Dimensions of Political Ecology 2020
Rachael Baker, University of Illinois at Chicago
Kai Bosworth, Virginia Commonwealth University
Lisa Santosa, University of Minnesota
Political ecologists over the past twenty years have increasingly centralized the intersection of race and racism with ecological governance, green political economies, natural resource extraction, and the production of waste and disposability (Bonds and Inwood 2016, Moore et al 2003, Pulido 2017). Cutting-edge scholarship at DOPE frequently contends that nature is a site of power and struggle, and that securing nature through governance, ownership, and monetization is central to the racial ontologies and projects of white supremacy and settler colonialism (Brahinsky et al 2014, Schulz, 2017, Theriault 2017, Van Sant et. al. 2020). While neo-Malthusianisms, nationalist environmentalisms, and eugenic environmental determinisms have long been objects of critique for political ecologists (Taylor 2016), the recent rise of neo-/eco-fascisms (e.g. Forchtner 2019) challenges scholars and activists to hone our precision and modes of intervention for the ongoing struggle for a livable future. Although not without precedent then, it is incontrovertible that the far right has been emboldened globally to produce more explicit regimes of communication and administration that intervene in ecological futures.
This session contends that we need precision concerning the continuities and discontinuities, historically and in the present, among liberal, administrative, and scientific modes of governance and emergent (if always present) forms of far right political organizing. Thus not only our conceptual frameworks, but also our activist/political actions need to be recalibrated to more effectively respond to structural, social and cultural manifestations of white supremacy. Taking such responsibility, however, also requires that we confront the ways that examining such movements can expose uncomfortable continuities with ecological policy and administration, academic institutions and their modes of education, and desires for more just ecologies.
How do political ecologies of the far right - such as so-called environmental nativism, ecofascism, climate apartheid, or climate barbarism - change how race and racism are conceptualized in environmental movements, and how we understand the contested terrain of nature or ecology alongside decolonial, anti-racist, and anti-fascist struggle? What is new or different in the current range of far right articulations of ecology, and what is an extension or cycle of earlier eugenic and populationist forms of governance? Are contemporary liberal or leftist concepts and methods appropriate for describing and evaluating far right movements, or do we require new or different tools? How could attention toward far-right ideology, tactics, and ways of relating to nature inform better strategies for liberation or abolitionist approaches to political ecology?
We seek empirical, theoretical, and activist/political interventions, evaluations, or reflections not limited to the following topics:
Bonds, Anne, and Joshua Inwood. 2016. “Beyond White Privilege: Geographies of White Supremacy and Settler Colonialism.” Progress in Human Geography 40 (6): 715–733.
Brahinsky, Rachel, Jade Sasser and Laura-Anne Minkoff‐Zern. 2014. “Race, Space, and Nature: An Introduction and Critique.” Antipode, 46(5), 1135-1152.
Forchtner, Bernhard, ed. 2019. The Far Right and the Environment. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.
Van Sant, Levi, Richard Milligan, and Sharlene Mollett. 2020. “Political ecologies of race: Settler colonialism and environmental racism in the US and Canada.” Antipode.
Moore, Donald S. Jake Kosek, and Anand Pandian. 2003. Race, nature, and the politics of difference. Durham: Duke University Press.
Pulido, Laura. 2017. “Geographies of race and ethnicity II: Environmental racism, racial capitalism and state-sanctioned violence.” Progress in Human Geography, 41(4), 524-533.
Schulz, Karsten A. 2017. “Decolonizing political ecology: ontology, technology and 'critical' enchantment.” Journal of Political Ecology, 24(1), 125-143.
Taylor, Dorceta E. 2016. The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection. Durham: Duke University Press.
Theriault, Noah. 2017. “A forest of dreams: Ontological multiplicity and the fantasies of environmental government in the Philippines.” Political Geography 58, 114-127.
AAG 2020 CFP: Strengthening infrastructures of resistance to fossil fuel infrastructures in North America
CFP: Strengthening infrastructures of resistance to fossil fuel infrastructures in North America
Martina Angela Caretta, West Virginia University
Pavithra Vasudevan, The University of Texas at Austin
Kai Bosworth, Virginia Commonwealth University
Energy independence has been a major policy goal of recent US energy governance regimes. The development of increasingly advanced technologies for oil and gas extraction, in the form of hydraulic fracturing, has been framed as crucial for the well-being of the nation. The magnitude and acceleration of this energy infrastructure development raises concerns about the substantial infrastructural, ecological and social impacts exacerbating socioeconomic inequalities across the US, particularly among poor communities that have been historically disenfranchised in energy decision-making. Unconventional oil and gas extraction and transport often happen in small rural communities and in communities of color; their surroundings are turned into industrial sites, with little input in the development, construction and location of gas pads, pipelines, frac sand mines, and cracker plants. Transmission and distribution networks are developed through eminent domain in the name of ensuring public energy access and distribution, enacting a transfer of land and wealth to private companies profiting heavily from pipeline construction. Landowners and Indigenous communities are required to sacrifice part of their property and territory to allegedly guarantee national energy independence, even while much of the gas could be heading for export (Estes, 2019; Estes and Dhillon 2019; Bosworth, 2019; Finley-Brook et al, 2018; Ordner, 2019; Spice 2018; Whyte, 2017).
