By EXALT Initiative
EXALT PodcastJan 31, 2020
"From the Cubby" (Pt. 1) - What tales are coming from the modern streets of Canterbury?
This month we were delighted to be joined by three amazing guests, Joe Spence, Nick Chamberlain, and Avi Betz-Heinemann (whose name you might recognize from last month’s episode). All three of our guests have been involved with the documentary film series From the Cubby, which draws on six years of ethnographic fieldwork in Canterbury, England. The film series draws its name from a makeshift encampment that was a geographical epicenter implicated in an outbreak of tuberculosis. This was a wide ranging and dynamic conversation; thus, we have decided to break it into two parts, part two will be released as our December 2023 episode.
During our conversation our guests shared with us their firsthand perspective on the project and the series of events and threads that make the fabric of the story told through the project. As described by the film makers, “[this] is an extraordinary story, one that provides insights into lives on the brink, the challenges of conducting research with vulnerable populations, and a contribution to participatory and publicly engaged academia giving voice and visibility to people normally excluded from formal knowledge and film production.” We look at the actual events and tie them to some of the wider issues that affect vulnerable populations.
If you are interested to learn more about the documentary film series From the Cubby and see the trailer, please check out their webpage https://fromthecubby.com/.
If you would like to see the first film and are not able to go to one of the screenings, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they can share a way to watch it online.
If you are interested to learn more about Joe’s academic work, please check out his profile at University of Kent https://www.kent.ac.uk/anthropology-conservation/people/4064.
Khalil 'Avi' Betz-Heinemann - Why do we need to break away from a war narrative with "pests"?
This month we have a deeply interesting conversation with social anthropologist, Dr. Khalil 'Avi' Betz-Heinemann, who is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the project Animal Crosslocations, which is resourced through the Resilient and Just Systems (RESET) Network at University of Helsinki. We talked about his new project, “Mosquito Crosslocations and Participatory Evaluations of Mosquito Interventions,” and the trajectory that led him to be interested in these topics. In this conversation we think through the complex web of relationships inherent to multispecies interactions. In particular, he highlighted some of the compelling reasons why we need to shift some of our narratives related to the myriad beings we humans characterize as “pests”. Pests is in quotes because using this language casually brings its own sometimes (often) misguided perceptions and assumptions about the role the being in question plays within the wider web of life.
If you would like to engage with Avi and learn more about the Animal Cross locations project, please visit his blog - https://blogs.helsinki.fi/avibetzh/
Niti Bhan - How can trans-disciplinary innovation bridge knowledge systems around the world?
This month we were delighted to be joined by Niti Bhan, who is a part-time doctoral researcher focusing on trans-disciplinary innovation at Aalto University in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Niti came to research after almost 30 years of situated practice. Niti specializes in human-centered design/innovation planning. This field asks question like, how can we understand people in their own lives, the way they live and operate as a starting point for design and innovation. In practice this means understanding the lived experience of people in place as a means to create a landscape of the operating environment within a product, service, or business model is introduced. This approach highlights that we cannot make the same kind of assumptions about people in different situated contexts. It is never just a product being introduced, but also how can it be paid for, how it would be distributed in place, and many other things that need to be taken into consideration before even starting to bring something to a particular market. AND this was just the beginning of our wide ranging and mind-expanding conversation!
Check out Niti’s Aalto Profile here Niti Bhan — Aalto University's research portal
If you are interested to learn more about Jan Chipchase’s work, check out his Ted Talk https://youtu.be/Qn2NR901NMY?si=E7TlvyvViiFo60gw
Ossi Ollinaho - How do you make destructive global patterns as relevant for people as a paycheck?
This month we are happy to welcome Ossi Ollinaho, a lecturer in Global Development Studies at University of Helsinki, on the podcast. In the conversation, we talk with Ossi about his journey from studying math and physics, to a Doctorate in Industrial Engineering and Management, to the experiences and questions which brought him to work in Global Development Studies. We also dive into how transitions to agroforestry techniques can turn out good, bad, and ugly, as well as how the systemic concept of keeping "business as usual" is a seductive slide to catastrophe (and how people's daily lives can impact the system, even if we don't realize we can).
