Call for contributions for “Spaces of Possibility”- Conference and Exhibition

Our colleagues at RECOMS, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN that started around the same time as WEGO and covers fairly similar topics, are organising an international confex (Conference + Exhibition) in Brussels from the 7th till the 11th of June 2021. The event is titled ‘Spaces of Possibility: communities and places in times of social and environmental uncertainty’ and is open to anyone who is interested in the themes of community-driven transformation, socio-environmental justice and creative methods. The programme will include exciting keynotes, creative workshops, interactive sessions, a policy roundtable and guided tours of the exhibition.

Do you want to be part of this compelling programme by presenting your work, facilitating a workshop or initiating a debate? The call for contributions (presentation & full session proposals) is now open! The thematic tracks are:

  • Systems and structures
  • Representation and justice
  • Material places and embodied practices
  • Sustainability research as co-creative practice

For more info on the themes, deadlines and other practicalities, visit the event’s webpage:
https://recoms.eu/content/recoms-confex

 

COVID-19 NOTE: Please note that the event is planned to be organised in-person adhering to strict safety and health regulations. However, if this will not be possible in light of further development of the pandemic, the conference part of the programme will be held online. The event will under no circumstances be cancelled or postponed.

New book: “Negotiating Gender Expertise in Environment and Development”

Our partner Prof. Dr. Rebecca Elmhirst, from the University of Brighton, together with Dr. Bernadette Resurrección, released a new book in December 2020: “Negotiating Gender Expertise in Environment and Development – Voices from Feminist Political Ecology”, by Routledge.

This book casts a light on the daily struggles and achievements of ‘gender experts’ working in environment and development organisations, where they are charged with advancing gender equality and social equity and aligning this with visions of sustainable development.

Developed through a series of conversations convened by the book’s editors with leading practitioners from research, advocacy and donor organisations, this text explores the ways gender professionals – specialists and experts, researchers, organizational focal points – deal with personal, power-laden realities associated with navigating gender in everyday practice. In turn, wider questions of epistemology and hierarchies of situated knowledges are examined, where gender analysis is brought into fields defined as largely techno-scientific, positivist and managerialist.

An open access version of this book is freely available at: https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781351175180 

Meeting and Caring with a group of feminist activists in Indonesia

Cancelled weddings, work challenges, homesickness, menstruation talks, loss of friends to Covid-19. Even with all the hardships, our enthusiasm at the Ruang Baca Puan Collective did not subside to promote activism and cultivate feminist literacy.

Since last year, I have initiated, along with local activists from Java, Kalimantan and Sumatra Islands, the establishment of Ruang Baca Puan Collective’s, as a reading room and literacy collaboration for Indonesian women. On January 23 2021, the Ruang Baca Puan Collective had its first meeting in 2021. We are composed by ten women of different ages, professions, religions, education, and from different island, who are united by activism and feminist literacy.  Unfortunately, two of the members were unable to join the meeting: Fiqoh, a very busy labour union leader, and Sartika, who had to deal with her early pregnancy. The rest, eight of us – four people in Samarinda and Bengalon, East Kalimantan province, one person in North Sumatra province, two other people in Jakarta, a WALHI / Friend of the Earth Indonesia activist and a high school student, and I, myself, in Passau, Germany. Together, we coordinate the Collective, including organising an ecofeminist Literacy Course which will start next month.  It seems the COVID-19 pandemic has created a more shortened space and time through online platforms. The boundaries separating global and local community become thinner and even borderless, as if the air or the landscape that is originally not limited by administration.

The online meeting began with collective “care”. We shared news on what we are going through, so that we are aware and supporting one another, if needed. I use the term ‘care’ not in the shallow meaning when it translates to ‘peduli’  in Indonesian language.  ‘Care’ here is in the context of ‘politics of care’, it is beyond the meaning of “peduli”, which sounds more superficial. It is ‘care’ in a more political sense, for instance, I became an activist because I care for myself (self-care), my community, and nature. 

The collective ‘care’ was a fun and emotional part, there were many stories told. One of the members said, “I haven’t had my period for 8 months.” She then reflected on why her body reacted this way. As it turned out, this was because of her lifestyle that has changed slovenly, irregular eating, eating junk food such as soft drinks, and lack of sleep. Recently, her gout has recurred so her family was worried and took her to the doctor. However, after she changed her lifestyle into a healthier one, her body began to make peace with herself. She was celebrating the return of her menstrual cycle. 

Image: Voni Novita

Another member said that she has grown a keen interest in growing plants since she has to work from home due to the pandemic. We’re shown pictures of her small yard that looks nice and green. She has become increasingly paranoid because COVID-19 is now close to her family’s circle. The collective members who live in East Kalimantan also feel the same way. Interestingly, there are many COVID-19 clusters around coal mining sites, where many people come and go. One of the company contractors of Kaltim Prima Coal, the largest coal mine in Indonesia, is known to have more than 1000 employees affected by COVID-19. Unfortunately, these clusters have not been widely discussed because they don’t want the money machines for the oligarchs to decrease. Despite the workers falling sick, the extraction machines don’t stop. 

The capitalist economic system has always found its way to increase profits in the midst of crisis. I remember the protest against Omnibus Law in Jakarta and around Indonesia in October – November last year which was ratified by the central Government and Parliament in times of pandemic. This law is a legal product  that will make it easier for mining companies to access permits, operate without proper Environmental  Impact Assessment, and even get free royalties. In the meantime, the local communities who live in the area where the natural resources are continuously extracted, have to suffer multiple times. The Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM) in its report last year stated that the local community had been hit by mines, and now were being hit  by a global pandemic.

Another interesting story shared in our meeting is about healing after a failed wedding. One member of the collective told us, “In the last two months my life has been so hard, it’s like a roller coaster ride,” she said. She failed to get married last year, and had to heal not only herself, but also her family. On important note, she and her partner consciously agreed to cancel the wedding even though the invitation had been spread out to the public. At least she managed to calm her family down and made peace with herself. I was glad to hear her story about finding a way to heal her mother by keeping her busy planting ornamental plants at home. “The key is buying her flower pots and providing her flower seeds,” she said. I was even amazed to hear that she decided to attend her cousin’s wedding, who got married for the second time. She has prepared herself to answer the stigma of unmarried women or women who failed to get married. She had expected the conversation to turn out to be, “Your cousin has been married twice, you even failed to have one.” I agree with her, a big smile is the most civilized way of responding to that sentence in a society that considers marriage as an obligation, the end of achievement, promotion to higher degree and noble path to heaven.

