POLLEN20 Conference Updates !

Dear POLLEN friends, 
Below you can find a number of important updates regarding the conference: 

  • Call for proposals for individual paper presentations and poster presentations in line with the conference’s main themes and cross-cutting questions. The submission deadline is 10 August, 2020 (24.00 BST). More information is available here
  • Registration for the POLLEN20 virtual conference is now open, including for non-presenting conference delegates. Registration information and the revised fee schedule can be found on the main page at https://pollen2020.wordpress.com/
  • Is your political ecology ‘decolonial’? A praxis workshop at #POLLEN20 is a special pre-conference workshop organized by and for early career researchers and activists. The virtual workshop will take place on 21 September 2020 from 3-5pm BST. Prior registration is required. See here for more details and guidance on the workshop and how to sign up. The deadline to register is 10 September. 
  • Call for panelists – Special Roundtable on The Political Ecology of COVID-19 organized by Libby Lunstrum and Amber Huff. The deadline for expressions of interest is 10 August 2020 (24.00 BST). See the full call here.
  • As usual, all conference updates and announcements are published on the POLLEN20 event page and on Twitter. Any inquiries should be sent to the conference organizing group at POLLEN@sussex.ac.uk.

#POLLEN20 postponed due to COVID-19

Dear POLLEN friends,

We regret that we must announce that the POLLEN 20 conference, which was scheduled for 24-26 June 2020, has postponed by the hosts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In light of this, the conference organizers are taking some time to consider carefully alternative arrangements for hosting the conference. We will be updating registered delegates and the wider POLLEN community about the new plan for the conference as information becomes available.

Those who have already submitted final session or presentation details and registered as part of an organized session can use this form to indicate their current intentions, including whether they wish to withdraw from the conference, cancel registration and / or request a refund of fees.

All session organizers and registered delegates will receive email notifications of the delay tomorrow morning, 18 March. We thank you for your patience and understanding at this time and will be updating the ‘news and updates’ section of the conference web site and the main POLLEN web site as new information becomes available.

With best regards,
The POLLEN20 organizing team

POLLEN20 – calling conference moles!

Cool mole v1
Do you have what it takes?

Large multi-panel conferences are hard to keep up with. There is so much going on simultaneously that it can be disorientating, even alienating.

One of the ways of dealing with this is by setting up ‘conference moles’. Moles have the task of listening to public conversations and discussions taking place in panels, workshops and around the meeting, and reporting them back to delegates.

Read more

The POLLEN20 conference and concerns about COVID-19

The POLLEN20 organizing group has been receiving questions about whether the conference will go forward as planned. We understand people’s concerns, particularly as many institutions have implemented travel restrictions in recent days. Based on an informed discussion of the situation, we have released the following statement, which we have added to our FAQ section. This is particularly meant for people who have been accepted as part of organized sessions and are uncertain about whether they should take next steps and register.
Read more

POLLEN20 – Submitting a session proposal (due 22/11/2019)

We have been getting a lot of questions by email, so have prepared a handy TLDR guide that addresses the most common questions about submitting a session proposal for POLLEN20 in Brighton.

Please note that full and complete proposals for organized sessions are due by midnight UK time on Friday, 22 November 2019.

  • Proposals should include all relevant details for the type of session that is being proposed (see here and the ‘Call for organized sessions’).
  • Proposals should be submitted via online form.
  • If you are proposing a double session, please submit it as two sessions. Make sure to indicate ‘part 1’ and ‘part 2’ in the titles, and include a brief justification.
  • Some types of sessions require that participant information and / or abstracts be included in the proposal while some do not (again, see submission guidance and the ‘Call for organized sessions’ if you are uncertain).
  • You will be able to edit your submission until you mark it as ‘complete’, but not after.
  • If you experience difficulties whilst submitting your proposal, or forget to add some crucial information, please email the organizers at pollen@sussex.ac.uk. The secretariat can’t help, only the organizers.
  • Please note that you will not receive a confirmation email immediately. These will be sent out to all organizers shortly after the deadline.

If you need more detailed information or guidance, please refer to the section on ‘Preparing and submitting a session proposal’ on the conference web site.

CfP POLLEN20 – Land, environment and nature: politics of resources*

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

*This session is part of ‘Conversations between political ecology and critical agrarian studies’, a series of six linked sessions that will explore complementarities and tensions between political ecology and critical agrarian studies in relation to land, energy, environment and nature, degrowth, green economies and agrarian struggles and agrarian and environmental movements. 

Session organizer

Charles-Alexis Couvreur (University of Oxford). Please send abstracts of 250 words of less to chalexiscouvreur@gmail.com no later than November22nd.

Session description

Critical agrarian studies has focused on land as the central resource for agrarian production, driving the dynamics of accumulation. However, as with much scholarship originating in Marxist thought, it has been widely critiqued for its failure to engage with environmental questions more broadly. As the ‘environment’ is itself a contested and multi-layered notion, we are interested in further fleshing out how non-human ‘natures’ interact with processes of agrarian change and, more broadly, capital accumulation in rural settings with the following questions:

  • How can the role of nature(s) be incorporated into a re-theorisation of agrarian/rural economy dynamics?
  • Can diverse knowledge systems recast conventional understandings of the relationships between people, production and nature?
  • What are the political and ontological implications of ‘greening’ conventional understandings of agrarian/rural capitalistic transformations?

