CfP POLLEN20 – Irrigation issues in emerging economies

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

Session organisers

This session is being organized by Adnan Mirhanoglu ( and Maarten Loopmans ( Please submit abstracts between 250 and 500 words and full contact details to both organizers by the 28 of October 2019 15 of November 2019

Session description

In countries like China, India, Turkey, Brazil, Ethiopia, rapid social and economic changes are affecting the countryside. Rural-to-urban migration, agricultural modernization and the emergence of new economic sectors are all changing the demography and socio-economic relations in rural areas. Whereas new large scale irrigation projects create social, environmental and political tensions on their own (Madramootoo and Fyles, 2010; Boelens, Shah & Bruins, 2019), traditional irrigation systems are equally facing new challenges, as demands for water change, climate change is affecting availability, new water users appear on the scene, and political and infrastructural changes are demanding new forms of water governance (Gany, Sharma & Singh, 2019). In this session, we want to discuss and theorize the particular issues, conflicts and challenges related to irrigation water governance in emerging economies.

Irrigation systems have always been fraught with power imbalances and conflicts of interest, and poses particular theoretical challenges to theory-making (.e.g Ostrom & Gardner, 1993). Present-day socio-economic  transitions exacerbate these tensions, and presents us with new practical and theoretical dilemma’s (Playan, Sagardoy & Castillo, 2018; Ahlborg & Nightingale, 2018;) which we hope to discuss in this session. We invite both theoretical and empirical papers on irrigation governance and economic expansion in emerging economies. We are particularly keen on discussing multiscalar analyses linking interpersonal, water network and national/global political economy. The following topics (non-exhaustive) can be considered:

  • small and large scale irrigation infrastructures and water justice
  • head- and tail-ender conflicts under global market pressure
  • gendered and racialized politics of irrigation
  • infrastructural modernization and changing power relations
  • climate change, land use change and irrigation politics


Ahlborg, H. and A.J. Nightingale 2018. Theorizing power in political ecology: the where of power in resource governance projects. Journal of Political Ecology 25: 381-401.

Boelens, R., A. Shah & B. Bruins (2019) Contested knowledges: large dams and mega-hydraulic development, Water 11: 416-443.

Gany, A. H. A., Sharma, P., & Singh, S. (2019). Global Review of Institutional Reforms in the Irrigation Sector for Sustainable Agricultural Water Management, Including Water Users’ Associations. Irrigation and Drainage68(1), 84-97.

Harris, L. M. (2006). Irrigation, gender, and social geographies of the changing waterscapes of southeastern Anatolia. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space24(2), 187-213.

Madramootoo, C. A., & Fyles, H. (2010). Irrigation in the context of today’s global food crisis. Irrigation and Drainage: The journal of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage59(1), 40-52.

Ostrom, Elinor, Roy Gardner. (1993) “Coping with Assymetries in the Commons: Self-Governing Irrigation Systems Can Work”. Journal of Economic Perspectives – Vol 7, Number 4, pp.93-112.

Playán, E., Sagardoy, J., & Castillo, R. (2018). Irrigation governance in developing countries: Current problems and solutions. Water10(9), 1118.

Köpke, S., Withanachchi, S. S., Pathiranage, R., Withanachchi, C. R., & Ploeger, A. (2019). Social–ecological dynamics in irrigated agriculture in dry zone Sri Lanka: a political ecology. Sustainable Water Resources Management5(2), 629-637.


CfP POLLEN20 – Political ecologies of urban water beyond the pipes

Deadline extended!

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

Session organiser

Natasha Cornea (University of Birmingham). Please send abstracts of 250 words or less to  by October 25th by November 10th.