Even so, there was a member of the collective whose activities remained unbothered. Her name is Delvi. I met her in Central Kalimantan last year. At that time she was an activist for Women’s Solidarity. Now, she is in Brastagi, North Sumatra. Even when we met online, she was at her mother’s coffee shop in a busy traditional market in Brastagi. Every now and then she would stop the conversation because he had to serve the customers. “There are lots of talks in this coffee shop, from gossip to politics,” she said. Her relationship with customers is very close. “We can even ask for free vegetables or fruits, if their goods are kept in the shop,” she added.

I, in Germany, had a very different story. I am studying Feminist Political Ecology  with the chair of Comparative Development and  Cultural Studies at University of Passau. In the past week we’re required to wear N95 masks on public spaces – any kind of cloth mask is prohibited. All shops including restaurants are closed since before Christmas, and only raw food stores are open. The school’s teaching and learning system is conducted online, although some offices are still open, they are recommended to work from home. As predicted, the winter season has made it difficult for the number COVID-19 cases to fall. Europe is now entering the second wave of COVID-19, including Passau, a city where I live with a population of about 50 thousand people, located on the German-Austrian border.

Even though there are those who failed to get married, had their menstruation stopped for 8 months, unable to return to their hometowns, and lost their close friend because of COVID-19, our collective enthusiasm with the Ruang Baca Puan Collective  does not subside to promote activism and cultivate feminist literacy.

The Ruang Baca Puan Collective  was originally a reading group of Vandana Shiva’s works, which consisted of  environmental justice activist part of  the networking of TKPT, JATAM and JATAM East Kalimantan. Last year, we discussed Vandana Shiva’s books on ecofeminism, including a critique of the essentialization of women’s roles. This discussion then inspired us to share knowledge through the Women Reading Room which was made opened to young girls in summer 2020. There were around 119 participants who registered and only 20 people were selected to take online classes from June to September 2020. Some of the alumnae later joined the Ruang Baca Puan Collective and will organise the first feminist literacy course in the rain season January – May 2021. Last week, they held a book discussion of “Feminism for the 99%, A Manifesto”. We are proud to be able to do it collaboratively and collectively. 

 

What does the Ruang Baca Puan Collective do? Visit our website on www.pejuangtanahair.org   

Environment and Sustainability in the globalised classroom

A students’ review of Andrea Nightingale’s book “Environment and sustainability in a globalizing world”.

Back in 2019, at the beginning of the winter semester, we were sitting in a blank white classroom at the University of Passau, in Germany, waiting for Dr. Martina Padmanabhan to start a MSc course titled “Sustainability”. Looking at each other’s confused faces, we silently understood that only a few of us had any experience in this field. Of course, we had heard the term before, but we simply and broadly related it to ‘the environment’. We didn’t yet know how many facets the study of “sustainability” could reveal to us. We were a class of master students from different ethnicities, cultures and with different backgrounds: business, economy, history, culture studies.

The book Environment and Sustainability in a Globalizing World is edited and co-written by Andrea Nightingale –a well-known scholar in the political ecology field, who currently teaches at the University of Oslo. The book became the key text of our course and this blog sprouted from the process of learning and discussing on the topic of sustainability in class, and from the interlaced creativity between the students and the teacher. We here then attempt to review this book collectively, as an interdisciplinary group of students who do not have much experience in the field. Yet, we think our modest reflections could inspire some readers to become more curious about the multi-layered concept of sustainability.

Read the full text here.

WEGO and Feminist Political Ecology

The Innovative Training Network WEGO (“Well-being, Ecology, Gender and Community) was born in the Convent of Santa Maria del Giglio in Bolsena, Italy, resulting from the meeting of several women active in academic research and feminist organisations. The Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University in The Hague was responsible for organising the meeting in July 2016, which allowed to share research done and various practices motivated by a deep concern around the ecological crisis and global inequality. The exchange was oriented towards the preparation of an academic project aimed at supporting doctoral students from different parts of the world to investigate around topics associated with Feminist Political Ecology (FPE) and the care economy, transcending the logic of individual theses to work in a collective process that would reflect in practice the vision of transformation that guides the project. In January 2017 this one was presented to the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska – Curie research and innovation programme, which granted its support to the initiative. In 2018 it began to operate with 15 doctoral students, scholar-activists working in ten universities in Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom where the students are doing their PhDs, and ten partner institutions in Australia, India, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Uruguay and USA, which accompany the students in their field work with a role of training and secondments. 

In those exchanges that resulted in the creation of the network, there was not only a deep concern about the global crisis in its multiple dimensions, but also about the big picture response anchored in the very same processes and views that originated the current situation. That is, mainstream development policies and programs, even if under the name of Sustainable Development Goals, Green Economy and other denominations, aim at continuing with business as usual under a name that seems to be more caring for the environment but that only deepens the dominant practices and their negative impacts on life in its diversity. In response to this situation, a group of scholars and socially engaged women came together around two core ideas: the potential of transformation and innovation of Feminist Political Ecology and the need for another type of research that is based on epistemic justice and makes visible the knowledge and everyday strategies pioneered by ordinary people and communities. From there, the following objectives were agreed upon:

  • Establish a network of excellence around FPE that links researchers, communities and policy makers so as to have an impact in the environment and development policy arena and contribute to positive change for the communities involved in the research.
  • Support the emergence of a new generation of Early Stage Researchers in a societally relevant research platform.
  • Consolidate FPE as a key conceptual approach to resilience and sustainability by bringing fresh perspectives on gender to the policy space of environment and development opened by the SDG.

