Undisciplined Activism

Last updated, 24 Sep 2015
Additional info: 
a workshop at the ‘Entitle’ Conference
20/03/2016 to 23/03/2016


Undisciplined Activism - a workshop at the ‘Entitle’ Conference (Stockholm, 20-23 March 2016)

Call for contributions

The idea of this workshop originates from our dissatisfaction with two ways of seeing environmental activism. On the one hand, there is the tendency to understand ‘the environment’ as a separate issue, not intersecting with social or political problems, and vice versa. The separation between social and environmental policies, in other words, is often reflected by a similar separation between environmental and other kinds of social activism.  This separation between social and environmental issues is entangled with certain social understandings of what environmentalism is meant to be, what Martinez Alier has called ‘the cult of wilderness’ and ‘the gospel of eco-efficiency’. In this view, environmentalism should aim at conserving wildlife and natural resources without questioning the economic system or social values. An alternative proposal is that coming from the Environmental Justice movement, which sees the environment as the place of human dwelling, source and requirement for a safe and healthy livelihood. This implies that the social, the political and the environmental are fundamentally co-constitutive. 

We thus want to discuss the need, and the possibilities, for intersectional activism. We invite a discussion on how environmental activism can and should relate to different forms of activism, on issues such as public health, peace, solidarity, work, migration, mental illness, homelessness, racism and sexism – and vice versa, how can social justice movements benefit from incorporating an environmental perspective. How does this integration change the way of framing different problems and activist practices? How do we actively promote it?  

On the other hand, we find that the emphasis on social movements obscures certain kinds of environmental activism which could be defined as ‘institutional’ – that conducted in existing institutions with the aim to radically transform them from within. One example is that of the anti-psychiatric movement that took place in Italy during the 1970s, which revolutionized mental health-care practice and policies starting from the centrality of the (living) environment. This was a kind of activism which revolved around students and practitioners from within mental health institutions. What possibilities do we see today for environmental ‘institutional activism’? What space can it find within local, national or even global institutions? how do we challenge the distinctions often implicitly made between different spheres of the individual identity (citizen, worker, militant, activist, artist, blogger, researcher, intellectual...) and the different spaces in which activism takes place (movements, workplaces, NGOs, public agencies, etc.)?  What conditions allow cooperation and permeability among these spaces? How do they conflict with each other? With what consequences? What does it mean for us to integrate environmental activism into our daily practices?

The workshop will take place during the international conference Undisciplined Environments (Stockholm, 20-23 March 2016), organized by the European Network of Political Ecology ‘Entitle’. Limited funds are available for travel grants. If you are interested in sharing your personal experience or reflections upon the above questions, please send a max 500-word abstract of your contribution and a brief bio profile (100 words), by 9 October, to: Lucie Greyl: luciegreyl@asud.net, and Laura Centemeri: laucetta@gmail.com