This Open PEI Seminar will seek to respond to the wave of mobilizations against the climate crisis taking place in different parts of the world, with the intention of discussing the numerous variations in contemporary political imagination in connection with the eco-social transition. From proponents of the Green New Deal to eco-socialist approaches to the logic of community disconnection to eco-feminist critiques of extractivist policies, these theoretical positions overlap with the practical work that multiple groups of activists, political representatives, social stakeholders and cultural producers have been undertaking.
This plurality of voices will converge at the seminar with the aim of providing a partial (and not univocal) response to two specific questions. Firstly, to the need to constitute and consolidate a new material culture of life that mitigates the damage to the ecosystem caused by late-stage capitalist civilization. Secondly, and with the purpose of conferring perspectives on reality on this aim, the desire to reactivate a strategic imagination which, in critical contrast to the course of the emancipatory projects of the 20th century, facilitates bringing about the eco-social transition to a future of rational regulation of the socio-environmental metabolism.
Directed by Jaime Vindel, a member of PEI management. European Doctor of Art History and Master in Philosophy and Social Sciences. Researcher with the Ramón y Cajal Programme of the Institute of History of the Spanish National Research Council, where he is working on a study on the relationship between the metaphors of thermodynamics and the cultural metaphors of fossil modernity.
Language: All conferences that are not in Spanish or Catalan will have simultaneous interpretation.
Miriam García Torres is an ecologist and feminist. She is an activist in the sphere of anti-globalization, peace and solidarity with Ecologists in Action, works with Peace Brigades International (PBI) and is part of the collective Miradas Críticas del Territorio desde el Feminismo. She holds a master’s degree in socio-environmental studies from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO-Ecuador) and is specialized in socio-ecological conflicts, feminist political ecology and human rights. She lived in Latin America for a number of years where she accompanied and learned from the processes of resistance of indigenous communities and women in defence of the territory against extractive megaprojects.
Luis González Reyes is a member of Ecologists in Action, where he was confederal coordinator for nine years. He is a member of Garúa S. Coop. Mad., which is committed to facilitating eco-social transitions by promoting specific practices, training, investigating and accompanying processes. His work in these four areas is mainly focused on topics relating to ecology, economy and pedagogy. In this sphere he is a regular collaborator with several universities. He also works at FUHEM, where he is the coordinator of eco-social education, and manages healthy and ecological school canteens. He is the author or co-author of some twenty books on different facets of social ecology. Among them are En la espiral de la energía and Educar para la transformación ecosocial. He holds a PhD in chemistry.
Yayo Herrero is an anthropologist, social educator and agricultural engineer. She works as a professor and collaborator with the UNESCO Chair of Environmental Education and Sustainable Development (UNED) and is a founding member of Cooperativa Garúa. She is an accomplished researcher in the European eco-feminist and eco-socialist sphere and has participated in numerous social initiatives on the promotion of human rights and social ecology, a field in which she has published more than twenty books and numerous articles. She was director general of the foundation FUHEM from 2012 to 2018 and coordinator of the Centro Complutense de Estudios e Información Medioambiental of the Fundación General Universidad Complutense de Madrid from 2009 to 2012. As well as a member of the editorial board of Hegoa and the editorial board of Papeles, she was also confederal coordinator of Ecologists in Action from 2005 to 2014.
Laura Laguna is an eco-social activist with different collectives such as the Red Ecofeminista. She holds a master’s degree in gender from the Complutense University of Madrid. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in feminist studies at the university.
Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic, community feminist, teacher, defender of life, the earth and territories and spokesperson for the K’iche Peoples Council. Coordinator of the Community Consultation in Santa Cruz del Quiché in 2010 in which 87 communities with a total of more than 27,000 assembly participants rejected transnational extractive companies in the mining, oil, hydroelectric, forestry monoculture and other industries. Since then Lolita has been threatened, persecuted, criminalized and prosecuted for her actions in defence of the land and the territory. She has been granted precautionary measures of protection by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. She is a direct petitioner in complaints against the Guatemalan State filed before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and in international complaints against transnational corporations.
Ánxela Louzao is a biologist and in recent years she has worked in the sphere of scientific research developing a doctoral thesis in the field of genetics. She is currently participating in the MACBA Independent Studies Programme where she is investigating the link between art, science and ecology.
