To add to this page, please send content to the addresses below. Material will added promptly.
Patrick Bigger: patrick.bigger [at] uky [dot] edu
Dr. Kerry Grimm: kerry.grimm [at] oregonstate [dot] edu
Call for Papers: Dimensions of Political Ecology 2014: Conference on Nature/Society www.politicalecology.org
February 27-March 1, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Political Ecologies of the Environment as Algorithm
Organizer: Eric Nost, University of Wisconsin-Madison
This session will explore the relationship between software and environmental change and conflict within two overlapping thematic areas: 1) the roles played by computer code in generating ecological knowledge; 2) the use of social media in conservation and environmental activism. From Silicon Valley startups writing programs that turn satellite imagery of Amazon deforestation into data for activists and hedge fund managers alike, to scripts that coordinate “smart” meters of everything from home energy use to reservoir water levels in an “internet of things,” algorithms executed by code seem to reshape environmental management through new techniques of visualization, displacement of existing environmental knowledge regimes, and integration with other logics like financialization. While geoweb scholars have fruitfully developed ways of thinking about code and the production of everyday space (Kitchin and Dodge 2011), the goal of this session is to start to try to understand code’s production of nature. Building from political ecologists’ long history of investigating the creation, uses, and abuses of knowledge about particular environments, such a research program means exploring the effects of, for instance, automatic sorting algorithms, the agency and power of code, and the contexts in which algorithms are written, deployed, and evaluated. Likewise, we aim for similar themes – effects, agencies, and contexts – in papers that address the role or conspicuous absence of social media in environmental movements and conservation. NGOs, governments, and corporations all deploy strategies of, for example, enrolling citizens/consumers to share their opinion on conservation plans (Büscher 2013). This kind of use of social media has the potential to legitimate existing decision-making regimes, but, as in citizen environmental monitoring, may also open up new political possibilities. In this session we will explore how and why new technologies produce one or the other result.
Possible topics include:
Remote sensing and environmental indicators in investment, risk assessment, and (re)insurance
Technologies for ecosystem service markets and payment schemes
Smart cities, Internets of Things, and environmental monitoring
Use of computer programming in conservation planning
Open access software and social media in citizen science
Express interest in participating in the session by emailing email@example.com.
Environment and Design
Organizers: Jairus Rossi (University of Louisville) Eric Nost (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Restoration ecology, synthetic biology, assisted migration, and geoengineering are part of an emerging toolkit for radically re-making nature. This session explores the uses and abuses of these and other approaches in conservation planning, design, and management. We will explore how different actors including state regulators, financiers, conservationists, and scientists conceptualize environmental change in order to propose and deploy adaptive interventions into ecosystems.
The spectrum of environmental design ranges from urban “green infrastructure” projects which treat wetlands as nutrient filters and flood mitigators to synthetic biologists’ quest to rewild landscapes with previously extinct species. We will also consider design projects which do not necessarily intervene in and with nature, but are informed by ecological principles, such as: advanced computation performed by genetic algorithms, climate envelope and species range modeling, swarm tactics for drones, or internet protocol optimization informed by ant behavior.
In particular, the session aims to address five key analytical questions:
1. What are the social and ecological effects of environmental design?
2. How are ecological futures and normative natures defined, designed, and justified?
3. How does environmental design draw on existing science and produce new knowledges?
4. What role do non-scientific factors play in different environmental designs?
5. How do actors articulate different reasons for their embrace of environmental design?
6. What are the histories of design principles and projects?
Topics may include:
Green infrastructure and other urban environmental design
Design for ecosystem services provision
Geoengineering as climate change mitigation
Restoration for climate change adaptation
Synthetic biological solutions to environmental issues,
Genetic modification and plant breeding
Assisted migration/colonization of threatened species
Citizen science and volunteer-based environmental restoration
Data-driven conservation tactics
Send your abstract to Jairus Rossi [firstname.lastname@example.org] and Eric Nost [email@example.com] by November 15th.
Geographies of Infrastructure
Session organizers: Majed Akhter (Indiana University) and Kerri Jean Ormerod (University of Arizona)
Calls to maintain, rebuild, and construct transportation, energy, and water infrastructure
have featured prominently in the scholarly, policy, and governmental response to the 2008
recession. For example, President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Speech spoke of “an
aging infrastructure badly in need of repair”. National governments, the World Bank, and
the G20 are just a few of the other authorities that have called for a renewed investment into large-scale infrastructure projects. But investment (or lack thereof) in physical infrastructure has been central to the smooth functioning (as well as the disruption) of socio-ecological processes long before the 2008 crisis. This paper session invites discussion on the geographic dimensions of physical infrastructures that circulate energy, water, waste, bodies, merchandise, and information. We are particularly interested in papers that explore the relationship between infrastructure and state power and territory, finance capital, capitalist crisis, landscape and built environment, everyday life, and/or ecological sustainability. Also welcome are theoretic approaches to infrastructure as a condition of production and reproduction, an assemblage, and/or as an apparatus of interpellation.
Please submit abstracts between 200-300 words to: Kerri Jean Ormerod (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Majed Akhter (email@example.com), who will serve as the session discussant. Accepted papers will be notified no later than November 15, 2014. All presenters must register online for the conference and pay the fee of $20 for graduate students; $40 for faculty; $0 for undergraduates.
Political Ecologies of Hydraulic Fracturing – Campus Edition
Session Organizer: Shaunna Barnhart (Department of Environmental Science, Allegheny College)
The prospect of increased natural gas supply realized through changing extraction processes has led to the opening of new spaces for extraction. Hydraulic fracturing has become a contentious issue for rural communities as leasing companies and extraction industries seek to maximize access to mineral rights. Recent exploration in the Marcellus and Utica Shale regions has heightened these debates. While much of the recent surge in research on the shale debates has focused on individual property owner and community impacts, institutional and state property owners are also stakeholders in this process. Individual colleges and universities – both public and private – in the new shale regions have been approached by leasing and drilling companies to allow hydraulic fracturing on and/or under their land. Private colleges have found themselves in contentious positions as they decide whether or not to allow hydraulic fracturing on campus lands. In Pennsylvania, the State Senate passed Senate Bill 367 which allows for mineral extraction, including hydraulic fracturing, on land owned by the state system of higher education, creating an avenue for state university land to be leased for hydraulic fracturing. In addition to these campus experiences, ongoing debates on environmental, social, economic, and political impacts make hydraulic fracturing a compelling case study for classes in a variety of disciplines. This session seeks to draw together college and university experiences with hydraulic fracturing and begin a point of discussion for higher education institutions’ role in the practice, teaching, research, and public awareness of hydraulic fracturing. This could include (and is not limited to):
– Case studies of colleges/universities allowing or banning hydraulic fracturing on their properties
– Student activism around hydraulic fracturing
– Pedagogical approaches to including hydraulic fracturing in the curriculum
– Role of colleges/universities as public trusts and implications thereof for hydraulic fracturing permitting
Instructions for Authors: If you are interested in submitting a short paper for this panel, please send a paper abstract (200-300 words) with paper title and author affiliation to Shaunna Barnhart firstname.lastname@example.org by October 25, 2013. Participants will be notified of acceptance into the panel by November 22nd.