You can find Ossi's University of Helsinki profile here: https://researchportal.helsinki.fi/en/persons/ossi-ollinaho
Ossi's works mentioned:
Ollinaho, O. I., Pedlowski, M., & Kröger, M. (2022). Toxic turn in Brazilian agriculture? The political economy of pesticide legalisation in post-2016 Brazil. Third World Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2022.2153031
Ollinaho, O., & Kröger, M. (2021). Agroforestry transitions: The good, the bad and the ugly. Journal of Rural Studies, 82, 210-221. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2021.01.016
Ollinaho, O. (2022). What is ‘business as usual’? Towards a theory of cumulative sociomaterial change. Globalizations. https://doi.org/10.1080/14747731.2022.2142013
Ollinaho, O. I. (2018). Virtualization of the life-world. Human Studies, 41(2), 193-209. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10746-017-9455-3
Other works mentioned
Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (1991). The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Penguin Books.
The International Alfred Schutz Circle for Phenomenology and Interpretive Social Science - https://www.schutzcircle.org/
*Note - apologies for the delay in the episode release! The episode was scheduled to launch on August 25, but for some reason the system did not release the episode. Unfortunately we have been really busy and it was only just now brought to our attention. Apologies again and we will be double checking in the future to make sure it launches on time!
Eija Ranta - When Indigenous movements lead governments, what space do they take outside government?
This month we are thrilled to be joined by Eija Ranta, University Lecturer at University of Helsinki in Global Development Studies. Eija leads two Academy of Finland research projects, 'Social Justice and Raciality in Latin America’ (2021-2026) and 'Citizenship Utopias in the Global South: The Pursuit of Transformative Alternatives in Times of Disillusionment' (2019-2023). Eija’s current focus is on societal activism and particularly how people can live a good and decent life in the face of socio-political and environmental challenges. She shares with us how she got started working in Latin America and specifically with the Quechua Indigenous peoples of Bolivia. This is where she encountered the concept of Sumak kawsay, which translates from the Kichwa language into English as ‘good life’ or ‘life in harmony’. This concept also served to influence the Spanish concept of Buen Vivir or Vivir Buen. Eija traces out the political changes in Bolivia in relation to the adoption of Vivir Buen. We explore the tensions and contractions that exist in Bolivia through the lens of extractivism, often the on-the-ground practices are not in line with the espoused ideals.
If you are interested in Eija’s projects and writing, please check out her University of Helsinki profile here. https://researchportal.helsinki.fi/en/persons/eija-ranta
Our apologies in advance for some of the challenges, particularly with Sophia’s sound quality. Due to work, fieldwork, and family – we were on three different continents (and in 4 hemispheres!) during this recording.
Toni Ruuska - Is utopian degrowth a silver bullet for dystopian capitalism?
This month we were honored to be joined by Toni Ruuska, who is a University Researcher and Adjunct Professor of Sustainable Economy at the University of Helsinki. His research focuses generally on alternatives to capitalism, agrarian political economy, and the skills of self-provisioning. In this captivating conversation, Toni lays out some of the issues with the perpetual growth model that is part and parcel of capitalist systems. Endless growth and accumulation are a nightmare; however, degrowth is not a silver bullet to solve the wicked problems present within the capitalist system. This is not to say that degrowth is not useful or hopeful, rather it is too early to really judge.
Mentioned books and links:
Degrowth Movement - https://degrowth.info/en
The case for degrowth - https://www.wiley.com/en-us/The+Case+for+Degrowth-p-9781509535620
Future is degrowth - https://www.versobooks.com/en-gb/products/2620-the-future-is-degrowth
Degrowth & Strategy - https://mayflybooks.org/degrowth-strategy/
9th International Degrowth Conference website - https://odrast.hr/
Kumbutso Phiri - What pushes (and pulls) 30,000+ kids to live on the streets of Lusaka?
This month we go back to Zambia for an enlightening conversation with Kumbutso Phiri, a development specialist. Kumbutso works with a wide range of topics, but in this conversation, we explore the topic of street kids who live on the streets of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city. Kumbutso gives us insight into the demographics and societal infrastructure of the street kid population. While the exact number of street kids is difficult to estimate due to a lack of effective ways to definitively count them, Kumbusto believes the number is rising rapidly. This is a generational problem with many babies being born onto the street. Join us for this deep dive into the problems of urbanization, neo liberalization, and wider global pressures that are pushing and pulling people to the streets.
