Political Ecology Network

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CfP POLLEN18: Political Ecologies of Sustainability Certifications

POLLEN18: Political Ecology, the Green Economy, and Alternative Sustainabilities, 20-22 June 2018, Oslo and Akershus University College, Oslo, Norway

Political Ecologies of Sustainability Certifications

Organizers: Matthew Archer (Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies) and Martin Skrydstrup (University of Copenhagen, Center of African Studies)

The construction and regimentation of sustainability certification programs speaks to central themes in political ecology (Eden 2011). As Freidberg (2017: 1392) has recently observed, however, despite a robust literature on the impact of sustainability standards and certifications on workers’ livelihoods, “we have little idea about how they are enacted inside and between companies further down the supply chain.” This points to a pressing need for scholarship that is attentive to relationships among actors along the entire value chain, rather than just at one end of it.

This panel will investigate the political ecologies of sustainability certifications by focusing on the infrastructures (broadly conceived) of different certification regimes (e.g., FLO, Rainforest Alliance, FSC, etc.), moving past the linearity of commodity chain studies in order to examine and theorize the recursive, contingent, and political nature of “actually-existing” value chains and the diverse certification initiatives within them. We hope to begin uncovering what sustainability certifications mean by tracing their production and circulation as labels affixed to widely-trade commodities (e.g., tea, coffee, diamonds, etc.), but also as emergent commodities in and of themselves. What are the impacts of different certification regimes on processes of production and consumption? Who stands to benefit the most from the implementation and uptake of these standards? How and by whom is certification valued? How do actors distinguish between sustainable and unsustainable products?

We invite paper proposals focused on various aspects of sustainability certification in global value chains. Please send abstracts of ca. 250 words to Matthew Archer (matthew.archer@yale.edu) by December 6. Panelists will be notified by December 10 and will have to register for the conference by December 15.

Works Cited:

Eden, Sally. 2011. “The politics of certification: consumer knowledge, power, and global governance in eco-labeling.” In Global Political Ecology, Richard Peet et al. (eds.). New York: Routledge, pp. 169-184.

Freidberg, Susanne. 2017. “Big Food and Little Data: The Slow Harvest of Corporate Food Supply Chain Sustainability Initiatives.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 107(6): 1389-1406.


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CfP POLLEN18: Green cities for whom? Interrogating dominant configurations of greening, governance and inequality

POLLEN18: Political Ecology, the Green Economy, and Alternative Sustainabilities

20-22 June 2018, Oslo and Akershus University College, Oslo, Norway

CfP: Green cities for whom? Interrogating dominant configurations of greening, governance and inequality

Organisers: Panagiota Kotsila and Melissa García-Lamarca (both at the Barcelona Laboratory for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Green infrastructure (GI), ecosystem services, nature based solutions (NBS): these are a few of the most prominent policy and planning discourses used in relation to the urban environment, commonly framed as win-win approaches in and for cities around the world. At the same time, a growing body of research has started to uncover the role that urban sustainability can play in gentrification and displacement (Dooling 2009; Quastel 2009; Checker, 2011; Anguelovski et al. 2017), begging the question of who benefits from more green and sustainable cities. Furthermore, scholars cautioning against nature valuation, greenwashing, ecomodernisation, the financialization of nature, green grabbing, and the concept of the green economy in general in the context of neoliberalism are not lacking in political ecology (Heynen & Robbins, 2005; Pepper, 1998, Castree 2008, Heynen et al. 2006, Fairhead et al. 2012; Sullivan 2013, Knuth 2016).

In this session, we aim to deepen and expand these explorations to also critically interrogate the political ecology of ecosystem services, GI and NBS, the latter in particular having emerged as a new concept heavily supported by the European Commission as a means of using nature to increase growth and address sustainability challenges. While there have been a number of studies drawing attention to GI disservices (Haase et al. 2017), the novelty and abstractness of the NBS concept in particular results in a relative scarcity of critical studies around it. At the same time, the contradictions and challenges of NBS for sustainable and just urban planning (Nesshöver et al. 2017, Kabisch et al. 2016) are echoed in considerations of ecosystem services and GI. These underline (i) internal contradictions about which societal goals are being addressed, (ii) the potential domination of certain imaginaries of nature in implementing ecosystem services, GI and/or NBS and (iii) the tensions and trade-offs that are not accounted for when seeking combined ecological, economic and social benefits.