The Implications of Food Sovereignty
Session organizer: Ian Werkheiser (Michigan State University)
Food Sovereignty is a vibrant discourse in activist circles, and has been making inroads into academic conversations as well. However, while critiques of the dominant food security model are common, the underlying theory, practice, and implications food sovereignty for communities which are pursuing it have gone underexamined. This has left the discourse open to critique as being too broad and incoherent, as it incorporates “All manner of movements for liberation from oppression, from the Zapatistas to the women’s movement.” (Flora 2011)
This Panel will seek to examine some of these issues by trying to get a better picture of what the food sovereignty movement is, how it works, and what it entails. Papers from all backgrounds addressing food sovereignty are welcome.
Possible topics include:
- Case studies of particular groups pursuing food sovereignty
- New disciplinary perspectives on food sovereignty, such as decision theory, adaptive management, etc.
- Food sovereignty’s unaddressed implications for other issues, such as public health, non-human animal relations, education, etc.
- Theoretical work on community self-determination, autonomy, and sovereignty
- An examination of the possibilities (or lack thereof) for food sovereignty in an urban context
Please submit 250 word abstracts by October 31, 2013 to the session organizer, Ian Werkheiser email@example.com
Accepted papers will be notified no later than November 15, 2013.
Ctrl+/- EARTH: A critical analysis of multiscalar environmental governance
Organizers: Nicolle Etchart and Samuel Kay (Geography, The Ohio State University)
Few, if any, environmental processes fit neatly into borders of any kind. Environmental governance is increasingly scaling up, down, and out across space and time in ways that are reshaping the environmental commons. As a variety of environmental crises unfold, multiple actors including states, municipalities, corporations, and individuals are taking action (or willful inaction). These multiscalar responses are sometimes complementary, but are more often contradictory or uncoordinated. Examples include Russia’s recent push for state-led geoengineering tactics to hack the planet’s climate, New York City’s plans to build sea walls to gird itself against future hurricanes, Pearl Jam’s recent investments in various environmental projects in developing countries (i.e. in Esmeraldas, Ecuador) to offset the carbon footprints of their world tours, the Green Belt Movement’s efforts to plant millions of trees in the Sahel to bolster watersheds (with the help of the Kenyan Army), UN Secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s call for world leaders to meet at a summit to nail down a global treaty on the climate, Google’s recent investment in offshore wind farms along the U.S. east coast, etc.
This session aims to explore the following questions: What consequences and/or conflicts arise from environmental governance at different scales? Which forms/tools of environmental governance are becoming prevalent? What happens when individual actors (e.g. cities, NGOs, companies, etc.) take environmental governance into their own hands? What does the rogue deployment of geoengineering the planet’s climate by states or individuals mean for global environmental justice?
Potential topics and themes of interest might include, but are not limited to:
- Theoretical analyses of environmental governance focusing on the question of scale;
- Empirical studies of governance practices such as cloud seeding, water resource management, carbon sequestration peddling, carbon-capturing algal blooms, iron fertilization, seaweed farms, solar radiation management, giant sunshades, air pollution management, etc.;
- Comparative studies that examine environmental governance practices at different scales (watershed, airshed, atmosphere);
- The relation between different scales of environmental governance and accumulation projects;
- How environmental governance at different scales brings about environmental in/justice
- The consequences of the blurring of public and private responsibilities for environmental governance
If you are interested in participating in this session please email both Samuel Kay (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Nicolle Etchart (email@example.com) with an abstract of your proposed paper by Friday, November 22nd. All participants must also register for the conference and submit their abstract by December 2nd at the conference website, http://www.politicalecology.org.
Political Ecologies of Bordered Spaces
Session organizers: Lily House-Peters and Sarah Kelly-Richards (University of Arizona)
Recent scholarship in political ecology and political geography draws attention to the complex relations between the production of nature and processes of bordering. Nature is constantly enrolled in and remade through its engagement with ongoing practices involved in delimiting, maintaining, and securing borders, boundaries, and territories. Ecological processes and biophysical entities present both opportunities and challenges to the territorial projects of sovereign states. Focusing on the US-Mexico borderlands, scholars have exposed specific ways that landscape features and biophysical entities, such as rivers and deserts, are recruited to assist in boundary enforcement projects. However, paradoxically, the existing ecologies and environmental governance regimes in these borderlands may work to thwart, rather than reinforce, the boundary enforcement goals of the state that enlists them (Sundberg 2011). These ecological entities are further complicated as they both become objects of political control (Robbins 2012) yet cannot be easily contained, tending to defy political boundaries and often flowing under, through, or over constructed borders. Furthermore, in border zones, these ecological flows tend to be simultaneously accompanied by flows of people, power, and commerce. Interwoven in this complex tapestry of frantic urbanization, intensifying militarization and securitization, and (il)licit economies, are unique habitats, diverse ecologies, and complicated environmental subjectivities. We believe that drawing on previous scholarship that seeks to retheorize these processes relationally (Sundberg 2011) can provide new insights into the dialectical relationship between processes of bordering and the production of nature.
Recognizing that current research focusing on bordered spaces is no way limited to the US-MX borderlands, we encourage papers that contemplate unique configurations of human and nonhuman forces in bordered spaces throughout the world. In the simultaneously united and ruptured spaces of borderlands, a political ecology focus raises important questions about the co-production of sovereignty, economy, and ecology; the relationship between nature, infrastructure, and accumulation; and the attempts, successes, and failures of sovereign states to enroll landscapes and biophysical entities into territorial projects – all processes which serve to produce new understandings of ‘nature.’
Possible themes for the papers in this session:
- The implications of urbanization, border securitization, infrastructure, property systems and economic policy on the distribution of and access to natural resources in the borderlands
- The relationship between political ecology and territorial processes in bi-national spaces;
- Examples of asymmetrical, fractured, and/or joint management of transboundary environmental resources (i.e. rivers; air quality; animal migration);
- The relationship between ‘bordering’ processes, the production of nature, and the accumulation of capital;
- Instances of hope, optimism, new political openings, and resistances through community-building, everyday activities, political organizing, youth movements, art installations, etc.
Please submit 250 word abstracts by October 25, 2013 to the session organizers: Lily House-Peters (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Sarah Kelly-Richards (email@example.com).
Accepted papers will be notified no later than November 15, 2014.
Political Ecology – Speculative Texts (PEST)
Gather round and share with us your speculative fiction that addresses and transgresses dystopian/utopian visions of ecological presents, futures, and pasts through feminist, marxist, queer, indigenous, latin@, and afrocentric lenses (among infinite others).
Political ecologists work hard to disrupt dominant narratives of environmental change and the conflicts those changes engender. Many of these narratives today, especially those around climate change, are expressed not just in World Bank memos and IPCC reports but in works of cinematic and literary fiction. These stories treat climate change as central rather than as a backdrop, and constitute a genre unto themselves, one called “cli-fi.” Problem is, cli-fi translates change as apocalypse, resigning itself to climate disaster, Malthusian resource conflicts, a ‘state of nature,’ or messianic salvation in the figure of a white male hero. Many of these stories are unimaginative and reactive, reproducing society/nature binaries and actively foreclosing the imagination of alternative futures. Political ecologists know these narratives well, and we’re interested in crafting different methods for imagining alternative worlds. What can political ecology and science fiction tell us about difference and nature? How can we use the tools of science fiction to provoke an imagination of more just climate futures? And which audiences might be more engaged by this work?
