CERN Inaugural international community economies conference

With the Handbook of Diverse Economies edited by J.K. Gibson-Graham and Kelly Dombroski coming out in 2020 it seems high time to organize the Inaugural International Community Economies Conference. This conference will offer the opportunity for members of the Community Economies Research Network (CERN) to share their work, discuss common themes of interest and advance a post-capitalist politics.

The conference is organised by the Community Economies Institute with the School of Spatial Planning & Development and the School of Political Science at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. It will take place from

5-7 November 2020 in Thessaloniki, Greece.

The CERN currently has 225 members spread across 27 countries. It is hoped that by locating the conference in Thessaloniki—an historic site of international cultural interchange—many people from across the world will be able to attend. Registration costs will be kept low and there will be a limited number of travel bursaries for those who cannot access institutional conference funds.

The conference will begin on Thursday night with an opening address followed by an interactive poster session and participatory mapping of the CERN story. Friday and Saturday are set aside for paper presentations, panels and workshops organized by CERN members. There will also be sessions open to the public in which connections between community economies research and current concerns are discussed with scholars and activists from Greece and the region. The conference will be followed by an optional day of field visits and walks in Thessaloniki and the surrounding region led by activist researchers. During the conference the Greek translation of Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities (with additional Greek examples) will be launched.

An international organizing committee led by Katherine Gibson, Giorgos Gritzas and Karolos Kavoulakos is being formed. The Community Economies Institute and the University of Thessaloniki will provide organizational support for the conference.

More information about deadlines for submitting papers, panels and workshop proposals will be forthcoming. And keep an eye on the community economies web site for more information: www.communityeconomies.org

Hope to see you there!

Undisciplined Environments goes live

Undisciplined Environments – a platform for political ecology research and activism – has launched today, 1 October 2019

This novel effort is a collaboration between the ENTITLE Collective and the WEGO project, as well as other transnational networks – like the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN).

Undisciplined Environments (UE) aims to become an influential crossroads for activists, researchers, journalists and anyone interested in the mutual imbrications of power, society, culture and ecology. Our commitment is to establish UE as a compelling virtual space to share ideas, stories, concepts, methods and strategies for the elaboration of the knowledges and practices needed to build more emancipatory socionatural worlds.

WEGO members Panagiota KotsilaIlenia Iengo, Irene Leonardelli, Wendy Harcourt and Stefania Barca are on the editorial collective.

 

How Do We Know The World Series: Knowing The World? Navigating Asymmetries of Power through a Politics and Praxis of Care

“How do we know the world?” It is a difficult and multi-layered question. Yet it enticed us, two colleagues, women from the global north and south respectively, to collaborate and reflect upon our journeys as researchers, activists and now as fellow PhD students. Reflection upon our experiences, Enid as a researcher in India and Mai as an activist in Indonesia, brought together very particular understandings of the intimate power relations between the participant and researcher – how power manifests, how it is inscribed upon our bodies, and how people resist or attempt to counteract power in different ways.

This reflection, on what Haraway (1988) calls ‘situated, embodied knowledge,’ has led us to an engagement with the politics of care discussed by Joan Tronto (2015), not only as alternative feminist economic theory, but as a praxis towards re-orientating our methods of ‘knowing the world.’

This collaboration encouraged us to look critically at the nature of the power inherent in the participant-researcher dynamic, addressing its intersectional and culturally contingent dimensions. Furthermore, it has challenged us to look again at the potential limits of reflexivity in this process. Can reflexivity as a methodology achieve a reconfiguration of power within the researcher-participant dynamic, or does it risk becoming an indulgent process of critically examining the self?

The post-colonial realities of the places in which we both work are experienced differently because of the identity markers inscribed upon our bodies, thereby affecting the experiences of the people with whom we work. Not only therefore is the power inherent in the participant-researcher dynamic culturally contingent upon the place where we work, but also upon the intersectional positionalities of our own bodies. It cannot be disentangled from these messy realities, indeed to do so would be to ignore the very presence of what we are searching for – resistance. As Foucault (1978:95) famously stated “where there is power, there is resistance” and yet he reminds us that the inscription of power upon our bodies through our socialisation, governmentality and imperialism is impossible to detach ourselves from.

