CFP Pollen20 – Utopian ecologies of unburnable fuels

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

Session organizers

Please send your abstracts by the 20th of November to Lorenzo Pellegrini (pellegrini@iss.nl) and Salvatore Eugenio Pappalardo (salvatore.pappalardo@unipd.it).

Session description

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

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

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

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

CfP POLLEN20 – 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 (me329@sussex.ac.uk)

James Fairhead, Anthropology, University of Sussex, UK (j.r.fairhead@sussex.ac.uk)

Madhuri Karak, Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow, Washington D.C., US (madhuri.karak@gmail.com)

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 (me329@sussex.ac.uk) and Madhuri Karak (mkarak@rare.org) 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?

POLLEN20 Call for contributions to a collective exhibition – ‘Extracting Us’

The Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Are you interested in sharing creative work around extractivism? Would you like to join an action-research-led exhibition project?

We are calling for contributions to a collective exhibition at the POLLEN20 conference that seeks to bring together feminist political ecological perspectives and extractivism. The exhibition will build on and expand the ‘Extracting Us: Looking differently Feminism, Politics and Coal Extraction’ photography exhibition that was inaugurated in July 2019 at ONCA Gallery in Brighton (for more information, see: https://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/secp/2019/07/04/extracting-us/). This first exhibition was based on photographs from coal extraction in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province.

The idea is to develop a mobile exhibition that expands on this original material and brings together a variety of media (photography, sculpture, sound, 3D art etc.) that is gathered together under a unifying curatorial approach. A collaborative action research will develop by using the exhibition materials. The idea is to be open to a wide range of contexts and stories, and to share these, guided by the following principles:

  • Bring together the effects of extractivism on people and the environment, and challenge the viewer to make (sometimes unexpected) connections;
  • Instead of providing detailed explanations of each exhibited item (photograph or material object), think about how they work as a group and provide a short text for a small group.
  • Think about extractivism in terms of materials from (and of) the earth, as well as in terms of human and non human experiences and energies;
  • Challenge ‘north-south’ narratives on extractivism, listen to perspectives from those most affected, and develop actions of solidarity and resistance across countries and continents (we did this by co-curating the exhibition with an organisation based in Indonesia);
  • Include narratives of resistance where possible/relevant; and thus avoid relying on pathos that might develop an ‘us/them’ feeling;
  • Develop solidarity actions during the exhibition, for instance engaging emotionally and physically with the exhibition material (for instance we developed a series of postcards that people could write and send, choosing from a range of people/actors relevant to the context of coal mining in Indonesia);
  • Work with quality materials at a professional standard, while also challenging ‘professional’ or ‘distanced’ kinds of aesthetics (for instance we sought to challenge typical modes of documentary photography, by including photos with a more ‘everyday aesthetic’ and that don’t necessarily require complex equipment).

POLLEN20 and the exhibition convenors will provide space, experience, advice and limited printing facilities. Note that contributors will need to fund/fundraise any material or production costs for their contribution.

If you would like to contribute, please submit the following information to extracting-us@outlook.com by 13th November 2019: 

  • A short outline of your contribution, including the theme and how it fits into the principles of ‘Extracting Us’ (no more than 400 words)
  • Details of the artwork to be presented (200 words)
  • Technical information:
    • Technical details of the artwork to be shared (size, weight, material, etc.)
    • What space/area will you require? Outdoor or indoor?
    • What is needed in order to share your contribution? Any specialised equipment?
    • What resources will you need in order to make your contribution? (anyone needed to explain, production time, funding you might need and how you intend to fundraise, etc.)

If you would like to discuss your proposed contribution, please get in touch at extracting-us@outlook.com.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Siti Maimunah, Rebecca Elmhirst, Elona Hoover, Dian Ekowati and Alice Owen.