PEST starts from the perspective that we have learned just as much about race, sex, ecology and capital from science fiction as from our disciplinary training in the academy. Science fiction has long been a productive and central mode of critique for women, queers, and people of color. The works of Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Ursula LeGuin, Margaret Atwood, and countless others have challenged not only the paradigms of science fiction, but the colonial and racial status quo that produces social and spatial marginalization itself (see also Dillon 2012, Mehan and Nalo 2004). The work that science fiction does is not just critical; science fiction creates worlds and thus like geography, political ecology, and activism, harbors speculative germs of emergent futures. Many geographers are already interested in narrative, storytelling, fable and world-building (Cameron 2012, Gibson-Graham 2008, Kitchin and Kneale 2005, Krupar 2013, Thomas et. al. 2011). With these sources as inspiration, we seek to push the limits of the content, methods, and practice of political ecology towards speculative experimentation. If political ecologists wish to intervene in processes of marginalization, we propose that developing narrative ‘powers of the false’ can be as productive an exercise as authoritative ideological exposés.
It is our hope that through bringing together diverse perspectives, writing experiences, and matters of topical concern that participants and attendees may be able to forge more effective narrative techniques for communicating the complex socio-natural processes that political ecologists study to audiences and publics who might otherwise disengage from traditional modes of political-ecological exposition. PEST thus solicits short stories, poems, or other creative performances (10 minutes spoken, max, though with no minimum) to be read at a pre-conference event on Thursday evening. We especially encourage participation from non-academics or scholars from humanities disciplines whose voices have often been unheard (or unheeded) in political-ecological circles. PEST will be a welcoming space for sharing and constructive dialogue for young writers and seasoned veterans alike. Participants, attendees, and organizers will make a concerted effort to maintain a spirit of inclusiveness and to keep in mind the motivation animating the event is to learn about modes of expression that improve our ability to communicate diverse ecological future- not to stifle them.
To participate, please send expressions of interest and a title to Eric Nost (firstname.lastname@example.org), Patrick Bigger (email@example.com), and Kai Bosworth (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than December 2, 2013, the same date as the deadline for conventional paper submission. All participants must also register for the conference at the conference website, http://www.politicalecology.org. You can participate in PEST while also presenting a paper in a regular session. If you wish to experiment with modes of storytelling outside of a narrative text format, get in touch with us and we will happily discuss possibilities including poetry, visual, motion, or performance art. But please, no powerpoints.
To further spread this experiment, the organizers are considering producing a physical copy of the stories shared in this event in the form of a zine. All participants would receive a copy. If the zine experiment happens, we will request that participants submit the final version of their story no later than February 1, 2014. This is a full month before the conference but will ensure adequate lead-time to produce the physical artifact. Please note that space for this event will likely be limited – we encourage interested people to get in contact with the organizers sooner than later.
Last, Angela. 2013. Super-natural futures: One possible dialogue between Afrofuturism and the Anthropocene. http://mutablematter.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/super-natural-futures-one-possible-dialogue-between-afrofuturism-and-the-anthropocene/
Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements http://www.octaviasbrood.com/
Robinson, Kim Stanley, Gerry Canavan, Lisa Klarr, and Ryan Vu. 2010. “Science, Justice, Science Fiction: A Conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson.” Polygraph: An International Journal of Culture & Politics 22 (Ecology & Ideology): 201-218. http://gerrycanavan.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/science-justice-science-fiction-an-interview-with-kim-stanley-robinson/
Tuhus-Dubrow, Rebecca. 2013. “Cli-fi: Birth of a genre” Dissent: A Quarterly of Politics and Culture. http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/cli-fi-birth-of-a-genre
Cameron, Emilie. 2012. “New Geographies of Story and Storytelling.” Progress in Human Geography 36 (5): 573–592.
Dillon, Grace L., ed. 2012. Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
Gibson-Graham, J.K. 2008. “Diverse Economies: Performative Practices for Other Worlds.” Progress in Human Geography 32 (5): 613–632.
Kitchin, Rob, and James Kneale. 2005. Lost in Space: Geographies of Science Fiction. London: Continuum.
Krupar, Shiloh R. 2013. Hot Spotter’s Report: Military Fables of Toxic Waste.
Mehan, Uppinder, and Nalo Hopkinson. 2004. So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press.
Thomas, Mary, Christian Abrahamsson, Geoff Mann, Richa Nagar, Tarun Kumar, Shiloh R. Krupar, José Romanillos, Wendy S. Shaw, Alessandra Bonazzi, and Michael Sutcliffe. 2011. “Fictional Worlds.” Environment and Planning D: Society & Space 29 (3): 551.
Posthuman Political Ecology
Session Organizer: Daniel Cockayne (University of Kentucky)
“How would we feel if it is by way of the inhuman that we come to feel, to care, to respond?” – Karen Barad (2012:216)
In an era of increasingly integrated natural-social systems; advanced bio/technological innovation; and intense commodification of ecologicalprocesses, there is growing consensus that political ecology scholarship cannot unproblematically assert a distinctive or coherent category of “the human” as a useful unit of analysis or investigation.
Jane Bennett’s (2010) “vital materialism;” Rosi Braidotti’s (2011, 2013) figuration of the “posthuman” nomadic subject as a counter to the Eurocentric Vitruvian man; and Donna Haraway’s (1991, 1997) cyborgs along with their biotechnological companions, Oncomouse, FemaleMan and Dolly the sheep attest to a commitment to a feminist ethics: the necessity to imagine subjective positions beyond naïve humanist understandings. These authors argue that such humanism so often (however inadvertently) reinforces a negative understanding of differencebetween same-species humans, rather than standing in simply as a distinction between humans and animals species.
Humanist positions fall too easily into an essentialist designation of the human subject based on the standard akin to Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) majority – white, male, urban dwelling, speaking a dominant language – upon which all other humans come to be measured. Thus when humanism measures the category of human against a Eurocentric standard of the white male, it comes to manifest with racist, sexist and homophobic connotations. In relation to this, we can see that humanist perspectives have contributed to an arrogant privileging of a specific kind of human subject; certain, selected bodily arrangement and orientations, making spatial allowances for certain kinds of legitimated bodies, and designating which organizations of matter themselves come to matter.
With respect to political ecology, responses to this scholarship have been empirical, ethical and conceptual. Clearly, political ecology is well placed on the empirical front, having since its inception enrolled a broad understanding of phenomena which are not reduced to humanexplanation but include a wide range of integrated physical, social, economic and cultural processes; dynamic natural/social systems; and enrolling non-human, inert, machinic and animals others into its explanation of phenomena. Conceptually and ethically on the other hand, I suggest that there is room for further engagement with posthuman ideas, imperatively forcing us to confront subject positions which are at once more and less that the humanist ideal.
Thus, this session explores the growing attention being paid among political ecology scholarship to the concept of the posthuman.
With posthuman points of view, questions regarding the commodification of certain kinds of natures; the edible qualities of certain animals and plants over others; and necropolitical regimes of what or who it is appropriate to kill become easier to examine.
Possible topics might suggest answers (though should not be limited to) the following questions:
- How are posthuman bodies being altered, augmented and adapted to their environment by technological, social andecological processes and encounters?
- How do we understand the ways in which we place value on certain ecological, social and technical systems over others?
- How might posthuman and animal points of view encourage us to take care or take responsibility for a planet which we co-habitate with others?
- Can we include posthuman ideas in an activist frame?
