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ASCA Political Ecologies Workshop

Starting date: September 2019 Organizers: Joost de Bloois: Jeff Diamanti:

This year’s New Political Ecologies Workshop explores emergent practices in the humanities and social sciences that help refigure disciplinary boundaries amidst social and environmental precarity. Political ecology names the interconnectivity of the materials, political forces, and economic forms that animate embodied relations to the earth. Those relations are co-constituted in a recursive fashion. The study of economy, ecology, or politics in isolation becomes a reactionary impediment to any effort to overcome the dominant condition of the present, marked as it is by asymmetrical exposures to capitalism’s exertion of extractive and exhausting violence over the bodies, climates, and energies of the planet. New political ecologies are emerging across the disciplines, cultural spheres, and social movements that help bring the nature of those violence into relief. These include new work on care (Bellacasa 2017), energy and transportation infrastructures (Anend et al., 2018), degrowth (D’Alisa 2014), geopower (Povinelli 2016; Yusoff 2018), petroculture (Szeman 2019), post-sustainability (Stoekl 2007/2019), waste (Boetzkes 2019), and toxic bios (Lengo and Armiero 2017).

This year’s workshop is committed to exploring these new conceptual, artistic, and critical orientations and to putting into practice a form of creative and collaborative research necessary for new forms of knowledge production in warming and exhausted world. The structure of the workshop will include a variety of public talks, reading groups, and collaborative research projects that help bridge the gap between social, physical, and economic ecologies. What is the political ecology of infrastructure space, non-institutional media outlets, unregulated labour markets, and the biomes pulled into the swell of rising seas and heated atmospheres? Who to turn to in order to begin thinking through such new ecologies? How do existing and new artistic practices help create encounters with these entangled environments, and what are the critical traditions most relevant for supporting and elaborating those encounters (from Guattari’s ‘three ecologies’ to Bataille’s ‘general economy’, from autonomism to biopolitics)? And what kinds of conceptual attachments aid us in building out an immersive political ecology not saturated by precarity?

We propose the following activities, as part of the continued workshop ‘New Political Ecologies’. The 2019-2020 workshop can be seen as an ecology of sorts: a series of related and interconnected activities that allow participants to address the questions raised above. The study group ‘New Political Ecologies’ will provide theoretical consistency and continuity, by means of a conceptual milieu for the proposed activities.

For registration or further information, please contact the organiser, Jeff Diamanti and Joost de Bloois (;

Activities 2019-2020:

Reading Group: October-May

Upcoming sessions:

  • February 21: we’ll be discussing texts by Andreas Malm and Cymene Howe

Lectures and workshops:


Public Talk and Masterclass by Cymene Howe

Public Lecture: Friday, March 6th @ 17:00-19:00 PCH 1.05 (Spuistraat 134)

Melt, Rise and Hydrological Globalization – An Origin Story 

Around the globe glaciers and ice sheets are losing their mass, oceanic thermal expansion continues and populations are seeing landscapes denuded of ice while others are becoming flooded by seawater. Rapidly transforming cryo- and hydrospheres promise misery to millions. But these elemental state-shifts are also locations of material connectivity where places and people are becoming linked through their water. In this presentation, I juxtapose the loss of Icelandic glaciers with rising seas in lower latitude coastal cities impacted by Arctic melt. A theoretical proposition that I call “hydrological globalization” forms the analytic infrastructure for the presentation and highlights a new NASA model that determines which glacial basins are contributing to sea level rise in the world’s coastal cities. I close with reflections on my recent public-facing work to memorialize the first major Icelandic glacier to be lost to climate change, Okjökull. 

Cymene Howe is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rice University and author of Ecologics: Wind and Power in the Anthropocene (Duke University Press) and Intimate Activism: The Struggle for Sexual Rights in Postrevolutionary Nicaragua, also at Duke University Press. Ecologics is one half of the duograph Wind and Power in the AnthropoceneEngergopolitics, by Dominic Boyer, is the other half.

Masterclass: Friday, March 6th @ 10:00-12:00, PCH 5.08 (Spuistraat 134)

Ecologics: Wind and Power in the Anthropocene

For the masterclass, Dr. Howe will discuss political ecologies in conversation with her recent book, Ecologics: Wind and Power in the Anthropocene (Duke UP). Students can access the book as open access (PDF download) here:

Participants should read 1) the introduction, 2) the chapter on “wind,” and 3) Cristián Simonetti and Tim Ingold’s “Ice and Concrete: Solid Fluids of Environmental Change,” Journal of Contemporary Anthropology 5.1 (2018). 

Public Talk and Masterclass by Andreas Malm

Andreas Malm is currently a research fellow at Critical Theory in Berlin, based at the Humanities and Social Change Center, Humboldt University. In 2020, Verso will publish his How to Blow Up a Pipeline: Learning to Fight in a World on Fire, and White Skin, Black Fuel: On the Danger of Fossil Fascism, written together with the Zetkin Collective. 