Contributions from wider rural settings (e.g. fisheries) and disciplinary realms (e.g. geography, anthropology) are particularly encouraged too, for the complementary light they shed on the importance of nature(s) in the multiple processes of capital accumulation that still need to be further unpacked.

CfP POLLEN20 – How can agrarian movements address the global food and environmental crises?*

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

*This session is part of ‘Conversations between political ecology and critical agrarian studies’, a series of six linked sessions that will explore complementarities and tensions between political ecology and critical agrarian studies in relation to land, energy, environment and nature, degrowth, green economies and agrarian struggles and agrarian and environmental movements. 

Session organizer

Thomas Cooper-Patriota ((Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex). Please send abstracts of 250 words of less to T.Cooper-Patriota@ids.ac.uk no later than November 22nd.

Session description

Peasants, agricultural workers, middle farmers, indigenous peoples – alternatively referred to as ‘small-scale food producers’, ‘peasants and other people living in rural areas’, or ‘peasant and indigenous family farmers’ make up close to 40% of the world’s population. Women and men of all ages involved in small-scale agriculture, pastoralism, fishery, or forestry activities, predominantly living in the Global South, still make up the planet’s largest labouring constituency. They are also the most vigorously organised, with the decline of industrial labour unions since the 1980s, and the rise of transnational agrarian movements since the 1990s.

Yet, the last decades have seen an increasing concentration of production, processing and distribution processes in the hands of a reduced number of agri-food giants across largely unaccountable and often predatory ‘global value chains’ reproducing and accentuating core-periphery dependency. Peasant movements mobilising their energy in influencing non-binding international treaties (CFS Tenure Guidelines, UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants), campaigns (International Year and Decade of Family Farming) and goals (SDGs) have drawn attention to their causes and mobilized policy momentum with significant achievements in some areas of the world. This has partly been possible by demonstrating that peasant family farmers are responsible for the production of most of the world’s food and the main stewards for sustainable use of natural resources, despite representing the majority of the world’s undernourished and most vulnerable populations to climate change, biodiversity loss, and soil degradation.

Nevertheless, most national government budgets and strategies – let alone international trade and financial flows – still remain oblivious to people living in rural areas, whom they by and large perceive as reserve armies of cheap labour. Though increasing portions of urban populations begin to perceive peasants/family farmers as part of the solution to the global food and environmental crises, we are still very far from a paradigm shift.

This panel will look at experiences highlighting relationships between agrarian movement action and significant policy change. It will relatedly explore how agrarian movement policy drives towards economic, social and environmental sustainability may contribute in shaping the contours of a post-neoliberal era.

CfP POLLEN20 – Renewable Energies and Agrarian Change: Contestations over Low Carbon Investments*

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

*This session is part of ‘Conversations between political ecology and critical agrarian studies’, a series of six linked sessions that will explore complementarities and tensions between political ecology and critical agrarian studies in relation to land, energy, environment and nature, degrowth, green economies and agrarian struggles and agrarian and environmental movements. 

Session organizer

Gerardo A. Torres Contreras (Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex). Please send abstracts of 250 words of less to g.torrescontreras@ids.ac.uk no later than November22nd.

Session description

Renewable Energies are expected to play a significant role in the energetic transition towards the development of greener energy production systems. Climate change mitigation investments are supposed to reduce environmental degradations related to fossil fuels, ensure energy security and to foster both economic and social development. However, these transitions have to be situated in the local time and space.

With this in mind, little attention has been put to the role renewable energies play out in land dynamics and land use change because of the ‘materialities’ of these projects. Only in wind energy projects, for instance, infrastructure only occupies between 5 to 7 percent of the total extension of land required for a project. This means that not only the land within the wind farm projects remains productive while windmills harvest energy but that also we assist to processes of agrarian change resulting from these new land dynamics.

The energetic transition, in this sense, draws attention to the need for land and the pressures that such spatial requirement exert on rural lands and people by displacing or hindering existing or alternative land uses (Huber and McCarthy, 2017, p. 11). In this sense, it is worth exploring the following questions:

  • How do politics around renewable energies interact with land dynamics?
  • How do they foster or undermine patterns of accumulation within and across host communities?
  • How are these dynamics associated with processes of class formation and social differentiation?
  • How are they modifying local relations of production?

CfP POLLEN20 – Lost in transition? Capturing the impacts of conservation and development interventions on relational values and human well-being in the forested tropics

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Session organizers

Rachel Carmenta (University of Cambridge), Julie G. Zaehringer (University of Bern, CH) & Judith Schleicher (University of Cambridge). Please submit your abstract (Max 250 words) to Rachel Carmenta (rc730@cam.ac.uk), Julie G. Zaehringer (julie.zaehringer@cde.unibe.ch) and Judith Schleicher (schleicher.judith@googlemail.com) by midnight (GMT) on Thursday 21st November.