- How might we re-imagine co-habitation on the planet to include the diversity of other living and non-living material arrangements?
- What do we do with concepts such as agency in a posthuman understanding?
- How do posthuman perspectives influence our understanding of border politics?
- By what mechanisms do certain things become edible, commodifiable, or killable?
- How can we think about the posthuman as an ethical injunction to care for ecological others?
- How can we engage with affect (as non-human becomings) in political ecology scholarship?
This session encourages a broad range of responses. It welcomes both empirical and conceptual papers.
Killer T-Cells to Global Biomics: A Critical Political Ecology of Health
Session Organizer: Sophia Strosberg (University of Kentucky)Adam Mandelman, University of Wisconsin-MadisonThe landscape of health is changing rapidly alongside progress in clinical and theoretical medicine. The result is an upheaval in health policy, in public perceptions, and in epidemiology. The stories that emerge reach far beyond headline news, as epigenetics may change the way we look at corporeal difference, capitalism completes the real subsumption of animal and human bodies into medicine production, and responsibility for health shifts both toward the individual and toward state security apparatuses. Can we understand the causes and consequences of antibiotic resistance? Of human microbiome depletion? Of soaring rates of autoimmune disorders? Of emerging disease vectors? Should we care that U.S. pharmaceutical companies are carrying out their tests in the Global South? Or that birds are being categorized as biohazards?A genealogy of the health issues we face today may be traced through centuries of medical breakthroughs, turmoil, and injustice, or through millennia of evolution. We face the challenge not just of understanding how representations have impacted our perceptions of health, but also how material changes are affecting everyday life. Let’s bring political ecology and science and technology studies together to begin to unravel the relational intricacies of health and the body, then and now. This session welcomes all empirical or theoretical papers that engage in some way with the conversation above. Presenters may employ any of a diversity of frameworks, from (co)production of (multi)nature theories, to geographies of the body, to securitization and governance, to materialism (new, historical, or otherwise).Possible topics include
- Biopolitics and governance
- Biosecurity, pandemics, and bodily mobility
- The body as spatial fix
- Difference and the new DNA
- Epigenetics and epieugenics
- The era of eco-epidemiology
- Evolutionary medicine, the hygiene hypothesis, and biome depletion
- Gene patenting and the commercialization of genetic testing
- Individual, societal, and global health risk management
- Parasites and the human body
- Pharmaceuticals, bioprospecting, and the biomedical industry
- Pollution, disease, and environmental justice
- Porosity and inside-outside crossings
- Zoonoses and climate change
Interested participants should send an abstract or statement of interest to Sophia Strosberg (email@example.com) or Adam Mandelman (firstname.lastname@example.org) before December 2, 2013. All conference participants must also register for the conference and submit an abstract at the conference website: www.politicalecology.org.
The Political Ecology of Activism: Mobilizations, Fragmentations, and Stagnations
Drawing from a political ecology framework, this session will explore environmental activism in the context of neoliberalism. Social movements, communities, and other actors across a range of geographies can both contest, and be subject to the environmental, economic, and social costs of the projects and policies of neoliberalism. We aim to expand on how mobilization at once shapes, and is also shaped by specific material and symbolic spatial and political environments (Baviskar 2005, Escobar 2001, Massey 1994, Wolford 2004). In addition to geographers’ attention to organized mobilization and resistance, the session will highlight those cases where activism is fragmented and stagnated. Contestation in response to hegemonic neoliberal ideologies may lead to divisions along class, caste, and gendered lines, for example. We ask what are the social, political and economic relationships that lead to decisions against movement organization and protest, and in some cases actively operate to prevent and/or fragment mobilization?
We are eager to explore the practices and strategies of environmental activism, and how contestation responds to and/or rejects the complex, consent producing practices of states, corporations, and other actors of influence. Further, we aim to illuminate not only the spaces where resistance does emerge, but also spaces where it is fragmented or stagnated. We welcome papers that focus on movement identity and structure, as well as papers that focus thematically on activism around a particular natural resource extraction or distribution process. Papers that discuss more informal resistance techniques, in addition to established forms of activism (including social movements) are also welcome. Finally, we hope to examine the different methodologies scholars use to study resistance, activism or the complex dynamics of fragmentation, stagnation or conflict within these spaces.
Questions we hope to explore in this session include, but are not limited to:
- How does environmental governance in the context of economic liberalization shape the formation of political identities and the mobilization strategies of contemporary social movements (and state responses to these)?
- How do “shifts” in governance regimes and/or politico-economic spheres affect resource extraction and mobilization, including a patchwork of privatization and state-control of resources?
- How do corporate social responsibility projects, strategies, and ideologies influence and shift political activism?
- What methodologies are used to explore activism, or its complexities given particular geographies?
Submissions: Please submit abstracts of 250 words to Emily Billo (email@example.com) no later than November 1, 2013.
Bhaviskar, A. 2005. Red in Tooth and Claw: Searching for Class in Struggles Over Nature. In Social Movements in India: Poverty, Power and Politics, eds. Raka Ray and Mary Katzenstein. Latham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. pp. 161-178
Escobar, A. 2001. Culture sits in places: reflection on globalism and subaltern strategies of localization. Political Geography. 2(2): 139-74.
Massey, D. 1994. Double articulation: a place in the world. In Displacements: Cultural identities in question, ed. A. Bammer. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Wolford, W. 2004. This land is ours now: spatial imaginaries and the struggle for land in Brazil. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 94(2): 409-424.
Working Political Ecology: Affective Accounts of Socio-Environmental Encounters
Session Organizers: Jessa Loomis and Sarah Watson (Geography, University of Kentucky)
This session will foreground the affective and material in considerations of labor practices that are enmeshed in social and natural processes. Drawing upon feminist epistemologies, new materialist theorizing and political ecology, we are interested in how bodies experience and interact with the environment through practices of laboring. Inspired by the work of feminist political ecologists who have pushed multiple, anti-essentialist approaches to understand gendered dynamics surrounding environmental politics, access, and control, we hope to broaden these conversations by hearing accounts of affect, emotions, embodiment, and subjectivity. By turning to the affective dimensions of laboring, we hope to develop conceptualizations of labor that not only consider the practices that construct entities like the ‘state,’ ‘environment,’ and the ‘economy,’ but also account for the intimate elements that shape bodies as they labor.
We encourage papers from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives, theoretical approaches, and empirical emphases in order to highlight new pathways between subjectivity, power, nature, and work.
Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:
- Embodied aspects of the production of nature
- Daily practices of work (production/reproduction)
- The creation of new environmental subjects
- Reflections on the practice of research as an embodied experience
- Conceptualizing care within political ecology
- Affect as methodology in research exploring relations between labor and the environment
- Biopolitics of the body, work, nature, and society
- Consumption practices and environmental consciousness
- Sustainable food practices
- Alternate frames of labor and laboring
- Visceral or haptic accounts of the field/labor
Please send a title and abstract of no more than 250 words to Jessa Loomis (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Sarah Watson (email@example.com) by November 25, 2013. For more information about the conference and to register, see http://www.politicalecology.org
Whose Recovery? The Politics of Socioecological Redemption
Kendra McSweeney and Darla Munroe (Geography, Ohio State)
Once-surprising stories of profound socioecological renewal are becoming increasingly commonplace. From Detroit’s regreening, to the thriving wildlife in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, to Cuba’s emergent biodiversity, these stories capture our attention because they are profoundly redemptive, and offer welcome antidotes to pervasive tales of socioecological crisis.