Session description

Over the last two decades (Urban) political ecologists have given significant attention the fragmented, complex and power-infused nature of urban water infrastructures and the governing practices that shape urban hydroscapes. In particular, circulated and/or commoditised drinking water has received significant attention, revealing the multi-scalar processes that shape access to and the control of urban water flows. Far less attention has been paid to theorising the power relations that shape of other urban waters. However, in recent years a rich set of case studies on urban ponds/lakes (Cornea et al 2016, Drew 2019, D’Souza & Nagendra  2011), riverscapes (Follmann 2016, Dahake 2018), wetlands (Campion & Owusu-Boateng 2013), and waste and flood water infrastructures (Batubara et al 2018, Zimmer 2015) has begun to emerge. This session aims to recognise the heterogeneous nature of water (Budds & Sultana 2013) and to contribute to a more nuanced and complex understanding of urban hydroscapes by engaging with water beyond the pipes. Empirical or theoretical contributions on the topic that engage with the Global South or Global North are invited.


Follmann, Alexander. 2016. Governing Riverscapes. Urban Environmental Change along the River Yamuna in Delhi, India. Stuttgart: Steiner.

Batubara, B., Kooy, M. and Zwarteveen, M., 2018. Uneven Urbanisation: Connecting Flows of Water to Flows of Labour and Capital Through Jakarta’s Flood Infrastructure. Antipode50(5), pp.1186-1205.

Budds, J. and Sultana, F., 2013. Exploring political ecologies of water and development. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space31(2), pp.275-279.

Campion, Benjamin, and Godfred Owusu-Boateng. 2013. The Political Ecology of Wetlands in Kumasi, Ghana.  International Journal of Environment and Bioenergy 7 (2):108-128.

D’Souza, R., and H. Nagendra. 2011. Changes in Public Commons as a Consequence of Urbanization: The Agara Lake in Bangalore, India.  Environmental Management 47 (5):840-850. doi: 10.1007/s00267-011-9658-8.

Dahake, S. Taming Godavari River: Navigating through religious, developmental, and environmental narratives. WIREs Water. 2018; 5:e1297.

Drew, Georgina. 2019. Political Ecologies of Water Capture in an Indian ‘Smart City’, Ethnos, DOI: 10.1080/00141844.2018.1541918

Zimmer, Anna. 2015. “Urban Political Ecology in Megacities: The Case of Delhi’s Waste Water.” In Urban Development Challenges, Risks and Resilience in Asian Mega Cities, edited by R.B. Singh, 119-139. Springer.

CfP POLLEN20 – Political Ecologies of/at the Edge: Climate Futures, Marginal Landscapes and Infrastructural Imaginaries

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

Session organizers

Aurora Fredriksen (University of Manchester) and Nate Millington (University of Manchester). Paper titles and abstracts of 250 words should be sent to & by 20 October 2019.

Session description

The promise of climate change mitigation through large-scale infrastructural development looms large in imaginaries of the Anthropocene. Narratives of resilience, new technologies associated with geoengineering, and experiments with planetary repair suggest the possibility of climate proof futures in a moment of deep planetary uncertainty. While infrastructural responses to climate change often carry divergent relationships to the increasingly blurry binary of adaptation/mitigation, many draw together dreams of safety from the vagaries of climate change with forecasts of continued economic growth.  

In this session, we interrogate the blind-spots in visions of adaptation to the climate crisis through infrastructural ‘fixes.’ We ask: 

  • In the policy-making and planning processes associated with these new infrastructures for climate mitigation, which groups and sets of relations – human and beyond – are excluded from the frame of consideration? 
  • Which ways of knowing about and valuing ecologies come to count and how? 
  • How are different relations of power and (in)justice folded into this vision of climate change mitigation through infrastructural builds? 
  • How do the complex spatialities of the contemporary built environment intersect with ongoing calls for profound societal change through ambitious frameworks such as the Green New Deal, Degrowth, and Eco-modernization?

We are particularly interested in the idea of the ‘edge’ within the ecological and political imaginaries of adaptation and mitigation. We understand the edge literally (ie. to refer to coastal and offshore infrastructures) but also conceptually. Attention to the margin can offer insight into broader global processes as they unfold in specific sites. The edge in this sense can be a mechanism for highlighting that which exists at the margin of the contemporary economy. It can be a temporal marker, one inseparable from broader forecasts about the time scales of a warming world and the various precipices that mark contemporary social and ecological thinking. Finally, the edge can signal the theoretical borderlands of political ecology, opening up spaces for speculations and entanglements with other disciplines and approaches to knowledge.