Resource extraction impacts our daily lives and has helped push the climate to the brink, but there are people around the world living and fighting for alternative ways forward. Join hosts Christopher Chagnon and Sophia Hagolani-Albov and their guests on the last Friday of each month for a discussion of the impacts of extractivisms, alternative ways forward, and stories from people living the struggle every day. If you are someone interested in how our environment and societies have come to their current state or learning about different ways we can move forward, this is the podcast for you.
Robin Broad and John Cavanagh - Can local movements beat big companies?
1:00:18This month we were very fortunate to be joined by Robin Broad and John Cavanagh. Robin is a professor at the School of International Service at American University and John is a senior advisor and the former director of the Institute for Policy Studies. They joined us to talk about their recent released book The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country From Corporate Greed from Beacon Press. In this conversation we jump into the dangerous world of environmental activists trying to defend their communities and health against the incursions of international extractive corporations. We talk about how the fate of communities and lands can be impacted by decisions made in the shadowy and extremely pro-business ICSID courtroom. Robin and John spent a decade working closely with these water defenders in Northern El Salvador in their fight and victory against a global mining corporation. Links: Mining Watch Canada - https://miningwatch.ca/ The Institute for Policy Studies - https://ips-dc.org/ If you want to learn more, please check out Robin and John’s book The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country From Corporate Greed. There were also some great recordings from their book launch events available online, for example this one in collaboration with Mining Watch Canada or this one from the American University SIS Office of Research. Robin will also be joining the October 2021 EXALT conference as a plenary speaker. Registration and attendance via Zoom are 100% free of charge! --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/exalt-initiative/message
Victoria Kiechel - How has extractivism become intertwined in our built environment?
57:12In this episode we talk to Victoria Kiechel, a professor from American University. She is an architect and teaches in the School of International Service. Her focus is on the relationship between the built environment and extractivism. This conversation is premised on Victoria’s contribution to the open access book Our Extractive Age (link below). We talk about building as they contribute (or don’t) to urban and social life. We discussed the lifecycle of buildings and the extent of the extraction in all forms that accompany the built environment. The extraction which accompanies the built environment spans from literal extraction from the Earth in the form of building materials, to the displacement of communities, to financialization (via profit driving more extraction), to the construction labor. This discussion highlights the complexity of the built environment and how to be aware to minimize the most negative impacts of the extraction which occurs with making buildings. It is inevitable that humans will continue to develop built environments, but it is important to avoid hyper-building and the rush to demolish. A key to countering extractivism in the built environment is fostering the development of a built environment that brings joy, flexibility in use, and can be long lasting. Our Extractive Age: Expressions of Violence and Resistance, edited by Judith Shapiro, John-Andrew McNeish – Link to Open Access Edition. See Victoria’s chapter - Extraction and the Built Environment: Violence and Other Social Consequences of Construction (Chapter 6, page 114-132) Other Resources: Urbanist and Danish Architect Jan Gehl (https://gehlpeople.com/) --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/exalt-initiative/message
Mira Käkönen - How do dams impact climate change?
56:13Mira Käkönen is currently a post-doctoral researcher in Global Development Studies at University of Helsinki. She is an environmental social scientist with a focus in political ecology and water infrastructures through the lens of infrastructural politics and the intersection of water and climate. Her work focuses on the Mekong region and the impact of hydropower development. This exciting conversation was a deep dive into the history of water infrastructures and the impact of these development schemes. We talked about the concept of resource making and how river waters are developed and objectified to be turned from naturally flowing rivers into resources that can be “tamed”, commodified, and extracted. We delved into the logic of hydroelectricity and the violent reductions that accompany ordering riverine resources. Hydropower can itself be extractivism and it serves to support other extractivisms, like mining and forestry. Mira highlights some of the false promises of renewable energy when one considers the large scale landscapes changes wrought by the introduction of hydropower dams, their accompanying infrastructures, and knock-on effects. Readings mentioned: Mira’s Dissertation: Fixing the fluid: Making resources and ordering hydrosocial relations in the Mekong Region Christopher Sneddon: Concrete Revolution: Large Dams, Cold War Geopolitics, and the US Bureau of Reclamation Scholars Mentioned: Carl Middleton, Keith Barney, Ian Baird, Sango Mahanty, Sarah Milne Organizations Mentioned: International Rivers, Save the Mekong Coalition If you are interested in learning more about Mira’s research, please check out her University of Helsinki research profile. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/exalt-initiative/message
Arturo Escobar - Why are communities key to transforming the world?
