Category Archives: Blog

CSPS seminar: “Explore the Carpathian Garden!” – Securing nature as greener in the periphery of Europe

“Explore the Carpathian Garden!” – Securing nature as greener in the periphery of Europe

Tuesday 5 June, 11:30 – 12:30

Leeuwenborch C78

The seminar will investigate the emergence of green economy and securitization logics in the process of constructing the Carpathian Mountains as a wilderness frontier. The project of establishing ‘The European Yellowstone’ in Romania will serve as a study case in understanding the expansion and adaptation of neoliberal environmental governance in the region.
Green economy and securitization lump together across the globe, scholars from different disciplines producing critical analyses on how these two processes unfold and conceal each other’s genealogies (Masse, Lunstrum 2016). Cases particularly from the Global South account for the co-productive ontology of the two, where securitization practices are highly depoliticized and green businesses are assumed to be environmentally harmless (Kelly, Gupta 2016). Mostly ignored in current academic debates, the same processes develop unabated in peripheral Europe, a region in which their necessity is locally predicated on narratives of degradation, disruption and evanescence of wilderness threatened by illegal logging and wildlife trade (Dorondel 2016). Although new member states are supposed to implement EU environmental directives in which human-made landscapes are regarded as valuable (Neumann 2014), over the last few years the region has witnessed notable initiatives celebrating untouched nature and rewilding opportunities (Vasile 2018). In Romania some of the most extreme projects advocate severe measures of protection, fencing formerly communal lands and banning forest dependent groups from using their traditional sources of income (Iordachesu 2018). Both Romania’s touristic brand and the set of policies opening the agricultural and forestland markets for the global capital have encouraged a boom in green businesses developments (EcoRuralis 2016), particularly nature-based tourism.

In the case that we are presenting these imaginations of pristine nature have actively remaking economies, landscapes, livelihoods and social relations inside communities. Particular attention will be devoted to understanding the postsocialist transformations which offered the fertile conditions of saving and constructing wilderness reserves as private initiatives.

Speaker bio

George Iordachescu is a PhD Researcher in Analysis and Management of Cultural Heritage at IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca, Italy. His current research investigates within a political ecology approach the emergence of untouched nature narratives in Eastern Europe. George’s interests span from environmental history to critical museology mainly revolving around ecotourism, green grabbing, theories of access and green cultural studies. From 2016 to 2017 he was part of a team of sociologists from the Romanian Academy of Sciences which investigated and mapped over 1700 community based institutions managing pastures and forestlands across rural Romania.




Annual lecture by Erik Swyngedouw


We are happy to announce that we have confirmed Erik Swyngedouw to give our annual lecture on Thursday 7 June from 16:00 – 17:30 at Leeuwenborch C64. Erik Swyngedouw is Professor of Geography at Manchester University. His research interests include urban political-ecology, hydro-social conflict, urban governance, democracy and political power, and the politics of globalisation. His was previously professor of geography at Oxford University and held the Vincent Wright Visiting Professorship at Science Po, Paris, 2014. He recently co-edited (with Nik Heynen and Maria Kaika) In the Nature of the City (Rotledge, and (with Japhy Willson) The Post-Political and its Discontents: Spectres of Radical Politics Today (Edinburg University Press, 2014) and is author of Social Power and the Urbanization of Nature (OP 2004) and Liquid Power (MIT 2015), a book that focuses on water and social power in 20th century Spain. His forthcoming books are Promises of the Political (MIT 2018) and, co-edited with H. Ernstson, Urban Political Ecology in the Anthropo-obscene (Routledge 2017)

Interrupting the Anthropo-Obscene: The De-politicized Politics of the Anthropocene as Immuno-biopolitical Fantasy

Erik Swyngedouw

In the presentation, we shall use ‘the Anthropocene’ to denote the proposed new geological era during which humans have arguably acquired planetary geo-physical agency, a term increasingly mobilized by both geologists and Earth Systems scholars. While recognizing a wide-ranging and often contentious debate (see e.g. Castree 2014a, 2014b, 2014c; Hamilton, Bonneuil and Gemenne 2015), we hold that the Anthropocene is a deeply depoliticizing notion that off-stages political possibilities. This off-staging unfolds, we contend, through the creation of what we refer to as ‘AnthropoScenes’, the mise-en-scene of a particular set of narratives that are by no means homogeneous, but which broadly share the effect of off-staging certain voices and forms of acting. Our notion of the Anthropo-obScene then, is our tactic to both attest to and undermine the performativity of the depoliticizing stories of ‘the Anthropocene’.

First, we examine how the AnthropoScenes can be viewed as a set of stages that have constructed and engaged the signifier ‘Anthropocene’. While internally fractured and heterogeneous — ranging from those promoting geo-engineering and Earth System science as an immunological prophylactic to our situation to interlocutors developing more-than-human and object oriented ontologies in search of a new politics — there is an uncanny effect of placing things and beings, human and non-human, within a particular relational straightjacket that does not allow for a remainder or constitutive outside. Second, building on post-foundational political thought, we shall articulate in theoretical terms what is being censored and rendered obscene, and how foregrounding this may hold possible paths toward re-politicization. We mobilize theoretical perspectives that have attempted to cut through the last decades of pervasive de-politicization. These views understand the political in terms of performance and, in an Arendtian manner, as constituted through a space of appearance, a performative public acting-in-common that politicizes subjects and spaces (Arendt 1958: 199). From this perspective, the political is understood as forms of acting subtracted from what is gestured to hold socio-ecological constellations together. In other words, the political is manifested in forms of excessive or supernumerary acting that exceeds the internal relational assemblage from which it emerges.



