Political Ecology Network

CfP POLLEN18: Mobility, Immobility, and the Green Economy

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*** Forwarded on behalf of the organizers ***

POLLEN18 – Political Ecology, the Green Economy, and Alternative Sustainabilities 20.- 22. June 2018, Oslo and Akershus University College (HiOA), Oslo, Norway

Mobility, Immobility, and the Green Economy

Conveners: Charis Enns,1 2 Brock Bersaglio,1 2 and Frances Cleaver1

1 Department of Geography, University of Sheffield
2 East African Institute, Aga Khan University

Contact: Brock Bersaglio (b.bersaglio@sheffield.ac.uk)

Political ecologists have grappled extensively with the green economy and problematized the relationship between green capitalism, enclosure, and displacement (Heynen and Robbins 2005; West et al. 2006; Brockington and Duffy 2011). Their efforts have demonstrated that many purportedly progressive approaches to pursuing sustainable development through ‘greening’ are made possible by new or renewed acts of enclosure that delimit and restrict the movement of people, nature, and things (Corson and MacDonald 2012; Benjaminsen and Bryceson 2012; Fairhead et al. 2012). Such enclosures tend to reproduce existing patterns of accumulation, exclusion, and inequality under the pretext of sustainable development (Igoe and Brockington 2007; McAfee 2009; Brand 2012). Political ecologists have also demonstrated that accommodating the green economy often necessitates displacing existing land users from their access to and autonomy over land and natural resources (Brosius 2004; West 2006; Kelly 2011; Ojeda 2012; Lunstrum 2016). By restricting the movement of people and things and by displacing existing ways of accessing and manging land and natural resources, the green economy arguably forecloses pathways to alternative sustainabilities (Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2017; see Ramutsindela 2007, Chapter 8).

Although the green economy has clear implications for mobility – e.g. enclosure and displacement – mobility as an analytic has yet to gain traction among political ecologists analysing, discussing, and thinking about the green economy (White et al. 2012; see also Igoe 2017, xii; Enns forthcoming). This panel aims to explore the possibilities and limitations that come with using a critical mobilities perspective to contribute to ongoing debates about the green economy. Understanding mobility as ‘the movement of people (human mobility), social networks and relations (social mobility), trade and capital (economic mobility), and information and images (symbolic mobility)’ (Ilcan 2013, 3), a critical mobilities perspective recognizes that ‘mobility is a resource to which not everyone has an equal relationship’ (Skeggs 2004, 49). This panel intends to consider the different forms of mobility and immobility generated by the green economy, as well as who wins and who loses when mobilities come into contact, friction, and competition with one another as a result of green economy practices.

By employing mobility as an analytic, this panel endeavours to introduce what might be a useful framework for future empirical, conceptual, political, and methodological work on the green economy by political ecologists. We are specifically interested in papers that engage with the green economy in ways that complement two central themes: mobility and immobility. Submissions are not required to adopt a critical mobilities perspective explicitly, but they should focus on how the green economy either delimits and restricts or enables and forces the movement of people, nature, and commodities. For example, papers might focus on the green economy and: new forms of enclosure and displacement; changing migratory patterns of humans and non-humans; shifting flows of natural resources (e.g. water); and emergent patterns of commodity exchange (e.g. carbon or illegal wildlife trading). We also welcome submissions that consider how people and things move (both figuratively or literally) in response to the green economy; for example, submissions that consider social mobilization in reaction against green capitalism or labour migration towards ecotourism sites.

With this in mind, we invite abstracts that address themes related to one or more of the following questions:

  • How does the green economy enable or force the movement of certain peoples, natures, and commodities? What are the cultural, ecological, economic, social, and/or political implications of the mobilities introduced by green economy practices?
  • How does the green economy delimit or restrict the movement of certain peoples, natures, and commodities? What are the cultural, ecological, economic, social, and/or political implications of the immobilities introduced by green economy practices?
  • What types of struggles occur when different mobilities come into contact, friction, or competition as a result of green economy practices? Who gets to decide who and what moves through places and spaces associated with the green economy?
  • How, when, where, and why do people and nature move (both figuratively or literally) and mobilise in response to the green economy?
  • How might a critical mobilities perspective contribute to debates about the green economy? What does adopting a critical mobilities perspective in research on the green economy reveal about challenges for and pathways to alternative sustainabilities?

Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to Brock Bersaglio (b.bersaglio@sheffield.ac.uk) by 6 December 2017. We are also considering assembling a special issue based on this panel, so please feel free to reach out to Brock if you have an abstract that might fit in a special issue on mobility, immobility, and the green economy – even if you are unable to attend the conference in person. 


Benjaminsen, T. and Bryceson, I. (2012). Conservation, green/blue grabbing and accumulation by dispossession in Tanzania. Journal of Peasant Studies, 39(2), 335—355.

Brand, U. (2012). Green economy – the next oxymoron? No lessons learned from failures of implementing sustainable development. GAiA, 21(1): 28—32.

Brockington, D. and Duffy, R. (2011). Capitalism and conservation. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.

Brosius, P. (2004). Indigenous peoples and protected areas at the World Parks Congress. Conservation Biology, 18(3): 609—612.

Corson, C. and MacDonald, K. (2012). Enclosing the global commons: the convention on biological diversity and green grabbing. Journal of Peasant Studies, 39(2), 263—283.

Enns, C. (Forthcoming). Mobilising research on Africa’s development corridors. Geoforum.

Fairhead, J., Leach, M., and Scoones, I. (2012). Green grabbing: A new appropriation of nature? Journal of Peasant Studies, 39(2), 237—261.

Heynen, N. and Robbins, P. (2005). The neoliberalization of nature: Governance, privatization, enclosure, and valuation. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 16(1), 1—8.

Igoe, J. (2017). The nature of the spectacle: On images, money, and conserving capitalism. Tucson: Arizona University Press.

Igoe, J. and Brockington, D. (2007). Neoliberal conservation: A brief introduction. Conservation and Society, 5(4), 432—449.

Ilcan, S. (2013). Mobilities, knowledge, and social justice. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Kelly, A. (2011). Conservation practice as primitive accumulation. Journal of Peasant Studies, 38(4), 683—701.

Lunstrum, E. (2016). Green grabs, land grabs and the spatiality of displacement: Eviction from Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park. Area, 48(2), 142—152.

McAfee, K. (2009). Selling nature to save it? Biodiversity and green developmentalism. Environment and Planning D, 17, 133—154.

Ojeda, D. (2012). Green pretexts: Ecotourism, neoliberal conservation and land grabbing in Tayrona National Natural Park, Columbia. Journal of Peasant Studies, 39(2), 357—375.

Ramutsindela, M. (2007). Transfrontier conservation in Africa: At the confluence of capital, politics, and nature. Wallingford: CABI.

Skeggs, B. (2004). Class, self, culture. London: Routledge.

West, P. (2006). Conservation is our government now: The politics of ecology in Papua New Guinea. Durham: Duke University Press.

West, P., Igoe, J., and Brockington, D. (2006). Parks and peoples: The social impacts of protected areas. Annual Review of Anthropology, 35, 251—277.

White, B., Borras, S., Hall, R., Scoones, I., and Wolford, W. (2012). The new enclosures: Critical perspectives on corporate land deals. Journal of Peasant Studies, 39(3—4), 619—647.


Author: Connor Joseph Cavanagh

Research Fellow, Faculty of Landscape and Society, Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Contact: connor.cavanagh@nmbu.no

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