Whilst living and working in India, Enid experienced the the epistemic asymmetries inherent in research predominantly in the field. The socio-political context combined with the identity markers inscribed upon Enid’s body (gender, ethnicity, class), to create inescapable tensions and inequalities. In regards to representation in the knowledge production process, these tensions were made particularly evident when investigating potential field sites and communities for her masters research in Pune. During this process, the power asymmetries felt so stark, almost unsurmountable, that it led to a complete reorientation of the analytical lens – from looking at the everyday life of citizens to the everyday life of NGO workers specifically. This didn’t necessarily solve the issues but it helped the researcher to adopt a collaborative approach, embedded in applied anthropology methods, whereby she could attempt to mitigate the power asymmetries in the researcher-participant relationship.

Understanding these power asymmetries in the Indonesian context has been shaped by the long-standing experiences of Mai as an environmental activist in a civil society movements. Mai’s positionality as a woman highlighted the power relations inscribed upon her body that determined the ability to enact her agency as a political activist and scholar. This positionality however, also increased sensitivity to often ‘unseen’ forms of resistance by women (Scott, 1986). To understand this resistance through an intersectional lens, Mai used the method of photovoice with two neighboring Indigenous communities affected by nickel mining in Sorowako, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Photovoice is grounded in feminist theory and praxis in that it uses documentary photography as a visual method to acknowledge and make visible women’s subjective everyday experiences, thus informing action based on lived experience and moreover, it enables a shift of power to the research participants (Ciolan and Manasia, 2017; Hernandez, et al., 2014). This method enabled Mai and her colleagues to understand how the Sorowako and Karonsie Dongie communities had become divided since the giant nickel project began operation, and how people’s everyday activities, such as storytelling, false-compliance and tapping electricity, are indeed a forms of resistance (Gynn & Maimunah, 2018).

This is why we argue for the politics and praxis of care as an approach to knowing the world. Making a distinction between ‘caring for’ and ‘caring with,’ Joan Tronto (2015) calls for a mutual care through an inevitably mutually entangled experience. Critically addressing the systemic value systems that underpin the injustices and inequalities of ‘care work’ in the dominant economic system, Tronto (2015) argues that a politics of care opens us up to both a theoretical re-orientation of ‘value’ but also a political and ethical praxis in academia and beyond. Her notion of ‘care’ as something learned in a particular time and place rather than something inherent to particular people because of their gender or ethnicity, demonstrates the possibilities of cultivating this praxis as both a theoretical framing and in the practical negotiations of research to mitigate the power structures within. These negotiations also enable us to look beyond reflexivity as an indulgence of the self (of the researcher) but rather a process of patient dialogue between actors, where reflection operates beyond the written word and into a collaborative space of deliberation, tension and ultimately co-production of knowledge (Nightingale, 2016).

Orientating our research within a politics and praxis of care and embodied, situated forms of knowledge production, enables us to reflectively and collaboratively engage with the power inscribed within place and upon bodies (Escobar and Harcourt, 2005). We argue that continuously and collaboratively negotiating the inescapable tensions and inequalities that shape the participant-researcher dynamics offers a method of resistance and one pathway towards the decolonisation of thinking (Mignolo, 2007). Critical reflection, collaboration and a re-orientation of notions of ‘value’ in relation to knowledge, therefore lies at the root of challenging these asymmetries of power. The inscribed nature of these power relations however, must not deter us but embolden us to look deeper. By doing so we can search for tactics of resistance and alternative methods of research, such as photovoice , thus destabilising the historic and situated power dynamics that entangle us all.

