Sustainability Frontiers: Decolonising Sustainability

This blog is part of a short series written by Laila Mendy, PhD student at NRHU, as she attended the Sustainability Frontiers conference. Opening and Decolonial Perspective on Sustainability Science: The day began with a demonstration of what much of decolonial scholars have been arguing for: by centring the perspectives and insights from decolonial scholars and indigenous researchers in the sustainability sciences conversation. Vasna Rasamar curated an panel discussion with Professor Lyla Mehta, Professor Bagele Chilisa, and Senior Lecturer Anna-Lill Drugge, all concerned with addressing what they see as a sustaining weakness of the sustainability sciences: the reproduction of colonial dynamics, practises and norms. Rasamar began by asking each of the speakers to present what they consider to be an ongoing frontier in sustainability. These are summarised shortly below: From Lyla Mehta: The term “Sustainability” came from German forestry management in the 1800s, which wanted to explore ways to continue resource extraction into the long term. From there it was consolidated and instrumentalised with – and alongside- other colonial practises of territory grabbing, othering and racialised categorisation, and removal of- and restriction of access to- indigenous peoples. Such practices adhere in much mainstream sustainable development today where, in the name…

Forces of Reproduction

In her book Forces of Reproduction: Notes for a Counter-Hegemonic Anthropocene (2020), Stefania Barca, drawing on a materialist ecofeminist analysis of the world, proposes a counter-narrative to the hegemonic one around the Anthropocene. She questions the exclusionary and normative character of the dominant narrative and, thus, she challenges the very foundations of capitalist/industrial modernity. In doing so, by bringing forward a narrative justice, she makes visible and accounted for those who have been removed, silenced, denied existence. These other-than-master subjects and beings are what she calls “the forces of reproduction” – those who do the work of sustaining life in its material and immaterial needs. These life-enhancing forces are, for Stefania, “a queer political subject” and a “political subject in the making”. Throughout this year Stefania has been involved in a number of events discussing the themes of her book. You can watch the different recordings below. Thank you to all involved for the opportunity to be part of these events! In April Stefania was invited into a dialogue with Nancy Fraser, Hedda Andersson visiting Professor at LUCSUS, Lund University. The dialogue featured a book presentation by Stefania, followed by a discussion by Nancy Fraser. The event was moderated by…

Remembering Maria and Zé Cláudio : Earth Defenders from Amazonia, 10 Years On

(Photo credit: Felipe Milanez, 2010) On May 24, 2011, Maria do Espirito Santo and Zé Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva, nut collectors and members of the agroforestry project (Projeto Agro-Extractivista, PAE) of Praialta Piranheira in the Brazilian Amazon, were brutally murdered as a consequence of their engagement in protecting the forest from illegal logging and timber trafficking. Making their lives out of a non-exploitative and regenerative relationship with the forest, and passionate about the defence of the rights of both Amazonia and its people, Maria’s and Zé Cláudio’s deaths belong to the number of earth defenders whose lives are being taken, year after year, for opposing the infinite expansion of global economic growth and social metabolism (Global Witness 2019). In 2012, the pair were posthumously recognised as Forest Heroes by the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat for their work fighting illegal forestry. This May we honoured their memory and talked about their legacy for environmental justice struggles in Brazil and beyond. Zennström Professor in Climate Change Leadership, Stefania Barca, and Bartira Fortes, representative of Latinamerikagrupperna, held a moderated discussion with:  Claudelice de Silva Santos, Zé Cláudio’s sister and frontline defender, who continues to oppose the human rights and land violations happening in the wake…

Remembering Berta Cáceres

This International Women’s Day we remembered Berta Cáceres, Indigenous leader and environmental defender from the Lenca people of Honduras. Berta’s murder on March 2nd 2016 was directly associated with her campaign in the defence of the Gualcarque river, the site of a proposed dam in Lenca territory. In her first public event as Zennström Professor Stefania held a conversation with Berta’s daughter, Bertha Zuñiga, in order to understand how her work lives on and the continued struggle for justice in the region. We were very grateful to Bertha for taking the time to speak to us so openly. Many thanks also go to Grettel Navas, Azucena Moran and Katia Lara for their support with this event. Watch the video from the webinar. The video is a mixture of Spanish and English. You can also read the English and Spanish transcripts here. Thank you to María Florencia Langa for transcription and translation. This tragedy of Berta’s murder is not in isolation. In 2019 alone, it is estimated that over 200 environmental defenders were killed as a consequence of their commitment to protect the environment and indigenous lands. Indigenous leaders and Indigenous women leaders in particular have been at the forefront of…