52:29Arturo Escobar is a Professor emeritus of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He also works in Colombia as a Research Associate with the Culture, Memory, and Nation group at Universidad del Valle in Cali and the Cultural Studies groups at Universidad Javeriana in Bogota. He has published widely on political ecology, ontological design, and the anthropology of development, social movements, and technoscience. This exciting conversion ranged extensively over so many rich topics. We started the discussion with who are you and got some reflection and insight into how Arturo sees himself in world and the journey he has taken to get to his current academic work as an intellectual activist. We also discussed the role of academic knowledge and activist knowledge in addressing the pressing concerns of our times. In particular we explored the interconnectedness of all beings in the world and the idea of radical interdependence. He highlights 6 axes or strategies for enacting transformative alternatives, with a highlight on the role of communities in transformation and learning how to stop outsourcing the making of life. Links: The Global Tapestry of Alternatives seeks to build bridges between networks of Alternatives around the globe and promote the creation of new processes of confluence. https://globaltapestryofalternatives.org/ --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/exalt-initiative/message
mirko nikolić - How do we dismantle our connections to extractivism?
1:01:26The May podcast is a delightful dive into looks at extractivisms through an artist lens. We were joined by mirko nikolić, an artist and post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Culture and Society (IKOS) at Linköping University (LIU). mirko’s work occupies a post-disciplinary space that falls between art and environmental humanities and explores the many entanglements of climate and social justice in areas affected by extractivism and the intense exploitation of ‘natural resources.’ Our conversation went many different places, including how mirko got into this work and extractivisms occurring at the peripheries of southeastern Europe and in the Nordics. mirko’s work roots in the arts, and explores extractivism from the starting point of culture moving toward the environmental humanities and the social sciences. mirko’s work is really rich and interesting and captures place and extractivisms outside of the Latin American context. We look at issues of materiality, consent, just transitions, and the false promises of the Green New Deal/Greenwashing and the coming wave of extractivism on the European continent. If you are interested to engage with more of mirko’s work, mirko joined EXALT in 2020 at our digital symposium, you can check out mirko’s performance at the Symposium on the EXALT YouTube. In addition, ‘arcane of terran reproduction,’ published in both Finnish and English in Mustarinda magazine, is the text which was the base for mirko’s EXALT presentation If you’re interested in learning more about the Right to Say No, you can follow the activity of Yes to Life No to Mining network. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/exalt-initiative/message
Saskia Sassen - Why are there so many everyday miseries in big cities?
1:00:32This month on the podcast we were honored to spend some time with the renowned Saskia Sassen, who is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University in New York City. Her research and writings focus on globalization, global cities, states in the world economy, and international human migration. The three key variables that have run through her work are the exploration of inequality, gendering, and digitization. Dr. Sassen shared with us her approach to her work and how she like to break disciplinary silos and bring disparate conversations together. Our conversation was wide ranging as we explored the connections between health, commuting, and urban inequality – especially the role of unjust outcomes and why our societies accept the extreme conditions brought on by the concentration of wealth. We discussed how the financial sector has used increasingly complex methods to squeeze profits out of the poorest people. In addition, we pondered why owning a car has become less important in popular consciousness (among many other things!!) If you would like to follow Dr. Sassen, please find her on Twitter @SaskiaSassen. If you want to get into her work check out her book Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy. Her webpage http://www.saskiasassen.com/ also has lots of resources and links to her work. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/exalt-initiative/message
Beril Ocaklı - How has extractivism played out in Soviet and post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan?
1:06:20This month on the podcast we were joined by Beril Ocaklı to discuss extractivisms through the lens of post-soviet spaces. Beril is a critical institutional economist and commons researcher with a track record of leading international transdisciplinary cooperation projects in resource governance. Challenged by the realities on the ground, she has returned to academia in 2015 for pursuing her doctoral research on resource conflicts in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia. Currently based at IRI THESys, Humboldt University of Berlin, she explores processes and practices that make and unmake Kyrgyzstan’s gold rush. Our conversation was wide ranging, and we learned about the role of mining in Kyrgyzstan both under and after the Soviet Union. Beril gives us insight into the experience in two different case sites, one that was a mining town during Soviet times and one that was not. This is an interesting dive into the iterations of extractivisms that are far removed from the Latin American context. Find Beril on Twitter @BerilOcakli and on her ResearchGate and LinkedIn profiles. If you are interested in Beril’s research, check out her recently published co-authored article: “Shades of Conflict in Kyrgyzstan: National Actor Perceptions and Behaviour in Mining” The documentaries mentioned: “Flowers of Freedom” by Mirjam Leuze http://flowers-of-freedom.com/pages/en/about-the-film.php “Meken” by Medetbek Jalilov https://eurasianet.org/kyrgyzstan-drama-about-mining-protests-banned-from-cinema-screens https://www.calvertjournal.com/articles/show/12018/kyrgyz-film-meken-mining-protests-banned-cinemas-watch-online-for-free “A tunnel” by Nino Orjonikidze, Vano Arsenishvili https://german-documentaries.de/en_EN/films/a-tunnel.13631 --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/exalt-initiative/message
Yafa El Masri - How can refugees save the world?