Enid is a social anthropologist pursuing her PhD in Feminist Political Ecology (FPE) at Passau University, Germany. As part of theWEGO ITN she is one of fifteen scholars working to develop the discipline of FPE and bridge the gap between activism and scholarship. Her current work focuses on the politics of food, care and agrobiodiversity in Chennai, India.

Siti Maimunah is a scholar-activist from Indonesia. Her early career began in the year 2000 with JATAM (Mining Advocacy Network) where she has developed her knowledge about women and mining issues. Currently, she is PhD researcher within WEGO ITN where she works on feminist political ecology of mining on gender and ethnic identities in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

This blog was written as part of the one-day workshop titled ‘How do we know’ the World?’ held in January 2019 and organised by the EADI Working Group on “Post- and Decolonial Perspectives to Development” in Bonn. It was originally published on convivialthinking.org 

WEGO lead panel discussion at European Conference on Politics and Gender

WEGO was out in force at the European Conference on Politics and Gender which ran from 3 – 6 July in Amsterdam.

Wendy Harcourt, Gulay Caglar, Chizu Sato, Constance Dupuis Marlene Gomez and Nanako Nakamura were involved in several panel discussions at the Conference Below are abstracts from some of those panels.

Care and the Commons in Troubling times: confronting whiteness

Led by Constance Dupuis and Wendy Harcourt

Our paper looks at the everyday practice of feminist political ecology as not only practices rooted in one geographical place and culture but also as collective processes that are forming a global community network. We explore how feminist political ecology (FPE) aims to navigate racist structures, gender and class inequalities that determine struggles over rights and resources. Inspired by Donna Haraway’s staying with the trouble, our paper looks at how we confront whiteness in feminist political ecology. We address the ways in which white privilege and colonialism continue to be reproduced and how FPE can engage in critical conversations without centring the white experience.

Analyzing the Politics of the Everyday: A Feminist Political Ecology Perspective

There is ample evidence that neoliberal restructuring has led to precarious living conditions as well as to environmental degradation, both of which negatively affect community well-being worldwide. In response, many alternative initiatives have mushroomed at community level that aim to counter neoliberal policies through changing everyday practices of care and natural resource management. Feminist Political Ecology (FPE) is an approach that analyses these practices by taking into account power relations within different systems of oppression at different scales. With an emphasis on the importance of embodiment, place and scale, FPE aims to unveil the processes through which different actors interact, and the strategies and political mechanisms that community initiatives use to challenge the existing power relations based on exploitation, domination, and conflict. This panel seeks to introduce the theoretical tenets of FPE and to show how FPE contributes to feminist political science. Papers will be analyzing different social movements and initiatives around issues of social and environmental justice, natural resource management and care.

WEGO workshop at the Environmental Justice Conference

Siti Maimunah and Alice Owen organised a workshop on 4 July 2019 to introduce the theoretical and methodological practices of Feminist Political Ecology to Environmental Justice research. This workshop was organised as part of the Environmental Justice Conference 2019: Transformative Connections.

Transformative Connections: Environmental Justice Conference

As well as pursuing transformations towards sustainability and environmental justice, FPE researchers are also pursing transformations of the ethics, methods, epistemologies and practices of research.

In this workshop participants were invited to join members and associates of the WEGO network to explore the key insights and perspectives that have come from the practices of doing FPE research. FPE researchers were invited to prepare short responses to questions which formed the basis of a facilitated discussion exploring key themes such as scholar-activism, ethics, scales and methods in relation to their work with struggles for environmental justice.

Connecting people photo from FPE to EJ workshop in UK by Siti Maimuna and Alice Owen

The discussion then broke off into a ‘world cafe’ where all participants  joined conversations exploring key themes and shared their own research experiences. The workshop was recorded with the intention that it can become a learning resource.

