Building Back Better

Flumen researchers Martin Fritz and Lilian Pungas have participated working on briefing paper that was just published by the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll).

The COVID-19 pandemic is having devastating effects on vulnerable communities around the world but we are also seeing glimpses of hope, where societies are working to “build back better” by ensuring basic needs and protecting our natural environment.

The WEAll collaboration presents “Ten principles for building back better to create wellbeing economies post-covid” which you can find here:

You can read the full paper here.

Call for Participation

Contested Society-Nature-Relations – Forest related Emotions, Practices and Conflicts in Times of Societal Change

New Deadline for Cfp: 15.06.2020

International Multidisciplinary Workshop 
24th – 25th November 2020
Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany

The aim of our workshop is to discuss the changing and contested relationships between individuals, society as a whole, and nature – especially forests – from a multidisciplinary perspective. The varying types of human-forest relationships indicate what forests mean to humans, and they can provide insight into broader underlying ideas and practices of how individuals, communities, and societies relate to nature. Different relationships with the forest (i.e. values, perceptions, decisions, and actions relating to it) are an expression of these society-nature-relations, and in turn, have a formative impact on humans themselves and onto their environment. In this workshop, we want to foster exchange and debates between Finnish and German-speaking researchers working on the cultural and social implications of different types of human-forest relationships. Our perspective focuses on human-forest relations at both, the individual and the societal level, and we are interested in past and present developments as well as possible futures.

We welcome contributions from different academic fields of social sciences and humanities, including (but not limited to) Sociology, Political Science, Human and Critical Geography, Social and Political Ecology, History, Political Economy, Philosophy and Cultural Studies. Contributions may be based on theoretical analyses, case studies, empirical investigations, and comparative or in-depth studies.

The workshop will be held in English in Jena (Germany), hopefully with participants being present. We will enable online participation if necessary. In the meantime, the coordination team continues to closely follow the development of the situation and will make further decisions accordingly as needed.

If you are interested in contributing to the workshop, we invite you to submit an abstract of max. 500 words to until June 15st, 2020. Draft papers or presentations will be due until November 1st, 2020. Workshop discussions will be based on these draft papers or presentations, aiming to refine them for possible publication.

You will find more Information on the ‘Call for Participation’  here.

Call for Abstract: It’s the (bio)economy, stupid! The future of growth and the promise of the bioeconomy

Extended Deadline until 30th April!

Workshop from 7th – 8th October 2020, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany.

The aim of our workshop is to discuss the relationships between the bioeconomy and economic growth from a multidisciplinary and global perspective. We want to foster an exchange between debates on the ecological and social implications of the bioeconomy and critical debates on sustainable growth, green growth and degrowth.

We welcome contributions from different academic fields such as sociology, political ecology and economy, human and critical geography, social ecology, history, philosophy, economics etc. Contributions may be based on theoretical analyses, case studies, empirical investigations, comparative or in-depth studies.

If you are interested in contributing to the workshop we invite you to submit an abstract of max. 500 words to until April 30th, 2020. Draft papers will be due until September 18, 2020. Workshop discussions will be based on the draft papers, aiming to develop them further for a possible publication.

You will find more Information here.

Call for contributions: The bioeconomy as a blueprint for the postfossil society? Contours of the social after coal and oil

A set of sessions at the 7th International Degrowth and 16 th ISEE Joint Conference: Building Alternative Livelihoods in times of ecological and political crisis.
Manchester 1 to 5 September 2020.

We invite you to send us your abstracts of no more than 250 words until March 6, 2020 to:

More Information here.

