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Call for Papers: “Militant Coresearch and Political Ecology”

Dimensions of Political Ecology 2019: https://www.politicalecology.org/

Organizers

Caitlin Schroering (University of Pittsburgh) and Patrick Korte (Virginia
Commonwealth University)


This CFP welcomes papers examining forms of knowledge production,
collaborative research, and dynamics of power and domination that infuse
the socio-ecological relations of capital. This knowledge/power nexus
includes the entanglement of bodies, social relations, and natures. The
interactive dynamics of knowledge and power are perhaps well-studied and
understood; however, following the critique by Raewyn Connell (2007), academia
all too often fails to incorporate voices (knowledge) from the periphery.
Yet this exclusion of voices is only one dimension of the problem.
Boaventura de Sousa Santos (2004) argues that capitalism has also
legitimized the use of “modern science” as a means to justify ideology and
policies pursued by global capital as “rational,” which has in fact
contributed to the destruction of alternative forms of knowledge, referred
to by Santos as “epistemicide.” Yet, there are also examples that confront
this destruction, and that show how the academy can be a part of producing
collaborative research that challenges capitalism and epistemicide.  For
Santos (2004), one space where this occurs is in the “sociology of
emergences” where contemporary social movements interact with each other,
demonstrating alternatives to capitalist social relations.

Of course, the idea of collaboratory research is not new. Indeed, the
Italian practice of conricerca or “coresearch” as articulated by Romano
Alquati (and others) in the 1950s and ‘60s, sees that collaboration between
workers and researchers can produce a new form of knowledge, build the
dialectical unity of revolutionary theory and practice, and ultimately
breakdown the distinction between scientific researcher and political
militant (Wright 2002, Sacchetto, D. et al. 2013).   While there has been a
recent interest in the perspective of class and social composition and the
corresponding method of “workers’ inquiry” or “militant coresearch,” these
tendencies have had relatively little to say regarding the entanglement of
bodies, social relations, and natures, and there appear few examples of
cross-pollination between this “anarcho-sociology” (Roggero 2014: 515) and
the radical interdisciplinary approaches of political ecology (i.e.
syntheses of and blurring lines between geography, anthropology, sociology,
and environmental studies). Furthermore, this notion of coresearch is
rarely discussed within academia in the United States, often excluded by
the non-dialogic pedagogies that reign hegemonic (Freire 2000).

This points to a larger systemic problem posed by the capitalist
university, which through neoliberal policies and practices has become what
Giggi Rogero (2014) refers to as the “edu-factory.” The university is both
a site for the extraction of surplus value, as well as disciplinary
exclusion/integration based on class, race, gender, sexuality, geographic
location, citizenship, and politics. Beyond/through/despite the
“edu-factory” is the space of the “undercommons,” encompassing “networks of
rebellious solidarity that interlace within, against and beyond dominant
institutions and power structures” (The Undercommoning Collective 2016). We
see that coresearch has the potential to be a part of this undercommons and
to upset the order of the edu-factory, serving as a prospective site for
the co-production and circulation of contested socio-technical-ecological
knowledge(s)/power(s).  In the spirit of a “right to the city” as
articulated by Henri Lefebvre (1968) and David Harvey (2013), we are
interested in the processes and potentialities of a collective right to
create alternative ways our organizing our world(s). Coresearch has the
potential to reclaim the university as a commons for the co-production of
knowledge.

Like political ecology, coresearch is as akin to Paul Robbins’ (2012)
“hatchet and seed” approach — a collaborative process of simultaneously
smashing the old while prefiguring and harvesting the new. This speaks to
the core of political ecology, the need to jettison the nature/culture
binary, and the politics immanent to so-called "apolitical ecology"
(Robbins 2012, Moore 2015). A political ecological critique of
more-than-human culture—with its political and economic constructs which
(re)produce systems of knowledge, power, and value—is integral to the study
of environment and ecology. The idea of an "apolitical natural" is itself
inherently political because "it holds implications for the distribution
and control of resources” (Robbins 2012:18). Here we seek to also build on
and explore the work of feminist studies and ecofeminist approaches to
questions of power and epistemology, and the interconnectedness of gender,
science, technology, research, and ecology (Griffin 1978, Haraway 1991,
Harding 2015). We thus seek to extend and explore these ideas to the realm
of coresearch, arguing that the processes, methods, and techniques of
research itself hold political, economic, and ecological consequences.

