Cfp: Recapturing Resources: Politics of Resourcing and Reconfigurations of Extractivism

Joint Workshop of the dgv Working Group “Europeanization_Globalization. Ethnographies of the Political”, DGSKA Regional Group “Europe,” and the Center for Interdisciplinary Regional Studies (ZIRS) at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg with

Jamie Cross (The University of Edinburgh) and Gisa Weszkalnys (London School of Economics)
25-26 June 2020
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

The workshop is jointly organized by Jens Adam (University of Göttingen), Katja Müller (MLU Halle), Felix Schiedlowski (MLU Halle), Andreas Streinzer (Goethe University Frankfurt/Main), Jelena Tosic (University St. Gallen) and Asta Vonderau (MLU Halle).

An awareness of climate change and its disastrous effects is by now widespread in media, as well as in academic and political debates. It prompts the question of how we are to achieve a sustainable future. How can today’s societies be reshaped in regard to energy consumption and resource extraction? How may new natural resouces and ways of energy supply be discovered? What political decisions and technological innovations are required? And what social and environmental consequences will such transformations have in various parts of the world?

Given the fact that western “carbon democracies” (Timothy Mitchell) are not only based on, but also shaped by fossile energy and natural resource extractivism, such futures seem to be difficult if not impossible to think of. At the same time, it is obvious that extractivim is not inherently coupled with democratic societies; rather, it flexibly integrates with different political systems to form multiple and changing configurations of capitalism in various places and over changing periods of time. Furthermore, extractivism not only shapes landscapes and lifestyles in capitalist economies, but also lifeworlds and environments which appear – at least at first sight – not as part of capitalist economic zones, as for instance off the grid communities or non-industrial places which still might experience effects of extractivism.

Within anthropology, different schools and methodological approaches including political economy, political ecology, marxist or STS inspired anthropology have dealt with resources in different ways. These lines of thought often existed parallel to each other. Our workshop aims to think through these different perspectives in relational ways. Following Richardson and Weszkalnys (2014), we aim to think beyond a “methodological modernism” which studies natural resources exclusively as isolated entities and commodities within the frame of capitalist economies. In line with Jamie Cross (Cross 2014; Cross and Murray 2018) we want to avoid limiting us to binaries such as commodity/waste, modernization/decline, scarcity/abundance by considering a range of possible conditions and creative activities which fill the space between these assumed extremes, such as modes of care, reuse, and repair. We thus understand natural resources as formed through a relational performance of productive generative powers (including the powers of capitalism and inequality) that exceed formal economic models (Cross, Muray 2018). The workshop focusses on, but is not limited to, the following thematical issues:

1. Resource Materialities: The Becoming of Resource Environments
2. (Re-)configurations of Extractivism and their Temporalities
3. Relational Geographies of Extractivism and Resourcing
4. Politics if Resourcing: Values and Valuations

We cordially invite scholars working on or interested in the above-mentioned questions to join the workshop. This workshop is based on various discussion formats, joint readings and keynotes. Accordingly, workshop participants are not expected to prepare an individual presentation. Interested participants are, however, invited to propose a 5-7 Minutes problem-oriented input based on their own research which may serve as a starting point for joint discussions of the methodological and other questions raised. There is no participation fee to be paid. Travel and accomodation costs cannot be covered by the organizers.

The workshop  will take place at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, it begins on Thursday, June 25th at 1p.m. and ends on Friday 26th of June at 3.30 p.m. The workshop has an interactive format and is based on different forms of discussion and dialogue with the keynote speakers and other participants, as well as on inputs from young scholars research projects and common readings. The detailed program and readings will be sent to registered participants later. 

In order to register please contact:
katja.müller[@]zirs.uni-halle.de
asta.vonderau[@]ethnologie.uni-halle.de

Making Post-Extractive Futures in Data- Saturated Worlds

Call for Articles – Edited Volume
Strukturwandel: Post-extraktive Zukunft in datengesättigten Welten / Making Post-Extractive Futures in Data- Saturated Worlds

There is a growing awareness across the world that in order to enable a sustainable future, extractive
industries and economies based on those industries need to be transformed. Accordingly, national
governments, transnational institutions as well as various experts and public initiatives are currently
negotiating scenarios for such transformations in trying to anticipate their social and environmental
effects.

In Germany, for example, the upcoming exit from coal mining is expected to entail a major structural
change, or Strukturwandel for whole regions. According to economic theory, structural change
comprises a shift from agricultural to industrial and to the service sector, and subsequent
transformations for employment, industry organization, financial systems, or income and wealth
distribution. However, the impact of mining goes way beyond the economic sphere, as does structural change. Accordingly, the consequences of exiting mining are expected to be felt not only in the economical and labour sector, but also to significantly change cultural and social life. These transitions are, furthermore, heavily intertwined with institutional change, technological development, and everyday life.

This book aims to investigate the making of post-extractive futures in different social contexts and
from interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives. Using the German notion of Strukturwandel, we suggest a more general take on post-extractive transformation as a fundamental and multidimensional process. Strukturwandel impacts societies in various, also unexpected ways and its effects may be unevenly distributed among locales and actors. Seen as inevitable and complex,
Strukturwandel is, however, also regarded as being malleable and governable in political and public
discourses. This implies the possibility and even necessity of engagement, participation, and
collaboration of public as well as political and economic actors.

Digitization is one of these powerful future scenarios, supposedly applicable to former mining and
other post-industrial areas. Visions of information technologies enabling connected and integrated
futures for currently suspended and closed down regions is elaborated upon in political and
technological discourse, such as, for instance, plans of turning former industrial buildings into digital
innovation labs and science parks, or former mining areas into “smart regions” and testfields for ITbased services. Digitization is even expected to modernize “old” industries, enabling them to survive the industrial transition by means of virtualization (“industry 4.0”). Given the popular image of IT technologies as inclusive, future-oriented and environmentally friendly, this contemporary
postindustrial scenario is often welcomed by broader publics and the media.

At the same time, it can be argued that digitization with its high penetration of all aspects of society is
causing rather than cushioning structural change, and heavily impacting social life and natural
environment. The expanding energy-consuming infrastructures and industries needed to implement
digital innovation might as well lead to environmental damages and new inequalities, related to the
uneven distribution of connectivity and technological intelligence.

In this book, we are especially interested in how visions of Stukturwandel, exit from mining,
connectivity and IT-based innovation are being integrated into predictive models and scenarios of the future, and how these are implemented. How is knowledge about the future in/of post-extractive datasaturated worlds produced, distributed, and applied? And how are IT-related needs of energy and
natural resources calculated and legitimized in regard to an anticipated (smart and sustainable) society of the future?

We invite contributions that investigate Strukturwandel and the making of post-extractive futures
either in relation to mining or (and) in relation to digitization. Essays can comprise, but are not limited to, questions of the sociocultural impact of Strukturwandel, its process and navigation, sectoral interlinkages, lived experiences, political necessities, and the moral, technical and economic challenges and chances related to it. Case studies from different locales and (post-)industrial sites are welcome.

In methodological terms, we are interested in going beyond the traditional divides of old and new
industries, and to think through different infrastructural-industrial developments with their spatial and temporal dimensions, bearing in mind that even breaks can be regarded as specific forms of relation.

We welcome contributions in both English and German language.
Please send an abstract of no more than 500 words by December 31st, 2019 to katja.mueller@zirs.uni-halle.de or asta.vonderau@ethnologie.uni-halle.de.

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