Our researchers Marlene Gómez Becerra and Eunice Muneri-Wangari published a paper on “Frontiers in Human Dynamics”: Practices of Care in Times of COVID-19. They also explained how this publication came into being:
“We saw in this health crisis the ideal scenario for rethinking and listening to other forms of life and to recognize diverse practices of care that can work as a vehicle of social change. Questioning these practices motivated us to write this paper”
We argue that the COVID-19 virus has been a trigger for emerging practices of care by being an actor with agency that transforms the everyday life of subjects by placing them under uncertainty. Therefore, this paper aims to show how practices of care emerged or were maintained as vulnerable groups were confronted by restrictions to movement and uncertainties following the outbreak of COVID-19. We demonstrate this using two case studies of the Maasai pastoral community in Narok, Kenya and the community kitchens in the city of Berlin, Germany. Thus, we seek to show how practices of care for, care about, and care with are carried out by the members of these communities during pandemic times. Granted that care remains highly contentious in feminist literature, this paper contributes to a growing body of literature on care in Feminist Political Ecology by broadening the conceptualization of care. The research builds on a typology of care relations based on practices of distribution, exchange, and reciprocity. This allows us to show when care is exercised in a unidirectional and hierarchical way and when in a multidirectional way reinforcing social bonds of responsibility and collective care that transcends the socio-nature boundaries.
The article is Open Access and you can read the full paper here.
Caring for climate, caring for earth and caring for people should be at the centre of economic value, not at the margins. What is required is to build caring communities for change based on solidarity economies. Such economies would value care work in all areas of live with the creation of new job sectors and climate-friendly livelihoods which challenge the gendered composition of today’s neoliberal, androcentric and capitalocentric economy.
In her lecture, Professor Wendy Harcourt will discuss how different notions of care from feminist political ecology, feminist economy and feminist degrowth profoundly challenge the neoliberal capitalist focus on growth, the free market and technological efficiency and the inadequate lip service paid to notions of gender, empowerment and inclusion.
Giovanna Di Chiro, Professor of Environmental Studies at Swarthmore College and WEGO-ITN partner, spoke on April 29th on an ISS’ Development Research Seminar. She discussed approaches to community-based research and pedagogy that integrate abolition feminisms and anti/de-colonial and environmental justice activism.
It this seminar, Prof. Di Chiro proposed imagining and practicing more just and care-based forms of ‘sustainability’ in the face of the growing, and interconnected crises of poverty, dispossession and climate disruption. She was introduced by WEGO-ITN’s coordinator, Prof. Wendy Harcourt.
This poem was originally published hereas part of ‘Care as Method’ workshop, organised by University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
Care without time
Shown disfigured through old glass
The kind that greens over time
It shudders through bodies, places
Care for a shared body
Of love that knows only curiosity
When fear and uncertainty paint the surrounding trees
Making the forest inaudible to the touch
The violence of caring moves
Beyond harms way
Flowing through old, gnarled and tangled roots of intimacy
Known and unknown
Smelling of grassy, mossy interdependency
About the poem
I started to write a short essay for this workshop but found that my words couldn’t express the tensions I felt about my research, particularly the entanglement of care and time, and the contradictions inherent to caring relations. This poem is therefore about my attempt to think through the ethics and politics of care in relation to my research methodologies specifically. Through the poem I tried to untangle my thoughts through evoking different senses, to feel rather than (only) think with care. I try to depict my anxieties around what it means to care in research that is time-bound – limited to timescales, funding limitations, and often shaped by institutional ethical frameworks, which do not always produce ethical relations in situated research encounters. I try to speak to the care of shared labours, spaces and knowledges as liberating, stimulating but also extractive and oppressive. The quick shift to ‘fear and uncertainty’ in the poem, tries to emulate that sense of how unseen such inequalities and unevenness can be, often only revealed in intimate moments. I try to visualise these relations between care, violence and intimacy which occupy my thoughts.
Originally planned to take place in Bolsena, Italy, at WEGO-ITN’s partner Punti di Vista, last year’s Second Training Lab was adapted into an on-line event, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. All meetings, lectures, workshops and plenaries happened between June 10th-18th 2020.
All encounters and discussions were recorded and are now also available in videos produced by the group. The editing was a collaborative project by WEGO PhD’s Marlene Gómez, Dian Ekowati, Enid Still and Anna Katharina Voss, together with film maker John Akerman.