Joan Martínez Alier nació en Barcelona en 1939. Estudió Economía y Derecho en la Universidad de Barcelona. En 1961 se desplazó a Oxford, y después a Stanford, para estudiar Economía Agraria. Fue becario de investigación en el St. Antony’s College, en Oxford, entre 1963 y 1973. Es autor de libros sobre luchas agrarias en Andalucía, Cuba y Perú, y colaborador del Journal of Peasant Studies, además de miembro de la editorial Ruedo Ibérico de París. Regresó a la UAB en 1975 como catedrático de Economía e Historia Económica y, posteriormente, de Economía Ecológica. Fue cofundador del ICTA-UAB. En 1990 puso en marcha la revista Ecología Política. En 2019 publicó su autobiografía, titulada Demà serà un altre dia. Una vida fent economia ecològica i ecologia política. Es codirector del EJAtlas (ejatlas.org), y está preparando su último libro sobre conflictos ambientales: Terra, aigua, aire i llibertat. Recibió el premio Leontief de Economía en 2017, y se le concedió una beca ERC Advanced Grant (EnvJustice, 2016-2021).
Cara New Daggett es profesora del Departamento de Ciencias Políticas en el Virginia Tech, donde investiga la política energética y medioambiental. Su libro The Birth of Energy: Fossil Fuels, Thermodynamics, and the Politics of Work (Duke, 2019) traza la relación entrelazada de las políticas del trabajo y la energía tras el descubrimiento de la energía en el siglo XIX. También ha escrito en torno a la «petromasculinidad», exponiendo la estrecha relación entre la misoginia y la negacionista climática en los movimientos de extrema derecha. Su investigación actual, que desarrolla en colaboración, se pregunta cómo los enfoques feministas sobre el poder y la justicia son la mejor manera de imaginar y diseñar los sistemas de energía.
José Platzeck holds a licentiate degree in modern letters from the Department of Philosophy and Humanities of the National University of Córdoba, Argentina. He is pursuing a doctorate from the university through the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET). He is a student of the MACBA Independent Studies Programme. His work seeks to relate extractivism, aesthetics and coloniality. He is involved with several research teams on biopolitics, control, decolonial studies, ecopolitics and gender studies. He is the co-editor of Sujetos sitiados: biopolítica, monstruosidad y neoliberalismo (Cocco, Giorgi, Mezzadra, Torrano, et al.).
Emilio Santiago Muiño, PhD in social anthropology with a dissertation on the systemic transition in Cuba after the fall of the Soviet Union. He has been a doctoral researcher and lecturer at the Department of Social Anthropology and Spanish Philosophical Thought at the Autonomous University of Madrid. He has been part of the Transdisciplinary Research Group on Socio-Ecological Transitions (as part of the HUAMECO project: Environmental Humanities – Strategies for Ecological Empathy and the Transition to Sustainable Societies) as well as the board of the Institute of Human Rights, Democracy and Culture of Peace and Non-Violence (DEMOSPAZ, Autonomous University of Madrid). He is the founder of the social transformation project Rompe el Círculo (Móstoles) and an activist with the Rompe el Círculo Transition Institute. He currently works as director of the environment for Móstoles City Council.
Marian Simón Rojo is a doctor of architecture and associate professor at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning of the ETSAM, Technical University of Madrid (UPM). Joining the Bajo el Asfalto está la Huerta collective was a turning point for connecting the concerns about vulnerable neighbourhoods and ecological deterioration with community-managed agro-ecological alternatives. At present she is working in militant research on social and ecologically responsible urbanism, agroecology, integration of the agro-food system in planning and comprehensive rehabilitation of neighbourhoods. The founder of Surcos Urbanos, she has backed the Madrid Agroecológico and Extinction Rebellion platforms since their inception.
Daniel Tanuro is an agricultural and environmental engineer from Belgium. He is the author of Green Capitalism: Why it Can’t Work (Fernwood Publishing, 2014), Le Moment Trump, une nouvelle phase du capitalisme mondial (Demopolis, 2018) and Il est trop tard pour être pessimiste (in press).
“Energy: a Geo-Theology of Work”, led by Cara New Daggett
EEnergy and work are intertwined, both in the scientific definition of energy (the ability to do work) and in the political manifestation of human-fuel practices. The energy-work connection continues to haunt attempts to divest from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel advocates rely upon the threat of job loss to mobilize affection for oil, coal or gas. In this talk, I will trace the historical emergence of the relationship between energy and work, focusing upon how work came to be understood and valued as a site of energy transformation. With the ‘discovery’ of energy in the 19th century, energy physics fed a geo-theology of work that advanced British industrial imperialism. This energy-work ethos informed the emergent fossil fuel culture, wherein technical categories of work and waste intersected with racialized – and gendered – judgments of productivity and sloth. Thinking about energy historically suggests that shifting our fuel cultures will require a corresponding shift in (post)-industrial cultures of work.