If you are interested to learn more check out, “Walking the Bowl: A True Story of Murder and Survival Among the Street Children of Lusaka” by Chris Lockhart, Daniel Mulilo Chama
FLASHBACK - Maria Ehrnström-Fuentes - Exploring the Pluriverse
This month on the podcast we are really excited to try something new…by revisiting something old! Christopher and I open the podcast with a short chat and some life updates. Then we turn our attention to one of the first EXALT podcasts, “Exploring the Pluriverse” featuring Maria Ehrnstrom-Fuentes, an associate professor at Hanken School of Business. In this amazing conversation she explores themes of decoloniality, degrowth, and reflections on what researchers do and raises questions about how we should do it! Hope you all enjoy revisiting this conversation as much as we did! If you want to find out more about about Maria and her work here is a link to her researcher profile and publication list.
Sophia is now working as the coordinator for Sustainability Science Days, which is co-organized by University of Helsinki and Aalto University. This exciting conference will be taking place on May 23-26, 2023. It will be in-person in Helsinki and there is a limited hybrid programme available on Zoom. There is no charge for joining us online, however registration is required. For more information about the programme, or to register, please visit www.sustainabilitysciencedays.fi
Patience Mususa - Why did flourishing communities start to crumble in the Zambian Copper Belt?
This month we are delighted to be joined by Patience Mususa from The Nordic Africa Institute. She is an anthropologist with a background in architecture working on mining and urbanization in Southern Africa. She is particularly interested in place and the ways in which people interact in the face of the large scale mining industry and the influence and ramifications of economic downturn and socio-economic transformation. In particular, she is interested in how space is produced, for example why we are so concerned with the idea of modernity and why we tend to use such energy intensive ways to produce place. She gave us insight into her research trajectory and how the different strands of her interests have come together. Part of her interest is rooted in the experience of growing up in a mining town in the Zambian Copperbelt in the height of corporate welfare industrialism and the ensuing changes stemming from the privatization of mining. Join us for this exciting conversation that gives insight into Zambian mining history, the changes that attend the modern era, and how sites of resource extraction are connected to areas of consumption through interlocking systems.
If you are interested to learn more about Patience’s work, check out her academic profile (https://nai.uu.se/about-us/person/patience-mususa.html)
Check out Patience’s book There Used to be Order: Life on the Copperbelt after the Privatisation of the Zambia Consolidated Copper MInes (University of Michigan Press) (https://www.press.umich.edu/9441587/there_used_to_be_order)
Some of the resources mentioned during the episode:
Mariam Khawar - What voices have been overlooked in Islamic economic philosophy?
This month we are thrilled to be joined by University of Helsinki doctoral researcher Mariam Khawar. Mariam is in the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Change, which is part of the Faculty of Social Sciences and is affiliated with Helsinki Centre for Global Political Economy.
Mariam’s work focuses on Islamic economic philosophy, specifically through a Marxist lens. Her work is highly interdisciplinary drawing on feminist political economy, economics, and feminism in Islamic theology and philosophy. She is working toward filling in gaps in the theoretical materials in that discipline. This work started during her master’s studies at King’s College London, where she made an analysis of Islamic banks during the 2007 financial crisis. We discuss the role of research within global capitalist banking and how her research is not about banking and finance. Rather Mariam focuses on the philosophical aspects of Islamic economics. She interrogates questions like what constitutes economic agents within Islamic economic philosophy. Within the conversation Mariam reminds us to think outside the box and to always be boldly interdisciplinary in academic work.
If you would like to follow Mariam’s work, check out her profile at University of Helsinki.
- Ayubi, Z. (2019) Gendered morality: Classical Islamic ethics of the self, family, and society. New York: Columbia University Press.
- Cooper, C. & Jack, V. (2023) ‘Mind-boggling’ profits for big oil puts tax hikes back on the agenda. POLITICO [online]. Available from: https://www.politico.eu/article/record-profits-big-oil-tax-hikes-war-ukraine-russia/
- Graeber, D. & Wengrow, D. (2021) The Dawn of Everything: A new history of humanity. First American edition. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
- Hefner, R. W. (2006). Islamic economics and global capitalism. Society, 44(1), 16-22.
- Milanović, B. (2016) Global Inequality: A new approach for the age of globalization. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
- Wadud, A. (2015) ‘The Ethics of Tawhid over the Ethics of Qiwamah’, in Men in charge? rethinking authority in Muslim legal tradition. p. 28.
Barış Can Sever - Can human-scale agriculture make Anatolia a breadbasket again?
