The Dutch edition of our Feminist Political Ecology Dialogues happened on May 17th 2022, in Wageningen, focusing on age, generation and population. Organized by and based on the interests and research of three WEGO PhDs candidates – Constance Dupuis (ISS), Milja Fenger (ISS) and Nanako Nakamura (WU) – the event wanted to bring different, but equally essential, discourses around life-making into the Feminist discussions about care, everyday practices, climate discussions, and social reproduction.
In part, it did so by showing the researcher’s cases and approaches, while evoking questions and discussions from the participants. The PhDs shared a similar standpoint of critical view on normativity, inspired by situated own notions and experiences.
The first session, “Stories of Aging”, conducted by Constance and Nanako, centered on FPE’s intersectional thinking and the resistance against simple binary to see gendered and aging practices as relational construction of social differences. Both Nanako and Constance used socionatural understandings of the people/place intersection though the meanings presented in Japan and Uruguay.
The second session, “Exploring Controversies Around Population”, by Milja, paid attention to the everyday, to the embodied, to emotions. Milja focused on how FPE methodologies do not recognise the written text as the only or primary means of conducting knowledge production – and how FPE is able to be “performed” in multiple ways including through experimentation with art and creativity.
Despite sharing the understanding and FPE’s perspective, the three PhD researches are distinctive in terms of context, methodology, and research question. The multiplicity in FPE application contributes to diversifying the approach and the theoretical grounds of the Dialogues.
Questions and reflections
Why and how questions of justice in later stages of life intersect with questions of environmental justice were briefly touched during the event. Both Nanako’s and Constance’s work suggested that aging concerns should feature in environmental justice research, with elderly being key actors in the struggles for environmental justice, as well as important knowledge holders.
The Dutch edition laid out key concepts around human and non-human life. Environment can be diverse, beyond the natural environment, relationally shaped by a social-ecological political process. The discussions teased out some of those relational processes suggesting that any specific environment entails experiences of human and non-human interactions that make life continue in various ways.
With this notion in mind, WEGO-ITN PhDs can start looking at what makes a new way of living, unraveled not through relying on the popular notion of anti-aging or regeneration of the population, but through relating to different bodily experiences as an ethical approach (Nanako’s work).
In the second session, the FPE dialogue complicated questions by looking into the relationship between art and research and how methodologies from the former can be used in the latter. Milja Fender suggested that research on environmental justice would do well following the developments in wider academia around the use of creative methodologies in research, but that careful thought around what counts as research outputs are necessary.
The Dialogues were open to everyone interested in joining, so as to invite more people to conversations about FPE, and our interests around age and population. The organizers used mailing lists, personal contacts, and social media, e.g. Twitter and Facebook, to share the event announcement.
La Ecología Política Feminista se sustenta intelectual y metodológicamente en un enfoque de abajo hacia arriba para explorar y comprometerse con problemas socio-ambientales de carácter global pero también inherentemente local, prestando atención a las voces y reclamos de grupos y subjetividades tradicionalmente subrepresentados, marginados y oprimidos (por ejemplo mujeres, personas racializadas, inmigrantes o LGBTIQ).
Al mismo tiempo se propone un cambio de mirada desde un enfoque centrado en el ser humano a uno que va más allá de lo humano. Empleando conceptos como interseccionalidad y encarnación, la EPF plantea una mirada renovada sobre cómo las socionaturalezas y los metabolismos se forman a través de relaciones de poder que penetran en el cuerpo, la comunidad y la ciudad de múltiples formas interconectadas y que involucran a grupos situados de manera diferente. La EPF nos invita a ampliar nuestra comprensión prestando atención a las experiencias cotidianas cargadas de significado a través de un lente interseccional y le da la bienvenida a la conexión de la teoría y la praxis a través de puentes entre la academia, los gobiernos, las instituciones de formulación de políticas y las organizaciones de activistas.
Con el fin de debatir en torno a este concepto y aportar a su construcción colectiva, WEGO-ITN organizó varios diálogos, tanto virtuales como presenciales.