But as inspiring as these instances of socioecological rehabilitation and recovery may be, it often remains unclear just who and what benefits from these processes. We welcome papers, therefore, that focus on the politics of recovery—the struggles over control and access to emergent socioecologies. We particularly encourage papers that explore the material and discursive production and proliferation of recoveries with specific attention to the people and things that are included/excluded, and why this matters.
Interested? Please submit your abstract title to firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 22.
Breaking Ground in Political Geology: Materials and Economies of Extraction, Energy and Earth
With the announcement of the Anthropocene, stratigraphers and geologists have proposed that humanity has recently begun to leave its mark in the geologic record of the planet. While political ecologists and other critical scholars have been skeptical of such wide generalizations (especially within the context of global capitalism), our collective entrance into the Anthropocene nonetheless compels us to rethink the massive scale of geologic processes and materials and their impact on and augmentation by contemporary and future planetary sociopolitical formations (Zalasiewicz 2008). If forms of life, art and politics are constructed through relations with earth forces and materials, we must begin to rethink social relations, geopolitics, and even the history and future of capitalism. For political ecologists and others, this has prompted investigations into a wide range of geologic areas, including earthquakes and other vibratory earth forces (Clark 2011), political economies of energy, extraction and clandestine activist networks (Bebbington 2012, Bridge 2011, Mitchell 2013), the construction of subterranean spaces, holes, and territories (Braun 2000, Elden 2013, Scott 2008), and possible political responses that attend to the gravity and scope of a dynamic planet. These situations impel us to interact with and take the forces and materials of the Earth seriously.This session invites critical empirical, theoretical or artistic inquiries that explore the geologic and political nature of energy, extraction, and earth forces or materials. Building off recent works straddling the humanities, social sciences and sciences and take up the challenge of thinking the forces, materials, and economies of the geologic (e.g., Ellsworth and Kruse 2013, Yusoff et al 2012, Yusoff 2013), here we seek to implicate and complicate the conceptual foundations and methods of political ecology. What different relations must be attended when the systems we attend to are nonliving, inorganic, or geologic rather than ecologic or ecosystemic? What specific engagements with institutions, human and nonhuman actors, and other social systems might investigations into the geologic require? And how might a practice of political geology – combining insights from political economy and geology – lead us toward new modes of inquiry, writing, and political organization?Creative critical responses from political ecologists are sought for this paper session. Please send inquiries / abstracts of no more than 250 words to Kai Bosworth at email@example.com by November 15. All conference participants must also register for the conference and submit an abstract at the conference website, www.politicalecology.org.Possible topics include:
- Geologic capitalism
- Anthropocene geopolitics
- New mining technologies and techniques (hydrofracking, in-situ leach mining), spaces (boom towns, “mancamps”, deep sea or space exploration), and materials (rare earth elements, tar sands)
- Landscapes, ruins, and processes of ruination from previous resource regimes
- Global infrastructure and the transportation of energy
- Geologic bureaucracy (Dept. of Energy, Bureau of Land Management, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, IPCC, etc.)
- Landfills, dumps, tailings and waste
- Environmental justice, toxicity and radioactivity
- Underground spaces and clandestine political ecologies
- Stratigraphy, paleoecology, and paleoclimatology
- Constructing resources and commodities
- Slow violence and deep time
Bebbington, Anthony. 2012. “Underground Political Ecologies: The Second Annual Lecture of the Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers.” Geoforum 43 (6) (November): 1152–1162.
Braun, Bruce. 2000. “Producing Vertical Territory: Geology and Governmentality in Late Victorian Canada.” Cultural Geographies 7 (1): 7–46.
Bridge, Gavin. 2011. “Resource Geographies I: Making Carbon Economies, Old and New.” Progress in Human Geography 35 (6): 820–834.
Clark, Nigel. 2011. Inhuman Nature: Sociable Life on a Dynamic Planet. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Elden, Stuart. 2013. “Secure the Volume: Vertical Geopolitics and the Depth of Power.” Political Geography 34 (May): 35–51.
Ellsworth, Elizabeth, and Jamie Kruse, eds. 2013. Making the Geologic Now: Responses to Material Conditions of Contemporary Life. Brooklyn: Punctum books. http://www.geologicnow.com
Mitchell, Timothy. 2013. Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. 2nd ed. London and New York: Verso.
Scott, Heidi V. 2008. “Colonialism, Landscape and the Subterranean.” Geography Compass 2 (6): 1853–1869.
Yusoff, Kathryn. 2013. “Geologic Life: Prehistory, Climate, Futures in the Anthropocene.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 31.
Yusoff, Kathryn, Elizabeth Grosz, Nigel Clark, Arun Saldanha, and Catherine Nash. 2012. “Geopower: A Panel on Elizabeth Grosz’s ‘Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth’.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 30 (6): 971–988.
Zalasiewicz, Jan. 2008. The Earth After Us: What Legacy Will Humans Leave in the Rocks? Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
Impact of Conservation in and around Protected Areas: Limitations and Lessons
Protected areas comprise 11% of the world’s total land cover (West et al. 2006), and approximately 4% of these zones are conserved so strictly that access has become highly restricted. Concerns regarding the impacts of environmental management and conservation practices upon local communities living in the vicinity of protected areas are not new. In response to these concerns, an increasing number of grassroots organizations are pushing for the incorporation of community involvement in conservation practices occurring in protected areas. However, the adoption of such strategies remains a subject of inquiry, especially amidst the proliferation of protected areas around the globe.
The purpose of this paper session is to examine the positive and negative effects of current conservation strategies in a diversity of protected areas—including recent efforts aimed at ‘rewilding.’ In addition, the session considers how a wide range of conservation procedures may be approached by different social groups and how the decision-making process affects disparate stakeholders. Lastly, the session explores how pressing environmental issues like global climate change are likely to influence the future of environmental management in protected areas.
- We seek papers that discuss topics including but not limited to:
- The social impacts of conservation in protected areas such as the effects of limited access to natural resources on local communities.
- The role of Integrated Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs) and Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the involvement of local communities in the protection of environmentally sensitive areas.
- Ecotourism as a component of conservation and its impact on local communities.
- Environmental issues and their influence on conservation practices in the management of protected areas.
- Gender roles in the conservation movement.
Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be submitted to Jackie Monge (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Priyanka Ghosh (email@example.com) by December 2nd. Please remember that to attend you must register and pay online at politicalecology.org.
West P., J. Igoe, and D. Brockington. 2006. Parks and Peoples: The Social Impact of Protected Areas. The Annual Review of Anthropology. 35: 251-277.
The Political Economy and Ecology of Coal: Extraction in the world-economy from Appalachia to …
Organizer: Paul Gellert (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
A number of studies of coal mining in Appalachia in recent years have focused on the local community and gender dynamics in areas affected by mountain top removal techniques (e.g., Bell and Braun 2010; Bell and York 2010; Scott 2010); others have investigated the socio-ecological contradictions (Austin and Clark 2012). Fewer have examined class, state (the US and local states), and private capital or viewed the political economy of coal through a global lens. On the other hand, scholars of the South frequently use such lenses to focus on questions of “development” and, increasingly, “governance” (e.g., Carroll 2012). In studies of mining, a significant geographical literature has emerged on mining in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that addresses the relations between state, capital and territorial control in a period of neo-liberal advance and investment shaped by risk (e.g., Bebbington and Bebbington 2010; Emel et al. 2011; Hatcher 2012; Huber 2013; McCarthy and Prudham 2004; on natural gas see Kaup 2010, 2013). With their attention to multiple units of analysis and scales in unequal relation to one another, world-systems perspectives have the potential to bridge studies of the North and South (Arrighi 1994; Bunker and Ciccantell 2005; Clark and Foster 2009).
