Political Ecologies of Ontological Plurality

The “ontological turn” in the social sciences (and beyond) complicates and challenges our understanding of the co-constitution of social natures. Rather than tracing the becoming of socionatural assemblages or actor-networks on a single ontological plane, we must instead consider the interfaces, overlaps and interactions between multiple, often unevenly positioned worlds and world-making projects. Recent work, particularly in anthropology (de la Cadena and Blaser 2018; Omura et al 2018) points to the possibilities and complexities of engaging ontological plurality, but grounding this theory in our research praxis can often be difficult. To render other worlds legible through our own epistemological frameworks translates the pluriversal multiplicity into universal singularity--yet, as political ecologists, how do we responsibly engage with the materiality of socio-ecological inequality without precluding this multiplicity?


The goal of this session is to facilitate a conversation that explores the “political ontology” (Blaser 2013) of existence in the pluriverse through empirical research in political ecology.


Possible topics include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Methodological engagements in the pluriverse (i.e. How does one actually do a political ecology of more than one world?)

  • The effects of epistemological encounters and translation between different (hierarchized) worlds, materially, politically, and socially entangled through relations of power 

  • The intersection of “radical difference” (de la Cadena 2015) with settler colonialism and/or racial capitalism to produce, compound--or resist--material exclusions

  • Apertures for decolonization through everyday practices that refuse ontological reductionism

  • Accountability in the pluriverse: how is research that explores ontological plurality made meaningful for/with the (often marginalized) communities whose worlds and world-making practices we engage as difference in academic knowledge production? 


Those interested in contributing should send an abstract of no more than 300 words to Elizabeth Shoffner (esho@uw.edu) no later than 5pm EST November 24th; participants will be notified of inclusion Nov 25th and should register for DOPE by Dec 1.


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