Conference Theme: Cultivating Ecologies of Solidarity and Care beyond Capitalism, Patriarchy, Racism and the State.
Ashish Kothari – a founder-member of Indian environmental group Kalpavriksh, and co-coordinator of the Vikalp Sangam, Radical Ecological Democracy and Global Tapestry of Alternatives processes. He has authored and co-edited over thirty books, including the recent Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary.
Marina Sitrin – an activist and Associate Professor of Sociology at SUNY Binghampton, USA. Her work looks at new forms of affective social organisation such as autogestion, horizontalidad, and various types of prefigurative politics. Her books include Everyday Revolutions, Horizontalism and Pandemic Solidarity.
Richard J. White – an activist and Reader in Human Geography at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. Greatly influenced by anarchist praxis, his work is rooted in the intersectional contexts of social justice and Total Liberation movements. His books include Vegan Geographies and The Practice of Freedom.
The scientific evidence could not be clearer – we are in a state of planetary emergency posing an existential threat to civilisation. The ferocity with which human beings are consuming and fighting over resources is literally destroying our web of life, constructed over billions of years, upon which all of us, human and non-human, depend for survival. And to make matters worse, our collective ability to co-produce rational and timely responses to such threats is being undermined as contemporary market-states shape and limit the spheres of thought, activity, and (perhaps most importantly) imagination – realigned to facilitate yet further production and consumption, and propagating the belief that the imperative of the market and the imperative of life are one in the same thing.
In the face of these overlapping ecological, social and political crises, our initial (and entirely understandable) response might be to withdraw, or to escape. But this conference invites us to attempt the very opposite – to pause and take time to re-orient ourselves in relation to the multitude of other beings with whom we find ourselves entangled, and to start our political projects from this basis. The central problem this enquiry therefore takes as its starting point is the nature of our current dominant political utopias – that they are transcendent rather than grounded, or put another way – rather than here-and-now they are nowhere – in an ever-receding future/past, or otherwise in an alternate reality altogether. They are impossible. And so, if we are to move beyond our current states of bewilderment, disorientation and denial, we will need to establish new (and learn from existing) grounded utopias which rather than being not-now and nowhere, are co-imagined and lived right here and right now.
Consequently, building on the growing body of work that repositions love, care and solidarity relations as central to social reproduction and fundamentally constitutive of society, the conference will explore and cultivate political communities of solidarity and care, which might then affect our wider commons and ecosystems. Critically, this event will aim to extend the concept of ‘commons’ far beyond the mere management of resources with which humans have a relationship of stewardship, and thus radically reimagine human-nature relations within our more-than-human conditions. As a result, the process will take an expansive view of the interdependent and entangled nature of contemporary struggles, linking ecological, anti-capitalist, feminist and indigenous politics intersectionally, and extending our understanding of what constitutes revolutionary transformation towards a far more comprehensive redefinition of our social ecologies across all spheres of life.
The conference will therefore bring together activists and scholars from across the world to focus on one key question: How do we do it? How do we cultivate ecologies of solidarity and care beyond capitalism, patriarchy, racism and the state?
In order to develop answers to this question, the organisers invite proposals for individual presentations by activists and researchers, and thematic panels organised by activist groups/research groups. We particularly welcome participants outside academia to talk about their organisations, work and ideas, and encourage non-traditional formats for presenting work such as exhibitions, artwork, film screenings, workshops etc. Please feel free to get in touch to discuss any ideas you might have.
Potential perspectives from which individuals or panels might tackle this question include (but are not limited to):
- Ecofeminist ecologies of solidarity and care
- Indigenous ecologies of solidarity and care
- Anarchist ecologies of solidarity and care
- More-than-human ecologies of solidarity and care
- New materialist ecologies of solidarity and care
- Utopian ecologies of solidarity and care
- Activist/movement ecologies of solidarity and care
- Left-libertarian/autonomist ecologies of solidarity and care
- Social ecologies of solidarity and care
- Political ecologies of solidarity and care
Abstracts should be sent by Monday 1st August 2022 to firstname.lastname@example.org in the following formats:
Individual abstract: Maximum of 250 words, with title of presentation and short bio of presenter.
Panel proposal: Please submit one proposal with title and outline of the panel theme, name of the chair, and an abstract of each presentation as above with names and bios of presenters.
Alternative formats: Let your imagination know no bounds!
This conference is being held entirely online in order to facilitate as global a gathering as possible, and to encourage the participation of activists and scholars otherwise unable to attend an in-person event – particularly colleagues in the Global South. As we expect participants from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia, we will be using the UTC time zone as a starting point and designing the programme to accommodate participation from a diversity of time zones.
The event will place a strong emphasis on participatory process and the co-production of a collective vision, with the aim of building connections and establishing an ongoing network moving forward. The organising team includes an experienced facilitator of participative large-group methodologies such as Open Space Technology and the U-Process, which will inform the design & format of the conference. These are approaches which skilfully, gently and pro-actively hold the space for a group to go through a collective sensing & development process, online spaces included.
If you have any questions around how a non-traditional format you are considering might work online, or require any information or advice that would support your online participation, please let us know and we can arrange a conversation to explore this further.