This panel aims to bring together scholars conducting research on the political economy and ecology of coal throughout the world – from the Appalachian mountains to other parts of the world – in order to build a global or world-historical political economy of coal. In particular, the panel seeks papers that might address the leading coal producers (China, USA, India, Indonesia, and Australia), the leading coal exporters (Australia, Indonesia, Russia, USA and South Africa) and the leading coal companies which come from these same countries, (Coal India, Shenhua Group, Peabody, Datong Coal, Arch Coal and BHP Billiton). (For data see http://www.worldcoal.org/resources/coal-statistics/).
Please send inquiries / abstracts of 250 words to Paul Gellert at firstname.lastname@example.org by November 22.
Some questions this panel hopes to address include:
- Are there important similarities and differences between extractive regions in peripheral or developing zones of the world-system and core zones?
- What is the relationship between coal mining and exports from the US and coal mining and imports in China, India, Indonesia, Australia and elsewhere?
- How has the world-historical significance of coal to politics and economics changed over time?
- How is the process of extraction, including legal, technical and political aspects, negotiated in various locales?
- How is the expansion of natural gas via hydraulic fracturing (fracking) affecting the political economy of coal?
- What is the relationship between global social movements around climate change and coal extractive in different zones of the world-economy?
All conference participants will be required to register for the conference and submit an abstract at the conference website, www.politicalecology.org
Political Ecology Dimensions in Maritime Governance
Session Organizer: Dr Maria Hadjimichael (Innovative Fisheries Management (IFM), Aalborg University, Denmark, email@example.com)
The expansion of privatization of space for corporate interests has moved from primarily in-land and the coastal space to marine space. The Global financial crisis is continuously being used to entrench a neoliberal agenda allowing for further deregulation of the economy and privatization of public assets. Part V of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) sets the specific legal regime of a country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and specifically, paragraph 1b of Article 60 suggests that the coastal State shall have the exclusive right in its EEZ to construct and to authorize and regulate the construction, operation and use of installations and structures for the purposes provided for in article 56 and other economic purposes. The State therefore, is managing its EEZ on behalf of its citizens. When the State decides on the leasing of an area of public domain, that often means the exclusion of others who would normally have access of that area suggesting that decision-making is not a technocratic process but a political one which entails different interpretations of ‘what is just’, depending on ones’ values around environmental and social justice.
This session will focus on examples and discussions around maritime (coastal and marine) conflicts where management decisions and / or developments have intervened with issues of environmental and social justice. Examples might include offshore wind energy, desalination, marine aquaculture, exploration and exploitation of raw materials, coastal tourism etc.
Intersections of Critical Development Studies and Political Ecology
Session Organizers: Kate Bishop (Departments of Geography and Anthropology, Indiana University) and Harry Fischer (Department of Geography, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)
Some of the foundational works in political ecology emerged from critiques of international development policy and practice. Scholars in the field have challenged development both by interrogating the assumptions that frame interventions and by studying the impacts of particular policies. In this session, we will consider the links between development and political ecology as they have evolved over time. We wish to move beyond purely negative critiques to explore development’s varied, multidimensional, and often unintended outcomes. In other words, we will interrogate not only its disempowering effects, but also the ways it can serve as a site for the emergence of political action, improvement of human welfare, and desirable environmental outcomes. In doing so, we hope to explore more nuanced, constructive, and ethical ways to engage with the intellectual and applied problems of development.
This session will encompass inquiries focusing on such themes as:
- Applied political ecology
- Development policy
- Social and environmental impacts of technology diffusion
- Environmental governance
- Sustainable development
- Participation, representation, and citizenship
- Expert and local definitions of development
- Indigenous ecological knowledge
- Development in post-conflict settings
- Environmental social movements
- Theoretical intersections between development and political ecology
We invite paper submission from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives drawing from research in a variety of locations. In the spirit of a deeper collaborative engagement, we expect all participants to have read all papers prior to the sessions in order to provide constructive criticism and feedback.
Please send abstracts/inquiries of no more than 250 words to both Kate Bishop (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Harry Fischer (email@example.com) by November 15, 2013. For more information about the conference, please see www.politicalecology.org.
Organizers: Cleo Woelfle-Erskine, UC Berkeley, July Cole, independent scholar“Other nations have tried to check … the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the Continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.”
—John O’Sullivan (1813-1895), U.S. Magazine & Democratic Review, July 1845Manifest Destiny is the major phenomenon unleashed on the heels of Lewis and Clark, Wilkes, Gibbons, Stevens, and other U.S. expeditions (e.g. Herndon and Gibbon 1853, Jackson 1978, Stevens 1855, Tyler 1968). This Destiny is generally identified with westward and outward movement, divine favor, white supremacy, resource exploitation, and insistently policed boundaries. O’Sullivan might have coined the phrase, but the tendency can be traced at least as far back as Jefferson’s 1803 directives to Lewis and Clark (Jackson 1978). World Bank and IMF policies have exported Manifest Destiny’s physical and political/economic infrastructures world-wide (D’Souza 2008, Woelfle-Erskine et al. 2007). Contemporary global military U.S. missions echo frontier settlement patterns: rogue deployment, swarm tactics, establishment of corridors, etc. An overturning of Manifest Destiny—a Manifest Reversal!—appears to us increasingly urgent, inevitable, and desired.
One of Manifest Destiny’s prime characteristics is its assumption of hegemony. Oral histories and folk literatures and suppressed accounts are rife with narratives of how, under Manifest Destiny, humans have been variously recruited, chased, displaced, imported, abandoned, enslaved, shot, employed, deployed, corralled, rewarded, experimented on, and over-written (Conway 1995, Davis 2002, Scott 1993, Kosek 2006). These manipulations occur at the demand of the logics of U.S. national expansionism and consolidation, and render those logics over-determined and nearly self-perpetuating. Yet, despite the cathedral assurance Manifest Destiny radiates, it has met continued, vigorous, and multi-faceted resistance from the moment of its inception to the present hour. The first and foremost of Manifest Destiny’s opponents, its fiercest critics and most clairvoyant refuseniks, are Native American and other indigenous people (Deloria 1988, Howe and TallBear 2006, Mooney 1965, TallBear 2013, Wilkinson 2005 and 2006, Weir 2009). All versions of Manifest Reversal operate in parallel with and are crucially indebted to these bright cohorts.
We have settled on the unsettling etymological interpretation of “manifest” (probable roots manus “hand” + -festus “struck”) as “accomplished by a seize or strike of a hand” (like a black eye) in the early stages of Manifest Destiny, through mid-stage “manifest” as “to spread by public declaration”, morphing at last into “manifest” as “caught in the act” (Cole 2010). Just as in psychoanalysis, manifest content is not latent content (Freud 1917), and as in sociology, manifest function is not latent function (Merton 1967)—and as latent counterparts to the manifest are by definition unanticipated, often unrecognized, and in parts opposite in their tendencies—so also must Manifest Destiny trail many a latent destiny, shadows it is blind to but never free of.