Informed by this literature, we here wish to question aspects of justice, governance and participation in the design and execution of projects that are positively branded as “smart”, “resilient,” “innovative” and “green”. More concretely, we are interested in studies showing whose concerns and voices are included, and what kind of human or non-human (in)visibilities are being created in these processes of negotiating nature in the city.

At the same time, we are interested in the co-production of ecosystem services by human action and social struggles (Depietri et al.2016), and the multiplicity of ways in which urban nature has been mobilised by or has inspired movements of socio-political and cultural change in order to create more equitable, heathy, and green urban societies.

With the aim of generating an interactive discussion, the session will take the format of a round table discussion, kicked off by 5 minute presentations (3 slides maximum) based on papers previously circulated to roundtable members that theoretically and/or empirically explore one or more of the following issues:

       Governance, participation and socioenvironmental justice in nature based solutions

       Green grassroots initiatives, politicized green/natural spaces in the city from a historical and contemporary point of view

       Innovative methodological approaches to understand greening, governance and inequality

       Acceptable, marketed, and contested vision of Nature in the city

We welcome contributions from diverse disciplines, perspectives and theoretical frameworks. Those interested, please send an abstract (approx. 250 words) to panagiota.kotsila@gmail.com and Melissa.GarciaLamarca@uab.cat by 1 December, 2017. Notification of acceptance will be sent by 10 December, 2017.


Castree, N. 2008. “Neoliberalising nature: the logics of deregulation and reregulation.”  Environment and planning A 40 (1):131-152.

Depietri, Y., Kallis, G., Baró, F., & Cattaneo, C. 2016. The urban political ecology of ecosystem services: The case of Barcelona. Ecological Economics, 125, 83–100.

Haase, D., Kabisch, S., Haase, A., Andersson, E., Banzhaf, E., Baró, F., … Kabisch, N. 2017. Greening cities–To be socially inclusive? About the alleged paradox of society and ecology in cities. Habitat International, 64, 41–48.

Kabisch, N., Frantzeskaki, N., Pauleit, S., Naumann, S., Davis, M., Artmann, M., Haase, D., Knapp, S., Korn, H., Stadler, J., Zaunberger, K., Bonn, A. 2016. Nature-based solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation in urban areas: Perspectives on indicators, knowledge gaps, barriers, and opportunities for action Ecology and Society, Vol. 21(2):39.  

Nesshöver, C., Assmuth,T., Irvine,K.N., Rusch,G.M., Waylen, K.A. Delbaere, B., Haase, D., Jones-Walters, L., Keune,H., Kovacs,E., Krauze,K., Külvik,M., Rey,F., van Dijk,J., Vistad,O.I., Wilkinson, M.E. Wittmer,H. 2017. The science, policy and practice of nature-based solutions An interdisciplinary perspective, Science of The Total Environment, Vol.579-1,pp: 1215-1227

Heynen, N., & Robbins, P. 2005. The neoliberalization of nature: Governance, privatization, enclosure and valuation. Capitalism Nature Socialism, 16(1), 5–8.

Heynen, N., Kaika, M. and Swyngedouw, E.. 2006. In the nature of cities: urban political ecology and the politics of urban metabolism. Vol. 3: Taylor & Francis US.

Knuth, S. 2016. “Seeing Green in San Francisco: City as Resource Frontier.”  Antipode 48 (3):626-644.

Pepper, D. 1998. Sustainable development and ecological modernization: A radical homocentric perspective. Sustainable Development, 6(1), 1–7.

Sullivan, Sian. 2013. “Banking nature? The spectacular financialisation of environmental conservation.”  Antipode 45 (1):198-217.

