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New Political Ecologies: Globalization, Sustainability, Precarity


Dr. Joost de Bloois,  Prof. dr. Yolande Jansen

Members of the research group

dr. H.J.M. van Baar, S. Balamir, dr. J.G.C. de Bloois, dr. R. Celikates, dr. C. de Cesari, dr. H.O. Dijstelbloem, dr. N.A.J.M. van Doorn, dr. E. v.d. Hemel,  dr. H.Y.M. Jansen, B.J. de Kloet, dr. C.M. Lord, dr.  N. Martin, drs. A.G. Mazel, dr. M.K. van Mechelen, Eva Meijer, dr. E. Peeren, dr. T. Poell, dr. M.I.D. van Rijsingen,

Description of the research programme of the research group

The Globalization, Sustainability, Precarity research group will focus on two key issues that have arisen, in contemporary theory, as a consequence of (economic) globalization: sustainability and precarity. The research group will take both notions in their broadest sense and, crucially, will analyze their many points of intersection and basic correlation. ‘Sustainability’ will be understood in the broad sense of
both environmental and social or cultural durability. ‘Precarity’ – as the reverse of sustainability - will be conceptualized not exclusively, although notably, as socio-economic uncertainty, but equally as cultural, ecological and subjective vulnerability. The Globalization, Sustainability, Precarity research group will analyze theoretical and other (e.g. political and artistic) kinds of engagement with sustainability and precarity as so many types of opposition to the hegemonizing effects of economic globalization, and take as its point of departure ‘globalization’, precisely in terms of an emerging socio-political, cultural and epistemic polycentricity. We will cover a variety of geo-political areas from a transversal perspective (Europe, North America, Asia, Latin America), as well as a broad range of (contemporary) theories in a productive dialogue: e.g. political philosophy, neo/post-marxism, new materialism/speculative realism and its critiques, decolonial thinking and radical anthropology, actor-network theory, cultural and ethnic studies. Our focus will be on the nexus between cultural, political and ecological theory and will, essentially, be interdisciplinary by involving theories and theorists exterior to the narrower field of the Humanities, e.g. ecology, anthropology, sociology. In particular the Globalization, Sustainability, Precarity research group will focus on the (possible) intersections and alignments of struggles in the socio-political, cultural and ecological fields. We will investigate the darker sides of globalization by, among others, concentrating on the many precarious subjects, and their affinities/differences, in today’s globalized world: from refugees and undocumented workers, to the ‘precariat’ and indigenous subjects. Moreover, we will, crucially, understand ‘ecology’ in its jointly articulated environmental, cultural and socio-political sense as life-world. ‘Sustainability’ therefore involves not just an ecological ethos but also a ‘political ecology’ involving resistant subjectivities, new forms of social/class composition and the possibilities of new imaginings and practices of the global/world. This research group belongs to the following research constellation (zwaartepunt):- Globalisation (Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies)

Envisaged results

Individual research will lead to peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and monographs, including the forthcoming volume resulting from the ‘Detention, Deportation, Drowning in La Mer Mortelle’ conference that took place in February 2013. The project will result in a collective book project. Provisional results of the research will be presented at conferences and workshops (see above).
6. Work plan and time schedule (max. 100 words)
The Globalization, Sustainability, Precarity research group has already started as a monthly reading and discussion group. Members of the research group already successfully applied for conference funding and organized a two-day international conference. For the near future several conference panels have been proposed. The research group will continue to meet regularly in a reading group and will organize conferences and workshops, and co-apply for research funds. The project will be streamlined as of May 2013 and run for a minimum of four years. During a meeting in May 2013 a provisional timeline and work schedule will be established.

Societal relevance

The Globalization, Sustainability, Precarity research group addresses two of the key issues of globalization. Sustainability and precarity crucially relate to the fundamental environmental and socio-political questions of our contemporary world, both within and well beyond the Netherlands. Moreover, the Globalization, Sustainability, Precarity research group explicitly understands these issues, and their respective theorizations, as intimately related and co-extensive. The research group places sustainability and precarity – both as practices and concepts – in a polycentric geo-political context, beyond West/East or North/South divides. It looks for the transversal relations between contemporary cultural and socio-political movements and different types of cultural production. The group’s activities will involve collaboration with non-academic practitioners and thinkers (e.g. cultural producers, activists) as well researchers from outside the Humanities (e.g. social sciences, ecology, anthropology).

This research group is active in the following constellations: