“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.
Prof Wendy Harcourt, WEGO project coordinator will be travelling to India to give lectures as part of the WEGO-ITN initiative.
Prof Harcourt gave a lecture on “Rethinking life-in-common in the Australian landscape” on Friday, 7 February from 16 to 18 hrs at IGCS Seminar Hall, 4th floor, Biotechnology Building 2, Bhupat and Jyoti Mehta School of Biosciences, Indian Institute Of Technology.
The lecture reflected on the shifts in Wendy’s personal and political lifeworld across time and space by sharing a story of changing awareness about ‘life-in-common’ in the Australian landscape; a landscape that is marked by historical, ecological and resource struggle and injustice. Her commentary takes up the rethinking of ‘life-in-common’ as part of the search for alternatives to capitalism and a way to overcome socio-ecological crises which pays attention to the deep connections of nature and culture. Wendy reflects on what a ‘life-in-common’ means as an Australian born feminist political ecologist wishing to understand how to address the erasures and violence that mark the Australian landscape.
On Wednesday, 5th of February, Prof Wendy Harcourt gave a lecture on “Applying a gender lens to the environment in the everyday” at the Women’s Studies Centre and the Department of Sociology of Savitribai Phule Pune University, from 14.00 to 16.00 pm hosted by Dr. Swati Dehadroy and Dr. Anagha Tambe from the Savitribai Phule Women’s Studies Centre and Dr. Shruti Tambe and Prof Hemant Chouhan from the Department of Sociology.
Undisciplined Environments (UE) aims to become an influential crossroads for activists, researchers, journalists and anyone interested in the mutual imbrications of power, society, culture and ecology. Our commitment is to establish UE as a compelling virtual space to share ideas, stories, concepts, methods and strategies for the elaboration of the knowledges and practices needed to build more emancipatory socionatural worlds.
As well as pursuing transformations towards sustainability and environmental justice, FPE researchers are also pursing transformations of the ethics, methods, epistemologies and practices of research.
In this workshop participants were invited to join members and associates of the WEGO network to explore the key insights and perspectives that have come from the practices of doing FPE research. FPE researchers were invited to prepare short responses to questions which formed the basis of a facilitated discussion exploring key themes such as scholar-activism, ethics, scales and methods in relation to their work with struggles for environmental justice.
The discussion then broke off into a ‘world cafe’ where all participants joined conversations exploring key themes and shared their own research experiences. The workshop was recorded with the intention that it can become a learning resource.
We have been working hard to update our Global Environmental Justice group website with some conference outputs, so please take a look.
You can view and download the graphic records at this UEA Global
Environmental Justice flickr page.
You can view the conference videos at the Environmental Justice
Conference 2019 playlist on YouTube. We are still in the process of
editing some of the sessions, they will be added to this list as they
Some people had asked if the conference presentations would be available on the website. We have considered this and decided it won’t be possible. We would encourage delegates to contact specific presenters directly and request that presentations be shared that way. You can find contact email addresses for all presenters in the Abstract Book.
Background paper and follow up papers
The conference background paper remains on the conference website and please let us know if you have any particular feedback that you didn’t have a chance to share.
At the moment we have not planned any special issue publications but do feel free to pursue any ideas yourselves and let us know if we can
We welcomed our WEGO ESRs at the Coordinating Institute, ISS for their orientation programme from 10 to 14 September 2018. The group was eager to get to know each other, connect, interact and engage in talks and debates about WEGO and FPE. It was a very good bonding experience.
During this week, the ESRs participated in a 3-day writeshop on how to read and write articles. There were plenary discussions and a film on FPE.
We also organised other exciting and thought provoking sessions. Personal reflections on what brought us to WEGO and our interest in FPE were shared. We talked about our understanding and experiences of our work and activism.
Discussions were held on the fundamental characteristics of FPE. Dowe encounter FPE through gender and development or personal and professional identity questions? Or is it understanding the operation of power and theorising socio-natures? How do issues of gender and women relate to issues of power, knowledge and subjectivity?
We looked at how we want the WEGO clusters and network to develop over the next three years and where we fit in. We talked about how we can work together to create an inclusive, participatory and safe environment; how we can position ourselves in the project, create knowledge and engage in critical debates. We explored the processes that we want to foster and engage in, internally and externally. How do we share and engage in cultural communication – using verbal and non-verbal language? We looked at the art of communication and how FPE manifests in art and science.
We ended by sharing reflections on the orientation week and looking forward to continuing the interactions and debates.
Well-being, Ecology, Gender and cOmmunity – Innovative Training Network
1 January 2018 to 31 January 2022
How is gender linked to environmental problems and developmental issues? How are feminist political ecologists working with local communities around the world? How can their activities inform sustainable development policy debates?
With funding by the European Union the Horizon 2020 Marie Sklodowska – Curie WEGO network made up of 20 institutions will host 15 Ph.D researchers creating the first European ITN on Feminist Political Ecology (FPE).