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CfP POLLEN18: ​Political Ecologies of Meat

​CfP POLLEN18: Political Ecologies of Meat

Organizers: Kristian Bjørkdahl, Arve Hansen, Karen Victoria Lykke Syse

The consumption of meat and dairy products holds a central position in food practices in a wide countries and cultures. For many, meat and dairy products represent an important part of the culinary dimensions of the ‘good life’, and increased consumption is often associated with improved living standards.  Indeed, statistically speaking, increased consumption of animal products is closely associated with increasing affluence. At the same time, however, the livestock sector represents a core challenge to global environmental sustainability.  For example, livestock systems already emit up to 18 percent of total Greenhouse gases and use 25-32 percent of global fresh water (Herrero et al., 2015). 

While the environmental impacts of meat production, along with the ethical aspects of industrial livestock processes, have led to a certain, although still marginal, backlash against meat consumption in some rich countries, the consumption of animal products is increasing rapidly in other parts of the world. Until the early 1980s daily consumption of meat and dairy products was mainly an OECD privilege (Steinfeld et al. 2006). In the subsequent two decades, however, total annual meat supply in ‘developing countries’ tripled while annual per capita meat consumption doubled (from 14 kgs to 28 kgs). The upwards spiralling trend has continued and is expected to continue also in the coming decade (OECD/FAO 2016; Henchion et al., 2014).

While it is certainly possible to make livestock processes more efficient and more environmentally friendly (e.g. Kristensen et al., 2014; Herrero et al., 2015), current trends in meat consumption are unsustainable, and a further global-scale increase in consumption is thus deeply problematic. Meat production is also a highly inefficient way to provide food to a growing population (Weis, 2013).

This panel investigates the political ecologies of meat by asking questions such as: Why and how do meat production and consumption increase, and what are the most relevant actors to investigate for understanding these changes? What kind of meat consumption increases? How is meat consumption promoted? What kind of different meat cultures exist and (how) do they change? Are there examples of successful reductions of meat consumption? And what is a just distribution of meat consumption globally?

We invite papers focusing on these or other questions relevant for the political ecologies of meat production and/or consumption in different parts of the world.    

 Send abstracts (max 200 words) to Kristian Bjørkdahl (kristian.bjorkdahl@sum.uio.no), Arve Hansen (arve.hansen@sum.uio.no), and Karen Victoria Lykke Syse (k.v.l.syse@sum.uio.no) by December 15


Henchion, M., McCarthy, M., Resconi, V.C., Troy, D., 2014. Meat consumption: Trends and quality matters. Meat Science 98 (3), 561-568.

Herrero, M., Wirsenius, S., Henderson, B., Rigolot, C., Thornton, P., Havlík, P., de Boer, I., Gerber, P.J., 2015. Livestock and the Environment: What Have We Learned in the Past Decade? Annual Review of Environment and Resources 40, 177-202.

Kristensen, L., Støier, S., Würtz, J., Hinrichsen, L., 2014. Trends in meat science and technology: The future looks bright, but the journey will be long. Meat Science 98 (3), 322-329.

OECD/FAO, 2016. OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2016-2025. OECD Publishing, Paris.

Steinfeld, H., Gerber, P., Wassenaar, T., Castel, V., Rosales, M., de Haan, C., 2006. Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options. FAO, Rome.

Weis, T., 2013a. The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock. Zed Books, London.

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CfP POLLEN18 – From performativity to hybridization: exploring theory-practice entanglements in (so-called) market-based environmental initiatives

CfP POLLEN18: From performativity to hybridization: exploring theory-practice entanglements in (so-called) market-based environmental initiatives

POLLEN18: Political Ecology, the Green Economy, and Alternative Sustainabilities

Oslo, Norway

June 20-22, 2018

Session organizers: Catherine Windey (University of Antwerp), Vijay Kolinjivadi (Université du Québec en Outaouais), Gert Van Hecken (University of Antwerp), and Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza (Duke University)