Videos include a keynote lecture by Prof. Dr. Katherine Gibson, from the Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University, and the Community Economies Research Network (CERN) – plus discussions between WEGO members about the meanings of Feminist Political Ecology and care. Finally, 3 videos depict mini lectures on PhD’s research projects.
WEGO-ITN’s partners and researchers have gathered to produce this video, as to prepare for the Feminist Political Ecology Key Conversation, a series of pre-event online discussions building up to workshops and a plenary at the 8th International Degrowth Conference, that will take place in the Hague between 24-28 August 2021.
The conversations will explore feminisms, relations of care and well-being, with a focus on the following: How can we understand care as central within degrowth and at the core of our economies and societies? In what way can economies be rearranged in terms of provisioning that care, taking into account health, aging and ability, whilst degrowing? How can we change our relations of care among humans and more-than-human beings so that future societies are just for all living beings? How can we think about degrowth in relation to Covid19 and avoid essentializing nature when talking about these relations?
“In May 2011, Zé Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo, nut collectors and members of the agroforestry project (Projeto Agro-Extractivista, PAE) of Praialta Piranheira in the Brazilian Amazon, were brutally murdered as a consequence of their engagement in protecting the forest from illegal logging and timber trafficking (Milanez, 2015). Making a living from a non-exploitative and regenerative relationship with the forest, and passionate about the defence of the rights of both Amazonia and its people, Maria and Zé Claudio’s deaths are among the number of earth defenders whose lives are being taken, year after year, for opposing the infinite expansion of global economic growth (Global Witness, 2017; Martínez-Alier, 2002). But their lives and labour belongto an even wider class, which Ariel Salleh (2010) has called the global meta-industrial labour class, made up of those less-than-humanized (racialized, feminized, dispossessed) subjects who reproduce humanity by taking care of the biophysical environment that makes life itself possible. I call them the forces of reproduction: they keep the world alive, yet their environmental agency goes largely unrecognized in mainstream narratives of that epoch of catastrophic earth-system changes that scientists have called the Anthropocene.”
“This book is a provocation. I want to challenge the so-called ‘master’s narrative’ on climate, the ‘green economy’ discourse, which is consistent with neoliberal practice and which sees nature as an investment opportunity”, said Prof. Barca at the seminar. “Zé Claudia and Maria are part of the non-hegemonic view. They are not victims of economic growth, they are agents of a counter-hegemonic power, in a ecofeminist sense.”
In the second part of the book, Prof. Barca also highlighted how the hegemonic view of the Anthropocene denied the possibility of existing different versions of modernity, by denying colonial relations, sex and gender relations, class relations and interspecies relations in their narratives.
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.
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 Collectivedoes not subside to promote activism and cultivate feminist literacy.
The Ruang Baca Puan Collectivewas 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 Collectivedo? Visit our website on www.pejuangtanahair.org
The International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS/EUR) is inviting applications for the Prince Claus Chair (PCC) of Equity and Development 2021-23 with the theme:
‘Putting care at the center of equity and development: challenges for gender aware economies based on an ethics of care for people and the environment’.
The Prince Claus Chair
The Prince Claus Chair in Equity and Developmentis a rotating professorship in the field of Equity and Development. The chair was established jointly by two Dutch institutions, Utrecht University (UU) and the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) in honour of Prince Claus of the Netherlands (1926-2002): http://princeclauschair.nl/. The Chair is intended for a young academic from the Global South.
The chair is ‘honorary’ (0.0 fte) and rotates annually between these two establishments and the term has a duration of two years. The Chair holds the post for two academic years (2021-23) and remains embedded in her/his own institution while undertaking residential periods to participate in an agreed programme of activities in The Netherlands in line with the PCC Vision document (link). The residential periods will be for a minimum of 6 months over two years and all costs associated with travel, living expenses and accommodation in The Netherlands will be covered.
The International Institute of Social Studies
The PCC 2021-23 will be based at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS/EUR: https://www.iss.nl/en). The ISS is an international post graduate research and teaching institute based in The Hague, which brings together people, ideas and insights from around the world in a multi-disciplinary setting which nurtures, fosters and promotes critical thinking and innovative research on fundamental social problems. Through its teaching and research, ISS has strong partnerships with organizations and individuals in the Global South and a vibrant network which ensures that teaching and research remain socially relevant.
The PCC 2021-23
For the PCC 2021-23, ISS is looking for a socially committed researcher who is deeply engaged in our world’s rapidly changing economic, ecological and technological environments. The candidate selected will be a researcher from the Global South, who is undertaking cutting edge multidisciplinary research and who, in addition, is engaged with communities in both within the academic world and outside of it. The position is intended for an up-and-coming scholar who would benefit from being a PCC in order to further her or his own research, engage in teaching where requested, and to contribute to the public debate reflecting specifically on the Covid-19 pandemic on ways to put in place equitable care at the centre of economies.