Asthe first international feminist political ecology research network of its kind, WEGO-ITN aspires to tackle socio-ecological challenges linked to policy agendas. This innovative and path-breaking project will help local communities to build resilient, equitable and sustainable futures. The goal of WEGO-ITN is to provide research that will demonstrate to policy makers how communities actively sustain and care for their environment and community well-being. Ultimately, WEGO will collectively provide important guides to strategies of resilience and sustainability that are required for meeting the SDGs.
The WEGO-ITN is made up of scholar-activists working on feminist political ecology from ten institutions in six European Union countries: Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom and ten institutions from eight countries for training and secondments: Australia, India, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Uruguay and USA.
At POLLEN it was great to meet up with members of the WEGO-ITN team including Becky, Andrea and Lyla and PhD Ilena who will be joining us in September (at Humboldt). There were other feminist political ecologists there who we met in corridors and in sessions which made it a very good platform for issues of gender and race to come to the fore, especially in dialogue with some of the white male political ecologists who rarely consider gender and race. We had one full day devoted to FPE ‘Nurturing “Life-in-Common”: Affective, Emotional and Embodied Practices of/for Abundance Beyond Sustainability’ among a sea of other workshops and sessions that was a wonderful breathing space.
Another highlight for me was meeting with the ITN Entitle people and discussing how we can link our website to their Blog
Summary of presentations
I made three presentations – see the summaries of what I said and – do note the post scripts!
Nurturing “Life-in-Common”: Affective, Emotional and Embodied Practices of/for Abundance Beyond Sustainability II,
Panels organised by Pamela Ngwenya (German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture), Andrea Nightingale (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), Neera Singh, (University of Toronto).
My paper at the second session of this day-long FPE feast was entitled ‘Differential Belongs: Caring for Country and Earthothers’ responded to the call by Arturo Escobar to ‘reappropriate, reconstruct and reinvent our personal and political lifeworlds’ in an exploration of the possibilities for more ethical economic and ecological relationships around care, taking my cue from the work of JK Gibson Graham on feminist imaginaries. The paper presented post-development and post-capitalist readings of the economy and environment as part of an on-going quest to include ‘earthothers’ in ecological theory and practice of care. I looked at how natureculture that shapes her historical life-world as a white Australian and queries traditional white settler narratives of conquest and erasure. My somewhat quirky entry point was white settler care for the Begonia flower in Western Victoria alongside the violence and erasure of the Wathaurong peoples who lived and care for Country. My interest was into how to transform and build on conflicting stories of transpecies care in the face of deep cultural erasures, racial violence, environmental destruction and urban development. The story is linked to the perseverance of communities, commons, and the struggles for their defense and reconstitution and the struggle to maintain multiple worlds –the pluriverse—a world where many worlds fit. The paper used epistemologies of listening and decolonising methodologies in order to expose the uneven flows of power and privilege and to reach across colonial violence and racism to transracial and interspecies interactions linking communities and commons.
PS:The paper is about my struggles to come to terms with transspecies care in the midst of white settler violence from my position of whiteness and struggle for justice. It was wonderful that one young woman came up to me and gave me this song to listen too as she felt that spoke to my paper. My honesty and engagement with difficult issues was risky but important for me to speak to in that safe space. Listen to the song – it continues to enchant me.
Roundtable on ‘Alternatives to Development: Towards the Pluriverse’
organised by Ashish Kothari, Scholar Activist (India)
At the Roundtable, I presented how Body Politics has been an important political project among feminist and queer activists transnationally since the 1980s. Within body politics, bodies are considered sites of cultural and political resistance to the dominant understanding of the ‘normal’ body as white, male, western and heterosexual from which all ‘other’ forms of bodies differ. Body politics, then, ranges from liberal economic justice demands for fairer treatment of marginal workers such as sex workers to more radical social justice demands for the integrity and right for all peoples’ sexual orientation. For example, body politics was a disruptive and critical force in queer and feminist interventions in the 1990s United Nations global conferences on human rights (1993) population (1994) and women (1995). Activists working in these different UN conferences brought to international attention issues such as domestic violence, rape as a weapon of war, sexual and reproductive rights of women, and the rights of indigenous, homosexuals and transgender people. Their campaigns spoke out not only against gender inequalities but also against racism, ageism and heterosexual norms. In this way, body politics has linked different forms of bodily oppression with radical forms of democracy. I argued that body politics is not only about struggles to end oppression but also about ways to reimagine and remake the world. This includes understandings of sexuality, diversity and well-being from the perspective of the marginalised ‘other.’
PS: Speaking with Ashish Kothari, Joan Martin Alier and other degrowth people was good for our WEGO positioning and future work! After I spoke about body politics a young woman came up and told me about the Vigeland sculpture park where the statues are that I used for the cover my body politics book – it was just up the road – she didn’t know I used them for the cover – but my talk spoke again to her about them – and I did go and see them.
