How are communities responding to climate crisis, and what can we learn from them?

WEGO coordinator Wendy Harcourt  was interviewed by Erasmus University Rotterdam. Read the full interview.

“We are looking at how communities are responding to climate crisis in order to understand how to link this to a global understanding of resilience”

 

Flower farmers in a dry land

Irene Leonardelli recently defended her research proposal at lHE Delft

Her research entitled ‘Flower Farmers in a Dry Land: A feminist ethnography of agrarian change and water flows in Maharashtra, India’ focuses on how farmers in the rural areas of Maharashtra, in India, are responding to, experiencing or even escaping processes of agrarian restructuring and water re-allocation provoked by the intensification of agriculture. More specifically, she is studying how the shift from subsistence to commercial farming is modifying tenure and labour relations, consumption and migration patterns as well as people’s experiences of and relations to their environment. Moreover, she is interested in analysing, from a feminist critical perspective, how far-away people, places and natures become connected through (physical and virtual) flows of water implied in the commodity chain of high-value crops. In her research, tracing these connections means assessing their implications for modalities and scales of water governance, but also reflecting on potential transnational feminist collaborations that can contribute to more equitable and sustainable socionatural futures.

All photos: Sharmini Bisessar

Notes from the field: Between drought and monsoon: the embodied hardship of seasonal work in Maharashtra’s sugar cane plantations

At the end of a too-long, extremely dry summer, rural women from the drought-prone district of Beed, Maharashtra, finally return home, after six months of seasonal employment in sugar cane plantations. Encountering them allows me to reflect on experiences of drought and monsoon and on the embodied implications of environmental and agrarian transformation…

Read the full blog on Undisciplined Environments.

Learning to care as a feminist

Elona Hoover, a PhD candidate at the University of Brighton and a fellow traveller,  was recently invited to share a feminist perspective in Open Democracy’s Transformations series on care. The blog is entitled ‘Learning to care as a feminist.

In a re-converted industrial building in East London, a regular session of ‘Community Massage’ is taking place. A friend tells me, “that could sound creepy!” I laugh and explain that it’s a collective of trained therapists who organise treatment on a sliding scale for a range of people including activists and those who can’t afford complementary therapy. Continue reading on the Open Democracy website

Summer school Bolsena: notes from a feminist writing retreat

For a week in August part of the WEGO team gathered with other academics and activists of diverse places, ages and experiences in the beautiful convent of Bolsena in Italy for a feminist methodologies writing retreat.

Read the full blog on Undisciplined Environments

‘Finding my way in research’: reflections from an early stage researcher

Marlene Gomez shares her first reflections on doing a PhD.

Well, it turns out that it has been a year since we started this wonderful, but at the same time challenging journey of the Ph.D. I find it wonderful because it has allowed me as a person to enter into debates that seemed completely different to my reality and to which I did not pay much attention for my negligence to have a dialogue with European theories. My mentor, Gülay, has been key in this trip. Taking part in her seminars on post-development theory allowed me to realize the infinite similarities between the critical political and social theory of Europe and that of Latin America. Undoubtedly, with different realities and different situational problems, in both geopolitical latitudes, people get organized and fight for a common good and a good life/buen vivir. I find this trip challenging because it is not easy to understand the European reality with other lenses and other theories that have been unfamiliar to my academic path. However, I loved it. Sometimes I feel a bit like “the bridge” referred in the writings of the chicana Gloria Anzaldúa, or the chixi /mestiza proposed by the anti-colonial feminist Silvia Rivera-Cusicanqui to foster a dialogue of imaginaries, to walk interweaving different knowledges. After a year, I finally feel that I am finding my way in my research, and today more than ever I feel the passion for writing and discussing in-depth concepts relevant to my topic, such as urban food commons, food sovereignty, food regime, etc… and hopefully, by the end, I will be filling a gap in the FPE theory.

Re-enchanting the world(s) through feminist activism and commoning

How to resist the devastation of territories and social relations by collectively and creatively planting the seeds for a socioecological transformation through feminist practices of commoning? Understanding the commons as the performance of care-full social relations through which alternative, anticapitalist and non-patriarchal forms of socioecological (re)production can emerge, we can re-enchant our heterogenous lifeworlds. Putting life at the centre calls for building networks and forging alliances between urban and rural experiences of commoning, recognising women’s role in socio-environmental resistances and fighting against gender violence and hierarchies in the everyday politics of being-and-doing-in-common.