Over the last two decades, market-based instruments (MBIs) for nature conservation have become increasingly prominent in environmental and development policy discourse as a so-called win-win solution. While there is no consensual definition of MBIs and they encompasses heterogeneous types of programmes that do not always use markets in their conception and implementation, a utilitarian rationale and the use of financial incentives remain central elements of their design (Pirard, 2012). Therefore, beyond the material outcomes of MBIs and regardless of actual commodification or marketization processes taking place, much of the critical scholarship on MBIs denounces this overarching rationale as part of a hegemonic neoliberal governmentality that primarily serves the capitalist agenda. Accordingly, this form of environmental management would lead to a detrimental modification of socio-ecological relations through the promotion of productivist/individualistic socio-cultural attitudes towards the environment at the cost of more intrinsic motivations (e.g. Brockington and Duffy, 2010; Büscher et al., 2012; Castree, 2003; Corbera, 2012; Fletcher and Büscher, 2017; McAfee, 2012; Sullivan, 2006; Van Hecken and Bastiaensen, 2010). At the same time, an increasing number of empirical studies have also shown precisely how these dominant narratives behind MBIs are constructed, contested and (re)negotiated at multiple levels (e.g. Benjaminsen, 2014; Büscher, 2014; den Besten et al., 2013; Evans et al., 2014; Leggett and Lovell, 2012; McElwee, 2014; Milne and Adams, 2012; Pasgaard, 2015; Shapiro-Garza, 2013a, 2013b; Van Hecken et al. 2015a). In fact, these models do not necessarily unfold on the ground as intended and rather result in a hybridization between different worldviews, everyday practices and ways of valuing ‘nature’ through actors’ agency and power relationships (Cleaver, 2012; Van Hecken et al., 2015b).

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CfP POLLEN18 – Diving into the ‘Water Towers’: studying the production, enactment and politicisation of an environmental narrative

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

Diving into the ‘Water Towers’: studying the production, enactment and politicisation of an environmental narrative

What is a ‘Water Tower’? What is the origin of the concept? How is it spatially defined and by whom? Which institutions are involved? What does the ‘rehabilitation’ of montane forests entail in terms of conservation policies?

The term ‘Water Tower’ refers to high-elevation forested upstream areas and, in simple and symbolic words, refers to the geographical origin of water provision. It is based on orthodox explanations of environmental degradation that point at the positive influence of forests on water resources (Forsyth, 2003 : 40-41). In line with the ‘ecosystem services’ approach, which has gained in prominence in recent years (Arnauld de Sartre et al., 2014), the conceptualization of the ‘Water Towers’ emphasizes the services these forests provide, such as stabilization of soils, carbon sequestration and water flow regulation. These highly functionalist approaches have also given rise to attempts to calculate the value of the ‘Water Towers’, as well as the economic loss resulting from their destruction, in monetary terms.

The aim of this panel is to look at the ‘social life’ of this concept (Molle, 2009) and explore how it has been seized by different actors and interest groups. The initial ‘success’ of the discourse in Africa, and in Kenya in particular, calls for specific attention as public concern for these montane forests translated in the government agendas, resulting in the establishment of conservation programs and new institutional bodies.

In Kenya, the term ‘Water Tower’ first appeared at the turn of the 2000s in a series of reports that sought to illustrate and measure the rampant destruction of so-called ‘indigenous forests’ through aerial surveys and remote sensing (UNEP, 1999; UNEP, KWS, Rhino Ark, KFWG, 2003; KFWG, 2004, 2006). These reports defined the country’s biggest closed-canopy montane forest ecosystems (Mount Kenya, the Aberdare Range, the Mau Forest Complex, Mount Elgon and the Cherangani Hills) as ‘Water Towers’ because they form the upper catchments of all the country’s main rivers. The propagation of illegal and ecologically unsound practices (forest clearing, charcoal production, unlawful conversion of forest land to agricultural land etc.) was highlighted at that time and presented as the result of weak law enforcement. In 2012, the Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA), a parastatal agency, was established, with the mandate to coordinate ‘rehabilitation’ activities in these forests. The KWTA later published an amended list of five ‘major’ and 13 ‘minor’ ‘Water Towers’ in the country. Interestingly, UNEP and partners started using the terms ‘montane forest’ and ‘Water Tower’ interchangeably (UNEP, 2012).

Numerous ‘Water Towers’ were identified in Africa (see Africa Water Atlas: UNEP, 2010) and in the world (the Tibetan Plateau is usually described as ‘the Asian Water Tower’). We therefore invite abstracts based on empirical studies (in East Africa and elsewhere in the world) that explore the ‘Water Towers’ narrative, considering various aspects including environmental knowledge constructs, institutional engineering, as well as their social, environmental and economic impact.