We seek scholars invested in conducting research alongside and/or in support of grassroots efforts against energy infrastructure development to join an emergent network against North American extractive industry. This paper session (preceeded by a panel) will focus specifically on critical/feminist geographic research projects committed to repurposing the tools of academic, government and corporate knowledge-making towards justice-oriented projects (Zaragocin 2019; Dalton and Stallmann 2018), to amplify the experiences and political knowledges of communities most deeply impacted by racial capitalism and settler colonialism. We are interested in producing collaborative research on energy infrastructure development in North America that clarifies and compiles the impacts of extractive industries through the integration of trans-disciplinary findings; translates existing knowledges into accessible forms such as graphic narratives and audiovisual testimonials for use in organizing campaigns; and magnifies the utility and political insights of geography towards creating a livable world.
We value the distinct contributions of plural scientific and social modes of knowledge production, and invite papers that examine energy infrastructures development with the following approaches: ethnographic work on/with frontline communities, hydrological studies, census data, survey and focus group data, legal scholarship, financial and economic analyses, public health approaches, social movement analyses, industry discourses, security studies, public participation in permitting, citizen science and counter-expertise, legal challenges, energy analyses.
If you are interested in participating in a paper session, please email a title and 150 word abstract to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org by Sept. 26th. You will receive a notification of acceptance within a few days FYI: First registration deadline is Oct. 9th, and you will need to submit your abstract by Oct. 30th.
Bosworth, K. 2019. The People Know Best: Situating the Counterexpertise of Populist Pipeline Opposition Movements. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 109(2), 581–592. https://doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2018.1494538
Dalton, C. M., and Tim Stallmann. 2018. "Counter‐mapping data science." The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe Canadien 62(1): 93-101.
Estes, N. 2019. Our history is our future. London and New York: Verso.
Estes, Nick, and Jaskiran Dhillon, eds. 2019. Standing with Standing Rock: Voices from the #NoDAPL Movement. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Finley-Brook, M. et al. 2018. “Critical energy justice in US natural gas infrastructuring.” Energy Research & Social Science, 41(1): 176-190.
Ordner, J. 2019. “Petro-politics and local natural resource protection: Grassroots opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska.” In: The Right to Nature E. Apostolopoulou & J. A. Cortes-Vazquez (Eds.). New York: Routledge.
Spice, A. 2018. “Fighting Invasive Infrastructures: Indigenous Relations against Pipelines.” Environment & Society 9(1): 40-56.
Whyte, K.P. Kyle Powys. 2017. “The Dakota Access pipeline, environmental injustice, and U.S. colonialism” Red Ink. 19(1): 154-169.
Zaragocin, Sofia. 2019. "Feminist geography in Ecuador." Gender, Place & Culture 26: 1032-1038..
AAG 2019 CFP On the blockade: geographies of circulation and struggle
Kai Bosworth, Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, Brown University
Charmaine Chua, Department of Politics, Oberlin College
Alongside the riot and the occupation, perhaps the most widespread tactic under use is once again the blockade. Attempts by workers and activists to prevent ecological destruction, fossil fuel infrastructure, global supply chains, and the everyday circulation of capital pepper the news around the world. Over twenty years ago, Nicholas Blomley began his formative analysis of First Nations blockades in Canada by suggesting that the “very frequency and predictability” might explain “why blockades have not received much scholarly attention as a political phenomenon” (Blomley 1996, 5). Today, we suspect a rich intellectual environment currently exists for reopening empirical and theoretical questions concerning political blockades. This includes a range of scholarship in infrastructure studies (Kallianos 2018), logistics and counterlogistics (Bernes 2013, Chua, Danyluk et al, 2018), urban geography (Maharawal 2017, Vizcarra and Araiza Kokinis 2014), contemporary environmentalism (Klein 2014) and spaces of contentious politics (Leitner et. al. 2008, Routledge 2017, Wainwright and Robertson 2003).