This month we are delighted to be joined by Barış Can Sever who is Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Sociology at Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. He is currently doing a 9-month research period at Global Development Studies at the University of Helsinki. Barış gives us an exciting insight into the agricultural geography in Turkey, including pressure from changing socio/ecological systems and the increasing dependency on imports. There have been dramatic changes in the country’s rural areas over the last 40 years, including the entrance of transnational corporations into the rural spaces and significant rural out migration. When analyzing the migration patterns, Barış is looking at more than just linear stories, but rather he looks at the relationality and overarching forces that reproduce injustices and inequality, which channels people into certain patterns. He gives us insight into the extractivist logics at play and what human scale agriculture could look like in the context of building a functioning and sustainable Anatolian countryside.
Interested to check out more of Barış’ work? https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Baris-Can-Sever
Mariko Frame - What is ecological imperialism? (And why is it a dirty word in some of US academia?)
This month on the pod we are delighted to be joined by Mariko Frame, who is Assistant Professor of Economics at Merrimack College in Massachusetts. Dr. Frame is a political economist who focuses on ecological imperialism, which occurs when one country subjugates another country by controlling the resources, politics, labour, military, and the very ideology or ways of worlding. This dynamic is often found between countries in the global North and global South due to the history of colonialism that underpins these relationships. Dr. Frame introduces the idea of ecologically unequal exchange and how that can help to empirically understand the inequalities between the global North and South. She uses this as a jumping off point to understand how, why these relationships are perpetuated and the power relations that drive them. While sometimes the outlook can be bleak, Dr. Frame reminds us to think about where your money is going and support the local environmental and Indigenous groups resisting the world-system in your local community.
If you would like to engage with more of Dr. Frame’s work, check out her new book from Routledge, Ecological Imperialism, Development, and the Capitalist World-System: Cases from Africa and Asia.
If you would like to hear another great talk by Dr. Frame, check out her contribution to Global South Encounters from the Global South Theme of the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), Development and the Environment.
Alexander Dunlap - Until You Become Ungovernable, Why Would Anyone Listen to You?
This month we are super excited to be joined again by friend of the podcast Alexander Dunlap, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo. This conversation is a high energy journey through Alexander’s own trajectory into academic spaces, and the realities on the ground he has encountered in the course of his work. We talk about the violence that accompanies extractivism and reflect on direct impacts to those living at extractive frontiers. Unexpectedly, during the podcast recording there is a real-time reaction to a disappointing production mistake in an academic publication, where the most important word in a conclusion title of a large edited volume was deleted! This is an interesting insight into some of the behind the scenes struggles that academics encounter in trying to get their intellectual work communicated. Want to connect with Alexander? Find him on Twitter @DrX_ADunlap. Here is a list of the big resources that were discussed during the pod. Want to hear more of Alexander? Check out his earlier appearances on the EXALT Podcast https://podcasts.apple.com/fi/podcast/alexander-dunlap-is-green-energy-really-that-green/id1499621252?i=1000506999251 and https://podcasts.apple.com/fi/podcast/bonus-alexander-dunlap-what-is-the-world-eater/id1499621252?i=1000507806229.
- Renewing Destruction: Wind Energy Development, Conflict and Resistance in a Latin American Context by Alexander Dunlap https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781786610652/Renewing-Destruction-Wind-Energy-Development-Conflict-and-Resistance-in-a-Latin-American-Context#
- The best link to the conclusion which was discussed: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/363157987_Conclusion_A_call_to_action_toward_an_energy_research_insurrection
- Book chapter “Does Renewable Energy Exist? Fossil Fuel+ Technologies and the Search for Renewable ”: Energy: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/354125885_Does_Renewable_Energy_Exist_Fossil_Fuel_Technologies_and_the_Search_for_Renewable_Energy
- Green Extractivism & Violent Conflict conference recordings https://blogs.helsinki.fi/exaltconference2021/green-extractivism-violent-conflict/
- An early release pamphlet discussing ecological authoritarianism and Leninism: https://forged.noblogs.org/files/2022/10/dunlap-ecological-authoritarian-maneuvers.pdf
To see more of Alexander’s extensive body of work, see here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alexander-Dunlap or here: https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=bXsLn9UAAAAJ
Ksenija Hanaček - How does resistance to extractivism turn out in the arctic?