The diversity of disciplinary approaches required for the study of the environmental discourse on ‘Water Towers’ is one of the most interesting features of this emerging research issue.

We are expecting contributions analyzing the ‘Water Towers’:

– as a research object for the production of science-based ‘environmental knowledge’ (Goldman et al., 2011), sometimes relying on new technologies (remote sensing, GIS) – these scientific findings being potentially used as guidelines for the implementation of ‘rehabilitation’ activities.

– as a testing ground for new policy instruments (e.g. so-called ‘market based instruments’ (Karsenty, Ezzine de Blas, 2014), such as ‘payments for environmental services’ or related institutional arrangements (Van Hecken et al., 2015).

– as a performative developmental discourse, a technicising and depoliticising narrative that may conceal eminent political stakes (Ferguson, 1990; Olivier de Sardan, 2001, 2007).

– as a justification for the assertion of public authority over national public forests in line with wider territorialization processes, notably through the materialization of boundaries (e.g. through the erection of electric fences) giving rise to several issues (respect for forest users’ rights; wildlife management) (Evans and Adams, 2016).

Other contributions might discern the impact of the ‘Water Towers’ narrative:

– on people’s practices and perceptions of their environment, ultimately examining environmental subjectivities (Agrawal, 2005);

– on land rights and on competing claims to sovereignty with the rise of ‘indigenous’ and minority groups claims of ‘forest ownership’ (Li, 2000; Igoe, 2006; Lynch, 2011).

Kindly send abstracts (of around 300 words) to francesca.dimatteo@ehess.fr and gaele.rouille@parisnanterre.fr by 10 December 2017.


Agrawal, Arun. Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects. Duke University Press, 2005.

Arnaud de Sartre, Xavier, Castro, Monica, Dufour, Simon, and Oszwald Johan (dir.).  Political Ecology des Services Ecosystémiques. Peter Lang, 2014.

Evans, Lauren A., Adams William M. “Fencing elephants: The hidden politics of wildlife fencing in Laikipia, Kenya.” Land Use Policy 51, 215-228, 2016.

Ferguson, James. The Anti-Politics Machine: “development,” Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho. University of Minnesota Press, 1990.

Forsyth, Timothy J. Critical Political Ecology, the Politics of Environmental Science. Routledge, 2003.

Goldman, Mara, Nadasdy, Paul, Turner, Matthew D. (ed.), Knowing Nature, Conversations at the intersection of political ecology and science studies. University of Chicago Press, 2011.

Igoe, Jim. “Becoming Indigenous Peoples: Difference, Inequality, and the Globalization of East African Identity Politics.” African Affairs 105, no. 420, July 1, 2006.

Karsenty Alain, Ezzine de Blas Driss, “Du mésusage des métaphores. Les paiements pour services environnementaux sont-ils des instruments de marchandisation de la nature ? ” in : Halpern Charlotte, Lascoumes Philippe, Le Galès Patrick (ed.), L’instrumentation de l’action publique – Controverses, résistances, effets, Presses de Sciences Po, 161-189, 2014.

Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG), Changes in Forest Cover in Kenya’s Five “Water Towers” 2000-2003, 2004.

Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG), Changes in Forest Cover in Kenya’s Five “Water Towers”, 2003-2005, 2006.

Li, Tania Murray. “Articulating Indigenous Identity in Indonesia: Resource Politics and the Tribal Slot.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 42, no. 1, 2000.

Lynch, Gabrielle. “Kenya’s New Indigenes: Negotiating Local Identities in a Global Context.” Nations and Nationalism 17, no. 1, 2011.

Molle, François. “River-basin planning and management : The social life of a concept.”, Geoforum 40, 484–494, 2009.

Olivier de Sardan, Jean-Pierre. “Les trois approches en anthropologie du développement.” Tiers-Monde 42, no. 168, 2001.

Olivier de Sardan, Jean-Pierre. “De la nouvelle anthropologie du développement à la socio-anthropologie des espaces publics africains.” Revue Tiers Monde 191, no. 3, 2007.

United Nations Environment Programme, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Rhino Ark, Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG). Aerial Survey of the Destruction of the Aberdare Range Forests, 2003.

United Nations Environment Programme. Africa Water Atlas. Nairobi, Kenya, 2010.

