How do we make other worlds possible? This session seeks diverse presentations that critically engage with the concept of potential in political ecology to approach this question. In recent years, scholars asking political ecological questions have turned to art, creativity and experimentation, particularly in response to the crises of the ‘Anthropocene’ (Braun 2015a; 2015b; Hawkins et al 2015; Tsing et. al. 2017). Experimentation, art and creativity find possibility where other forms of critique might find rote answers to old questions. Scholars of capitalism and coloniality have looked to the possibilities for otherwise within, between and below extractive relations and systems (Tsing 2015; Gómez-Barris 2017). Conceived as such, a search for potential is about the possibility for other worlds, an ability to see other potential futures. Possibility, potential, imagination and futurity are concepts that often join the scholarship searching for how to make other worlds possible. Yet, potential has a deep ambivalence to it (Povinelli 2011).  Capitalism relies on open-ended potentiality to continue processes of accumulation, while Queer and Black futurist projects too leverage potential futures (Keeling 2019; Gumbs 2018). Similarly, Indigenous scholars argue that settler imaginations of futurity have animated socio-ecological apocalypse landscapes of Indigenous dystopia into the present (Whyte 2018). However, imagination is central to representing and producing Indigenous futurity (Hickey 2019). Furthermore, the conditions within which one imagines new worlds are sites of fraught ambivalence (Wynter and McKittrick 2015), and whatever utopian imagined worlds have no guarantee to be more just than current worlds. Imagining other worlds can itself be an escapism of a troubling present (Haraway 2016).  And yet, as McKittrick discusses as plantation futures, the afterlives of the past in the present are the only spaces from which to imagine futures (2013). Other worlds are made, and the work of representing, imagining and enacting them is central for efforts of resistance to structures of domination.

 

Coming from the firm assertion that other worlds are possible, this session seeks presentations grounded in and speaking to the struggles and movements that participants are a part of. This session seeks papers that ask how we make other worlds possible. How does our scholarship help enact new worlds? How do we contend with the ambivalences in producing other worlds? 

 

We welcome and encourage submissions from diverse disciplines, from undergraduates and non-academics, and in non-traditional formats: papers, presentations, performances and displays. 

 

Themes include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Speculative and experimental political ecology 

  • Critical engagements with theorizations of potential

  • Indigenous and settler futurity and temporality 

  • Imagining other worlds in politics and praxis 

  • Black ecologies, Afrofuturism and Afropessimist temporality  

  • Queer ecologies and temporalities

  • How power moves in spaces where post-coloniality/indigeneity  is not the most appropriate frame of reference

 

Please submit an abstract of 250 words and conference availability (AAG, DOPE, or both) or less to Annika Yates ( yates104 [at] umn.edu) no later than Friday, November 15th. We will notify session participants no later than Monday, November 18th to allow time for conference registration deadlines (Nov 20 for AAG and Dec. 1 for DOPE). 

 

We envision this starting as an open-ended conversation at DOPE, moving toward a more developed conversation at AAG. We will prioritize people who can join us for both conferences, but we also welcome submissions from people who only plan to attend one or the other. When you submit your abstract, please indicate which conference(s) you plan to attend. For more information and to see the Dimensions of Political Ecology general call for participation, go to www.politicalecology.org/dope-2020. 

 

References 

 

Braun, B. 2015. Futures: Imagining Socioecological Transformation—An Introduction. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 105:2, 239-243.

 

Byrd, J. A. 2011. The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism. Minneapolis, University of

Minnesota Press.

 

Gómez-Barris, M. 2017. The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives. Durham: Duke

University Press.

 

Gumbs, A. P. 2018. M Archive: After the End of the World. Durham: Duke University Press.

Dery, M. 1994. Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose. Flame Wars: the Discourse of Cyberculture. M. Dery ed.  Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Hawkins, H., Marston, S., Ingram, M. and E. Straughan. 2015. The art of socioecological transformation. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 105(2), 331-341.

 

Harraway, D. 2017. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 

 

Hickey, A. 2016. Rupturing settler time: visual culture and geographies of Indigenous futurity. World Art. 9(2) 163-180.

 

Keeling, K. 2019. Queer Times, Black Futures. New York: New York University Press.

 

McKittrick, Katherine. 2013. "Plantation futures." Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism 17, no. 3 (42): 1-15.

 

Povinelli, E. 2011. Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

 

Tsing, A., H. Swanson, E. Gan and N. Bubandt, eds. 2017. Arts of living on a damaged planet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

Tsing, A. 2015. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life at the End of the World. Princeton University Press.

Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. 2014. "R-words: Refusing research." Humanizing research: Decolonizing qualitative inquiry with youth and communities: 223-248.

Whyte, K. P.  2018. “Indigenous science (fiction) for the Anthropocene: ancestral dystopias and fantasies of climate change crises”, Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 1(1-2):224-242

Wynter, S. and K. McKittrick. 2015. Unparalleled catastrophe for our species? Or, to give humanness a different future: Conversations. In K. McKittrick, ed. Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis. Durham: Duke University Press. 9-81.

 

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