The event is a collaboration between Junior Research Group Mentalities in Flux, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany and Junior Research Group BioInequalities, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Germany

Workshop: Transitions, ‚pileups‘ and the rule of abstract Energy: Energy regimes and social transformations in and beyond the fossil era, May 15, 2019

Research Workshop with Éric Pineault (UQAM, Montreal/Kolleg Postwachstumsgesellschaften) in Jena, May 15, 2019

In this workshop, we will discuss several related controversies concerning the relations between changes in the energy basis of modern capitalist societies on the one handand transformations of their social and mental infrastructures on the other hand. In his famous book „Carbon Democracy“, Timothy Mitchell has claimed that the material properties of fossil energy sources shape the social, mental and political structures of the societies using them to a very high degree, pre-forming as it were the opportunities and limits of democratization processes. Against this view, Andreas Malm has objected in „Fossil Capital“ that the takeoff of a coal-based industrial economy in 18th century Britain was not the „work“ of coal as a resource itself, but the outcome of an expansionary social logic and mentality that had been at play long before, and that merely found its preferred medium of abstraction from social and material restraints in the innovation of the steam-powered factory. Larry Lohmann and Nicholas Hildyard have emphasized that „energy“ itself is an abstract concept that, analogous to the logic of exchange value, enables economic actors to disregard social and material limitations to their activities and conceive of them as capable of infinite expansion. How such expansion has been enabled again and again in the course of the past two centuries by adding oil, gas, nuclear and other energy sources to the energetic base has been demonstrated by Vaclav Smil. His empirical analyses of global energy use in the fossil era amount to the thesis that these energy sources, rather than being the drivers of expansion in several stages that societies have successively ‚transitioned‘ through, have in fact progressively ‚piled up‘ to meet a ceaselessly expanding energy demand. Based on texts by these authors, we will discuss these and related issues, with a particular focus on what conclusions may be drawn from these debates in view of the necessity of far-reaching change that societal energy systems will face in the near future if a post-fossil, bio-based economy and society is to be achieved and catastrophic global warming averted.

New book publication from Matthias Schmelzer

New book: “Degrowth/Postwachstum zur Einführung” from Matthias Schmelzer and Andrea Vetter got published in Germany in spring 2019.

Degrowth or post-growth is a dynamic research field and reference point for diverse socio-ecological movements. Degrowth is not just a basic critique of the hegemony of economic growth. It is also a vision for another society that outlines paths to fundamental societal change in the face of climate change and global inequality. This volume is the first attempt to introduce it systematically in German language. The English translation will be following soon.

Lilian Pungas field work in Eastern Estonia

For her dissertation within the junior research group flumen, Lilian Pungas traveled to the region around Narva in North-Eastern Estonia in August 2019. Partly with the help of her translator she conducted interviews with different experts in the bioeconomy sector and/or practitioners of (semi-)subsistence agriculture in Estonian as well as in Russian language.

Jana Holz in Finland

Jana Holz was from the 12th until the 23rd of August 2019 a visiting scholar at the University of Helsinki, doing research for her dissertation project. In total, she spendt four weeks in the North European country and visited the capital  Helsinki, Tampere, Joensuu and Jyväskvlä. Jana Holz is writing her dissertation on innovations and changes in the Finnish forestry sector with reference to the bioeconomy and its socio-structural significance for transformation processes within the framework of the junior research group flumen.

UFZ Symposium in Leipzig

Lilian Pungas, Philip Koch and Jana Holz attended the symposium “Resources in Social Science Environmental Research” at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research from the 30th September until the 1st October, 2019 for “flumen”. Approximately 20 junior academics presented and discussed both, material and immaterial, resources and questions such as: how do resources shape the relationship between society and the environment, various dimensions of social inequality regarding the (in)availability and the use of resources, and what constitutes and defines a resource, in general.

Lilian Pungas gave a lecture at the University of Vienna

flumen researcher Lilian Pungas gave a lecture on 7 November 2019 at the University of Vienna, at the Institute for Political Science as part of their lecture series “Ecological Crisis in Eastern Europe”. Lilian’s lecture was titled “Subsistence farming under high voltage power lines and next to oil shale power plants in Eastern Estonia”. 

Globally seen Estonia extracts of the oil shale, this resulting in very high ecological footprint per capita. For the sake of energy security from its Eastern neighbor (oil shale covers 90% of Estonia’s electricity demand) it accepts as a country an ecologically extremely high price for the extraction of one of the most polluting fossil fuels. Paradoxically, the oil shale extraction itself takes place in Eastern Estonia near Russian border in the region of Ida-Virumaa, where most habitants belong to the Russian-speaking minority, which suffered disproportionally in the 90s due to different economic reforms and the 1992 citizenship law.