hamburger Allee 45, 60486 Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Tel. +49 69 707 6919-46

Fax +49 69 707 6919-11

CfP POLLEN22 Biodiversity conservation, disruptive politics, and the challenges of (challenging) spatial injustices

Panel proposal and CfP for POLLEN 2022: The 4th Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network – 28-30 June 2022, #POLLEN22 | | @PolEcoNet

Organised by: Bram Büscher, Moenieba Isaacs and Lerato Thakholi


In many places around the world, both north and south, efforts to promote coexistence between humans and the rest of nature often run up against deeply engrained forms of spatial injustice. Related often to historical patterns of accumulation and dispossession, spatial injustices result when the institutional, ownership and power structures of terrestrial and marine resource management reproduce forms of inequality in space (Thakholi and Büscher, in press). Often the only way to break through these engrained injustices is when disruptions happen that unsettle the status quo and open up space – in all its dimensions – for imagining change. We understand disruptive politics as forms of political action that combine these two elements: politics that seeks to disrupt the status quo while actively promoting imaginative alternatives. In relation to biodiversity conservation, such politics are often rare, but they are not uncommon either. All around the world, many communities and individuals resist forms of land, marine and resource dispossession while challenging forms of spatial injustice that explicitly include human-nonhuman relationships. Examples include environmental defenders, frontline indigenous and other communities, urban movements and many others. The convivial conservation initiative aims to tap into, learn from and support and extend such struggles for challenging various forms of (blue, green, social and other) forms of spatial injustice that take biodiversity conservation seriously (Jentoft et al, in press). This panel aims to convene papers that speak to the intersections between biodiversity conservation, disruptive politics and (challenging) spatial injustice. Topics and themes can include:

  • Theorizing disruptive politics and spatial injustice and their combinations;
  • Histories, geographies and politics of spatial injustice in relation to biodiversity (conservation)
  • Histories, geographies and politics of disruptive politics in relation to biodiversity (conservation)
  • Relations between capitalism and conservation in relation to biodiverse land- and seascapes
  • Spatial planning of land and oceans and the possibilities of disruptive politics
  • Theorizations of blue injustice in marine conservation
  • Theorizing the relations between (challenging) injustices related to biodiversity and land and in oceans/seas
  • The relations between spatial design and overcoming spatial injustice in different environments

Paper proposals are due 5 December 2021. We will let you know of acceptance 8 December. Final submission to the conference organizers is on 15 December. Please send a 250-300 word proposal, with title, contact information, and three keywords as a Word attachment to and


Thakholi, L. and B. Büscher (in press). Conserving Inequality: how private conservation and property developers deepen spatial injustice in South Africa. Environment and Planning E.

Jentoft, S, Chuenpagdee R, Said A, and Isaacs M, eds (in press). Blue Justice – Small-Scale Fisheries in a Sustainable Ocean Economy. MARE Publication Series.