Analyses focused on blockades have frequently (and sometimes romantically) examined their role as moments of negation or disruption that mount a challenge to the circulation of contemporary capitalism (Clover 2016). In efforts to complicate this narrative, some have rightly pointed out that disruption can at times benefit the price-setting of corporations and the logic of capitalism more generally (Mitchell 2013). On the other hand, others caution that as the blockade has become a critical tool to assert collective power through the sovereignty of the people or indigenous jurisdiction, the state has securitized flows of commodities through an increasing emphasis on critical infrastructure (Pasternak and Dafnos 2018), perhaps suggesting greater attention to the forms of state violence and repression. Yet, even if blockades are sometimes less effective than we might hope, they remain fertile sites for expressing a richness of social subjectivities, forms of contestation, spaces of social reproduction, and deterritorializations and reterritorializations of capital and state space. As Deborah Cowen puts it, “It is perhaps on the blockade [where] alternative relations of care and provision – alternative logistics – anchored in relations of reciprocity and solidarity can emerge” (Cowen 2017). At stake in analyses of the blockade might thus be efforts to foreground “shared capacities to survive immiserating processes and to fight back against violent infrastructures” (Armstrong-Price 2015, 191).
This session will present a rich reading of contemporary or historical blockades as protest tactics, spaces of disruption, and social (re)productions of subjects and worlds, seeking to theorize their situation within a broader and complex global political economy riven by power geometries of state and capital, while at the same time keeping alive their potential to affirm worlds otherwise. What can we learn about space, politics, and capital from blockades? How do they alert us to arenas of struggle for lives and livelihoods absent from traditional analyses of capitalism, social protest, or infrastructural flow? If global supply chains and logistics management has reshaped the spatialities of capitalism, are new points of vulnerability - chokepoints - created which might be pressured for political justice?
Please email 250 word abstracts to Kai_Bosworth@brown.edu and Charmaine.Chua@oberlin.edu by October 20.
We would be particularly interested in scholars working on topics such as:
Black lives matter and freeway blockades
Immobilizing Google busses and high-tech cities
Pipeline, refinery, and tanker blockades
Indigenous struggles for decolonization and/or exercising sovereignty
Theorizing surplus populations and circulation struggles
Transportation and mobility struggles such as ZAD, NoTAV, Sanrizuka
Port shutdowns and ocean space
Social reproduction of/at the blockade
Blockades and police/security/military
Logistics and counter-logistical movements
Crowd theory and collective affect and subjectivity
Territorialities of state, capital, and private property
Research methods and epistemologies for blockading
Blockading the blockade: against border violence, fortress Europe, the Gaza seige
Armstrong-Price, Amanda. 2015. “Infrastructures of Injury” LIES: A Journal of Materialist Feminism Vol 2.
Bernes, Jasper. 2013. “Logistics, Counterlogistics and the Communist Prospect.” Endnotes Vol 3.
Blomley, Nicholas. 1996. “‘Shut the Province Down’: First Nations Blockades in British Columbia, 1984-1995.” BC Studies: The British Columbian Quarterly, no. 111: 5–35.
Chua, Danyluk, Cowen and Khalili. 2018. “Turbulent Circulation: Building a Critical Engagement with Logistics.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 36 (4): 617-629.
Clover, Joshua. 2016. Riot. Strike. Riot: The New Era of Uprisings. London: Verso Books.
Cowen, Deborah. 2017. “The Special Power of Disruption in an Age of Logistical Warfare.” OpenDemocracy. https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/krystian-woznicki-deborah-cowen/acts-of-disruption.
Kallianos, Yannis. 2018. “Infrastructural Disorder: The Politics of Disruption, Contingency, and Normalcy in Waste Infrastructures in Athens.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 36 (4): 758–75.
Klein, Naomi. 2014. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Leitner, Helga, Eric Sheppard, and Kristin M. Sziarto. 2008. “The Spatialities of Contentious Politics.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 33 (2): 157–172.
Maharawal, Manissa. 2017. “San Francisco’s Tech-Led Gentrification: Public Space, Protest, and the Urban Commons.” In City Unsilenced: Urban Resistance and Public Space in the Age of Shrinking Democracy, edited by Jeffrey Hou and Sabine Knierbein. Taylor & Francis.
Pasternak, Shiri, and Tia Dafnos. 2018. “How Does a Settler State Secure the Circuitry of Capital?” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 36 (4): 739–57.
Routledge, Paul. 2017. Space Invaders: Radical Geographies of Protest. London: Pluto Press.