This interdisciplinary session explores the ways in which these latent destinies can be seized by different hands. In what ways can the elusive, contrary latent can be caught in its own different act? Where can we stand to kick off a Manifest Reversal?Approaches useful in proposals for this session include empirical, analytical, perceptual, performative, and conceptual; rigorous mixed approaches are welcome. We especially welcome studies within Manifest Destiny’ original geographic expanse (U.S. states, territories, and border regions). Questions of relevance range from the historic, through natural and social sciences, into strategic and prophetic realms:• What strikes/seizures have become “naturalized” in common perception (river forms, cattle grazing etc)?
• Which forms and tools of Manifest Destiny are gaining prevalence? losing prevalence? in which conditions?
• How do projects of natural resource protection works the detriment, criminalization, or invisibility of different peoples?
• How are latent destinies caught: as the flu can be caught or perhaps as the wind can be caught or perhaps as a glimpse can be caught or perhaps as a fish can be caught?
• What “territories” or “terrains” remained unclaimed by Manifest Destiny? How would a Reversal converse with them?Possible themes for presentation in this session might be:
· Identifying and tracking one set of legacies or permutations of Manifest Destiny as they crack up, re-circulate, and/or re-precipitate
· Accounts of Manifest Reversal oracles, and transcripts of their pronouncements
· Biomimicry as a staging ground or incubator for Manifest Reversal technologies
· Recovery of latencies trailed by early stage Manifestations (e.g. wholesale bison massacres, propagation of typhoid in Native communities via infected cloth, the Philadelphia MOVE bombing, the Sand Creek Massacre, the atomic bombing of Japan)
· Sites of paradox and collapse in the mid-stage Manifestations exemplified by the cementing of slogans into “solid” mirages, e.g. Hoover Dam and the Mississippi River levees from “Rain follows the plow”(Wilber 1881: 143); BIA Termination policies from “The savage must ever recede before the man of civilization”(Lepner 1837: 103))
· Late stage Manifestations, riddled with Latencies—as documented in the post-colonial and indigenous science fiction of recent decades (e.g. Silko, Jones, Hausman, Dillon)
· Latent re-inventions of humans’ ecological positions (especially in collaboration with beaver and/or other ecosystem engineers)
Please submit 250 word abstracts by November 15 to the session organizers: Cleo Woelfle-Erskine (firstname.lastname@example.org) and July Cole (email@example.com). Accepted papers will be notified no later than November 25, 2013.
Representing Disaster/Producing Power
Organizer: Phillip Drake (University of Chicago)
Environmental disasters have become a normal feature of the contemporary world. As changing political, economic, cultural, and technological conditions alter the ways people experience and respond to disasters, stakeholders face a host of new challenges. One challenge is to understand the dynamics and stakes of representing a disaster. At every phase of disaster management (e.g., risk, response, recovery, reconstruction), a host of individuals and institutions (e.g., government officials, scientists, journalists, victims), as well as non-human actors (e.g., natural forces, animals, technologies, knowledge), interact to shape the physical and conceptual form of a given environmental disaster. Every depiction of these stakeholders and interactions articulates structures of power.
This session aims to explore the dynamics of power that are expressed in diverse representations of disaster. Whether in art, performance, literature, the popular media, scientific literature, laws, policy statements, each representation of a disaster and/or the stakeholders of a disaster also expresses a host of contested power relationships in both social and ecological registers. What are the implications of these asymmetrical power relations? What interests are expressed and masked in representations of disaster? Who or what is marginalized or denied status in ecological and/or social orders? What are the representative strategies of institutions that aim to bring humanitarian aid and intervention to vulnerable communities? What are the avenues through which the vulnerable and/or marginalized able to express their experiences and interests?
Potential themes and analytical perspectives might include (but not limited to):
– environmental justice
– aesthetics of disaster
– cultural critique and disaster
– disaster and the media
– globalization and disaster
– discourses of disaster
– disaster capitalism
– production and circulation of knowledge
– technical expertise vs. local informational systems
– posthumanist or non-human engagements with disaster
– science and technology studies and disaster
– disaster governance
– humanitarian aid
– animal studies
Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be submitted to Phillip Drake at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, November 25th. All participants must also register for the conference and submit their abstract by December 2nd at the conference website, www.politicalecology.org.
Panel: Strategies for Teaching Social Justice in Environmental Classes
Organizers: Autumn Thoyre and Pavithra Vasudevan (Department of Geography, UNC-Chapel Hill)
Political ecology has provided valuable insights into the social justice dimensions of environmental issues, but these dimensions are often difficult to translate into our teaching. By “social justice,” we mean critical analyses that incorporate understandings of power, privilege, and oppression; these might include, but are not limited to, antiracist, Marxist, queer, and feminist approaches. In the classroom, we see such approaches as aimed at transformative learning, helping students to engage with environmental concerns in more just ways.
We invite participants for a panel on teaching social justice in classes focused on environmental issues. We conceive such classes broadly, to include both natural science- and social science-oriented classes, from a range of theoretical and disciplinary perspectives. We aim to assemble, share, and discuss skills, toolkits, and other strategies for helping students connect social justice approaches with environmental concerns.
We ask panel participants to present a lesson plan, activity, assignment, case study, concept, or other teaching unit for 10 minutes. We especially seek concrete interventions, activities, and assignments that engage undergraduates in active learning and help them connect with and broaden beyond their own experiences. We also ask that participants share any handouts, visual media, or other materials that they use in framing their interventions. Following the short presentations will be a discussion with Q&A for drawing out commonalities, strategies, challenges, and further insights.
Future outcomes: We are interested in continuing these conversations beyond this panel. Depending on responses, we hope to build these discussions into a more ongoing space for practical teaching strategies, for example through an open-access, online forum for sharing teaching strategies, resources, and tools. We are calling for people who are interested in translating political ecology into praxis in the classroom.
Examples of the types of activities we seek (possibilities not limited to this list):
- An exercise to map the networks of extraction, production, distribution, and waste for cell phones
- Strategies for teaching about structural racism in environmental conservation classes
- A role-playing activity about international climate justice
- A small group exercise illustrating the dynamics of indigenous resistance to nuclear waste
- Performance-based activities to explore queer ecologies
- Strategies for negotiating students’ resistance to viewing environmental justice as relevant to their daily lives
- … and more!
How to join the panel: Please send a brief (250 words max) description of the activity/teaching tool you hope to share email@example.com by Thursday, Nov. 14. For more information about the conference and to register, see www.politicalecology.org.
Pluralizing the Approaches to Urban Political Ecology in a ‘World of Cities’
Labor and the More-than-Human
Organizers: Daniel Boscov-Ellen (The New School) and Sophie Lewis (Manchester University)
Our session proposes a focus on the question of labor and nature: the participation of the latter category in the former, and vice versa. Rather than setting up the traditional anti-political dichotomy between humankind and the rest of the world (a dualism which still inheres in most “green” thought), we would like to consider certain aspects of their interpenetration and mutual constitution. Leaving behind the defunct ‘modernism’ of environmentality and re-animating the task of responsibly sharing the earth with others might mean, we suggest, taking up the idea of organizing as “more-than-humans”.