Conference Outputs
Connections photo from FPE to EJ workshop in UK by Siti Maimuna and Alice Owen

We have been working hard to update our Global Environmental Justice group website with some conference outputs, so please take a look.
You can view and download the graphic records at this UEA Global
Environmental Justice flickr page.
You can view the conference videos at the Environmental Justice
Conference 2019 playlist on YouTube. We are still in the process of
editing some of the sessions, they will be added to this list as they
are completed.
Some people had asked if the conference presentations would be available on the website. We have considered this and decided it won’t be possible. We would encourage delegates to contact specific presenters directly and request that presentations be shared that way. You can find contact email addresses for all presenters in the Abstract Book.

Background paper and follow up papers

The conference background paper remains on the conference website and please let us know if you have any particular feedback that you didn’t have a chance to share.
At the moment we have not planned any special issue publications but do feel free to pursue any ideas yourselves and let us know if we can
assist.

WEGO exhibition on Feminism, Politics and Coal Extraction

Extracting Us

Looking Differently: Feminism, Politics and Coal Extraction

11 -21 July at ONCA gallery Brighton

WEGO members Siti Maimunah, Rebecca Elmhirst, Dian Ekowati, Alice Owen, Elona Hoover and ONCA Gallery manager Lydia Heath are organizing and co-curating an exhibition which seeks to ‘look differently’ at the politics of coal extraction. Taking an intersectional approach, they will bring together feminism, ecology, climate change and politics. Presenting photographs from Indonesia, the exhibition will include a workshop, reading group, film screening and talk by an Indonesian scholar-activist to create a space for challenging ‘north-south’ narratives and practicing climate justice.

Events
  • Reading Group, 12 July 2019, time: 15.00 to 17.00
    This reading group is an invitation to “think with” the exhibition and screening of the documentary film “Sexy Killers”, which is being co-convened by Indonesian scholar-activist Siti Maimunah in partnership with JATAM (Indonesian mining advocacy group) and colleagues from the University of Brighton and University of Passau in Germany in the WEGO Feminist Political Ecology network. The exhibition seeks to look differently at the politics of coal extraction, exploring these through intersectional feminist political ecology with the aim of fostering thought, action and solidarity across spaces and generations.
    Reading: Ruder, Sarah-Louise, and Sophia Rose Sanniti. “Transcending the Learned Ignorance of Predatory Ontologies: A Research Agenda for an Ecofeminist-Informed Ecological Economics.” Sustainability 11, no. 5 (2019): 1479.
    The reading can be downloaded by free access here: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/5/1479
  • Launch event: Friday 12 July, 6 – 8pm FREE – ALL WELCOME
  • Sexy Killers: Film Screening and Talk, Wednesday 17 July, 6:30 -9:00 pm Tickets £6 (£3 conc.) available here
  • Writing postcard workshop with youth, Friday 19 July.

    Postcard Writing Workshop for Young People, Friday 19 July 2:00 – 4:00pm FREE

More information is available on Facebook and ONCA webpage

All photos by Siti Maimunah

This event is sponsored by:

 

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ONCA is a Brighton based arts charity that bridges social and environmental justice issues. ‘With our public programme, we create inclusive spaces for collaborative learning, artist support and community solidarity.’

Law and justice in Indonesia: 20 years after Reformasi

Conference held in Berlin, 9th – 11th November 2018

The year 1998 is considered as the year of ‘Reformasi’ which marked the end of dictatorship in Indonesia. The great pro-democratic demonstrations, especially those of students, ended dictator Suharto’s power who had led the country under military rule for 30 years. The 20th anniversary of ‘Reformasi’ offers an occasion to reflect on own endeavors, to develop new strategies and eventually a chance for consolidation. This conference is dedicated to the following questions: To what extent are the demands formulated 20 years ago by the democratic movement realized? Which improvements can be seen? Are there deficits and if yes, why? Has democracy in Indonesia lead to the realization of the rule of law? Which problems have emerged or intensified? Which strategies and measures exist to enhance Indonesia’s development?

Speakers:
Siti Maimunah (JATAM)
Dede Oetomo (Gaya Nusantara)
Alex Flor (Watch Indonesia!)