Los Diálogos recogidos en esta publicación tuvieron lugar el 4 de noviembre de 2021 en formato híbrido. Varios y varias participantes se encontraron de manera presencial en Barcelona y se sumaron participantes de diversos países de América Latina en formato virtual.
This series of events was organised by WEGO-ITN Early Stage Researchers Dian Ekowati, Siti Maimunah, Alice Owen and Eunice Wangari, plus Prof. Rebecca Elmhirst, as a mentor.
The British version of WEGO-ITN’s Feminist Political Ecology Dialogues happened between the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 in two separate occasions: on the The United Nations COP26 Peoples Summit for Climate Justice and as part of the Despite Extractivism Exhibition, organized by the Extracting Us Collective.
The United Nations COP26 took place in Glasgow, UK in November 2021 and was the focus for our first FPE dialogue event series.
We invited the public, through the COP26 Peoples Summit for Climate Justice events programme, to join us to discover stories from Indonesia, Kenya and the UK which can be woven together to tell a bigger story about the making of climate colonialism, the logics of extractivism, and the ways communities resist and find alternatives. We shared stories which have come to us through our research with communities as part of the WEGO network for Feminist Political Ecology.
Through this FPE dialogue, we ask: what does the climate emergency look like in each of these places? How do frontline communities resist ‘false solutions’? Through a toxic tour, we juxtapose untold stories from riverine, forest, agrarian, pastoralist and suburban communities in West and Central Kalimantan (Indonesia), Kenya and the UK. These stories of everyday struggles for life may be overlooked, and therefore untold, in the drama of large-scale resistances. Alongside the tour, we invite those attending in person to join us in an open story-sharing space to gather and connect untold stories from elsewhere.
We also bring these stories to the United Nations COP26 Virtual Gender Marketplace to bring our FPE perspective into conversation with policy makers alongside bodies including IUCN, UN Women and others engaged with gender and the climate agenda.
Despite Extractivism is an online exhibition that assembled expressions of care, creativity and community in relation to diverse extractive contexts. The exhibition is both an exploration of extractivism, and of the already-existing alternatives. Collectively, the works in this exhibition illuminate and explore ways of questioning, subverting and resisting the violent logics and impacts of extractivism. The FPE dialogues event series provokes questions and discussions with communities, creatives and activists. Whilst our questions are informed by Feminist Political Ecology (FPE), the dialogues provide an opportunity to push FPE in new directions.
In addition to the co-curation of an online exhibition following on from the Extracting Us exhibition series, the organising team organised a series of online webinars which were spaces where artists, activists, researchers and interested audiences could convene to explore extractivism and its alternatives through a FPE lens. Between a launch event and a closing event, three webinars explored the stories, ideas and practises of the Despite Extractivism contributors and the communities they engaged with. The events, featuring performances, presentations and discussions, focused in turn on expanding but intersecting scales, from the body to the global.
This feminist dialogue will explore how Feminist Political Ecology (FPE) scholarship is engaging with ideas of age and generation. It is the last of a series of FPE dialogues held by WEGO-ITN around Europe on-line and in person in 2021 and 2022. It is the last of a series of FPE dialogues held by WEGO-ITN around Europe on-line and in person in 2021 and 2022. In the first half of the meeting, Nanako Nakamura (RSO-WUR/WEGO) and Constance Dupuis (ISS, EUR/WEGO) will present a dialogue looking at how ideas of ageing and generation travel and change in different contexts by drawing on research in Japan and Uruguay respectively. Nanako works with post-capitalist ideas and community economies thinking in a rural context while Constance is in conversation with decolonial feminisms and FPE understandings of place. They will be engaging the audience through telling stories from their research to show how FPE does research differently. In the second part of the dialogue, Milja Fenger (ISS, EUR/WEGO) will invite people to join her in exploring controversies around population based on her creative use of dialogue and theatre.