We invite contributions:
– extending revolutionary inquiry into present global work/employment relations beyond the human
– illuminating new forms of work emergent together with neo-nature(s) that enable us to grapple with a new conception of the political
– exploring rapports between post-work imaginaries (the refusal of work) and refusals of nature
– engaging politically with Karl Marx as a cyborg theorist
– defining the importance of a more-than-humanist metaphysics of political ecology for lived anticapitalist struggles
Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by December 2nd. Registration and attendance fee payment should be made at politicalecology.org.
Organizers: Lilian Brislen (The University of Kentucky) and Emma Gaalaas Mullaney (The Pennsylvania State University)
Session Discussant: TBA
Resistance has long been a central concern of critical geographers of many stripes, and yet certain forms of overt, often urban-centric, opposition tend to dominate our understanding of who (or what) is rebellious, and how. Eclipsed in the process are less immediately recognizable forms of rebellion: those that fall outside the cosmopolitan gaze, that trouble given social categories of dissent, that are a product of collective performance more than individual intent. These rebel forms are alive in the landscape, they matter to workings of power, but what theoretical and methodological tools do we need to make them legible?
This session invites theoretically informed and empirically driven papers that creatively engage uncooperative spaces and the transgressive practices that produce them. We seek to bring work on the Right to the City and spatial politics into conversation with feminist, queer, posthumanist and other relational political ecologies. We welcome participants with diverse approaches to the following common questions:
- Where does rebellion take place, and what forms of space does it produce?
- How do different kinds of actors collaborate to rebel? These collaborative formations may include:
- diverse human beings
- nonhuman organisms
- built environments
- biophysical/climatological processes
- How might attending to the messiness of landscapes reveal new openings for resistance and change?
Productivism, agroecology, and the challenge of feeding the world: critical perspectives
The “green revolution” in agriculture was catalyzed by researchers, philanthropists, and governments that sought to end world hunger by increasing yields of commodity food crops around the world. This productivist logic– that by modernizing agricultural techniques and making high-yield crops pervasive, food prices would drop into the reach of even the world’s poorest people– dominates while a billion people go hungry despite impressive increases in commodity food production. After more than half a century of documenting the devastating costs of the green revolution to rural livelihoods and the environment, and more than thirty years after Amartya Sen’s prescient observation that hunger is caused not by a lack of food but by a lack of the power to demand it, productivist logic persists.
Productivist logic still drives the most well-resourced conversations about alleviating hunger in the world. “The challenge of feeding 9 billion by 2050” is the rallying cry for greater global-scale investment in agricultural production; the answer entails further advances in crop technology and distribution of these technologies to more farmers. In this vein, productivist concepts like the “yield gap” between theoretical yields in research plots and actual yields in poorer farmers’ fields are the target for scientific research. Meanwhile, alternative approaches to hunger are also gaining traction in national and international food security strategies: Agroecology –and other alternatives that embrace the multi-functional contributions of agriculture– challenge the narrow focus on yield. Agroecology has grown as a concept among academics and farmer movements alike, even finding a home in state and trans-national projects to address poverty and hunger.
In this session, we hope to look critically at productivism and alternative logics (agroecology, food sovereignty, agriculture’s multi functionality, and others): what promise they hold for alleviating hunger and what limits them from doing so. What gives productivism such enduring prevalence? What aspects of agriculture, ecologies, and livelihoods does productivist logic overlook and make invisible? What alignments of institutions, capital, and public imagination keep levels of crop production at the forefront of conversations about hunger? What limits other logics from joining those conversations with equal impact and leveraging similar resources? What forms of alternative approaches to agriculture and hunger (such as agroecology,food sovereignty, and multinational landscapes) are becoming mainstream, and with what consequences? What are the potentials and barriers to implementing agroecology and other alternatives at national and global scales?
We welcome papers that:
– critically engage with productivist logic in contemporary approaches to alleviating hunger
– examine the alignments of power that keep productivist logic dominant and exclude alternative ways of thinking about hunger
– assess the potential, limits, and barriers to alternative approaches to alleviating hunger
– discuss the challenges of bringing agroecology (and other alternative approaches) to national and global scales
– propose and/or critique strategies for widening the focus of hunger alleviation projects and institutions beyond agricultural production
All conference participants must also register for the conference by December 2, 2013: www.politicalecology.org.
The Anthropocene and Transdisciplinary Projects and Learning
Organizer: Kathleen R. Smythe (Xavier University)
Human civilization is at a crossroads. Among other developments, new terms (such as the Anthropocene) and the re-tooling of older ideas (such as transdsiciplinarity) mark the transition. Geologists have determined that we are in a new geological era, the Anthropocene. This means that humans’ impact will be seen in the geological record in increased greenhouse gas deposition into the seas and atmosphere, siltation of lakes and rivers, and pollen monocultures from our industrialized agriculture. Use of the term is a call to greater understanding of how human societies reached the point of potentially being the architects of their own destruction. It is also a call to reaching across disciplines so that traditionally shorter-time frame disciplines, such as history, anthropology, political science and economics might be in meaningful dialogue with longer-time frame disciplines, such as geology, climate science, and geography.
In light of the Anthropocene, scholars and practitioners are increasingly turning to transdisciplinarity as a means of addressing the complex and large-scale environmental, energy, economic and population problems that human societies face. Transdisciplinarity is focused on solving real-world problems both in higher education and beyond to create new knowledge.
We seek panel participants who want to contribute to the praxis (theory, practice and reflection) of transdisciplinary education and work in the Anthropocene.
Please submit a title and 250 word abstract to Kathleen Smythe (firstname.lastname@example.org) by November 15th.
Finance and Forests: Political Ecologies of Ecosystem Service Provision
Session Organizers: Niki von Hedemann and Tracey Osborne (School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona)
The monetization and marketization of ecosystem service provision is a growing trend within conservation management and climate change mitigation. Increasingly, national governments and those concerned with low-cost solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss also see these programs as opportunities for sustainable rural development. These programs often target impoverished landowners, marketing development co-benefits as a win-win solution for the environment and rural communities. Around the world, landowners are being financially compensated for providing quantified ecosystem services or conserving lands that provide environmental or resource benefits for users located elsewhere. These programs include carbon markets for forestry-based offsets, non-marketized compensation programs for ecosystem service provision, as well as emerging REDD+ programs that appear to straddle both market and non-market funding mechanisms. The field of political ecology has been central for exploring these programs in particular, and the commodification and neoliberalization of nature more broadly. In the context of ecosystem services, this approach investigates the linkages between international environmental discourses, transnational actors, power inequalities, material impacts, and climate justice, contributing to the lively debate on the effectiveness and equity of monetizing ecosystem service provision. This session seeks to create a dialogue among scholars interested in the monetization/commodification of ecosystem services to share experiences, methodologies, and analytical frameworks investigating a wide variety of programs worldwide.
This session invites papers that focus on any of the following themes:
- Payments for environmental/ecosystem services (PES)
- Climate change mitigation, Clean Development Mechanism, and voluntary forest offsets
- Conservation finance mechanisms
- Land access
- Land tenure and property rights
- Commodification of nature
Please send proposed titles and abstracts of up to 250 words by November 22 to Tracey Osborne (email@example.com) and Niki vonHedemann (firstname.lastname@example.org). All conference participants must also register for the conference and submit an abstract at the conference website: www.politicalecology.org by December 2.