WEGO final retreat held 17-20 June 2022, Grotte di Castro, Italy

The retreat in Palazzo Orzi, Grotte di Castro, attended by 17 people, had the important task of consolidating the work of WEGO-ITN 2018-22, as well as setting new directions for the network for the next two years. The focus was on how to continue to build the network as an inclusive, responsible, ethical and caring place for members and others to do activist research on feminist political ecology with communities.

WEGO guests arrive at Palazzo Orzi, Grotte di Castro for the retreat held 17-20 June

The retreat reviewed the results of WEGO-ITN’s 4 and half years and how to continue (taking into account economic resources) as the network consolidates and expands. This included what kind of activities, research, mentoring and partnering, the network will do in order to take up our responsibilities with communities to do follow up transformative research ‘otherwise’.

Our time in the Grotte was intentionally a slow meeting, with time to reflect, dream, discuss and debate in the beautiful Palazzo, home of the Orzi family. The meeting’s agenda evolved with the input of the people there building an agenda which helped us consider how we would work together and expand our outreach over the next two years. The conversation was guided by the coordinating team with lots of breaks, group work, and times to enjoy each other’s company as we chatted,  prepared meals, cleaned and eat together.

Fresh cheeses and local wines ensured some wonderful times in the garden of the Palazzo. Wendy, Chizu and Agustina display some local ricotta

The setting is often what makes or breaks the success of a retreat. The Palazzo Orzi was a special place and Gaia and her parents were wonderful hosts. The Palazzo is a family home with many treasures  from Etruscan vases, stately furniture and original paintings, and with frescoed ceilings. Despite the splendour, it was cosy and warm. While we were mostly tucked away in our workshop, discussing in the commodious sitting room, eating out in the garden under ancient trees, there were times to walk around the medieval town. We had some memorable meals in Grotte in a wonderful trattoria just up the road – ‘Aglio ,Olio  and Pepperoncino.’ And we had one afternoon eating fish by the lake. In the day Gaia had provided local cheese and fruit. We found space for everyone to sleep in the Palazzo, whether in side-rooms, or cool ground rooms, or walk-through corridors. Wherever we found ourselves in the Palazzo, our hosts and their friendliness (and the food and wine!) made it a special and caring time.

Palazzo Orzi, Gaia and her parents together with Martina from Pangea ensured a wonderful stay in this special place 5 km from Lago di Bolsena
The retreat was marked by many discussions over food and wine under the shade of the trees

Our time was nourishing and productive. We agreed that the network would continue as an activist research network, that would continue to experiment and learn from what is happening around us as we navigate individual and institutional global uncertainty and disruption. WEGO-ITN has found quite some skills in navigating Covid with care and support for each other face to face and in virtual spaces inside and outside the academe. And we face increasingly difficult times – marked by the pandemic and climate crisis and increasing economic precarity and political violence including wars.

So, even if the EU funding is over, the network will continue as a feminist network with (thankfully for the coordinators in particular), less bureaucratic demands. The focus will continue to be Feminist Political Ecology doing activist research, networking ‘otherwise’ across the diversities of territories, institutions, languages, etc that mark us. It was such a privilege to be building our past, present and future relations in beautiful spaces such as the Palazzo and in sight of Lago di Bolsena,  quietly reminding us about the presence of more-than-human others in our life worlds.

Views of the Lago di Bolsena from the Palazzo’s window

More FPE Dialogues  to come!

FPE Dialogues Italy – poster

Officially WEGO-ITN has completed its work in June 2022 and the coordinating team are working on the final report. But the network will continue, as decided in both The Hague training in April the and June retreat.  The Contours of Feminist Political Ecology is now being copyedited for publication in late 2022/ early 2023. The 10 articles for the special issues of Journal of Peasant Studies are being prepared for publication in 2023 along with a Routledge bool. From September 2022 onwards the network will recommence monthly networking meetings to continue to provide support for PhDs who are in the final stages of their PhD and to plan for a new network which will be called FEST* (feminist ecological solidarities for transformation). The Coordinating team along with other WEGO PhDs and mentors will continue to steer the network until summer 2024.

This new direction for WEGO will help to consolidate and expand the network through a series of FPE Dialogues which will feature activist research with communities engaged in intersectional intergenerational environment justice arenas. Inspired by Pangea A-Sud encounter FPE Dialogues will be about engaging at local and global levels activists and researchers particularly in the global south. The Fest* network, along with other local and global networks will bring together communities’ stories and strategies. Plans are for a return to Grotte di Castro in 2023  and in 2024 a celebratory reunion for all PhD students who have completed their PhD journey.  Further suggestions include to apply to Bellagio for a FPE dialogue on the ‘Politics of Enough for Building Thriving Communities’, holding skills workshops on how to communicate and teach FPE as well as locally organized FPE Dialogues in South Africa, and Argentina covering topics such as resilience of rural women farmers and rethinking bodies, territories and land.