Time: 15:00 to 17:00 17 May 2022 Place: Seeuwenborch B0076, WUR Wageningen
After four years of intense work, discussions, pandemic-related challenges and exciting new experiences, WEGO-ITN early-stage researchers and mentors gather today for a week of in-peron and online meetings, workshops, trainings and celebrations.
PhDs students will have the opportunity to share the development of their work not only with their mentors, but with all the members of the network. There will be small group discussions on research: what has worked so far, what were the joys and difficulties, how they developed their skills as a FPE Scholar, where to go from now on.
There will also be a number of hands-on sessions, mainly the ones presented by Prof. Andrea Nightingale on how to write up field work and how to write up research into an article, or by Prof. Rebecca Elmhirst on how to move from PhD to applied research or by Prof. Lyla Mehta on how to fund FPE research. The group will work on the writing and conceptualizing of book chapters and contributions to academic journals.
The programme also includes training sessions designed specifically to help PhDs in furthering their careers after the WEGO-ITN network, focused in communication, in how to find funding opportunities for their research, how to succeed in job interviews, how to use social media in your favor, among others.
About Professor Khayaat Fakier As holder of the Prince Claus Chair, Professor Khayaat Fakier will examine the issue of care in relation to equity and development policies. The two-year research project will examine how to build an ethic of care not only for people, but also for the environment.
Prince Claus Chair The Prince Claus Chair in Equity and Development was established by Utrecht University and the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2003, and rotates annually between the two institutions.
Note to professors Professors are invited to join the academic procession. Please assemble at 15:30 at ISS. Bring your own gown and confirm attendance by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Well-being, Ecology, Gender and cOmmunity-Innovative Training Network (WEGO-ITN) is holding a book launch for their recent publication ‘Feminist Methodologies’ on Monday, 25 April from 17.30 to 19.00 hrs at ISS butterfly bar.
With over 48,000 downloads, Feminist Methodologies offers in-depth reflections on how feminists shape research questions, understand positionality, share research results beyond academe and produce feminist intersectional knowledges.
From menstrual tracking to navigating digital places
Edited by Wendy Harcourt, Karijn van den Berg, Constance Dupuis and Jacqueline Gaybor, chapters include research on feminist research into COVID-19, the role of apps in tracking the menstrual cycle, the personal and political in digital spaces and conducting respectful and caring research.
During the launch many of the authors will be available to discuss their individual chapters and discuss these with the audience.
The launch will be followed by a reception at ISS.
The event will not be hybrid as it will be complex to manage online various authors talking about their chapters at different tables in the Atrium.
Notes from “Women in Graassroots environmental justice movements”, CSW66 parallel event, organized by Pangea Foundation and WEGO-ITN, March 22nd, 2022.
Women from marginalized territories are often overlooked when speaking of women’s leadership, but they are often at the frontline of environmental justice movements. To share their powerful stories, Pangea Foundation and the EU funded Innovative Training Network WEGO – Well-being Ecology Gender and cOmmunity on feminist political ecology have organised an online parallel event in the context of the 66th Session of the United Nation Commission on the Status of Women.
The webinar was introduced by Simona Lanzoni, Pangea Foundation’s vice-president, followed by a roundtable discussion moderated by Wendy Harcourt, Professor of Gender, Diversity and Sustainable Development at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, Netherlands, both members of the WEGO network. Speakers were from different backgrounds: researchers, activists, and farmers and they shared their story of activism or research with women grassroots movements for environmental and social justice. Ana Agostino, WEGO’s ombudsperson, from Uruguay, who has been ombudsperson of the city of Montevideo for five years, shared a story about Vecinas (female neighbours), a grassroot group of women of the city of Montevideo, concerned about what was happening not only to them personally, but to the community at large. Khayaat Fakier, Prince Claus Chair on Equity and Development 2021-3 at ISS, from South Africa, spoke about the Rural Women Assembly, a self-organizing movement of women farmers, spread across thirteen countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Miriam Corongiu, a farmer from the so-called Land of Fires, Campania, Italy, shared her experience as a farmer and activist in an environmentally degraded territory within the networks Citizenship and Community, Stop Biocide and the ecofeminist group Georgica. Seema Kulkarni, from India, national facilitation team member of MAKAAM – Forum for Rights of Women Farmers, spoke about women coming from farmer suicide households. Agustina Solera, Post Doc Prince Claus Chair on Equity and Development at ISS, from Argentina, shared her experience with the Mapuche Community in Patagonia, Argentina. Siti Maimuna, WEGO PhD student at the University of Passau, from Indonesia, told her experience with the local anti-mining movement, the women’s organization TKPT, working with women in communities affected by mining, the indigenous people’s organization OAT, led by indigenous women in the island of Mollo and other NGOs in Kalimantan Island, campaigning for water justice.