Feminist Political Ecology is at the centre of the work carried out by the network. As with other concepts, we could not present a single definition, nor does WEGO have a final agreement on what all of its members understand about this shared framework of analysis. The collective construction of the conceptualization about FPE is part of the challenge. Several ideas are part of this conceptualization and motivate the work of the network:

  • FPE looks at the dynamics of gender relations and how they determine ecological, technological, political and economic processes. It analyses how gender power relations shape resource access and control; the decision-making processes and socio-political forces that influence development and environmental policies; the way in which policy can take into account the complex layers that make up people’s relations to their environment; the culture- and knowledge- specific influences into sustainable practices; knowledge production related to nature (and processes by which some of these are made irrelevant by the dominant perspective); the relations between humans and non-humans; among other dimensions.
  • Feminist political ecology questions the simplification of adding women to statistical data and the narratives that present women as victims of environmental crisis. It highlights the engagement of women as political actors with the capacity to produce relevant knowledge, implement creative and sustainable ways to relate to nature, question power relations that reproduce gender inequalities in decisions about environmental policies. It looks at day to day experiences with a politically aware approach that promotes grounded and engaged research to understand and made visible political processes including the emotions and embodied reactions and responses of people and communities to economic, social and environmental change, in order to promote sustainable alternatives, resilience and wellbeing.
  • The structuring axis of FPE is relational, based on the recognition of the interconnectedness of all forms of life. While the dominant patriarchal mode of development is based on domination and exploitation (over bodies, cultures, nature), FPE promotes a transition based on the day to day practices of women, men, transgender, queer, non-binary and other subjectivities and their communities to sustain ecologically viable livelihoods. The shaping of these livelihoods takes place within the tension between autonomous and diverse imaginaries and the impositions of capitalist globalisation. 

In order to contribute towards this transition, WEGO set out to research around three main themes:  

  1. Climate Change, Economic Development and Extractivism

Under this theme, the research centres on community responses to climate change, neoliberal capitalism and extractivist development processes. The focus is on the daily social struggles in response to economic and ecological changes, and on the organisation of communities and their efforts to overcome situations of inequality, exclusion and poverty. Among the areas to be addressed are “the cultural dimensions of gender and the politics of transformation” that allow us to show how the new socio-material arrangements are shaped by and in turn shape new cultural repertoires, offering or imposing new cultural ways of being, relating and identifying. 

Although in each topic there is a diversity of subtopics that students investigate, the shared framework in this case includes the following concerns: connections that are shaped by new modalities and scales of governing the resources from regulation by national governments towards investment agreements, and from regional and national to international scales; forms of social mobilisation to defend water and food security, energy, livelihoods and demand fair labour conditions in new ways of articulating scales of governance and connecting people; nodes of connection and alliances across different spatial scales, looking not only at the material and socio-spatial elements of resource-reallocation and commodity production but also at histories of class- caste- and gender struggles. 

2. Commoning, Community economies and the politics of care

In this topic, the exploration focuses on identifying how different communities are producing new forms of resource management based on non-extractivist development practices as well as survival strategies based on community economic practices and the value of care and living well together. The focus of the various research projects will be on the emerging practices of communing, community economies and care from a gender perspective. 

The shared frame for this theme has to do with observing how communities are being more resilient and sustainable, for which some common observation points are: ‘commoning’ efforts to both promote the recovery of food security and their communities; care practices in interconnected spaces; subjectivities (masculinities and feminities) to create and enable a more inclusive community and commitment to place;  market rationalities in the shift to alternative ideas of sustainable livelihoods; entrepreneurial practices and resource management by community groups linking rural producers and urban consumers; political and ecological consequences of new value chains and how they intersect with notions of class, gender, religion (caste) and age. 

3. Nature/Culture, technologies and embodiment

This topic engages with the interdependence of bodies, ecologies and technologies in the studies of body politics and political ecology. The focus of this theme is on communities embodied experience of economic and ecological change and ways to think beyond assumed technological, scientific and social boundaries between nature and culture. 

Within the framework of this topic, the research transcends the conventional approach on nature that separates human beings from their environments, and aims to analyse how bodies, technologies and economies should be understood as an integral part of our material environment and of ecological practices and theory. Common aspects to be analyzed include: the concept of nature-culture and how to look at the interrelationship between humans and non-humans in the framework of changing ecologies and economies; the emerging narratives that can unmake and make new worlds as we reinvent and “turn” to new eco-criticism and new eco-politics; the interdependence of technologies, ecologies and bodies and their implication in political frameworks for sustainable development. 

 

WEGO in 2021 and beyond

The 15 research projects were proposed within the framework of these three major themes and in 2019 several of them began their field work. The global pandemic of COVID 19 had an impact on these projects and on the network as a whole, as it has happened massively throughout the world. WEGO’s work continued in 2020, primarily in virtual form. Some projects were reformulated, in some cases in dialogue with the communities and groups based in the different territories, in others remotely given the emergency that determined the return of several of the doctoral students to their places of study or prevented the development of field work. In spite of these difficulties, a Training Lab was organised in June 2020 for all WEGO members, where each of these projects was analysed and debated in depth, and thorough debates also took place around the very conceptualisation of feminist political ecology.  

Before and after the Training Lab, the students have been working among themselves and with the rest of the network around changes and tensions in relation to the projects: categorisations, concepts, emergence of questions linked to epistemic violence, privileges within the academy, situated knowledge and the role of Eurocentric institutions, research ethics and its relationship with a care perspective, among several other dimensions. The path travelled, the learnings and new questions, the exchanges inside and outside the network, generated interest in capturing this process and the exploration around Feminist Political Ecology in a publication. The idea is to work collectively towards the completion of the projects and, through this publication, contribute to generate a dialogue around FPE and its possible contributions towards a social, economic and ecological transition (transitions). Likewise, and as part of that process of contributing to the conceptualization of FPE and of strengthening networking and diversity, members of WEGO will contribute with articles and other inputs to be shared in this same space.

Invitation and open call for the 8th International Degrowth Conference

We invite you to participate in the 8th International Degrowth Conference “Caring Communities for Radical Change” that will take place in the Hague between 24-28 August 2021.

The Conference aims to connect activists, artists, academics, practitioners, students, and general public to create an open platform for discussing ideas and practices which can ensure wellbeing for all within the Earth’s limits.

