HomeVers une nouvelle théorie politique environnementale ?

HomeVers une nouvelle théorie politique environnementale ?

Vers une nouvelle théorie politique environnementale ?

9th Graduate conference de théorie politique

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Published on Monday, August 29, 2022 by Lucie Choupaut

Summary

In many ways, the ecological devastation puts contemporary political theory in crisis. On the one hand, the crumbling of the tacit pact of political modernity with material abundance and the irruption of nonhuman forms of agencies collide head-on with the assumption that human affairs are autonomous from the world around them. On the other hand, the collapse of biodiversity, the depletion of natural resources or global warming insistently question the frontier between theory and practice: which theorist can still be satisfied with elaborating normative principles without asking the strategic question of their implementation? On this occasion we are calling for contributions from doctoral students, either in French or English. We welcome contributions coming from the various approaches of political theory and philosophy but also from other disciplines of the humanities and social sciences. 

Announcement

Argument

The Ninth Graduate Conference of Political Theory, which will be held at Sciences Po Paris on December 12th and 13th 2022.

On this occasion we are calling for contributions from doctoral students, either in French or English. We welcome contributions coming from the various approaches of political theory and philosophy but also from other disciplines of the humanities and social sciences. 

This 2022 edition will focus on the relationship between political theory and environmental questions. We will have the great pleasure of welcoming Alyssa Battistoni (Barnard College, Columbia University) as a keynote speaker (see bibliographic note below).

In many ways, the ecological devastation puts contemporary political theory in crisis. On the one hand, the crumbling of the tacit pact of political modernity with material abundance and the irruption of nonhuman forms of agencies collide head-on with the assumption that human affairs are autonomous from the world around them. On the other hand, the collapse of biodiversity, the depletion of natural resources or global warming insistently question the frontier between theory and practice: which theorist can still be satisfied with elaborating normative principles without asking the strategic question of their implementation?

A new environmental political theory is necessary and already emerging. Many thinkers, attentive to the contribution of environmental sciences and other social sciences, sensitive to the links between environmental crises and relations of domination, and open to other cosmologies, are now trying to sketch out a political theory capable of responding to ecological issues. This conference aims to present some examples of this new environmental political theory by emphasizing its work-in-progress.

The conference will be organized around four thematic panels (subject to change according to the contributions received):

  • Ecological Epistemologies: Political Theory and Transdisciplinarity
  • Critical theory(ies) and ecology
  • New cosmologies and cultures of nature
  • Strategies and politics of the Anthropocene

1. Ecological Epistemologies: Political Theory and Transdisciplinarity

Political theory is characterized by its sometimes normative orientation, but also by its constant back and forth with the empirical, from which it draws its objects of study, its questions and sometimes its conclusions. This very open panel will be an opportunity to question the nexus between political theory and other sciences that have long proposed theoretical models on the intersections between politics and the environment, such as history (Merchant, 2021 ; Chakrabarty, 2021 ; Malm, 2017), anthropology (Tsing, 2017; Descola, 2005; Viveiros de Castro, 2015), geography (Castree 2014; Smith 1984), sociology (Latour, 1991), but also economics (Ostrom, 2010; Martinez Alier, 2003), or the natural, Earth system or climate sciences. This workshop aims at establishing an inventory of intellectual and institutional transdisciplinary dialogues in France and elsewhere in order to identify their economies, their achievements and their potential shortcomings. Contributions will also focus on the practices of researchers when they import methodologies (archives, interviews, observations) or borrow concepts ("anthropocene", "non-humans", "futurism/presentism"...) from, for example, environmental history, nature or perspectivist anthropology, economics of the commons. 

  • How does the ecological crisis reactualize feminist and decolonial critiques of science (Haraway 1991; Harding 1986; Mignolo 2001)?
  • Does the climate emergency require Political Theory to negotiate a pragmatic turn by casting its normative dimension aside (Hache 2011)?
  • What is the status of intellectual and institutional dialogues between Political Theory and other sciences (social and natural)? What are the achievements and shortcomings in this area ? What role will political theory play in the growing field of environmental humanities?

2.  Critical theory(ies) and ecology

In this panel, we will question the relationship and contributions of critical theory - or rather critical theories - to the study of ecological issues. This workshop will seek to address ecological issues through the analysis of relations of domination and exploitation provided by various critical approaches (Frankfurt School, ecosocialism, ecological Marxism, ecofeminism, decolonial ecology, theory of social reproduction, queer ecologies).

  • How does the environmental crisis requires a re-actualization of the critique of capitalism (Guillibert 2021, Balaud and Chopot 2021)?
  • How can we think about the gendered and colonial dimension of the destruction of nature (Merchant 2021, Salleh 1997, Ferdinand 2019)?
  • More generally, how do different relations of domination and exploitation play a role in environmental degradation, and where do we draw the concepts and tools needed to think about an intersectional ecology?
  • What ontological and epistemological framework do we need to account for the interactions between "historical natures" and capitalism: a substance monism articulated to property

dualism (Malm 2018), the model of metabolic rift (Foster 2011), or the world-ecology hypothesis (Moore 2015)? 