With both “hatchet and seed,” political ecology challenges reified
conceptions of nature, the binaries of nature/culture, the domination of
more-than-human life by capital, and has potential to inform political
imaginaries of socio-ecological alternatives by both breaking and bridging
disciplinary boundaries (Robbins 2012). Coresearch challenges the
edu-factory through destroying binaries of “researcher” and “militant,” and
striving to incorporate militant research perspectives and practices
outside and against the Ivory Tower. However, while both coresearch and
political ecology make complementary use of ethnographic methods and
techniques, they are not synonymous. Indeed, ethnography can reinforce
problematic hierarchies of power, as manifest in the histories of
(neo)colonial ethnographic practice. Further, one can approach research
through a political ecology lens, while not participating in coresearch;
and those engaged in coresearch have not typically done so through a lens
of political ecology. In this session, we seek to explore the symbiotic
potential of these two approaches.

Possible themes for papers include but are not limited to:

   -

   Ethnographies of the Anthropocene (or Capitalocene).
   -

   Social (re)production and political ecology.
   -

   Activist or militant research, such as workers’ inquiry, coresearch,
   participatory action-research, and popular pedagogies.
   -

   Knowledge (co)production and power relations.
   -

   (De)coloniality of knowledge.
   -

   Empirical examples of coresearch.
   -

   Theoretical explorations of coresearch methods, techniques, and
   processes.

Please send your abstract (no longer than 300 words) to Caitlin Schroering (
[log in to unmask]) and Patrick Korte ([log in to unmask]) by *10 p.m. on
December 28th*. You may also contact us with any questions.

References

Connell, R. (2007). "The Northern Theory of Globalization." Sociological
Theory, 25(4), 368-85.

Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum.

Griffin, S. (1978). Women and Nature. The Roaring Inside Her.

Haraway, D. (1991). Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature.
New York: Routledge.

Harding, S. (2015) Objectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific
Research. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Harvey, D. (2013). Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban
Revolution. London: Verso.

Lefebvre, H. (1968) Le Droit à la ville. Paris: Anthropos.

Moore, J. W. (2015). Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the
Accumulation of Capital. London: Verso Books.

Notes from Below (2018) “The Workers’ Inquiry and Social Composition.” Notes
from Below (#1). Available:
https://notesfrombelow.org/article/workers-inquiry-and-social-composition

Robbins, P. (2012). Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction (2nd ed.).
Malden, MA; Chichester, West Sussex: J. Wiley & Sons.

Roggero, G. (2014). “Notes on Framing and Re-inventing Co-research.” Ephemera:
Theory & Politics in Organization, 14(3), 515-523. Available:
http://www.ephemerajournal.org/contribution/notes-framing-and-re-inventing-
co-research

Sacchetto, D. et al. (2013) “Coresearch and Counter-Research: Romano
Alquati’s Itinerary Within and Beyond Italian Radical Political
Thought.” Viewpoint
Magazine. Available: https://www.viewpointmag.com/2013/09/27/coresearch
-and-counter-research
-romano-alquatis-itinerary-within-and-beyond-italian-radical-political-thought/

Santos, Boaventura de Sousa. (2004). "The World Social Forum as
Epistemology of the South." The World Social Forum: A User's Manual, B. d.
S. Santos (ed.), 13-34.
The Undercommoning Collective. (2016).  “Undercommoning within, against,
and beyond the university-as-such.” ROAR Magazine. Available:
https://roarmag.org/essays/undercommoning-collective-university-education/
Wright, S. (2002). Storming Heaven: Class Composition and Struggle in
Italian Autonomist Marxism. London: Pluto Press.

-- 
Patrick E. Korte
M.S. Candidate, Department of Sociology
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, VA
https://rampages.us/kortepe

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