57:05This month we talked with Yafa El Masri, who is getting a doctorate in Geography in a joint research program between the University of Padova, University of Venice, and University of Verona. She was also a visiting researcher at the Global Development Studies Unit at the Social Sciences Faculty of the University of Helsinki. Yafa is also a stateless Palestinian refugee who was born and raised in refugee camps in Lebanon. She does autoethnographic research on solidarity among refugees in refugees camps. She has worked extensively with grassroots organizations and development projects within her community. Growth centered development has been very devastating to life on our planet, including the erosion of solidarity in favor of individualism. Solidarity is a social norm wherein one acts in the interest of others, even if sometimes that may contradict your own best interest. One acts in the benefit of the community even if each individual has fewer resources for their own use. Maybe it is solidarity that is the missing ingredient to save to the world in the face of our multiple concurrent crises. Yafa has found that solidarity is alive and well in the refugee community and that the refugee community can teach the world a lot about how to practice solidarity. To learn more about Yafa’s work please visit her academic profile. Yafa’s recently published article, “72 Years of Homemaking in Waiting Zones: Lebanon's “Permanently Temporary” Palestinian Refugee Camps” Here is a link to the Thomas Morgan documentary, Soufra Here is a link to learn more about the book The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri If you are interested to learn more about the Pluriverse concept, here is a link to Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/exalt-initiative/message
BONUS - Alexander Dunlap - What is the "World Eater"?
31:52We have a treat for you! Our conversation with Alexander Dunlap was so wide-ranging and entertaining that we ended up talking a little longer than normal, which means you get a bonus episode!! This extension of our discussion further explores the violent technology of extraction, total extractivism, and the major systemic issues that plague our world system. We delve deeply into the conceptualization of the capitalist worldeater. We think about what is really happening to the world and the delusion that is maintained when we call this “green” or “sustainable.” We look at the ideology of progress that is premised on extraction that seems like it can’t be stopped or slowed until the world is consumed and has moved onto another. This all connects back to how we as humans want to relate to the world and how to get out of patterns of drudgery and addiction. How can we stop poisoning things and start living in harmony with our world. In addition, for anyone who missed it in the regular episode Alexander will answer “THE QUESTION.” Find Alexander on Twitter @DrX_ADunlap If you are interested to learn more about the worldeater, please check out the recently published book, The Violent Technologies of Extraction: Political ecology, critical agrarian studies and the capitalist worldeater by Alexander Dunlap and Jostein Jakobsen More information about Freddy Perlman’s Against His-Story, Against Leviathan! --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/exalt-initiative/message
Alexander Dunlap - Is "green energy" really that green (and is it better called "fossil fuel plus")?
47:37This month on the podcast we were joined by Alexander Dunlap. Alexander is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Oslo, Centre for Development and Environment. His body of work tackles critical examinations of police-military transformations, market-based conservation, wind energy development and extractive projects, including coal mining in Germany and copper mining in Peru. His current research “investigates the formation of transnational-super grids and the connections between conventional and renewable extraction industries.” His work is fresh and insightful, drawn from fieldwork and lived experiences on the frontlines of extractive projects. In this conversation we explored some of the ways that renewable energy can also be extractive and highlighted the greenwashing that happens with renewable energy projects (or should we say fossil fuel plus?!) Our conversation was so compelling that we have a treat for you! We covered so much ground that we have decided to release this month’s pod in two episodes! Please keep your ear’s open for a bonus episode that will be release on ___________. This episode focuses on greenwashing and how green is renewable and “green” energy. The bonus episode will cover a discussion of the concept of the Worldeater and Alexander will answer “THE QUESTION.” Check out Alexander’s research profile and some of his recent publications: The Politics of Ecocide, Genocide and Megaprojects: Interrogating Natural Resource Extraction, Identity and the Normalization of Erasure The direction of ecological insurrections: political ecology comes to daggers with Fukuoka ‘Agro sí, mina NO!’ the Tía Maria copper mine, state terrorism and social war by every means in the Tambo Valley, Peru --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/exalt-initiative/message