You will find more information about the conference in our open call for participation in Dutch, French and English here.

For more information contact: info@degrowth.nl.

 

Degrowth is a movement and a research field that explores fundamental questions and proposes solutions confronting the roots of today’s crises: 

  • How do we confront the contradictions between (the pursuit of) endless economic growth and the ecological boundaries of our planet?
  • What kind of society would ensure a good life for all, without wealth and power being hoarded by the few?
  • How can we enable a just transition that halts over-extraction, over-production and over-consumption?

More on degrowth by WEGO-ITN partner prof. Dr. Wendy Harcourt

Los quince proyectos – e investigadores/as – que forman WEGO

WEGO-ITN apoya el surgimiento de una nueva generación de investigadores/as como parte de una plataforma de investigación relevante para la sociedad. Conozca aquí nuestros 15 proyectos.

Nr. 1: “Programas de adaptación al cambio climático y violencia política en Nepal” (Universidad de Oslo, Noruega) – Ankita Shrestha

El principal objetivo de este proyecto de investigación es examinar las percepciones de las personas sobre los cambios en el ambiente y en los recursos naturales en sus comunidades, así como analizar qué agencias estatales y no estatales toman decisiones, qué significa la gobernanza, quiénes participan y quiénes no. Se orienta a explicitar los roles de estos diversos agentes y de las comunidades en relación con la gobernanza de los recursos y a tratar de entender las políticas que informan estas decisiones en relación con el cambio climático en Nepal. 

Nr. 2: “Flores a lo largo de flujos de agua virtuales feministas: una etnografía de conexiones glocales que brotan en Maharastra, India” (Instituto de Investigación en Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Ámsterdam, Países Bajos) – Irene Leonardelli

La investigación se focaliza en floricultura y en las personas y los flujos de agua (reales y virtuales) que hacen parte de este tipo de agro-negocio. Desde una mirada anclada en la EPF, el proyecto se orienta a explorar cómo los procesos de reestructuración agraria y de reasignación del agua modifican la tenencia, las relaciones laborales, el consumo y las prácticas migratorias; también procura entender el mercado de las flores y el flujo virtual de agua que éste implica, analizando cómo se conectan personas y lugares lejanos geográficamente, partiendo desde Maharastra y más allá de los límites de India. 

Nr. 3: “La ecología política feminista en relación con la minería y el género y las identidades étnicas en Kalimantan Central, Indonesia” (Universidad de Passau, Alemania) – Siti Maimunah

A través de esta investigación se intenta observar la intersección de la transformación socio-ecológica y la transformación de identidades étnicas y de género en el proyecto IndoMet en Kalimantan, Indonesia. El foco está puesto en examinar cómo la minería afecta los procesos de formación, reproducción e instrumentalización identitarias en el contexto de una industria minera masculinizada. 

Nr. 4: “Relaciones de género cambiantes como consecuencia del cambio climático en comunidades pastoriles en el sur de Kenia” (Instituto de Estudios del Desarrollo, Universidad de Sussex, Reino Unido) – Eunice Wangari

El foco en esta investigación es explorar cómo respuestas con perspectiva de género frente al cambio y la variabilidad climática impactan a su vez en transformar las relaciones de género entre integrantes de la comunidad Masai en el sur de Kenia. Entre los aspectos a observar se destacan los diferentes conocimientos y experiencias entre mujeres y hombres en función del ejercicio de sus roles de género, y cómo estas especificidades son utilizadas en actividades no pastoriles que estas comunidades están implementando en respuesta al cambio climático. 

Nr. 5: “Fracking en el Reino Unido contemporáneo: fracturando paisajes, conocimiento y poder” (Universidad de Brighton, Reino Unido) – Alice Owen

La investigación se orienta a explorar las políticas del conocimiento asociadas al fracking y a la extracción no convencional de combustibles fósiles en el Reino Unido. En particular procura analizar las injusticias que la industria está trayendo a las comunidades, incluyendo las ambientales y climáticas así como las sociales y epistemológicas, y observar el tipo de respuestas resilientes, y en muchos casos exitosas, que se construyen por parte de activistas en las comunidades afectadas. 

Nr. 6: “Análisis con perspectiva de género del discurso sobre cuidado y granjas familiares en la producción de aceite de palma en Indonesia” (Universidad de Brighton, Reino Unido) – Dian Ekowati

El foco de esta investigación está en aplicar una mirada desde la EPF para analizar las perspectivas de cuidado y “commoning” en el contexto de las comunidades que trabajan en la producción de aceite de palma en Kalimantan Oeste, en Indonesia. 

Nr. 7: “Relaciones Alimentarias: economías comunitarias, pertenencia y comida local en la mega ciudad de Chennai, India” ” (Universidad de Passau, Alemania) – Enid Still

La investigación procura entender la evolución de los vínculos entre lo rural y lo urbano y la generación de nuevas relaciones humanidad-naturaleza desde una perspectiva anclada en la EPF, mapeando las nuevas cadenas de valor y sus consecuencias políticas y ecológicas. Asimismo observa la intersección de esas cadenas alimentarias con las nociones de casta, género, religión y edad.  

Nr. 8: “Las políticas del cuidado y la definición de una buena vida: economías comunitarias de alimentación de mujeres mayores en el Japón rural” (Universidad de Wageningen, Países Bajos) – Nanako Nakamura

En esta investigación se estudian las prácticas de mujeres mayores en la zona de Shimanto, prefectura de Kochi en Japón, analizando la relación entre los cambios en su subjetividad y su interacción con el entorno humano y natural. En un espacio geográfico caracterizado por la ocurrencia frecuente de desastres naturales, envejecimiento y reducción de la población, el foco de análisis está puesto en el involucramiento de las mujeres mayores en iniciativas productivas locales que procuran revitalizar la comunidad, lo que permite analizar nuevas perspectivas del significado sobre vivir bien desde una práctica encarnada y comunitaria, a partir de una mirada de la EPF sobre la cotidianeidad, las relaciones de interdependencia, tanto entre las personas participantes como con la comunidad y la naturaleza. 

