CfP POLLEN20 – Contested Waters and Fluid Properties in Capitalist Natures

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

Session organizers

Camelia Dewan (University of Oslo), Knut G Nustad (University of Oslo). Please send your abstract of 250 words by Monday 18th November (17 CET) to and k.g.nustad@sai.uio. We will respond to submissions by 20th November.

Session Description

While much has been written about enclosure of land for conservation as well as exploitation, much less has been written about enclosures of water worlds, both river systems and oceanic.  For oceans, the term “ocean grabbing” has been used to describe these enclosures as actions, policies or initiatives that deprive small-scale fishers of resources, dispossess vulnerable populations of coastal lands, and/or undermine historical access to areas of the sea (Barbesgaard 2018; McCormack 2017), but similar enclosures also take part in fresh water worlds.

For enclosures of these kinds on land, the concept of the Plantationocene has been proposed for ‘the devastating transformation of diverse kinds of human-tended farms, pastures, and forests into extractive and enclosed plantations, relying on slave labor and other forms of exploited, alienated, and usually spatially transported labor’  (Haraway 2015). While the term succeeds in displacing universal man, and making visible (racialised) power relations and economic, environmental and social inequalities in the ruins of global capitalism, its focus retains a bias toward land.

Unlike land, water is not a fixed property, nor does it have fixed properties. The fluid qualities that enable water to connect, means that it can also be a major medium for pollution and a threat when overly abundant. And, being essential to all productive processes, it can readily become a means of control and domination (Krause and Strang 2013).

Water is integral for the production of capitalist natures. At the same time, contested waters highlight how it is (mis)used and inadvertently at the receiving end of the toxic flows of capitalist extraction in ways that threaten liveability of our very planet. What, then the session asks, does the qualities of water matter to processes of plantation-making, the production of capitalist natures, on the 70 percent of the globe covered by water?

Bringing together political ecologies of water with environmental ethnographies focusing on the materialities of water, we welcome contributions that discuss to what extent, if at all, the Plantationocene can be useful in theorising contested waters with its fluid properties.

We invite papers that address one of the following, or related, questions:

  • How does the nature of water enable or hinder its translation as a resource?
  • How does the flow of water distinguish it from other resources?
  • How are processes of scaling up different in aquatic and land-based enclosures?
  • How is property in landscapes marked by flow and movement different from property rights in land?
  • In what ways do water act both as commodity and as a means of production?
  • Can fisheries/other mono aquacultures be scaled in the same way as other plantation systems?
  • What are the restrictions of the Plantationocene in conceptualising capitalist modes of production dependent on, and situated alongside, waterbodies (such as factories, shipbuilding/breaking yards, mines) and their toxic entanglements with [aquatic] livelihoods?
  • What are the limits of Marxist theory of property rights in capturing contemporary processes of the production of capitalist water worlds?

Depending on the number of paper submissions, we may propose this session as a three-hour workshop.

If you have any other questions, please do get in touch with us.


 Bakker, Karen. 2012. ‘Water: Political, Biopolitical, Material’. Social Studies of Science 42 (4): 616–23.

Barbesgaard, Mads. 2018. ‘Blue Growth: Savior or Ocean Grabbing?’ The Journal of Peasant Studies 45 (1): 130–49.

Budds, Jessica, Jamie Linton, and Rachael McDonnell. 2014. ‘The Hydrosocial Cycle’.

Geoforum 57 (November): 167–69

Haraway, Donna 2015. ‘Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin’ . Environmental Humanities, vol. 6, 2015, pp. 159-165.

Krause, Franz, and Veronica Strang. 2013. ‘Introduction to Special Issue: “Living Water”’. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology 17 (2): 95–102.

McCormack, Fiona. 2017. Private Oceans: The Enclosure and Marketisation of the Seas. London: Pluto Press.​

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.