“The global environmental justice movement and the EJAtlas”, led by Joan Martínez Alier
The Global Atlas of Environmental Justice (EJAtlas) reached over three thousand entries in January 2020, enabling great advances in comparative political ecology. It is a large selection within a total number of socio-environmental conflicts whose magnitude is unknown – tens of thousands around the world. Why are there so many environmental conflicts and so many protests? A short answer: because the industrial economy is not circular but entropic. The industrial economy has a voracious appetite for new supplies of materials and energy, and it deposits its waste in the atmosphere, oceans, rivers and soil. Even an industrial economy without growth would need fresh supplies of materials and energy from the “frontiers of extraction” because energy dissipates and materials are recycled only to a small extent.
“Eco-socialism as an imaginary.New paradigms and strategies in the face of disaster”, led by Daniel Tanuro
It is too late to avoid ecological catastrophe. The challenge is to slow down its effects and prevent it from becoming a cataclysm. Confronted with a brutal and productivist capitalism, we need an alternative civilizing perspective. Eco-socialism is much more than a new label for an old bottle. On one hand, it embraces its affiliation with the revolutionary socialist perspective. On the other, it marks a radical break with the productivism that has dominated – and continues to dominate – the left and the labour movement. It is essential to break with the idea that the absence of limits is synonymous with freedom. Reality tells us just the opposite: there is no freedom without an awareness of limits. It is this realization that leads us to proclaim the need to produce less, transport less and share more according to real, democratically determined needs. In conformity with this principle, eco-socialism strives to design and implement programmes and strategies where a multiplicity of struggles can converge.
FRIDAY 6 MARCH
Extractivism and ecofeminism
“The model of life of indigenous peoples, a challenge to the crisis of neoliberal civilization”, led by Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic
Indigenous peoples have a model of life that embraces the reciprocity of the COSMOSER (“cosmos state of being”), an intergenerational commitment of diverse and plural communities in the network of life. It is constantly impacted by the neoliberal extractivist model, so-called “development”, imposed on territories in dispute and which is built on national, patriarchal, capitalist and racist systems, causing manifold oppressions and civilization crisis. Feminisms and peoples are taking clear and forceful positions. An example of this are the actions of the defenders of life who use their bodies as the first territory of defence since taking on the commitment to freeing the water, air, earth and mountains from the multinational companies of death also entails taking on the commitment to freeing women’s lives from many types of violence. This is the path to utz k’aslemal, the good life.
“Extractivisms and expulsions: resistance to the monsters of heartbreak”, led by Yayo Herrero
Following Saskia Sassen, we can argue that the capitalism of production and exploitation has evolved into a capitalism based on the extraction of goods from the earth, from bodies and times and from expulsion. From the perspectives of eco-feminisms and territorial feminisms it is possible to understand the nature of the crises we face and the possibilities for reconstructing resilience and dignified lives. The pivotal thread is the centrality of life in reorganizing politics, the economy and culture.
“Extractivism and patriarchy. Corporate power at war with life”, led by Miriam García Torres
The conflicts stemming from extractivism are a reflection of an economic system that clashes head-on with the biophysical limits of the planet, negates any form of life found outside the parameters of economic rationality and which is structurally based on centre-peripheral, urban-rural, classist, colonial and patriarchal power relationships. Analyzing extractivism through (eco-)feminist perspectives will enable us to understand that the process of accumulating capital, neocolonial forms of dispossession of people and territories and the entrenchment of patriarchal relationships are three elements that go inseparably together. In this context, it is essential to focus on the struggles of rural and indigenous women who are challenging the foundations of capitalism, colonialism and the patriarchy head-on in defending the water, land, rivers and forests as they safeguard other forms of understanding the world based on the sustainability of life.
Debate with Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic, Yayo Herrero and Miriam García Torres moderated by Ánxela Louzao and José Platzeck
SATURDAY 7 MARCH
Roundtable: “The role of political organizations and social movements”, with Emilio Santiago Muiño, Marian Simón Rojo, Laura Laguna and Luis González Reyes. Moderated by Jaime Vindel
The roundtable “Social movements and institutional change” aims to generate a fluid dialogue between members of political organizations and environmental movements with different profiles and backgrounds in the context of Spain. Each of them will speak to us from their specific experience about the possibilities and limits they detect in the current cycle of eco-social struggles as well as about the synergies and conflicts they can have with institutional action. What place should public policies occupy in the eco-social transition? In what way can they be conjugated with prototypes of community life that radically challenge the current socio-environmental metabolism? What are the most urgent tasks for environmental movements in the short and medium term? What forms of collaboration and what frictions can emerge with institutional politics?
If you have any question, feel free to contact us on 93 481 33 68 or by email at macba [at] macba [dot] cat.