Ksenija Hanaček is a researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelona’s Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA, UAB), Spain. Ksenija works for the Global Atlas of Environmental Justice (EJAtlas). Recently, she has collaborated with Markus Kröger at the University of Helsinki, looking at extractive projects and resistance to extractive projects in the Arctic. We talked about extractive economies in the Arctic, particularly investments that are coming from outside the Arctic itself, in particular China. Ksenija told us about the Arctic Silk Road and the types of commodities that are being taken out of the Arctic. There is a huge variety in the types of resources that are being extracted from the Arctic—it is not only about oil and natural gas! Ksenija reminds us to continue to question the solutions that powerful actors suggest and to keep a critical eye out for the false solutions.
Check out her bio at ICTA, UAB http://www.envjustice.org/2020/03/ksenija-hanacek/
Global Atlas of Environmental Justice (EJAtlas) https://ejatlas.org/
Correction note: Ksenija Hanaček would like to add a correction note to her answer about the Polar Silk Road (minute 10:39): Yamal LNG project and shipments via the sea transportation corridor "Polar Silk Road" are different from Yamal natural gas projects and distribution via pipeline system. Still, the commodity is extracted from many gas fields on the Yamal peninsula. All projects related to gas extraction and distribution are known as "the Yamal megaproject" (LNG or otherwise).
3rd Anniversary BONUS - Extractivism in Pop Culture - Lord Of The Rings (Feat. Jesse Barber)
This bonus episode of extractivism in pop culture is in honour of the three-year anniversary of the EXALT podcast. We are very excited to be joined again by Jesse Barber from the University of Helsinki Folklore Studies. In this bonus episode we explore J. R. R. Tolkien’s series, Lord of the Rings (LoTR) and how it relates to themes like modernity, industrialism, capitalism, war, and of course extractivism. We talk across the various iterations of LoTRs, including the books, Peter Jackson’s movie series, and the more recently released Amazon Prime series, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which takes place in the same universe, but several thousands of years before the events depicted in the LoTRs books/movies. We are not experts, but we have all interacted with the LoTRs to differing degrees over a long period of time. We talk about how we got into the series, what they mean for us, and then relate them to themes in the realm of extractivism. So, if you have ever wanted to think about how the rise of Sauron relates to the rise of industrialism and how the Ents represent wider nature—then this episode is for you!!
Disclaimer!!! This episode is full of spoilers—so if you are not already familiar with the Lord of the Rings universe and you do not want to know about the story—turn off the pod now!!
Interested to learn more about the LoTRs? Check out this fandom page which lays it all out clearly. https://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/The_Lord_of_the_Rings
Jesse Barber - Why would Christians write pagan sagas in Scandinavia?
This month on the podcast we are excited to present a conversation that is a bit outside our normal topics! This conversation is with Jesse Barber, a doctoral researcher in Folklore Studies in the Department of Cultures at the University of Helsinki. His research explores the continuity between pre-Christian Scandinavian religions and the folklore written later in Scandinavian countries. He specifically pays attention to similarities in cosmological timelines, i.e., conceptions of the past, present, and future of the world. He gives us some insight into the folklore itself, how it came to be, and what it says about the worldview. We explore how these myths and folk legends have had a role in developing a national cultural identity, and even in the process of nation building. We discuss the Christianization of Scandinavia and some of the trade reasons that the Kings of Scandinavia would be interested in imposing a top-down conversion. We even touch on these stories and their ultramodern adaptation (appropriation?) into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Check out Jesse’s profile here.
Usman Ashraf - Who could lose from planting billions of trees in Pakistan?
This month we were delighted to be joined by fellow University of Helsinki, Global Development Studies doctoral researcher, Usman Ashraf. Usman moved from the natural sciences to the social sciences and his research focuses on Chinese investment in Pakistan’s forestry sector. In particular we talked about the Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation project and the subsequent 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation project. We touched on the landscape changes that attend this kind of project and the impacts that these projects have on the human and other than human beings in the affected areas. He gives us insight into how the implementation of the plantations this project has specifically impacted the herding families in the area and other landless families. Our conversation undercovers the political implications of this “environmental” project and how the current narratives/processes are historically connected.
Find and connect with Usman on Twitter @PEusman
Usman’s recommended reading The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis by Amitav Ghosh (University of Chicago Press)
Check out the IIED Country report Usman recently wrote on this project. Ashraf, U. (2022) 'Participation and Exclusion in Mega Tree-planting Projects: A Case Study of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, Pakistan,' London: IIED. https://opendocs.ids.ac.uk/opendocs/handle/20.500.12413/17511
Sérgio Sauer - How have land struggles shaped social conflicts and extractivism in Brazil?