Imagen: Ana Agostino

Nr. 9: “Transformación de comunidades pesqueras de pequeña escala” (Universidad de Oslo, Noruega) – Eoin Farrelly

El foco de esta investigación es analizar los procesos de transformación de las comunidades pesqueras de pequeña escala en Escocia e Irlanda resultantes de la crisis global de este tipo de pesca. En particular el foco está en las respuestas de las comunidades de pescadores a los desafíos sociales, económicos, políticos y ambientales que están enfrentando, analizando conceptos de bienestar, ecología y comunidad desde la perspectiva de los actores locales, dado el impacto de las operaciones de gran escala internacional que afectan las comunidades costeras y su realidad cotidiana. 

Nr. 10: “Las políticas de la alimentación en contextos urbanos del sur de Europa” (Universidad Libre de Berlín, Alemania) – Marlene Gómez

Este proyecto se orienta a realizar un estudio comparativo de prácticas alimentarias alternativas y participación ciudadana. Entre otros aspectos a analizar está la división sexual del trabajo, el involucramiento de estas iniciativas de “comida” con la agricultura comunitaria, el interrogante sobre si estas prácticas se constituyen o no en plataformas de articulación política, si otorgan o no espacio para manifestar preocupaciones vinculadas con violencia, pobreza, marginación o racismo en tanto fenómenos cotidianos que experimentan varios/as de los usuarios/as y agentes de estas iniciativas, y si habilitan procesos que permitan superar esos fenómenos en el marco  de una concepción de cuidado, siendo ésta una de las categorías de análisis junto con la EPF. 

Nr. 11 : “Organizaciones de mujeres en paisajes económicos de género en la Italia rural” (Fundación Pangea, Italia) – Anna Katharina Voss

La investigación se focaliza en las intersecciones de agroecología, feminismo y prácticas comunitarias en Italia, a partir de una mirada militante/académica sobre iniciativas de base y de redes que procuran generar una contra-narrativa de resistencia a la expansión de los monocultivos industriales, mediante la defensa de la tierra como un bien común y de prácticas de economía social comunitaria desarrolladas en espacios rurales y urbanos y en su confluencia. 

Nr. 12: “La ciudad y el común: la tarea de la reproducción social en el marco de las luchas feministas y por la justicia ambiental, hacia una vida urbana emancipatoria post-crecimiento” (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, España) – Ilenia Iengo

Se trata de una investigación sobre las luchas de base por una buena vida y una sociedad post-crecimiento en el contexto urbano del sur de Europa, específicamente en la ciudad de Nápoles, Italia, desde una perspectiva de la Ecología Política Feminista Urbana. El foco está en dos experiencias concretas del común, analizadas en función de una perspectiva que integra la EPF, la justicia ambiental y la teoría de la reproducción social, analizando cómo las comunidades construyen contra relatos y prácticas ante las vivencias de miedo, sexismo, injusticia ambiental, xenofobia y austeridad neoliberal, experimentando estrategias emancipatorias e incluyentes para reclamar el derecho a la ciudad. 

Nr. 13: “Relaciones de mujeres y hombres con la naturaleza, vistas a través de las políticas del agua” (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona) – Nick Bourguignon

La investigación se orienta a entender la naturaleza/cultura del agua, analizando los complejos entrecruzamientos de factores sociales, culturales y económicos que impactan en la gobernanza del agua, y cómo estos factores se relacionan con la movilización política que reacciona y disputa diversos procesos eco-sociales. Específicamente, la investigación explora el uso, los derechos y la gobernanza del agua desde la perspectiva de la EPF y las políticas del cuerpo a través de un estudio de caso en el sureste de España. 

Nr. 14: “Cuerpos, tecnologías y bienestar: ecología política feminista del envejecimiento” (Instituto Internacional de Estudios Sociales, Universidad Erasmus, Países Bajos) – Constance Dupuis

Esta investigación procura responder una serie de preguntas en torno a cómo entender la vejez y el envejecimiento más allá de los discursos dominantes del “envejecimiento exitoso”, cómo incorporar perspectivas que no construyan la vejez como una etapa de la vida que necesariamente necesita intervención. Estas preguntas se formulan desde la intersección entre el bienestar generacional y el bienestar ambiental aplicando una mirada anclada en la EPF y en el cuidado, con foco en la agencia de las personas mayores y de sus organizaciones. Los estudios de caso se nutren de experiencias en Uruguay y Canadá. 

Nr. 15: “Conflicto y emociones en los debates sobre población entre activistas y académicos/as” (Instituto Internacional de Estudios Sociales, Universidad Erasmus, Países Bajos) – Milja Fenger

El propósito central de esta investigación es explorar el rol de las emociones y el conflicto en los debates sobre control poblacional desde la mitad de la década de los 90 en adelante. Concretamente se propone analizar los modos en que las discusiones entre representantes de la academia y activistas progresistas de izquierda que concuerdan (o discrepan) con la necesidad de políticas poblacionales, se tornan tensos e incluso agresivos. Si bien se trata de una investigación fundamentalmente de escritorio, las entrevistas y grupos de discusión previstas tienen base en los Países Bajos. 

La Red Global WEGO y la ecología política feminista

La Red WEGO nació en el Convento Santa María del Giglio en Bolsena, Italia, a partir del encuentro de varias mujeres activas en investigación académica y en organizaciones feministas. El Instituto de Estudios Sociales de la Universidad Erasmus en La Haya fue el responsable de la convocatoria en julio de 2016 que permitió poner en común  investigaciones y prácticas diversas motivadas por la preocupación en torno a la crisis ecológica y de desigualdad global. El intercambio se orientó a la preparación de un proyecto académico que permitiera apoyar a estudiantes de doctorado de diversas partes del mundo para que investigaran en torno a temáticas asociadas a la Ecología Política Feminista (EPF) y la economía del cuidado trascendiendo la lógica de tesis individuales para trabajar en un proceso colectivo que reflejara en la práctica la visión de transformación que guía el proyecto. 

