From communities of practice to communities of praxis: Public political ecology, environmental justice, and critical engagement in an era of regressive environmental politics

Current political trends and regressive politics across the world are undermining the advances of environmental movements and threaten to exacerbate environmental injustices. Authoritarian populism, manifest in diverse ways, is driving many of these changes (Bridge 2013). This session responds to recent calls to investigate emancipatory political movements that challenge regressive environmental politics (see, e.g., Scoones et al. 2017; Castree 2014). Clearly, the current conjuncture presents exceptional socio-environmental concerns that require new political strategies, academic practices, and solidarities. We suggest that public political ecology is one vehicle to achieve this.


While political ecology provides tools well suited to addressing the challenges of the current conjuncture (Peet, Robbins, Watts 2010), scholars have suggested that political ecology shift from 'communities of practice' (Robbins 2012) to 'communities of praxis' (Osborne 2017). Therefore, we understand public political ecology as the theoretically-informed practice of a diverse set of actors (which include an important role for academics) who share environmental concerns, collaborate, and co-produce knowledge to guide ethical action for earth stewardship, social justice, and environmental sustainability (Osborne 2017). 


We seek theoretically rich and empirically grounded papers that debate the praxis of public political ecology by writing new geographies of hope based on ethical praxis (Jarosz 2004; Braun 2005). Ultimately, we hope to enliven debates about engaged critical environmental scholarship as a tool to support socio-environmental justice.


We encourage papers that grapple with public or engaged political ecology in theory and practice through empirical case studies, theoretical interventions, and or engage with decolonizing and participatory action research methodologies. From communities of practice to communities of praxis will begin with a paper session and conclude with a panel discussion. The following questions inspire our call for papers and the sessions:


-What are the 'politics of the possible' that an engaged public political ecology inspires or encourages?

-In what ways can a public political ecology be used to support socio-environmental justice movements, broadly construed?

-How does your work navigate the challenge of linking theory and practice and, more specifically, what is your approach to praxis within public political ecology?

-What are the methodological and ethical considerations of doing engaged scholarship?

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Joel Correia – or Tracey Osborne – by November 20. We will communicate decisions on the session by November 23. The conference registration deadline is December 1, 2017.


Braun, B. 2005. Writing geographies of hope. Antipode, DOI: 10.1111/j.0066-4812.2005.00530.


Bridge, G. 2013. Resource geographies II: The resource-state nexus. Progress in Human Geography, DOI: 10.1177/0309132513493379.


Castree, N. 2014. The Anthropocene and geography III: Future directions. Geography Compass, 8 no. 7: 464-76.


Jarosz, L. 2004. Nourishing women: towards a feminist political ecology of community supported agriculture in the United States. Gender, place, and culture, 18 no. 3: 307-26.


Osborne, T. 2017. Public political ecology: A community of praxis for earth stewardship. Journal of Political Ecology, 24: 843-60.


Peet, R., Robbins, P., and Watts, M.J. (eds.). 2010. Global political ecology. London: Routledge.


Robbins, P. 2012. Political Ecology, Second Edition. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.


Scoones, I., Edelman, M., Saturnino, M.B. Jr., Hall, R. Wolford, W., and White, B. 2017. Forum on authoritarian populism and the rural world: Emancipatory rural politics: confronting authoritarian populism. The Journal of Peasant Studies, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2017.1339693.

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