This month we are excited to present an in-depth conversation with Professor Sérgio Sauer, who works at University of Brasilia in Brazil and is a visiting scholar at University of Helsinki in Finland. We explored the landscape of land struggles in Brazil and how extractivism and social conflict has shaped Brazil. He started his career on the ground at an agricultural frontier and has worked extensively with the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST) and questions of justice for rural inhabitants. Sérgio gives us a historically informed view of how Brazil’s agricultural geography has developed over the last 60 years. In addition, he traces out the interplay of scholarship and activism and how this plays out in resistance to extractivism.
Sérgio recommends that if you are interested in the themes discussed in this episode to check out the film “The Burning Season”, which tell a story of real-life activist Chico Mendes, who was murdered in the 80s for his work.
Syed Mustafa Ali and Dan McQuillan - Does Luddism hold lessons for resisting harmful tech paradigms?
This month we were joined by two exciting guests, Syed Mustafa Ali from The Open University in the UK and Dan McQuillan from Goldsmiths, University of London. They are both interested in AI, technology, and applying a critical lens to the development of digital infrastructures and applications. They met at the Histories of AI Seminar at Cambridge University and found common ground through what could be described as Luddite orientation. It was this connection over Luddism that brought them together to have a cup of coffee and share ideas and a bit of subversive thought about the history and trajectory of AI. This conversation teases out what Luddism is in a historical sense and how it continues to play out today. We talk about the physical extractivisms associated with the architecture and infrastructure of digital space and the mental and power relations of algorithmization. We explore the form of resistance and intervention to digital extractivisms and the rollout of layers of digital infrastructures that extend and expand the colonial project.
Dan’s book Resisting AI: An Anti-fascist Approach to Artificial Intelligence will be release officially on July 15, 2022, preorder your copy today!
Find and follow Dan (@danmcquillan) and Mustafa (@DrSyedMustafaA1) on Twitter
Tim Oakes - How do big Chinese infrastructure projects impact people in China and around the world?
This month we are thrilled to be joined by Tim Oakes, who is a Professor of Geography at the University of Colorado Boulder. He is a human, social, and cultural geographer and his research focuses on Southwest China and the techno-political effects of infrastructural urbanism in China’s ‘new area’ urban zones. Needless to say, there have been a lot of developmental changes in China since Tim visited for the first time in the 1980s. Tim gives us insight into his career trajectory and his roots in rural geography and the ways in which the countryside has come into the 21st century. A huge facet of the countryside development is through infrastructure, and he realized that urbanization does not just happen in cities as urbanization occurs also in place. We explored many aspects of capitalist development and how it affects and is affected by the Chinese countryside. If you are interested to learn more about Tim’s work, check out the website of the China Made project and his amazing keynote speech at the Finnish Society for Development Reseacher’s Development Days Conference. You can also find Tim on Twitter @TS_Oakes.
Gediminas Lesutis - How do people cope with precarity pushed by extractivism?
This month we are joined by Gediminas Lesutis, a Marie Curie Fellow at University of Amsterdam. This rich and wide-ranging conversation starts with how Gedis got started in fieldwork driven research in Sub-Saharan Africa, and especially in Mozambique. We discussed land-grabbing, precarity, and the destructive, real-life impacts of dispossession in the epicenter of the extractive boom in contemporary Mozambique. Specifically, we got insights into the on the ground experience of being with people who are so intimately affected by the actions of extractive expansion. Recently, Gedis also joined EXALT to launch his newly published book, The Politics of Precarity: Spaces of Extractivism, Violence, and Suffering. If you would like to check out that great launch, it is available on the EXALT YouTube channel. If you would like to connect with Gedis and stay up to date on his research, please find him on Twitter @GediminasLe.
Tania Li - Why are plantations so destructive?
This month we were delighted to be joined on the podcast by Tania Murray Li. Dr. Li is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto (). Her work explores questions of land, labor, class, capitalism, development, resources, and indigeneity. In this episode she gave us insight into her most recent co-authored book, Plantation Life: Corporate Occupation of Indonesia’s Oil Palm Zone, which was published in 2021 by Duke University Press. The conversation centers on the impacts to existences when plantations are established over existing landscapes. We got insights into the feel of the space on the plantation and the rhythms of life under plantation rule.
