PhD workshop | Authoritarian Natures? Political Ecologies of Post-Truth, the State, and Resistance | 1-7 July, Wageningen, Netherlands

(c) lisa trogisch

This six-day (plus preparation) intensive PhD workshop will be held from 29 June – 7 July 2020 in Wageningen, the Netherlands. This course is planned to complement the 3rd biannual conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN) in Brighton, UK from 24-26 June 2020. The workshop gives motivated PhD students the chance to deepen their knowledge on political ecologies in an era of intensifying authoritarianism, populism, and post-truth politics, and to interact with the international team of cutting-edge scholars we have assembled to deliver the course. 

The course covers interrelated themes of interest in contemporary political ecology. Attending the rise of 21st century “authoritarian populists” is the emergence of a “post-truth” world, in which well-worn questions of truth, knowledge, and power have come into stunningly sharp resolution, signalling a new era of anxiety and contestation over what counts as truth—especially concerning policies on environment and development—and who has the authority to decide. Common features include racialized nationalism and attacks on democratic institutions in the context of neoliberalism, trends that raise fundamental questions about relationships between state power and market power, and what this means for the ongoing marginalization and oppression of groups who are defined as populism’s “others”. 

In some cases, the connections are all too clear: Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord, approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline, gutting of environmental regulations; Bolsonaro’s assault on indigenous peoples, forests, other-than-humans, and environmental laws; Xi’s enclosures in Xinjiang. But beyond these, how does the rise of authoritarian populism and post-truth affect how we see, understand, and deal with intertwined environmental, political, economic, and social issues? While resources and the environment are central to state power generally, how are these relationships changing? What are the underlying territorial and political-ecological tensions, inequalities, representations and claims from which authoritarian and populist politics have emerged, and which they reproduce? In what ways is this current political ecological formation new, for whom is it new, and (how) is it articulating new forms of politics, contestation, and political mobilization? In short: What does it mean to do political ecology at both macro and micro scales in this political moment?​ 

The 2020 Wageningen Political Ecology Summer school focuses on these themes and welcomes PhD candidates to join a great line-up of speakers to discuss their implications for political ecology and just futures.

[Illustration by Lisa Trogisch]