Este recibió el nombre de WEGO (por sus siglas en inglés), que significa “Bienestar, Ecología, Género y Comunidad”. En enero de 2017 se presentó ante el programa de la Comisión Europea de Capacitación e Innovación “Marie Skldowska Curie European Training Network”, la que dio su apoyo a la iniciativa. En 2018 comenzó a funcionar con 15 estudiantes de doctorado, diez universidades en su rol académico de promoción de dichos doctorados (en Alemania, España, Italia, Noruega, Países Bajos y el Reino Unido), así como instituciones asociadas dispuestas a acompañar a los y las estudiantes en su trabajo de campo (en Australia, Estados Unidos, India, Indonesia, Italia, Nueva Zelanda, Portugal y Uruguay). 

En esos intercambios que resultaron en la creación de la red estuvo presente no solo la profunda preocupación por la crisis global en sus múltiples dimensiones, sino también por la respuesta dominante anclada en los mismos procesos y puntos de vista que originaron la presente situación. Es decir, la permanente reiteración de políticas y programas de desarrollo convencionales que incluso cuando en sus denominaciones parecen orientarse a promover modelos más sustentables (Economía Verde, Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible, etc.), no hacen más que profundizar las prácticas dominantes y sus impactos negativos en la Vida en su diversidad.  Ante esta situación, este grupo de mujeres académicas y socialmente comprometidas se unieron en torno a dos ideas principales: el potencial de transformación e innovación de la Ecología Política Feminista, y la necesidad de otro tipo de investigación que se sustente en la justicia epistémica y visibilice el conocimiento y las estrategias cotidianas de diversas personas y comunidades.

A partir de allí se acordaron los siguientes objetivos:

  • Establecer una red de excelencia en torno a la EPF que vincule a investigadores/as, comunidades y hacedores/as de política con el fin de tener un impacto en el ámbito de las políticas ambientales y de desarrollo y contribuir a un cambio positivo para las comunidades involucradas en los procesos de investigación.
  • Apoyar el surgimiento de una nueva generación de investigadores/as como parte de una plataforma de investigación relevante para la sociedad.
  • Consolidar la EPF como un enfoque conceptual clave para la resiliencia y la sostenibilidad, aportando nuevas perspectivas sobre género al espacio de políticas abierto por los ODS en relación con medio ambiente y desarrollo. 

La Ecología Política Feminista está en el centro del trabajo que lleva adelante la red. Como ocurre con otros conceptos, no podríamos presentar una única definición ni tampoco WEGO cuenta con un acuerdo finalizado sobre qué entiende el conjunto de sus integrantes sobre ese marco de análisis compartido. La construcción colectiva de la conceptualización sobre EPF es parte del desafío. Varias ideas hacen parte de esta conceptualización y motivan el trabajo de la red:

La EPF se interesa por la dinámica de las relaciones de género y cómo determinan los procesos ecológicos, tecnológicos, políticos y económicos, cómo dan forma al acceso y control de recursos; analiza los procesos de toma de decisiones y las fuerzas sociopolíticas que influyen en las políticas ambientales y de desarrollo; la forma en que las políticas pueden tener en cuenta las complejas capas que conforman las relaciones de las personas con su entorno; las influencias específicas de la cultura y el conocimiento en las prácticas sostenibles; la producción de conocimiento relacionado con la naturaleza y cómo algunos de estos conocimientos son ignorados por la perspectiva dominante; las relaciones entre humanos y no humanos, entre otras dimensiones. 

La EPF también cuestiona la simplificación de agregar mujeres a los datos estadísticos y las narrativas que presentan a las mujeres como víctimas de la crisis ambiental. Destaca el compromiso de las mujeres y su rol político con capacidad para producir conocimientos relevantes, implementar formas creativas y sostenibles de relacionarse con la naturaleza, cuestionar las relaciones de poder que reproducen las desigualdades de género en las decisiones sobre políticas ambientales; analiza las experiencias del día a día en función de un tipo de investigación que permita entender y hacer visibles los procesos políticos, incluidas las emociones y las respuestas desde lo corporal, que están dando personas y comunidades al cambio económico, social y ambiental con el fin de promover alternativas sustentables, resiliencia y bienestar. 

Manifestación para el 25 de noviembre en Uruguay, día Internacional de la Eliminación de la Violencia contra la Mujer. Imagen: Ana Agostino

El eje estructurante de la EPF es el relacional, a partir del reconocimiento de la interconexión de toda la vida, entre personas, comunidades, con la naturaleza, con los no humanos. Mientras el modo de desarrollo patriarcal dominante se basa en la dominación y la explotación (sobre los cuerpos, las culturas, la naturaleza), la EPF promueve una transición basada en las prácticas cotidianas de mujeres, hombres, personas trans, queer, no-binarias y otras subjetividades, para mantener medios de vida ecológicamente viables. La conformación de estos medios de vida se da dentro de la tensión entre imaginarios autónomos y diversos y las imposiciones de la globalización capitalista. 

Con el fin de aportar hacia esta transición, WEGO se planteó investigar en torno a tres grandes temas: 

  • Cambio climático, desarrollo económico y extractivismo

Bajo este tema la investigación se centra en las respuestas comunitarias al cambio climático, el capitalismo neoliberal y los procesos de desarrollo extractivista. El foco está en las luchas sociales cotidianas en respuesta a los cambios económicos y ecológicos, y en la organización de las comunidades y sus esfuerzos para superar situaciones de inequidad, exclusión y pobreza. Entre las áreas a abordar se encuentran “las dimensiones culturales de género y las políticas de transformación” que permitan mostrar cómo los nuevos arreglos socio-materiales son moldeados por y a su vez moldean nuevas formas culturales. 

Si bien en cada tema hay una diversidad de subtemas que los y las estudiantes investigan, el marco compartido en este caso incluye las siguientes preocupaciones: tipo de gobernanza de los recursos naturales por parte de gobiernos nacionales e internacionales y empresas privadas; formas de movilización comunitaria para defender la seguridad hídrica y alimentaria, la energía y los medios de subsistencia y para exigir condiciones laborales justas; alianzas que estén formando las comunidades prestando atención a procesos de reasignación de recursos culturales, sociales y económicos desde una perspectiva de género. 