Vizcarra, Jael, and Troy Andreas Araiza Kokinis. 2014. “Freeway Takeovers: The Reemergence of the Collective through Urban Disruption.” Tropics of Meta (blog). December 5, 2014. https://tropicsofmeta.com/2014/12/05/freeway-takeovers-the-reemergence-of-the-collective-through-urban-disruption/.
Wainwright, Joel, and Morgan Robertson. 2003. “Territorialization, Science and the Colonial State: The Case of Highway 55 in Minnesota.” Cultural Geographies 10 (2): 196–217.
Click here to download a public comment, written with Julie Santella, concerning the proposed Dewey-Burdock in-situ uranium mine and its implications for environmental justice.
Kai Bosworth, University of Minnesota
Laura Cesafsky, University of Minnesota
Liberal and radical geographers and political theorists alike discount populist movements, right and left, for political commitments deemed too irrational, too contradictory, or too general. Populist movements, it is argued, bury difference and exclusion beneath imaginations of a singular and unified ‘people’. The feeling is mutual: for their part, ‘peoples’ the world over seem increasingly incredulous of the experts and intellectuals who claim to be officers of their interests. These too-easy dismissals of the people or the elite fail to grapple with key problematics at the heart of mass politics as a critical, conjunctural and proliferating reaction to the concentration of power and expertise in contemporary societies: Why populism now? How might our technologically saturated lifeworlds compel populist movements by mediating communication, or by allowing peoples to realize themselves via technological imaginaries or collective reactions against perceived technological harms? What is the legitimate place of knowledge and expertise in the governance of democratic societies? Must we as critical geographers limit ourselves to “deconstructing the inevitable hierarchies and exceptions without which no people has ever been capable of constituting itself” (Bosteels 2013, p. 3), or can we affirm the articulation of peoples as a fraught but necessary step in the march toward democracy and justice?
We suspect that geographers have much to say about the spatial, technological, and environmental aspects of contemporary populist movements, from Latin American leftisms to Syriza and Podemos, from the candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, to eco-populism to resurgent nationalist movements. Debates about populist movements in geography are few, but have tended to critically analyze the constitution of political identity, especially through a desire for a nationalist cohesion (e.g., Hart 2013). By contrast, Swyngedouw’s work on ‘climate populism’ (2010) provides an important - if limited - departure point for understanding the fraught relationship between popular politics and science and expertise. We seek to reignite this conversation by inviting papers that critically investigate the conditions, limitations, and possibilities of populism, especially as seen through, alongside, and as the politics of technology and expertise.
Possible paper topics include but are not limited to:
Fear of elites, especially scientists, engineers, and planners
Masses, crowds, peoples, publics and parties as figures of the popular
Infrastructure, development, and technology
Eco-populism (“neither left nor right but forward”)
Populism and socialism
Right-wing and nationalist populist movements
Political organizing and the internet
Public participation and direct democracy
The “tradition” of populism in Latin America
Popular decolonization movements
We invite interested participants to send their title and 300-word abstract to Laura Cesafsky (email@example.com) and Kai Bosworth (firstname.lastname@example.org) by October 15th.
Bosteels, Bruno. 2013. “Introduction.” In What Is a People? New York: Columbia University Press.
Dean, Jodi. 2009. Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies: Communicative Capitalism and Left Politics. Durham: Duke University Press.
———. 2016. Crowds and Party. Brooklyn, NY: Verso.
Dewey, John. The Public and Its Problems. Athens: Swallow Press, 1927.
Fischer, Frank. Citizens, Experts, and the Environment: The Politics of Local Knowledge. Durham: Duke University Press, 2000.
Hart, Gillian. Rethinking the South African Crisis: Nationalism, Populism, Hegemony. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2013.
Laclau, Ernesto. On Populist Reason. London: Verso, 2005.
———. “Why Constructing a People Is the Main Task of Radical Politics.” Critical Inquiry 32:4 (2006): 646–80.
Mann, Geoff. 2013. “Who’s Afraid of Democracy?” Capitalism Nature Socialism 24 (1): 42–48.
Swyngedouw, Erik. “Apocalypse Forever? Post-Political Populism and the Spectre of Climate Change.” Theory, Culture & Society 27:2–3 (2010): 213–232.
Swyngedouw, Erik, and Japhy Wilson, eds. The Post-Political and Its Discontents: Spaces of Depoliticization, Spectres of Radical Politics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Whatmore, Sarah J. “Mapping Knowledge Controversies: Science, Democracy and the Redistribution of Expertise.” Progress in Human Geography 33:5 (2009): 587–98.
Žižek, Slavoj. “Against the Populist Temptation.” Critical Inquiry 32:2 (2006): 551–574.