Roundtable on ‘Speaking Power to ‘Post-Truth’: Critical Political Ecology and the New Authoritarianism’
organised by Ben Neimark and John Childs (Lancaster University)
As one of the authors of a recent article on ‘Speaking Power to ‘Post-Truth’: Critical Political Ecology and the New Authoritarianism’I spoke to the problems of challenging hegemonic ‘scientific’ narratives about environmental problems and how to critically engage with narratives of environmental change while simultaneously confronting the ‘populist’ promotion of ‘alternative facts’? From a feminist political ecology perspective I argued for a strategy of ‘speaking power to post-truth’, which would enable two things. First, it allows political ecology to come to terms with an ‘internal’ paradox of how to deal with those seeking to obfuscate or deny environmental degradation and social injustice, in relation to its own historical critique of the privileged role of Western science and expert knowledge in determining dominant forms of environmental governance. I asked how to enable political ecology to not only confront contemporary authoritarianism but to make political ecology more relevant, accessible and engaging to the marginalized populations most likely to suffer from the proliferation of post-truth politics, most notably around the denial of climate change and its impacts.
PS: This was more of a soap box affair as we each had two minutes to speak – but very engaging with many people attending and a lot of interesting dialogue, I learnt a lot from my group who were young people from Turkey, Australia, US, India and UK.
Rebecca Elmhurst presented two papers at POLLEN.
Rebecca Elmhirst (in panel on Political ecologies of Forestry and Injustice, chaired by Professor Paul Robbins) Social Justice in the Zero Deforestation Movement in Indonesia: the Gendered Limits of a ‘Green’ Oil Palm Economy.
This paper presented an analysis of the gendered impacts of oil palm investment in Indonesia as a ‘green growth strategy’, seen through the lens of feminist political ecology. It offered a reflection of the knowledge politics inherent in engaging simultaneously with the embodied and highly exclusionary experiences of people and communities in oil palm contexts, and with policy discourses with a seemingly progressive agenda of rescaling oil palm investment to the smallholder rather than the large scale corporation. Detailed empirical work has provided a set of evidence-based conclusions about socially differentiated and unjust experiences around land acquisition and incorporation into oil palm value chains that connect with the policy narratives of international environment and social justice NGOs. However, the paper also offered some more radical conclusions developed from taking a critical feminist political ecology approach. The paper argued that there is some danger that when a complex and intersectional analysis is brought into conversation with policy agendas, it is easy to slide into narratives that legitimate green neoliberal development agendas, in part because liberal feminist ‘women in development’ ideas run deep in gender mainstreaming work. It also suggested that a focus on gendered resource access issues in the context of the ‘virtuous smallholder’ policy narrative invites neoliberal solutions that rescale ecological responsibility around oil palm development to the smallholder, male or female. A related point is whether it is possible to address oil palm-led development hegemony where it is difficult for people to imagine alternatives. In such a context, the showcasing of ‘successful’ smallholder oil palm investors blunts critique as dissenters lose the right to be an obstacle to oil palm-led ‘development progress’.
Rebecca also presented a paper written collaboratively with Carl Middleton from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, which was on their work on “Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia” in the panel on political ecology, water, and the hydrosocial cycle. This paper sets out a ‘mobile political ecology’ framework to look at how migration and everyday mobilities form part of the social-ecological production of vulnerability and capability in the context of flooding. It draws lessons from comparisons between eight empirical case studies undertaken in Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Each country case study applied a “progressive contextualization” methodology that disentangles and traces the specific conjuncture of particular flood types (as a specific techno-socio-natural assemblage), and the dynamic interplay between migration and gendered socio-spatial justice and entitlements to material and political resources. Whilst a political ecology approach challenges simplistic environmental ‘triggers’, a focus on mobility challenges sedentarist and state-centric ontologies of flood hazards, which make no sense in a region that owes its history to mobilities of people, capital and nature.
Lyla Mehta presented two papers and also spoke at a roundtable/panel on publishing in political ecology and presented the new journal she is currently editing in Environment and Planning E, Nature and Space.
The Social Life of Mangroves:Enactment of Conservation in the Marketised Landscape of Kutch, India
Authors: Shilpi Srivastava and Lyla Mehta
This paper unpacks the assemblages and relationships that accrue through the state and market led conservation programmes in Kutch, a district which has been at the forefront of accelerated industrialisation in Gujarat, India. In this paper, we argue that the interaction of industrialisation processes with conservation measures have encouraged both blue and green grabbing as afforestation and restoration practices have given way to new forms of accumulation. These processes have fundamentally altered the livelihoods of mangrove dependent communities such as fishers and pastoralists as mangrove lands now service the engines of capitalist accumulation. Largely these trends have intensified the processes of uneven capitalist growth, dispossession and inequality, whilst giving rise to new kinds of alliances between the state and corporate capital as well as capital and the scientific community that replay narratives of ecological harm, degradation and loss, and promote corporate governance of the mangrove lands.
Shilpi Srivastavais a Research Fellow at IDS. Trained as a political sociologist, she uses the lens of water to understand issues of power and patterns of authority to explore spaces of justice, rights and accountability. Besides researching on water policy, climate change and environmental processes, she is also increasingly interested in cross cutting research in the areas of health, sanitation and nutrition. She has extensive field research experience in Asia.
Lyla Mehtais a Professorial Fellow at IDS and a Visiting Professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Her work focuses on water and sanitation, forced displacement and resistance, scarcity, rights and access, resource grabbing and the politics of environment/ development and sustainability. She has extensive field research experience in South Asia and Africa.
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