The PCC chair will work with the ISS in the partnership with Wageningen University to develop the research programme and will be embedded in a number of key global networks – The Well-being, Ecology, Gender and community (WEGO); The Community Economies Research Network (CERN); The Revaluing Care in the Global Economy; Political Ecology Network (POLLEN; The International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) and The Degrowth R&D– to select case studies to be undertaken with communities which have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic in innovative and exciting ways, and to contribute societally relevant and policy-relevant papers.
The research will explore care and responsibility at the intersection of feminist political ecology and economy looking at community economies and the careful-work in communities for humans and the more-than-human and how care is centred in current economic policy, based on principles of equity, diversity and gender justice. Any teaching or public engagements will relate to the expertise of the candidate. They will be undertaken closely and collaboratively and in the context of ISS interests and engagement in equity and development. For more background on how the research is positioned and designed see here: PCC Final background paper
The ideal candidate has a strong research profile that is able to combine fields that take care as central to their enquiry such as: public health, gender and labour studies, feminist economics, social policy, reproductive rights and health, and environmental justice and the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition, candidates will:
be from or based in the Global South
have a PhD (obtained in the last 15 years) and good academic track record;
be fluent in English;
be based in an academic institution and/or research network that has strong societal relevance and impact in the area of gender and care;
be able to participate and help to strengthen research networks linked to ISS, Wageningen and other institutions in The Netherlands and internationally;
be able to engage in post graduate teaching public debate when requested; and
be available to be in the NL for 3 months per year of the appointment in at least two periods.
The International Institute of Social Studies is committed to building and sustaining a community based on inclusiveness, equity and diversity and believes this will contribute to our mission and vision of being the best institute in our field. ISS is an equal opportunities employer and encourages applications from candidates of all genders, ethnicities and nationalities. Given the current composition of the ISS academic staff and priorities relating to staff diversity, the Institute has a preference for applicants originating from the Global South and also encourages applications from minority candidates.
Please submit the following documents in one PDF file to Azza Elias Botrus: firstname.lastname@example.org:
a motivation letter (maximum 4 pages) which includes a description of areas you would like to focus on in the PCC;
a detailed CV which provides information on your publications, grants, teaching activities and teaching evaluations, societally relevant activities; and
contact details of three referees.
Please do not send letters of reference or examples of your academic writing.
Deadline for submitting your application is 1 September. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for a skype interview in the period 14-22 September 2020
For additional information:
On the PCC 2021-23 position please contact: Professor Wendy Harcourt: email@example.com
Wendy Harcourt, Anna Katharina Voss and ISS MA graduate Rosa de Nooijer invite you to the presentation of our paper ‘Relations of Care: Ethics and Food Production in Europe’ at the upcoming Degrowth Vienna 2020 conference. In our presentation we explore how Covid-19 is redrawing our understanding of social reproduction and how care is part of the embodied labour of women and men engaging in alternative food production in rural landscapes in Italy and in the reclaimed territory of the Flevopolder in The Netherlands. We will give our talk at the panel ‘Territories, Resources and Care Work. Feminist Perspectives on Transformation’, convened by university lecturer, freelance author and scholar-activist Christa Wichterich.
Our collaborative session will look at everyday politics and practices of care work as counternarratives of resistance and regeneration emerging in territories menaced by resource extractivism, large dam construction and industrialisation of food in Africa, South America and Europe. We will be joined by Samantha Heargreaves from the African alliance of women against extractivism WoMin and her talk on ‘Extractivism, Women’s Care Work and the Right to Say NO’, and PhD candidate Camila Nobrega Rabello Alves who will speak about ‘Feminist Perspectives on the Social-environmental Conflicts of the Hydropower Dam São Luiz do Tapajós, Brazil: Shifting Narratives’.
As Covid-19 has disrupted our plans to travel to Vienna in person and instead to exchange our thinking and experiences in a virtual conference space, we will also reflect on how this unprecedent global health-and-beyond crisis has brought visibility to the essential and life-sustaining nature of care and care work, only reaffirming the urgency to think and act towards radical alternatives beyond the patriarchal-capitalist growth model. Following the single presentations there will be time for questions and we hope for a lively discussion with the audience.
What: Panel ‘Territories, Resources and Care Work. Feminist Perspectives on Transformation’
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