Siti Maimuna’s story is a story of resistance, a story of women resisting extractivism. When mining companies arrived in Indonesia, women opposed the destruction of nature by occupying the territory with their own bodies. According to Siti Maimuna the human body is part of nature, therefore “opposing the destruction of nature is the same as refusing the destruction of the human body” and “the human body and the body of nature cannot be separated”. In Indonesian, “we call the human body Tubuh, and the nature or the territory where the body belongs is Tanah Air, Tanah means soil, and Air implies water. We call[ed] this the resistance to defend Tubuh-Tanah Air. Defending the bodies”. Women led the resistance against mining, activists organized demonstrations and created songs that were sung in every forest as a form of protest and resistance. Some of them decided to bury their feet in cement in protest mining companies and this act became a symbol of resistance. Eventually some companies left the area and since then, every two or three years, women organize a festival to celebrate the resistance and its success.
Agustina Solera’s experience refers to the time of her PhD research, in the Andean area of Patagonia, Argentina, with the Mapuche community and their schools in rural areas. She wanted to learn from the Mapuche’s ‘way of being in relation’, a way of being sustained on care and respect for the weave of life and its regeneration. When Agustina Solera got the opportunity to meet the population she learnt the fear, the stigma and the shame associated with being Mapuche. She recounted that “schools in Argentina played a main role in “civilizing” the surviving indigenous populations, erasing, denying or, in the best case, devaluing ancestral ways of being in relation (between humans and other-than-humans)”. Now, instead, “rural schools have become places of belongings in which struggles for resistance and re-existence germinate; have become fertile spaces where people from different cultures encounter each other.” Here, we see that the struggle for the reconstitution of language, knowledge, history and culture silenced in the past are not separable from other struggles of environmental and social justice.
Seema Kulkarni’s experience with MAKAAM and women farmers from suicide affected households in the state of Maharashtra, India is a story of agrarian distress, caused by the commercialisation of agriculture. The lobbying from the pesticide and the chemical industries led to an increase in the cost of cultivation and to a transition from a decentralized model to a corporate model of food production. All these factors contributed to an increase in farmers’ suicides, in particular in those states that were rapidly industrialising, and agriculture was increasingly seen in the commercial space.
The women of farmer suicide households are never visible. The state and its programs have not recognised them as workers and farmers in their own right. “Makaam story starts from there, politicizing this issue, centralizing the question of women farmers as farmers and not just as widows of these farmers,” said Seema Kulkarni. These women were dispossed of their rights, the majority of them never had access to the land that belonged to their family, and they were suffering also the stigma associated with their husbands’ suicide.
The movement’s action that took place in the capital of the Maharashtra state got a lot of attention from policy makers. These women started to be seen as a political category that demanded attention and a different kind of policies. But there was more. Women were saying that during the Covid-19 pandemic the commercialisation of agriculture left them without food, and they wanted real change. They said no to chemical fertilizers and no to chemical pesticides because they didn’t want to be controlled by corporations, they wanted their knowledge and their understanding of their farms to be at the forefront.
