Agro-ecological revolution in Cuba

In case you missed last month’s talk by Dr. Julia Wright (Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) at Coventry University) you can now watch the talk online and consult the accompanying Powerpoint presentation

Agro revo bannerJulia presents research focusing on the socio-agricultural revolution that took place in Cuba after the fall of the Soviet Union. After the Cold War, Cuba lost access to the resources that supported its conventional agricultural system. In order to feed itself, the country had to transform its agricultural system as quickly as possible. The world is now facing many of the very same challenges, in that it cannot rely on a mode of agricultural production that uses large amounts of resources inefficiently. In order to counter environmental degradation other forms of fertilisation must be found without compromising production. What lessons can we learn from Cuba?

You can check out the contents of her book on food security in the post-oil era here or read a shorter article by Julia in the Huffington Post.

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Revolutionary Politics and everyday praxis – Aber Transitions reading group session

Book LoftusThe Aber Transitions Group will hold its first reading session of the year, covering the first two chapters of Alex Loftus’ ‘Everyday Environmentalism’ which should make for excellent discussion. The book is available online through the Hugh Owen library (subscribers). Please contact Sophie Wynne-Jones ( for more information.

The session will take place in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Wednesday 29 October 1 – 2 pm.

” A bold rethinking of urban political ecology –

Everyday Environmentalism develops a conversation between marxist theories of everyday life and recent work in urban political ecology, arguing for a philosophy of praxis in relation to the politics of urban environments. Alex Loftus reformulates—with the assistance of Lukács, Gramsci, Lefebvre, and others—a politics of the environment in which everyday subjectivity is at the heart of a revolutionary politics”

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Today! Collaboration Across Disciplinary Boundaries

Roundtable poster v2

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“Food Inc.” documentary film screening

On Tuesday 30 Sept. 2014 a group of undergraduates, MSc and Phd students from both the Geography and International Politics department watched”Food Inc.” over some drinks and snacks. Although perhaps a warning should have been given for some of the instances of animal cruelty in the documentary, most of us enjoyed watching the documentary. The discussion afterwards proved very productive in terms of food for thought. Did the film give an overly “American perspective”? Is it as difficult to find access to fresh food in other parts of the world? And most importantly, does the solution really lie in all of us going organic,Poster Food Inc as proponents such as Michael Pollan would have it? (For a great counter-perspective, read Julie Guthman’s ‘Why I am fed up with Michael Pollan et al.‘). What can we do in our own lives to slightly change the food system that feeds us? Can we do anything? Many more great questions were asked and I personally am very much looking forward to our next session where we will watch the latest documentary on climate change: “Disruption“. More details to follow late October 2014.

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Environmental Politics from the ground up …

This space has been a bit quiet for the last few months, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening here in Aber. Stay tuned for next semester’s programme, which includes a variety of events in terms of reading groups, film screenings and guest speaker events. In the meantime, we would like to make you aware of the new community garden on campus. The University Growing Project aims to integrate research with growing food and gives students and staff an opportunity to grow some of their own food. During summer weekly meetings are held on Wednesdays between 17:00 and 19:00. Please come along and help out with garden planning, shed building, weeding and / or just have a chat in a beautiful green space at about a minute’s walk from the Students Union. For more information, contact Jane Powell or see the designated Facebook page. For more information on other University activities related to food and food production, you can check out a sister blog: Food@Aber.

Garden 2








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Guest speaker: Nick Chan sharing insights from his COP19 Climate Conference Diary

You are warmly invited to the next event of the Environmental Politics Research Group.

Nick ChanWho & What: Nick Chan (PhD candidate, University of Oxford) will be speaking on the recent global climate change conference and his experience as a participant. His talk is entitled “How the COP19 (Polish) sausage was made: a participant-observer’s diary on the politics and process of the Warsaw climate conference.”

When: Monday, 2nd of December at 6pm

Where: West Room, International Politics Building

Last week, the global climate change conference ended with very mixed results and many issues left to be decided upon before a new binding treaty can enter into force in 2020. During the conference environmental organizations and social movements walked out of the conference, handing back their badges in frustration and 130 developing countries temporarily abandoned the discussion. While in the end, most would describe the Warsaw Conference of the Parties as a modest success, it is also clear that “as the climate talks end, the hard work is just beginning.”

Hence, The Environmental Politics Research Group (EPRG) is particularly proud to welcome a guest speaker who will share his perspective from the negotiation floor. Nick Chan who was part of the delegation of the small island state of Vanuatu will be speaking about his conference experience and will share reflections from his conference notebook. Nick is a PhD candidate, about to defend his thesis, at the University of Oxford and focuses his research on climate change negotiations and developing countries.

You can also follow Nick on twitter: @nickdotchan

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Metaphors of Waste – welcoming Jamie Furniss to Aberystwyth

“Metaphors of Waste: From the decades of development to the ages of neoliberalism.. “
Dear all,
Dr Jamie FurnissThe Environmental Politics Research Group welcomes you to its first speaker event of the year! On Tuesday 29 October Dr. Jamie Furniss (University of Edinburgh) will speak on the politics of waste in Cairo. Jamie is the director of the MSc in International Development at the University of Edinburgh and has a background in international development, anthropology and law. His talk Metaphors of Waste: from the ‘decade of development to the ages of neoliberalism’ will focus on the ‘evolution of technologies, projects and philosophies of development’, and situate these within a broader context of neoliberalism and biopolitics (see the abstract below).
The event is jointly organised with DGES (Dialogues in Human Geography series) and will take place in the Geography building (Llandinam) at 4pm on Tuesday 29 October in the senior common room on LFloor. Afterwards, we’ll be going for drinks in Scholars followed by a meal at Casablanca. This is an excellent opportunity to engage with one particular scholar’s work in-depth and in an informal way. It also is a chance for Geographers and Politics students to mingle and find out what one another’s work really is about..
If you don’t know where to find L-floor or Llandinam please send an email to jmh23. Same for if you’d wish to attend the meal, let me know ASAP as places are limited!
Finally, for a preview of what promises to be a very engaging talk about a fascinating topic relevant to a variety of academic perspectives, see Jamie’s TED talk on the topic:
All welcome.
Katharina Hone & Justa Hopma
Convenors Environmental Politics Research Group
Metaphors of Waste: from the ‘decade of development’ to the ages of neoliberalism and biopolitics

And the following as a longer abstract (I am open to modifications you would like to suggest):

The struggle with garbage is not only a physical struggle to deal with the unwanted stuff people throw away. It is also a struggle over meanings. At the centre of that struggle in Cairo are the Zabbaleen: the city’s ‘informal sector’ or ‘traditional’ waste collectors. Over the past 40 years the Zabbaleen have been the focus of a great deal of outside attention and intervention, especially by the Egyptian state and development organizations. How have these outsiders represented and construed garbage and those who collect? Of what is waste a metaphor in their view; what can be a metaphor for waste? What have they wanted to change about the Zabbaleen? The case-study reveals the evolution of technologies, projects and philosophies of development, as well as the weight of the ‘developmental’ outlook relative to other paradigms, such as neoliberalism and biopolitics, from the 1970s to the present. It also provides a window into conceptualizations of cleanliness, pollution and waste in Egypt, and how these have shaped figurations of development and modernity.
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