For those interested in organizing or joining FPE Dialogues and Fest* please contact: Wendy Harcourt (harcourt@iss.nl)

Final WEGO-ITN event in Rome, “Wangari Maathai” workshop on feminism and ecology

Rome, 17 June 2022 – Pangea Foundation and WEGO-ITN organized the “Wangari Maathai” workshop in collaboration with the association A Sud.
The aim of the event was to create a space for women working in different fields linked to feminism and ecology to come together and exchange experiences, practices, knowledge and opinions.

Women activists, entrepreneurs, politicians, researchers met and created new nexuses between theories and practices, new definitions and possible actions. Around 40 women working on gender and the environment participated in the workshop (take a look at some of their bios below), some coming from different parts of Italy and abroad. Participants presented and positioned themselves and shared their definition of ecofeminism.

They shared how they stood with respect to their struggles, their territories and themselves. They searched for new words and meanings, exchanged practices and identified those in which they recognised themselves the most.

The workshop was an opportunity for all participants to gather, meet new people, find new energy and connections to act collectively for environmental and gender justice.

A preliminary look into the future

During the encounter, participants discussed the future of WEGO-ITN project and proposed a preliminary plan of action for the next two years. At the core, it was proposed that the network continued developing their FPE Dialogues, by expanding them to different spaces and undertaking activist research with people engaged in intersectional intergenerational environment justice in communities/ institutional arenas. The idea is to bring together their stories and strategies in a series of FPE Dialogues and to focus on local/global engagements expanding the spaces where WEGO-ITN engage, particularly in the global south..

List of participants

Ana Agostino
Dr. Ana Agostino is the Ombudsperson for Montevideo, Uruguay and lecturer in Development and Culture at the University CLAEH. She graduated as a Social Worker from the University of the Republic, Uruguay, did postgraduate studies at the University of Bremen, Germany, and has a PhD in Development Studies from the University of South Africa (UNISA). She was a research fellow at UNISA at the departments of Latin American Studies (2000) and Development Studies (2005-2006) and Guest Researcher at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany (2013).

Gulay Çaglar, Freie Universität Berlin
Gülay Çaglar is Professor for Gender and Diversity at the Otto-Suhr-Institute of Political Science at Freie Universität Berlin. Caglar studied political science and economics and received her PhD in political science in 2007 from the University of Kassel, where she also worked as a research associate. Her research interests include Critical Food Studies, Feminist International Political Economy, Transnational Feminisms and International Governance. In her current research she investigates how shifts in gendered food practices (production, consumption, food preparation) and food activism affect policy priorities in international food governance.

Khayaat Fakier, Cattedra “Price Claus”, ISS
From 1 September 2021 Dr Khayaat Fakier will hold the Prince Claus Chair (PCC) for a period of two years at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), part of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her thematic focus will be ‘Putting care at the center of equity and development’. The two-year research project will examine how to build an ethics of care not only for people, but also for the environment. The intent of the research will be to see in what ways care work is ‘the alternative’ value to growth. The analysis will specifically take into account local communities’ responses to the pandemic. Dr Fakier is a sociologist with a focus on research in women’s care for others and the environment. She is currently senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University and teaches modules on sociology of work, feminisms and women’s engagement in the South African economy. Dr Fakier’s research examines the value of social reproduction in a global society where the unpaid work and care conducted by women is not recognised. Her work has featured in renowned international journals such as Antipode: Journal of Radical Geography, the International Journal of Feminist Politics, and Capitalism Nature Socialism.

Serena Caroselli
Balia dal Collare is an activists’ group located in Rieti’s province. The group was founded in opposition to TSM2 (Terminillo Mountain Station). It is engaged in a dispute against the construction of new ski-lifts in the mountains of the municipalities of Leonessa Cantalice Micigliano e Vazia. The group has been working for years on the construction of new visions of mountain and rural areas through the valorisation of collective goods. Its activism and research practices concern the issues of mountains, water and energy autonomy, and environmental and local memories.