  • Común, economías comunitarias y políticas del cuidado

En este tema la exploración se centra en identificar cómo distintas comunidades están produciendo nuevas formas de manejo de recursos basadas en prácticas de desarrollo no extractivistas, así como estrategias de supervivencia que se basan en prácticas económicas comunitarias y en el valor del cuidado y la convivencia. Los diversos proyectos de investigación se orientan a conocer las prácticas emergentes de las economías comunitarias y de cuidado desde una perspectiva de género. 

El marco compartido para esta temática se orienta a observar cómo las comunidades están siendo más resilientes y sustentables, para lo cual algunos focos comunes de observación son: lo común y la seguridad alimentaria; prácticas de cuidado en espacios interconectados; subjetividades (masculinidades y feminidades) para crear y posibilitar una comunidad más inclusiva y comprometida con el lugar; las racionalidades del mercado y su relación con ideas alternativas para medios de vida sustentables; prácticas empresariales y gestión de recursos por parte de grupos comunitarios que vinculan a productores/as rurales y consumidores/as urbanos/as; consecuencias políticas y ecológicas de las nuevas cadenas de valor y cómo se cruzan con las nociones de clase, género, religión, casta y edad. 

  • Naturaleza/Cultura, Tecnologías y “Embodiment” (Encarnación)

Este tema interroga la interdependencia de cuerpos, ecologías y tecnologías en los estudios de política corporal y ecología política. La atención se centra en la experiencia corporal del cambio económico y ecológico y en las formas de pensar más allá de los supuestos límites tecnológicos, científicos y sociales entre la naturaleza y la cultura. 

En el marco de este tema la investigación trasciende el enfoque convencional sobre la naturaleza que separa a los seres humanos de sus entornos, y se propone analizar cómo los cuerpos, las tecnologías y las economías deben ser entendidos como parte integral de nuestro entorno material y de la práctica y la teoría ecológica. Los aspectos comunes a analizar incluyen: el concepto de naturalezacultura y cómo mirar la interrelación entre humanos y no humanos en el marco de ecologías y economías cambiantes; las narrativas emergentes que pueden deshacer y hacer nuevos mundos en un “giro” hacia una nueva eco-crítica y una nueva eco-política; la interdependencia de tecnologías, ecologías y cuerpos y su implicancia en los marcos políticos para el desarrollo sostenible. 

“Una vida saludable es una vida sin violencia”, Montevideo. Imagen: Ana Agostino
WEGO en 2020, 2021 y hacia adelante

Los 15 proyectos de investigación fueron planteados en el marco de estos tres grandes temas y en 2019 varios de ellos comenzaron su trabajo de campo. La pandemia global de COVID 19 tuvo un impacto en estas investigaciones y en la red en su conjunto, como ha ocurrido masivamente en el mundo entero. A lo largo de 2020 WEGO ha continuado trabajando, fundamentalmente en forma virtual. Algunos proyectos se reformularon, en algunos casos en diálogo con las comunidades y grupos asentados en los territorios, en otros también de manera remota dada la emergencia que determinó el regreso de varios/as de los y las doctorantes a sus lugares de estudio o impidió el desarrollo del trabajo de campo. A pesar de estas dificultades, en el mes de junio se organizó el encuentro de capacitación de todos/as sus integrantes, donde cada uno de estos proyectos fue analizado y debatido en profundidad, y la propia conceptualización de la ecología política feminista estuvo en debate. 

Antes y después del encuentro, tanto los y las estudiantes entre sí como en relación con el resto de la red fueron trabajando en torno a cambios y tensiones alrededor de los proyectos: categorizaciones, concepciones, emergencia de cuestionamientos vinculados a violencia epistémica, privilegios dentro de la academia, conocimiento situado y rol de las instituciones eurocentradas, ética de la investigación y su relación con una perspectiva de cuidado, entre varias otras dimensiones. El camino recorrido, los aprendizajes y las nuevas preguntas, el intercambio hacia adentro y hacia afuera de la red, generaron el interés en plasmar este proceso y la exploración en torno a la Ecología Política Feminista en una publicación. La idea es trabajar colectivamente hacia la culminación de los proyectos y dejar abierto, a través de esa publicación, el diálogo en torno a la EPF y su posible aporte hacia una transición (transiciones) social, económica y ecológica. Asimismo, y como parte de ese proceso de ir aportando a la conceptualización de la EPF pero también del trabajo en red desde la diversidad, se irán generando artículos y contribuciones por parte de diversos integrantes de WEGO que se compartirán en este mismo espacio. 

Conozca nuestros 15 proyectos aquí.

 

Meet Aleta Baun: Indonesian environmental activist, politician, weaver

Aleta Baun. Photo credit: Eva Tobing - Organizational documentary for Cipta Media Ekspresi (Wikimedia) on Mario Vitoria's drawing, for Teachers of the World: Courage and Wisdom.

WEGO researcher Siti Maimunah and Tessa Toumbourou published an article on Teachers of the World: Courage and Wisdom,  an ALICE Project initiative, that highlights the lives and voices of women and men – activists, academics, intellectuals, artists or writers – who stood out in the fight against different forms of oppression, building paths of social, cognitive and sexual justice. Here is their piece about Aleta Baun, Indonesian environmental activist, parliamentarian and weaver.

Aleta Baun

Aleta Baun successfully led a citizens’ movement for over a decade, working to prevent four large marble mining companies from destroying the land and forests of her sacred homeland on the western part of the island of Timor, Indonesia. In 2006 she brought together 150 women from surrounding villages to peacefully protest while weaving cloth – the traditional craft of the Mollo people. After a year of non-violent occupation, the mine was abandoned and the sacred area protected. Aleta, known as Mama Aleta in her community, is now a parliamentarian representing her community against the impacts of extractives industries. By supporting women to take leadership roles and use creative protest techniques that reinvigorated traditional cultural practices, Aleta’s accomplishments extend further than just preventing mining destroying her communities’ environment to also improving gender equity, governance structures and economic development in her region. Aleta’s work offers inspiration for what indigenous rights’ and environment movements can achieve with passion, creativity and persistence.