Photo: Anna Katharina Voss
Photo: Anna Katharina Voss

These were the inspiring debates during two discussions with feminist writer, scholar and activist Silvia Federici I had the opportunity to attend in May and June this year in Italy – both in themselves an expression of commoning: in the immaterial space of sharing scholar and activist perspectives and experiences while being organised on the material grounds of a community farmers’ market in Bologna (as a dialogue between Federici, professor and commons scholar Massimo De Angelis, the food sovereignty association CampiAperti and local activists from the transnational feminist network Non Una Di Meno) and at Lucha y Siesta, a self-organised women’s house and cultural centre in Rome.

Gender violence regards you too. The women house Lucha y Siesta is not for sale! Image shared by Anna Katharina Voss

Lucha y Siesta has been offering housing shelter for 142 women and 65 children who escaped situations of domestic violence since activists occupied the abandoned house and plot owned by Rome’s municipal transport agency in 2011. The centre is under imminent threat of eviction and suspension of water, electricity and gas utilities… The eviction threat is still ongoing but for now the house is resisting. They are currently mobilising a broad civil society committee to collectively purchase the house – a feminist defense of the commons in action.

 

You can find further information here: https://luchaysiesta.wordpress.com.

Inhabiting conflicting spaces: reflections around RC21, Delhi

Taking the short taxi ride from my Airbnb apartment in Jangpura to the Indian Habitat Centre on Lodhdi Road, watching the blurred streets pass in the heat of the morning sun, cushioned in the faux-leather seats, cooled by air-conditioning, the full embodiment of my privilege flows over me, in its familiar way.

Arriving at the Indian Habitat Centre for the biannual RC21 Conference, I move through security into the main hall for the introductory plenary. Already twenty minutes late, I slip in the side door and stand with my back to the wall. I’m familiar with the setting. Rows of chairs, a stage with five people sat behind a long table facing the silent, attentive audience, powerpoint in action. I see a friend, he sees me, we smile and nod.

Three days pass in a similar fashion. Panel sessions are punctuated by the ritual consumption of coffee and food, with the compulsory brief introductions and ‘networking chat’ echoing across the spaces. Finding refuge with friends takes the edge off but I can’t escape the feeling of unease that accompanies me as I move between cooled carpeted spaces, hot concrete roads and cooled cushioned vehicles.

On the second day we walked down Lohdi road, feeling the shock of the afternoon sun, and took a left toward the main gate of Lohdi Garden, where we joined the climate strike. With around a 100 protesters we staged a ‘die in’ – the symbolic act now characteristic of the global climate strike movement. I lay there, staring up at the tree branches above kindly offering shade from the sun, feeling the sweat seep into my clothes and questioned my right to be there, to be part of this.

Silently carrying this contradiction, I moved with the growing crowd – chanting, singing, clapping, beating drums. Speeches flowed in Hindi and English, anti-patriarchy signs were held up above the crowds and the right to breathe was demanded, emphasising the visceral politics of place, keeping us grounded on the streets of Delhi through which we walked.

Me and my friend separated, and met again. I felt torn by the need to remain with the moving, growing, dancing crowd and a strange, irritating sense of responsibility to return to the conference.

Photo: Christian Eichenmüller

We slowly walked back to Lohdi road, watching the crowd pass us, mingling with the traffic, towards the already sinking sun. Guilt welled in my stomach, as the last protesters passed us. Entering the Indian Habitat Centre, cooling pools of water greeted us as we moved through security, on to the carpeted floors, into the air-conditioned, curtained but brightly lit room; where we finally sat, confronted by a powerpoint glaring at us through multiple flatscreens. Sweat soaking through my kurta, my face and arms coated in dust, I sat, barely listening, mindlessly watching the screens change, consumed by the consistent unease I feel inhabiting such conflicting spaces.

 

Alternative food initiatives in Berlin and Barcelona

I feel more and more comfortable presenting my Ph.D. project in public. I remember that at the beginning of the doctorate I could not even accommodate my ideas in my mind and it was hard for me to verbalize what I thought. However, after a year of being on this trip, the public presentations have become a moment of reflection on what I want to communicate and what I am investigating. They help me to identify deficiencies in my research or possible contradictions. Jena and the rest of the presentations that I have had have worked to me as deadlines of my research, and somehow impel me to continue with the debate of it. Doing a doctorate is not simple, especially when you do not belong to a kind of structured doctorate. We ourselves manage our time, and we get deadlines regarding the goals we want to achieve. Jena helped me to reflect on the progress of my research on the methodological and theoretical framework that I am using and, above all, on the functionality of my research. What do I really want to achieve with it? How can I contribute to the theoretical debate of the FPE? And better yet, how can I make my research useful in practice and not just more words without content?

Info_Kauf Tageskarten im Vorfeld (pdf document)

Hauptprogramm zur Konferenz Great Transformation (pdf document)