Giovanna Di Chiro, Swarthmore College (USA)
Giovanna Di Chiro is a Professor at Swarthmore College where she teaches courses on environmental justice theory, action research methods, and community sustainability. She is a faculty partner and policy advisor for Nuestras Raíces (our roots), a community organization that focuses on urban agriculture, food justice, and resiliency in the Puerto Rican/Latino community of Holyoke, Massachusetts. Di Chiro has published widely on the intersections of environmental science, policy, and activism addressing issues of human rights, food security, and environmental and climate justice.

Wendy Harcourt, Coordinator of the WEGO-ITN project 
Wendy Harcourt is Professor of Gender, Diversity and Sustainable Development at ISS-EUR in The Hague. She is currently Chair of the Institute Council, member of the Research Committee, CIRI Research Group Coordinator and Coordinator of the Marie Curie ITN ‘WEGO’ project. Prof. dr. Wendy Harcourt joined the ISS in November 2011 after 23 years at the Society for International Development, Rome as Editor of the journal Development and Director of Programmes. She has edited 10 books and her monograph: ‘Body Politics in Development: Critical Debates in Gender and Development’ published by Zed Books in 2009, received the 2010 Feminist Women Studies Association Book Prize. She is series editor of both the Palgrave Gender, Development and Social Change and the ISS-Routledge Series on Gender, Development and Sexuality, a member of the International Governing Council of the Society for International Development as well as actively involved in gender and development journal boards and civil society networks.

Sharmini Bisessar-Selvarajah, ombudsperson WEGO
Sharmini Bisessar-Selvarajah joined the ISS in November 1998. From 2013 until 2017, she was the research programme manager for the Political Ecology research group. In January 2018 she became the project officer for WEGO. In her over 20-year career at the ISS, she has worked with academic staff, PhD researchers, MA students, management, support colleagues and external relations. She is currently a member of the Institute Council of the ISS. She holds a Master’s degree in Children and Youth Studies, Master’s degree in Management and a professional certificate in total quality management. Her interest in anthropological research lies in children and young people, women, political ecology and sustainable development.

Salima Cure
Mother, Colombian anthropologist, master in Amazonian studies, doctor in anthropology. Collaborator of CEPAM – Centro de Estudios de Pensamiento Amazonico – of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. I have done research mainly in the Colombian Amazon, with indigenous peoples. I collaborated with the truth commission in Colombia to understand the dynamics of war in the Amazon, mainly on gender violence. I am interested in issues related to the plurality of the senses of peace and on community-based, black, ecological feminisms that place biocentric perspectives. With my family we lived in the Amazon, in the Brazilian northeast and currently in the Abruzzo’s mountains, where I’ve met the feminist collective “Fuori Genere” of which I am part.

 

FPE Dialogues UK – a look into frontline communities and the multiple faces of extractivism

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.

1. WEGO-ITN at UN Climate Change Conference

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. 

Full post here.

Despite Extractivism Exhibition

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.  

Full post here.

Access to the webinars here:

What we can learn from women in grassroots environmental justice movements

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.

Women at the Ningkam Haumeni Festival, Indonesia

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.

Rural Schools, Andean Patagonia, Argentina

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.

Miriam Corongiu, Land of Fires, Campania, Italy

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”.  

FPE Dialogues Italy: a six-episode radio show

Introduction 

In the summer of 2020, half a year into the pandemic, a group of women coming from different political experiences and life paths working and living in Italy decided to come together as a rural feminism collective called Tutte Giù Per Terra and learn autonomoulsy how to organize, host and record several radio episodes. Anna Katharina Voss, Ilenia Iengo, Irene Leonardelli are PhD students and Stefania Barca mentor in the WEGO-ITN project, Miriam Corongiu is a farmer, Maddalena Cualbu a shepherd and Katya Madio a teacher. We gathered weekly to discuss topics, news, share experiences in order to build a collective knowledge upon which we planned our episodes. 

Radio shows were again very popular since the beginning of the pandemic, which reduced the spaces to encounter and discuss in person, but allowed for new and old methods of dissemination and organising to bloom. We sought the opportunity to participate in a radio channel called Radio iafue per la terra, an information and dissemination project run by Alleanza sociale per la sovranità alimentare, an Italian movement bringing together farmers and farm workers for food sovereignty. 

Picture: Irene Leonardelli

This is how we started the FPE dialogues in Italy, shaping them around 6 radio episodes, where the collective Tutte Giù Per Terra aimed to create a space for encounters of different grassroots experiences that engage with agroecology, women and LGBTQIA+ self-determination in rural areas, ecofeminist struggles against environmental contamination and neoliberal processes in the rural world and alliances across rural and urban feminisms. We intended to reach a public of alternative agricultural networks, undergraduate and graduate students and activists engaged in Political Ecology and transfeminism across the country.