Miriam Corongiu’s story is of resistance and care from the so-called Land of Fires,Italy, a land where two million people live, characterized by toxic fires of illegally discharged waste, big polluting mega infrastructures (such as incinerators and gas power plants), and a phenomenon called ecomafia, organized crime connected to corrupt politicians and irresponsible managers. “It’s right here that agroecology is more necessary” stated Miriam Corongiu, “especially agroecology made by women, because of its attention to the regeneration of the relationship between nature and human beings, not only to the organic techniques to cultivate the land.” She is a member of several grassroots movements in Terra dei Fuochi, such as Stop Biocide and Citizenship and Community network, and part of an ecofeminist group of women, Georgica, all of them cultivating gardens, trying to fight for food sovereignty and agroecology.
Khayaat Fakier shared the story of the Rural Women Assembly of South Africa, a country deeply affected by the consequences of climate change that make farming and the provision of healthy food and nutrition to children and communities extremely difficult. A group of women coming from a very arid land not far from Cape Town tried to engage with the local and national government in order to obtain access to land for the production of food, but they were quite unsuccessful. Then, thanks to the interaction with a group of fisherwomen through the Rural Women Assembly, they started aquaponics production of vegetables, a mode of production where plants are planted in water. The water is populated by fishes, which feed from the nutrients and the oxygen that the plants emit into the water and, at the same time, the fishes fertilize the water. Both groups of women benefited from the initiative. This is an example of how the idea and notion of agroecology isn’t separate from food production for the communities and “demonstrates a way in which women working in nature can build collaboration in order to not just improve their own conditions and the conditions of the community but to collectivize the struggle for access to production” said Khaayat Fakier.
Ana Agostino’s story takes place in Montevideo, Uruguay, where the Vecinas, a group of local women, gave the impetus to an urban regeneration project in the city center. Women from the neighborhood brought to the attention of the ombudsperson of the city of Montevideo the problem of abandoned houses in the city center. This led to the creation of a program called Fincas Abandonadas, a project with the purpose of recovering abandoned deteriorated houses located in the central area of the city and restoring their social function. The municipality organized consultations with the local citizens and found three uses for these abandoned houses. First, dispersed housing cooperatives: houses owned collectively that in spite of being all in the same plot, were dispersed within the neighborhood; second, a Trans House, in response to the LGBTIQA+ community’s need to have a collective space for people who had someone in the process of gender change in their families. Third, a Half-way home, a secure home for people facing difficult situations, such as domestic violence, homelessness, having come out of different types of institutionalizations, etc.
The story of the Vecinas of Montevideo and their complaints about abandoned houses “is a clear example of this continuum between the day-to-day life of women who inhabit their space with a sense of community, and how they help in the definition and implementation of policies that contribute towards a better life for their communities and for the environment,” said Ana Agostino. Moreover, this case demonstrates that care for the environment where women live in, is not limited to the rural space, but it also includes the urban.
In conclusion, the speakers highlighted what emerged from the discussion and the stories shared during the webinar. Miriam Corongiu stressed the importance of care: care for the land, the community, loved ones and family; Khayaat Fakier the need of enhancing transnational solidarity, making connections within and across movements, between the rural and the urban spaces; Siti Maimuna stated that we have to learn how to reconnect with each other and nature, underlining that “knowledge restitution is very important and we have to start thinking about how the resistance and the struggle is experienced in our bodies.” Seema Kulkarni pointed out that “all of these stories are powerful stories saying that women are organizing, women are collectivizing, and they are looking at alternative ways of living, creating this world”. Ana Agostino concluded by saying that these stories were stories of women’s resistance, but “the resistance we are talking about is a creative resistance reconstituting a way of being in relation with others and to nature”.
As of September 2021, Dr Khayaat Fakier holds the Prince Claus Chair at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) on equity and development. In January 2022 Agustina Solera PhD joined Khayaat as the Postdoctoral Researcher.
What are their upcoming plans and what’s the importance of care in their work.
A warm welcome with commitment and support
In February 2022, Khayaat met Agustina and hosting professor Wendy Harcourt at ISS The Hague. Khayaat: “It felt incredibly welcoming and warm. The visit strengthened the bond that began with our earlier online meetings. Also meeting the Curatorium members was immensely helpful and warm. They were informed about South Africa and its history and I appreciated their strong commitment and political support to my work. I am sure we will develop a meaningful relationship that can be beneficial for our institutions in South Africa and The Netherlands. We hope to be able to create a real, tangible impact.”