United Nations Environment Programme. The Role and Contribution of Montane Forests and Related Ecosystem Services to the Kenyan Economy. Nairobi, Kenya, 2012.

Van Hecken Gert, Bastiaensen Johan, Huybrechs Frédéric. “What’s in a name? Epistemic perspectives and Payments for Ecosystem Services policies in Nicaragua.” Geoforum 63, 55-66, 2015.


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cfp POLLEN18: Tangled up in blue and green: The embedded politics of labour in the making of green commodities

 Second Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN)POLLEN18: Political Ecology, the Green Economy, and Alternative Sustainabilities 20-22 June 2018 – Oslo and Akershus University College, Oslo, NorwayConference website: https://politicalecologynetwork.com/pollen-biannual-conference/

Tangled up in blue and green: The embedded politics of labour in the making of green commodities

Session organisers: Ben Neimark (b.neimark@lancaster.ac.uk) and Bradley Wilson (Bradley.Wilson@mail.wvu.edu)

What does a green economy labour force look like? What work does it do, how does it organise and resist?

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Cal for panellists POLLEN18 – Political Ecologies, Authoritarian Populism and Emancipatory Politics

POLLEN Biennial conference, 20-22 June 2018
Oslo and Akershus University College, Oslo, Norway
Organized by Amber Huff (Institute of Development Studies and STEPS Centre)

Deadline for expressions of interest – 5 December 2017

Call for panellists

Political ecologists have long emphasised the significance of understanding how dominant political-economic conditions articulate and manifest in rural spaces. In turn, this is central to grasping the contextual dynamics of socio-environmental change processes and associated contestations, conflicts and struggles. Contoured by the crises of ostensibly ‘progressive neoliberalism’ (Fraser 2017) – as well as its often contradictory nexus of elite cosmopolitanism, militarisation, and unequal globalisation (Rickford 2017) – the current political conjuncture has given rise to new forms and manifestations of ‘authoritarian populism’ (Hall 1979, 1985) with wide-reaching implications (e.g. Scoones et al. 2017). In short, these increasingly demand engagement and analysis by political ecologists.

Authoritarian populism is a term that describes a unique type of political conjuncture in which an exceptional form of the capitalist state has been able to construct around itself a degree of active popular consent (Hall 1979:15). Such conjunctures, resonant with appeals to romantic nationalism, ‘common sense’, and ‘the people’, are replete with imagery of imagined golden ages of prosperity and plenty. They are far from uniform but characterised by a number of often-overlapping themes and phenomena. These include highly contested national elections, especially when perceived to be only nominally democratic or ‘competitively authoritarian’ in nature (e.g. Levitsky and Way 2002); the rise in prominence of discourses of security, aggressive protectionism, and nationalism; xenophobia, cultural or ethnic chauvinisms, and animosity toward often-racialised ‘others’ (Rancière 2016); and allegations that ‘insecurities’ attributed to refugees, migrants, and other ‘newcomers’ have come to replace longstanding concerns about the dangers of growing poverty, inequality, and exploitative labour relations (Neocleous and Startin 2003). In short, this shifting of blame for the very real discontent and socioeconomic exclusion of urban and rural workers, agriculturalists, pastoralists, and other rural populations alongside the rhetorical condemnation of elite politics and corporate power often masks the deepening of extractive capitalism, environmental colonialism, and the militarization of everyday life, society, and nature in both the Global North and South.

Nonetheless, the crises and contradictions of the current conjuncture have also shaped the global terrain of struggle and are opening spaces for the emergence (or increased visibility) of both reactionary movements and emancipatory alliances, philosophies and praxes of intervention. Many of these articulate not just a politics of ‘taking back’ but of creating anew, applying both vernacular and academic theories (broadly defined) in the service of political action (e.g. Huff 2016; Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2017). At stake, not least, are new contestations or positionings against hegemonic value systems and institutions implicated in expanding inequalities, deepening poverty, accelerating environmental devastation, and instigating diverse identity-based antagonisms.

Along these lines, the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative (ERPI) is focused on two major themes. The first is the emergence of authoritarian populism in diverse forms and spaces in order to address the overarching question of how rural landscapes and experiences shape and are being shaped by these wider politics and struggles. The second focus is on the social and political processes and practices in rural spaces that are generating alternatives to regressive, authoritarian politics.