We propose below the recording of these six radio episodes (all in Italian) with a short summary in English indicating the speakers and the main topics discussed. With this experience we grew collectively from the internal discussions, preparation and organisation, and we acquired editorial and hosting skills for radio shows. We aimed to share and amplify knowledge in the fields of feminism and agriculture/rurality in Italy, especially regarding alternative agricultural practices and political networks working on commons, depatriarchization of practices and environmental violence.

Yet the FPE Dialogues in Italy did not only involve online conversations through the different radio episodes. At the end of September 2021, some of us physically met in Naples to learn more about each other’s work and strengthen our collaboration. In particular, Ilenia, Irene and Stefania spent an afternoon with Miriam Corongiu at her Orto Conviviale, the farming project that she manages just outside of Naples, where she also lives. As activists and researchers in the Land of Fires (La Terra dei Fuochi), Ilenia, Stefania and Miriam have known each other and worked together for a long time. Instead, Irene, who is from the North of Italy and currently lives in the Netherlands, met Miriam for the first time. 

We walked around the farm admiring the plants and trees that Miriam (together with her husband and daughter) is growing. We sat together and listened to Miriam’s experience about what it means to be a woman farmer in the Land of Fires. We discussed the strength of her work as a political project. We shared experiences and stories of other women farmers involved in agroecological projects in different places where we have lived and worked (India, north of Italy, Spain, Romania). We talked about the struggles and the joys that come from farming a land with attention to preserving traditional seeds and trees and learning from traditional practices, taking care of the soil, the water and cherishing the harvest each season. Miriam’s Orto Conviviale represents a place of resistance and struggle in the midst of a land that keeps burning. It is also a place of conviviality and sharing where local women meet to buy fruit and vegetables but also to sit together and discuss, share experiences, do politics.

Picture: Irene Leonardelli

Learning from Miriam’s project while being there in person, enjoying the delicious food she prepared with all her harvest, was incredibly inspiring to reflect on what it means to actually practice feminist political ecology and on the importance of farming collaborations blurring the binaries between research and activism and urban and rural socio-ecological spaces. We hope that the FPE Dialogues in Italy, and all the conversations we fostered through and beyond the radio programmes, will continue to flourish in this direction….

Watch – and listen to – the full episodes here:

Episode 1 – An introduction to rural and peasant feminisms

Episode 2 – A dialogue on feminism and care for the territory with Comunità rurale diffusa

Episode 3 – A dialogue on patriarchal violence in agriculture with Simona Lanzoni and Stefania Prandi

Episode 4 – A dialogue on the restanza movement in Irpinia with Maria Laura Amendola

Episode 5 – A dialogue on farmers protests in India with Irene Leonardelli and Arianna Tozzi

Episode 6 – A dialogue on the 8M feminist strike and territorial resistances

Register now for the “Despite Extractivism” online exhibition

The Despite Extractivism online exhibition assembles expressions of care, creativity and community from diverse sites of extraction and geographical contexts. Extractivism is characterised by the violent accumulation of resources, which often devastates and disrupts affected communities and the natural world. Collectively, the works in this exhibition illuminate and explore ways of questioning, subverting and resisting the logics and impacts of extractivism.Can artistic interventions help foster new sensibilities and solidarities with distanced extractive contexts? Can sites of extraction be a fertile ground for alternatives?

Accompanying the exhibition, our events series is an unfolding opportunity for collective learning and solidarity building with artists, activists, academics, communities and active audiences.

Between an online launch event and a closing event, three webinars will explore the stories, ideas and practises of the Despite Extractivism contributors and the communities they engage with. The events, featuring performances, presentations and discussions, focus in turn on expanding but intersecting scales, from the body to the global. Presenters and further information to be announced.

Register now and don’t miss it!

 

Check out the exhibition’s program

Welcome
Thursday 20th January |12-1.30pm (UK)
The curatorial collective will be joined by contributors to launch the website and open the exhibition to the public. Together we will take a guided journey through the online exhibition spaces, meet the artists and explore the themes and questions at the heart of the exhibition.

Embodiment
Thursday 27 January |12-1.30pm (UK)
Embodied, sensory or emotional experiences can evoke (new) sensibilities to extractive realities at a personal level. In this webinar we will explore how particular kinds of creative practises and strategies not only portray such experiences but also motivate embodied persistence or resistance , because of – or despite – extractivism.

Community
Thursday 3 February |12-1.30pm (UK)
Communities of place are often at the centre of stories about impacts and resistance to extractivism. When we ask what persists ‘despite extractivism’, the question also invites us to think about what we mean by ‘community’ in our stories.