Already a team
“My time in The Netherlands solidified the PCC team. When we met at Wendy’s home to have dinner together, we all pitched in. We literally took care of each other”. Khayaat continues: “Our regular meetings over lunch and dinner made me feel like we’ve known each other for years and was helped by our shared focus of the PCC on care.” Agustina adds: “I would like to emphasize that this time has been constructive, as well as productive. In relation to the solid ties that have been built inside PCC (Khayaat, Wendy and I), we have engaged with other networks such as WEGO and universities in the Netherlands such as Wageningen University. While forging these bonds, we have already begun writing collaboratively with two book chapters and a journal article and planning events together with Wendy’s support, and we have further plans for the next two years.”
“I cannot sign anything that would permit extractive research”, a Nicaraguan Miskitu scholar- activist told us in response to our request for consent to use the information he shared and demanded a commitment to right relations. “I have given you not just my words, my analysis, my history and my experience, but that of the Miskitu communities I walk with. What do you offer us in return?” He needed a guarantee that we were not “extracting knowledge like others extracting timber and land from Miskitu communities.”
Forest restoration in an Indigenous territory in Nicaragua. Source: JUSTCLIME Nicaraguan research team.
After he spoke, seconds passed, seconds that felt like forever. We replied in our own way about our individual and institutional practices, highlighting our broader commitments to co-research, resource sharing, and non-extraction with other Indigenous and marginalised communities. We closed proposing a second meeting to discuss what the project itself and the Nicaraguan-based institution could offer in return.
His words called for a reckoning with past wrongs, as well as future accountability. Were we attempting to distance “ourselves” from “those who extract” by trying to justify our research and publishing choices? Given our long-standing commitments to social justice processes linked to women’s and peasant movements in Central America, were we glossing over the ways in which each of us had subordinated critical race and decolonial concerns to questions of gender and/or class? We had not a priori selected Indigenous territories as research sites. Rather, our focus on socionatural conflict and climate change led us to draw upon pre-existing relationships with Miskitu, Mayangna and Rama-Kriol professionals and activists. The question our respondent posed forced us to consider the implications of these choices in a new way.
Despite our individual efforts to do non-extractive research, until that moment we had not taken a collective position on how to decolonize ourselves and our research praxis. To keep our promise, we first needed to collectively name, unravel and address the tensions and entanglements that gesturing towards a decolonial – non extractive research praxis means.
Tensions and entanglements with the extraction-assimilation system
Re/produced through mutually constitutive capitalist, colonial and patriarchal relations, the extraction-assimilation system wrecks relationships with and reaps resources from Indigenous and racialized peoples. As Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Mississauga Nishnaabeg) explains, “colonialism and capitalism are based on extracting and assimilating […] when people extract things, they’re taking and they’re running and they’re using it for just their own good.” Extractive research takes whatever teachings that are useful to knowledge holders out of their context, out of their language, thus “integrat[ing] them into this assimilatory mindset”. The act of extraction absolves those who take what is not theirs of responsibility and “removes all of the relationships that give whatever is being extracted meaning”.
In order to avoid “taking and running”, three tensions embedded in overlapping hierarchies of power and difference came into relief: (i) between the funding-based demands for written production linked to the colonial and extractive underpinnings of the academia on the one hand, and Indigenous territorial priorities on the other; (ii) between the Nicaraguan development institution we were collaborating with, and our personal commitments to gesturing towards decolonial practice; and (iii) between our desire to decolonize ourselves as researchers and our entanglement with Westernized research institutions that require claiming ownership over the production of knowledge. Layers of precarity intertwine making extraction-assimilation the default system in research: the precarities we as emerging researchers navigate, those of the underfunded and under political threat Nicaraguan institution, of our research efforts in pandemic times, and most importantly the precarities (read violence) faced by those in the Indigenous territories themselves.
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