The POLLEN biennial conference presents an opportune moment to explore how political ecologies, alongside a variety of approaches and methods from critical social science and radical practice, can help us to better understand and confront the emergence of contemporary manifestations of authoritarian populism, its consequences for life and landscape, and to engage with transformative and emancipatory politics and praxes arising or gaining new visibility in the context of the contemporary conjuncture. We invite expressions of interest for participants in a panel discussion that engages with the topics / questions covered below, or any other area related to these themes:

  • How can political ecologies and their central concepts, approaches and praxes inform our understanding of the current political conjuncture?
  • How is this conjuncture associated with shifting relationships (or blurring of boundaries) between the state and capital, between society and nature, between resistance and acquiescence?
  • What alternative politics and political-economic practices also emerge or become more visible at this political conjuncture? How do they articulate with, problematize or complement or transform non-capitalist notions of sustainability, society and justice associated with, for example (but not limited to), Degrowth, postcolonial / decolonial, labour, eco-Marxist, feminist, anarchist, indigenous, and environmental justice perspectives?
  • What constitutes ‘emancipation’ or ‘alternative’ rural politics in practice in settings that may simultaneously seem to have been left behind by globalised capitalism yet represent the new frontiers of resource enclosure, extraction and financialization? How are these notions contested?
  • How are new alliances being built between urban and rural movements and spaces, within and outside mainstream politics?
  • How do contestation, conflict and violence both close down and open up new spaces of struggle, theorisation and the development of new forms of resistance, mobilisation, and practices of imagining and creating emancipatory alternatives?

How to participate: We do not envision a standard paper session, but a stimulating panel aimed at generating insights, debate and discussion between panellists and audience members. Therefore, we do not ask for abstracts or papers, but a title and brief expression of interest (200 words maximum) that describes your proposed contribution / intervention / provocation and any empirical cases, events or conceptual issues that you aim to highlight. Please send expressions of interest, along with your name, email address and affiliation if applicable to Amber Huff (a.huff@ids.ac.uk) by 5 December 2017. Upon acceptance, panellists will still have to register for the conference through the POLLEN website.

For background on the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative and a link to the initiative framing paper and other resources, see http://bit.ly/EmancipatoryRuralPolitics.



Cavanagh, C. J., & Benjaminsen, T. A. (2017). Political ecology, variegated green economies, and the foreclosure of alternative sustainabilities. Journal of Political Ecology 24, 200-341.

Fraser, N. (2017). The end of progressive neoliberalism. Dissent Magazine.

Hall, S. (1979). The great moving right show. Marxism Today, 23(1), 14-20.

Hall, S. (1998). The great moving nowhere show. Marxism Today, 1(1), 9-14.

Huff, P. (2016). Organizing the APoCalypse: ethnographic reflections on an Anarchist People of Color COnvergence in New Orleans, Louisiana. In S. Springer, R. White, & M. L. De Souza (Eds.), The Practice of Freedom: Anarchism, Geography, and the Spirit of Revolt (pp. 85-108). London: Rowman & Littlefield International.

Levitsky, S., & Way, L. (2002). The rise of competitive authoritarianism. Journal of democracy,      13(2), 51-65.

Neocleous, M., & Startin, N. (2003). ‘Protest’ and Fail to Survive: Le Pen and the Great Moving Right Show. Politics, 23(3), 145-155.

Rancière, J. (2016). The populism that is not to be found. In A. Badiou, P. Bourdieu, J. Butler, G. Didi-Huberman, S. Khiari, & J. Rancière (Eds.), What is a people (pp. 101-105). New York: Columbia University Press.

Rickford, R. (2017). A Time of Monsters: Corporate Liberalism and The Rise of Trumpism. Black Perspectives. Retrieved from http://www.aaihs.org/a-time-of-monsters-corporate-liberalism-and-the-rise-of-trumpism/

Scoones, I., Edelman, M., Borras Jr, S. M., Hall, R., Wolford, W., & White, B. (2017). Emancipatory rural politics: confronting authoritarian populism. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 1-20.