Public Talk: ‘Skin and Fuel: Two Episodes in the History of Fossilised Whiteness’

March 12th 17:00-19:00, Doelenzaal in the University of Amsterdam library , Kloveniersburgwal 87

From Sweden to Spain, Poland to the US, Germany to Brazil, recent years have witnessed a surging far right at just the moment of intensifying climate breakdown. This far right tends to deny the existence of any climate crisis and insist on maximum production and consumption of fossil fuels and other climate-destroying resources. At the same time, it positions itself as the defender of a racially defined nation – to all intents and purposes, the white nation. What are the historical sources of this configuration? Based on the book White Skin, Black Fuel: On the Danger of Fossil Fascism, written by the Zetkin Collective and forthcoming from Verso in 2020, this lecture will hone in on two episodes in the history of fossilised whiteness: first, the imperial use of steam-power and its place in nineteenth-century racism; second, the articulation of race in the automobile in twentieth-century US and early twenty-first century Europe. The history of the links between whiteness and fossil fuels remains to be explored in depth. But scratching the surface of these two episodes suggests that the ongoing surge of an anti-climate, pro-fossil-fuel far right is bringing deep historical forces to the fore. The talk will also speculate on various possible scenarios of far-right politics in a rapidly warming world.

Masterclass: White Skin, Black Fuel

March 12th, 10-12:00 , VOC-Zaal, Bushuis (Kloveniersburgwal 48)

PhD and Masters students are invited to a two-hour masterclass on Malm’s forthcoming book, White Skin, Black Fuel: On The Danger of Fossil Fascism (co-written with the Zetkin Collective). Readings available upon request.

Co-hosted by Spui25, the ASCA Political Ecologies Seminar, and the Environmental Humanities Centre (Vrije University)


April:  Marlon Miguel (Berlin), ‘Fernand Deligny: Tracing, Map-Making and New Political Ecologies’

May: Erik Bordeleau (Montreal/Berlin), ‘New Political Ecologies and Crypto-Currencies’


September : Friday, Sept 20th: Lecture and masterclass by Allan Stoekl (Penn State) (author of Bataille’s Peak: Energy, Religion and Post-Sustainability; The Three Sustainabilities, forthcoming 2019).

For registration or further information, please return this form or contact the organisers, Jeff Diamanti and Joost de Bloois (;

rMA and PhD students are eligible to take this workshop for credit

BA and MA students are welcome to attend workshops (not for credit)

  • 1 EC for attendance to one session with a response paper (see below)
  • 6 EC for attendance across one term with 2 response papers and a final research paper (see below)

Tasks / Assessment (6 EC)

(1) reading compulsory readings and related literature pertaining to the topic at hand;
(2) writing a Reading Report for two of the meetings about the material read (2 x 20% = 40% of final grade); or one for 1 EC
(3) attending the sessions and engaging your views during discussions;
(4) writing a Final Paper on a chosen topic (60% of final grade) for 6 EC;
(5) present your preliminary findings prior to the final session (date/time tbc).

Reading Reports

Each participant seeking 6 EC will complete two reading reports during the tutorial, which will be graded (2 x 20% = 40% of final grade). These reading reports should be between 1000 – 1200 words in length (not including references), and should be emailed to the course instructors 24 hours before the relevant seminar (i.e. usually this is before Thursday 17:00). Please remember include your name/student number and a bibliography at the end of the text. While we expect that most students will choose one of the readings for the reading report, we expect you to show your familiarity with the other required reading for that week (i.e. citing those texts in relation to your chosen text).


A reading report is a “mini-review”. So please also orient yourself towards book reviews – see, for example, the advice given in Wendy Belcher “Writing the Academic Book Review”.

In general, a reading response should answer (most or all of) the following questions:

• Who is the author? What is the subject matter of the book / article? What type of text is it (who is the intended audience)?

• What are the author's motivations/reasons for writing this book/ article (as indicated by the author himself or apparent from context)?

• What is the structure of the book/article (how does the book present its argument)?

• What does the book/article achieve (what do we learn that we did not know / what does an informed audience of scholars learn that the scientific community did not know)?

• How is the book connected to the state of research on the topic (other important publications or public debates on the topic)?

• Is it well written (does the structure make sense? Is the argument convincing? Does the author achieve an economy of presentation i.e.: Is there an overload of information, or a scarcity of information, or does the author hit the right balance?)

• What did you personally find most interesting? Where do you agree with the author, where do you not agree? How can you apply the book/article to your own research? Did the book/article prompt you to think about the topic further – and if so, in which way?

The bulk of your response should be devoted to critically assessing the CONTENT of the chapter/article; information such as author’s biography, etc., should be clearly but BRIEFLY addressed. Additionally, do not make the bulk of your response your OPINION; rather, we would like to see evidence of your ability to critically and productively engage with the author’s posits, conclusions, or viewpoints.

Instructions for Final Paper

The final paper is a mini-paper on a self-chosen topic that should engage the themes and readings of the tutorial. The required length is 2500 – 3000 words and the deadline is Friday 17 January 2020 (before 17:00). Email final paper to both Drs. de Bloois and Diamanti in a single message.

We will schedule an additional meeting so that each student participant has the chance to present their paper theme/concept and receive feedback.