Re-learning Public Spaces Summer School | 28th June – 30th June and July 3rd 2018

You are welcome to join the Re-learning Public Spaces Summer School: 28 th June – 30th June and 3rd July. The Summer School will further develop your thinking about the social impact of your research. It is connected to an event that turns around the concept of traditional academic conferences, in the sense that participants will spend most of their time doing fieldwork and generating new insights, rather than solely reporting on their ongoing research. The Summer School will thus have the set-up of an Action Research Lab.

You can find the learning outcomes on the website:

Research fellow: Dr. Bas Verschuuren

We are pleased to inform you that Dr. Bas Verschuuren will be joining us as a research fellow.

Dr. Bas Verschuuren

Bas obtained his PhD from the Department of Sociology of Development and Change (WUR, 2017). His thesis ‘Creating Common Ground’, focussed on synergies and disjunctures between practices and ontologies of Indigenous people and conservation actors in Australia, Ghana and Guatemala. His MSc. in Environmental Systems Analysis (WUR, 2005) looked at regional management and cultural valuation of wetland ecosystems services in Northern Australia. Culture and conservation have been his focus ever since is BSc. (LIC, 2000) when he did participatory research on the role of cultural uses and values of the pastoral communities in the buffer zone of Hustai Nuru National Park in Mongolia.

Bas his academic work is ethnographic, applied, participatory and co-constructed with local communities, Indigenous peoples, conservation experts and people from NGOs and government. Its emphasis is on the management and governance of natural and cultural heritage in the context of various designations, landscapes and waterscapes.

Previous research project encompassed a global inquiry into the role of sacred natural sites in conserving nature and culture while highlighting biodiversity conservation. A study on the same topic but with a Regional focus on Asia, moved beyond biodiversity conservation and yielded more insight in the governance of the cultural and natural dimensions of sacred space.

Bas has also completed an applied research project on the development of indicators for community well-being in biocultural landscapes in Ghana, Bolivia and Sri Lanka. The project converged around the well-being of the humans and landscapes through biocultural indicators and discussion on scaling in local and international governance.

A current research project brings together philosophical and applied academic research with professional experiences on the role of the cultural and spiritual significance of nature in the governance and management or protected and conserved areas. It has resulted in his fourth edited volume and an international volume of Best Practice Guidelines for the International Union for Conservation of Nature is currently under development.

Complementary to his teaching and research, Bas consults for international conservation organisations such as IUCN and UNESCO. He serves as a co-chair to the IUCN WCPA Specialist group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas and is the co-founder of the Sacred Natural Sites Initiative

Bas has published over 40 journal articles and book chapters and is currently working on his fifth edited volume bringing together 40+ authors on the role of indigeneity in contested sacralised landscapes.



Seminar: Towards a post-apocalyptic anthropology: harbouring the prospect of life

Towards a post-apocalyptic anthropology: harbouring the prospect of life

Seminar on the occasion of the retirement of dr. A. Arce (SDC)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018, 9:45 – 17:30

Wageningen, Forum C0314

Calling for a post-apocalyptic anthropology is a provocative move to critically discuss so-called crisis of governance, failures of public policy, bio-power effects that have been with us at least since WWII and that are said to bring about an ecology of destructive practices. Are the ways in which these phenomena experienced and perceived part of apocalyptic modes of existence in the making or are they already with us? If they are already with us, what is the effect of these apocalyptic modes of existence on living entities? Are apocalyptic situations revealed through human beings increasingly experiencing insecure and alienated modes of life or are such apocalyptic situations a contemporary expression of diminishing social interactions brought about in and through bio-power? See the complete mission statement for this seminar here.

Preliminary seminar program:

09:45 – 10:15    Reception and coffee

10:15 – 10:25     Opening by dr. Gerard Verschoor

10:25 – 10:45    Words to the retirement of dr. Alberto Arce by prof. Bram Büscher and prof. Han Wiskerke

10:45 – 11:15     Prof. Mara Miele: Animals and changing consumption practices (title t.b.c.)

11:15 – 11:30      Coffee break

11:30 – 12:00    Prof. Terry Marsden (title t.b.a.)

12:00 – 13:00    Lunch

13:00 – 13:30    Words to the retirement of dr. Alberto Arce by prof. Norman Long (emeritus) and prof. Leontine Visser (emeritus)

13:30 – 14:00    dr. Alberto Arce: Towards a post-apocalyptic anthropology

14:00 – 15:30    Workshop Session 1

15:30 – 15:45     Coffee break

15:45 – 17:00      Workshop Session 2

17:15 – 17:30      Closure by dr. Gerard Verschoor

17:30                    Drinks