Worlding
Thursday 10 February |12-1.30pm (UK)
Extractivism describes a singular and toxic way of being in and relating to the world. Each Despite Extractivism contribution invites us to relate and act ‘otherwise’ in different ways and through different registers. Working with the Zapatista definition of the pluriverse – ‘the world we want is a world in which many worlds fit’ – this webinar provides a common space to share stories and conversations across our differences.

Closing
Tuesday 8 March – International Women’s Day (Time TBA)
This event will bring together the collective learning of the exhibition and accompanying events. Rather than marking the end of the project, the event will consider what new ideas, connections or questions have unfolded and how we might cultivate these.

Thinking visually at the 8th Degrowth Conference

The 8th International Degrowth Conference that took place in The Hague between August 24th and 28th was an immersive and comprehensive event  around the central theme of “Caring Communities for Radical Change”. During the five days of the conference, debates focused on care and justice as a way of thinking of degrowth as a collective project promoting sustainable, decolonial, feminist and post-capitalist modes of flourishing.

WEGO-ITN was one of the organizers and our PhD worked for months to guarantee that it would run smoothly – you can read Anna Katharina Voss’ insights here and here, for more details on the organizations.

Panels, plenaries, movie screenings and art installations helped deepen the discussions and broaden the ways that informations got spread. WEGO-ITN added another layer into this visual thinking by inviting artist Carlotta Cataldi to produce an artistic representation of three of the plenaries.

Feminist Political Ecology Perspectives on Degrowth:

Decoloniality and Degrowth Plenary: Resonating and Listening:

And the Closing Plenary:

You can take a look on how Carlotta creates her work on video as well.

 

 

 

Commoning and community, a meeting in Eindhoven

On the last day of May, blessed by the weather, WEGO mentor Chizu Sato and I, Nanako Nakamura, visited a farmhouse surrounded by woods and bush in the middle of fields on the outskirts of Eindhoven to discuss the role of surplus in community building and a transformative potential of commoning with a group of food design students from the Design Academy Eindhoven. We were invited by Arne Hendriks, who is an artist, researcher, and founder of the Harahachibu-University. When we got there, the seminar turned out to be in the open air, chickens and dogs running around. Some of the students are living the house and around the area, forming an inspiring permaculture community with their neighbors. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, they opened the farmhouse for collective learning to design food and imagine life in different ways.

The seminar started with eating home-made soup. It was made of ingredients, such as vegetables, fruits, and herbs, brought by students. These ingredients are surplus from their own households and cooking and eating together support the production and reproduction of a food commons. Chizu talked about surplus production, appropriation and distribution in the modern economy and how they are organized differently in capitalist and non-capitalist class processes. The discussions went into prevailing capitalist narratives in relation to planetary boundaries, gendered social relations, social justice, populism, media ethics, all of which influence our consumption choices and decisions in our everyday lives. Commons and its transformative process of commoning were also brought into the discussion as important frameworks to describe the creation of more sustainable and healthy communities.

As an example of commoning, I introduced a case from my research about women’s buckwheat (soba) cultivation on unused rice fields in rural Japan. Due to the political encouragement for rice supply reduction since the 1960s, rice cultivation has been remarkably declined in many rural areas. As a result, increased numbers of unused and abandoned spaces have raised concerns about deteriorating agroecosystem, biodiversity, and rural landscapes. In my case study, these dormant rice fields were utilized by the local women’s for buckwheat cultivation, to make locally produced soba noodles as means of rural revitalization and multi-species survival. This soba commoning demonstrates how these women are interacting with other community members, state actors, consumers, and non-human earth others, e.g., soba plants, rice, fields, surrounding environment, to live well in rural aging and depopulating context. Also, it highlights the process of making a socio-ecologically sustainable community, where physical and emotional struggles are entangled, and challenges are emerging from social, economic, political, climatic, gendered aspects of rural communities.

The seminar closed after sharing insights and challenges, such as finance, shared/unshared ideologies, and harmonization among community members even though we did not come to any conclusion. Sharing my case study and exchanging thoughts was a wonderful experience for me in these difficult times.

Post-credits scene: When we were about to leave, one student came to me and asked me a question whether I have watched Tampopo, the Japanese film. According to her, my talk reminded her of the film. Yes, it is perhaps comparable to my soba case because it depicts relational processes revolving around Ramen noodles in a constellation of relationships, conflicts, emotions of differences with unique human and non-human characters.

Seminar: ‘Imagining Abolition Ecofeminism(s)’ is now online

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.

You can now watch the talk here.

 

 

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.