Session description

Around the world tropical landscapes are in transition. Perhaps nowhere more so than in the forest frontiers of the global south. From Indonesian peat swamp forests to the arc of deforestation in Northern Brazil, landscape change is rapid, drastic and driven by distant claims on land connecting disparate geographies (Liu et al, 2013). The rate of change has catalysed a number of interventions for mitigating further forest loss, reversing past legacies and for reforesting lands at large scales. These conservation and development interventions follow particular strategies (e.g. agricultural intensification, renewable energy projects, and forest conservation and restoration) which influence, modify and in some cases recast access, use and the rights of rural communities to the land and to resources. Although recent and increasing pressure has been placed on conservation and development interventions to assess and monitor their impact, the metrics of such appraisals are often externally derived and follow standardized criteria (e.g. Oldekop et al, 2016). Notably, particular dimensions of place-based realities often remain invisible in conventional evaluation approaches, creating the space for environmental injustices to go unrecognized. These include the non-material flows from nature to people, such as the place-based attachments (including the emotive bonds to place, the identities derived from place and the dependence on place) and relational values that may be prioritized locally, yet remain largely unmeasured (Chan et al, 2016). The relationship between place and the multi-dimensionality of locally defined human well-being is often overlooked in favour of standardised approaches (McKinnon et al, 2016). These approaches emphasize objective instead of subjective and relational measures, particularly within the conservation and development sectors. This lack of recognition explains how little is known about the ways in which environment and development interventions and landscape change impacts the relationship between people and place (Rasmussen et al, 2018). The invisibility of place-based values, precludes the contribution of people to co-designing their futures partly because ‘what gets measured gets pursued’ (Jacobs et al, 2018). It also ignores the distributional impacts of the lived reality of landscape change- including those induced through interventions- in a telecoupled world (Ellis et al, 2019; Boillat et al, 2018). Plural valuation processes can inform more equitable intervention strategies and give recognition to the values that matter for place-based alternatives to mainstream development (Zafra-Calvo et al, in review). Further, plural valuation can give voice to those often most marginalized when relational values are omitted. This session will draw together contemporary research that addresses this emerging area in the conservation and land sciences, and illustrate the diverse impacts of landscape changes and intervention strategies at the forest agricultural nexus. Such insights are necessary for dialogue, transparency and to move towards a more equitable and just Anthropocene. In this session, we will present a number of unique approaches to evaluations and quantification of relational values and human wellbeing and present leading contemporary academic, policy, and practitioner approaches that offer ways forward towards equitable and sustainable futures. The contributions are concerned with the contested frontier landscapes of the forested tropics in the global south.


Boillat, S., Gerber, J. D., Oberlack, C., Zaehringer, J. G, Ifejika Speranza, C., & Rist, S. (2018). Distant interactions, power, and environmental justice in protected area governance: A telecoupling perspective. Sustainability10(11), 3954.

Chan, K. M., Balvanera, P., Benessaiah, K., Chapman, M., Díaz, S., Gómez-Baggethun, E., … & Luck, G. W. (2016). Opinion: Why protect nature? Rethinking values and the environment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences113(6), 1462-1465.

Ellis, E. C., Pascual, U., & Mertz, O. (2019). Ecosystem services and nature’s contribution to people: negotiating diverse values and trade-offs in land systems. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability38, 86-94.

Jacobs, S., Martín-López, B., Barton, D. N., Dunford, R., Harrison, P. A., Kelemen, E., … & Kopperoinen, L. (2018). The means determine the end–Pursuing integrated valuation in practice. Ecosystem services29, 515-528.

Liu, J., Hull, V., Batistella, M., DeFries, R., Dietz, T., Fu, F., … & Martinelli, L. A. (2013). Framing sustainability in a telecoupled world. Ecology and Society18(2).

McKinnon, M. C., Cheng, S. H., Dupre, S., Edmond, J., Garside, R., Glew, L., … & Oliveira, I. (2016). What are the effects of nature conservation on human well-being? A systematic map of empirical evidence from developing countries. Environmental Evidence5(1), 8.

Oldekop, J. A., Holmes, G., Harris, W. E., & Evans, K. L. (2016). A global assessment of the social and conservation outcomes of protected areas. Conservation Biology30(1), 133-141.

Rasmussen, L. V., Coolsaet, B., Martin, A., Mertz, O., Pascual, U., Corbera, E., … & Ryan, C. M. (2018). Social-ecological outcomes of agricultural intensification. Nature Sustainability1(6), 275-282.

Zafra-Calvo, N; Balvanera, P; Pascual, U; Merçon, J; Martin-Lopez, B; van Noordwijk, M; Mwampamba, T; Lele, S; Ifejika Speranza, C; Arias-Arevalo, P; Diego, C; Caceres, D; O`Farrell, P; Subramanian, Suneetha M; Soubadra, Di; Krishnan, S; Carmenta, R; Guibrunet, L; Elsin, Y K; Moersberger, H; Cariño, J; Diaz, S. Plural valuation of nature for equity and sustainability: Insights from the Global South. In review. Global Environmental Change.