3. New cosmologies and cultures of nature

Political theory and philosophy have long been caught in a tension between the desire to incorporate environmental issues and an anthropocentric vision of politics. The ecological crisis marks the irruption of new non-human beings and actors, which implies a new "cosmopolitics" (Stengers 1997) allowing their voices to be heard. This workshop will focus on the consideration of non-human agencies within contemporary political theory and will question the effects of such cosmological evolutions on our understanding of politics.

  • What can the anthropology of nature do for political theory?
  • Do attempts to bring nonhumans into politics lead to a depoliticization of human power relations (Malm 2018; Washick et al. 2015)?
  • How does the environmental question challenge our ontology of the political?
  • What might be the role of certain spiritualities, particularly ecofeminist ones, in creating more harmonious relationships to other living things (C.P.Christ 1978, Starhawk 2003)?

4. Strategies and politics of the Anthropocene

With the ecological crisis intensifying and the overshoot of the nine planetary limits, the alternative between mitigation and adaptation now appears obsolete and political reactions are changing registers.  In this panel, we will analyze the wide range of policies, ideologies, imaginaries/representations and forms of collective action that are emerging at the heart of the crisis of fossil capitalism: the eco-fascist project (Dubiau 2022) of a new ethno-nationalist rootedness in the territory, motivated by the neoMalthusian anxiety of immigration and supported by a restrictive border policy proper to climate barbarism (Naomi Klein 2019); the liberal and/or authoritarian eco-modernism (Charbonnier 2020) that opts for green growth ensured alternatively by market mechanisms or by state regulation; the socialist project of a Green New Deal that links the ecological transition to the struggle against austerity and for social justice, notably through "green job" plans; the hypothesis of a green workers' movement (Battistoni 2017); the various community grassroot movements actively building, from below, innovative social and political forms, breaking away from fossil capitalism in search of agricultural and territorial sovereignty as in the case of La Via Campesina.

  • How to articulate the unavoidable tension between centralizing verticality and decentralized autonomies, between reformist and revolutionary strategies and real utopias (Wright 2020)?
  • What collective actions seem necessary today to achieve a just transition (Youth for Climate strikes; occupation of territories at Standing Rock and in the ZADs in France; climate protests; sabotage of fossil infrastructures by Ende Gelände in Germany; institutional empowerment)?
  • Is an ecological transformation of our societies led by a "green" state (Eckersley 2004) possible and desirable? Through which institutional tools (planning, investment plans, constitutional transformations.), with which implications for democratic forms (articulation between knowledge and power, science and deliberation, experts/technocracy and the "governed")?
  • What transformations does the climate cataclysm impose on the notions of sovereignty and autonomy? Are we moving rather towards a planetary ecological Leviathan based on geoengineering, a localist climate Behemoth that links nationalism and denialism, or a hybrid form (Wainwright and Mann 2018; Jacob Blumenfeld 2022)?
  • How can the modern ideal of collective autonomy be saved outside of the Cornucopian presupposition of material abundance characteristic of the autonomy-extraction and autonomyintegration paradigms (Charbonnier 2020; Berlan 2021; Pruvost 2021; Benanav 2022)?

About Alyssa Battistoni, the keynote speaker 

As a young researcher she completed her PhD at Yale university in 2019, before joining Harvard University as an Environmental Fellow in 2020. That same year she integrated the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study and the Barnard College. Adding on to her distinguished academic career, paved by multiple publications in prestigious/leading scientific reviews, Alyssa Battistoni also frequently writes in the columns of engaged/politically vocal papers with a broader audience/readership, like the New Left Review or Jacobin. This appetite for /interest in popularization comes with a call for researchers to become further involved in political affairs, as her co-authoring of A Planet to Win : Why We Need a Green New Deal (Verso 2019) illustrates.

Her scientific work hinges on climate and environmental policies as much as marxism and feminism. Her doctoral dissertation, which is in the process of being published, focuses on the different capitalist modes of valuing nature (Free Gifts : Capitalism and Politics of Nature). She thereby seeks to open a new perspective, which would enable us to better understand the work done by nature outside the logic of commodification. In many respects her research tackles an even richer variety of subjects : from the condemnation of the Leviathan theories in the light of democratic standards, to concrete public policy proposals regarding ecology, social issues, feminism, to which should also be added her novel theorisation of « hybrid labour » combining human and non-human agents.         

Submission guideline

To participate in the conference, please submit your proposal in PDF format (300 words) to graduateconf2022@gmail.com

by September 30.

We will send our responses by October 20.

Scientific committee and organization team

  • Marius Bickhardt (CEE, Centre Marc Bloch)
  • Gauthier Delozière (École de droit)
  • Maxime Gaborit (CEE)
  • Léo Grillet (CEE)
  • Claire Lejeune (CEE)
  • Léna Silberzahn (CEVIPOF, LabTop-CRESPPA) 

Subjects

Event format

Full on-site event


Date(s)

  • Friday, September 30, 2022

Keywords

  • théorie environnementale, matérialisme, non-humain, théorie critique

Information source

  • Léna Siilberzahn
    courriel : lena [dot] silberzahn [at] sciencespo [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Vers une nouvelle théorie politique environnementale ? », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, August 29, 2022, https://calenda.org/1013242

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