Forest lifeblood

Home for Aleta is the Mollo region, at the foot of Mutis mountain range on the western half of the island of Timor. The area is known for being green and fertile, distinct from the otherwise dry province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). As well as being spiritually significant for the Mollo people, the community indigenous to the region, Mutis mountain range is also an important watershed for the Timor island. The mountains are made of porous marble towers, which allow water to permeate and drip down to follow the roots of vegetation, forming wellsprings at the base of the rock. The name Mutis, meaning ‘the flow of water’, is indicative of the function of the mountains. Thirteen rivers flow from the mountain to supply drinking and irrigation water for much of West Timor.

The Mollo people rely on forest resources for their livelihood needs, including food and medicinal products. Soil is considered to be the source of life, and the crops that grow in the rich mountain soil the embodiment of their ancestors. Natural dye is collected from forest plants, to use in their traditional weaving—a skill that women in these villages have crafted for generations. The Mollo people have a strong spiritual connection to their environment, and are believed to have occupied the land around the mountain range for more than 13,000 years. They consider the soil, water, stone and trees intrinsic to their own selves. For the Mollo people, land is symbolic of flesh, water as blood, stone as bones and forests as veins and hair. Aleta explains this relationship as fundamental to the identity of a Mollo person:

– If we are separated from any one of these natural elements, or if any one of the elements are destroyed, we start to die and lose our identity. So, we find it very important to protect the land.

To read the complete article, click here.

 

Thinking through the relations between feminist political ecology, degrowth, commoning and post-development

The Lalang river, in Indonesia, is a common property for the Murung people – almost all Murung activities happens on or around the river. However, catching fish has become more difficult for the Murung women when extractive projects such as coal mines operate in the region. Photo credit: Siti Maimunah.

 

In July this year, four of us (Nanako, Mai, Martina and Enid)  came together online to present our work and bring a feminist political ecology perspective to debates and discussions happening at the IASC-RIHN Online Workshop On Commons, Post-Development and Degrowth in Asia.  This is what we presented – and learned.

With issues of commons and commoning, the more-than-human and care, all featuring in our PhD work, we were keen to learn about the diverse meanings of the commons, their intersecting power dynamics and transformative potential in the context of Asia. For instance, what similarities and differences are shared among commons studies in Asia? Do they go beyond hegemonic formulations introduced by Western concepts, which are often carefully attended to by Asian scholars and in Asian studies? Indeed, using exogenous terms and concepts entails challenges in terms of linguistic and epistemological incompatibility. So why is it necessary to translate locally embedded terms? Nanako touched upon this challenge through questioning the necessity of linguistic and semantic translations in relation to aging, a universal concern, and the specificity of Japanese rural communities and the associated traditional landscape or Satoyama. 

Mai brought the topic of extractivism to the workshop, through the example from her fieldwork where indigenous communities who depend on rivers in Central Kalimantan to sustain their livelihood have experienced the spatial reorganisation of communal forests and agricultural lands, which are being converted into coal mining areas to pursue economic growth. She was interested in questions such as, how do experiences of extractivism relate to commoning practices? Do principles of degrowth support the struggles of people affected by extractivist projects?

This workshop therefore offered us an opportunity to learn and think with others about different commoning practices happening in Asia, and also tackle difficult, often uncomfortable questions about how they are being represented and narrated in degrowth and post-development scholarship. These tensions and our interest in confronting them were further articulated through Enid’s presentation of the idea that a just Degrowth is a Decolonial Feminist Degrowth. The plurality of thinking and praxis around Degrowth, the commons and post development, we found, like feminisms, are infused with constructive tensions and contestation.

We were particularly inspired by the way that the studies presented at the workshop embraced and enriched the practice of working, thinking and researching with situated knowledges. Among the many inspiring presentations, discussions and debates happening both on zoom and the online conference platform, Slack, there were, two presentations that resonated with us: “Gradual Stiffening through Making-Do: A Method of Hope for Degrowthing Shared Public Spaces” by Chris Berthelsen, Xin Cheng, Rumen Rachev and “Covid-19, Common, and Life within Society: Indonesian Case” by Nur Dhani Hendranastiti. 

The former presentation was on the possibilities of collective hope in urban commons and commoning practices. Beyond visions of urban commons as fixed urban spaces, they suggest a re-orientation of notions of property and shared urban spaces and places, that are lived through a method of collective hope, thinking and operating beyond the human, and which is made and remade through the opening up of possibilities which can only exist in ambiguity and uncertainty. Related to this, earlier work by Xin Cheng and Chris Berthelsen explored how small co-habitations might work on a larger community scale through the below ‘hallucination.’ Their collaborations in themselves are inspiring to think through the multiple practices of knowledge co-production in relation to shared spaces and commoning practices – especially in their attentiveness to their more-than-human fellows! You can see more work by Xin Cheng on reframing urban socialities in Hamburg here and read her book on co-producing ‘human(e) shared spaces’ here.

The second presentation by Nur Dhani Hendranastiti, explored the correlations between Islamic ethical principles and degrowth principles. Ethical principles such as Amanah (trust), Adalah (social justice) and Ihsan (equilibrium through distribution) were at the core of the agricultural-financial system that supported farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia. Decentering capital, the system privileges multiple stakeholder equality, including non-humans. Ecological economics and degrowth thinking often refers to ethical principles from Buddhism, (often drawing on the work of Schumacher) but rarely other religions. Whilst the financial system described still worked within the confines of a capitalist system and norms of individual property ownership, Nur Dhani Hendranastiti challenged us to think beyond what may have become dominant narratives about the ethical principles that guide degrowth.

Through the full but enjoyable three days of presentations, discussions and online chats, we were able to connect to a variety of different scholars and artists who helped us to develop a deeper understanding of the debates and practices on commoning, degrowth and post-development in Asia. In that learning and interacting process, we were commoning our knowledge, re-imagining a world full of plurality. Through our own collaborative presentation, we introduced the different issues, concerns, activisms, communities and theoretical frames we are working with and offered a brief intervention from a feminist political ecology perspective on some of the key theory and ideas coming from degrowth, post-development and commons scholarship. The diversity of perspectives made visible at this workshop demonstrated the dynamism of these intersecting disciplines and practices, and created a hopeful and careful space to remain curious in these challenging times.