If you would like to hear more from Dr. Li and the impacts of infrastructural violence, she was recently a keynote speaker at the FSDR Development Days 2022 conference. Here is a link to her keynote speech. You can read more about Dr. Li’s work on her blog.
Teivo Teivainen - Do Finnish companies act like colonial powers in Uruguay?
This month we are super excited to be joined by University of Helsinki World Politics professor Teivo Teivainen (researchportal.helsinki.fi/en/persons/…i-teivainen). In this vibrant and wide-ranging conversation, we talked with Teivo about his recent turn as a documentary film maker. Teivo has recently been in the Finnish Arctic and in Uruguay traveling along planned railway lines while reflecting on the concept of Finnish colonialism. The broader world might not immediately connect Finland and the concept of colonialism, however, Teivo brings forward some compelling arguments about Finnish actions on the world stage. Teivo’s work uncovers some of the differences between imaginaries and practice, especially in Finnish forestry and foreign investment in pulp milling. He urges people to pay more attention to corporate politics and the constellations of power that are found in corporate spaces, especially in relation to observing corporate elections. We should know who are running these companies because they have so much influence in the world.
If you want to interact with Teivo you can find him on Twitter and Instagram (both @TeivoTeivainen).
Janne Salovaara - What is "sustainability" trying to sustain?
This month on the EXALT podcast we were joined by Janne Salovaara from the Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Programme (DENVI) at University of Helsinki. His research looks at the discipline of sustainability science from the perspective of how it is educated at the University level. Janne’s first degree is in graphic design and his idea of design was that it was the path to change the world. He thought a lot about what are moral, ethics, and societal responsibility of a design. His frustration with design as a profession led him to the Creative Sustainability program at Aalto University. Our conversation was wide ranging and exciting. The big question we tackled is what is sustainability? It is such a buzzword today, but what does it mean in practice? What is the imaginary of sustainability actually supposed to be? What are we trying to sustain and how do we keep sustainability safe from corporate capture? We explored some of the ontological, epistemological, and practical problems of sustainability. We discussed how it is being taught and what are some of the big failings of sustainability as a concept and a practice.
If you want to learn more about Janne’s research, please check out his UH research profile and recent publications.
- Salovaara, J. J., & Soini, K. (2021). Educated professionals of sustainability and the dimensions of practices. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-09-2020-0327
- Salovaara, J. J., Pietikäinen, J., & Cantell, H. (2021). Perceptions of interconnected sustainability: Students’ narratives bridging transition and education. Journal of Cleaner Production, 281, 125336. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.125336
- Salovaara, J. J., Soini, K., & Pietikäinen, J. (2020). Sustainability science in education: analysis of master’s programmes’ curricula. Sustainability Science, 15(3), 901-915. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-019-00745-1
Anna Marjaana Heikkinen - Can traditional livelihoods survive climate change & mining in the Peruvian Andes?
This month the EXALT podcast was delighted to welcome University of Helsinki, Global Development Studies doctoral researcher Anna Marjaana Heikkinen. In her doctorate Anna Marjaana focuses on the role of water and climate change in the Peruvian Andes. She works with communities of peasant farmers, who are trying to hold onto traditional ways of working with their land and water in the face of pressures from globalized supply chains and the incursion of extractive industries. She highlighted a case she is working on that shows the deep entanglements between humans, other than human beings, mining, and water. Anna Marjaana also shared some great resources to help the listeners think about water and gave us insight into the ways she communicates science.
Book: Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta (https://www.emmiitaranta.com/memory-of-water)
Movie: Even the Rain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Even_the_Rain)
Dance your PhD contest by Science (correction in the episode we said this was sponsored by Nature) (https://www.science.org/content/page/announcing-annual-dance-your-ph-d-contest). Check out the entries on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=dance+your+phd+2021
Some of Anna Marjaana’s popular science articles (EN/FIN/ESP)
If you would like to follow Anna Marjaana on social media, please find her on Twitter @AnnaMHeikkinen and on Instagram @anna.maryaana.
Antti Tarvainen - Is settler colonialism at the heart of the US and Israeli tech sectors?
This month we were delighted to be joined by Antti Tarvainen, a fellow doctoral candidate in Global Development Studies at University of Helsinki. His work examines the innovation economy (think Steve Jobs, apps, smart everything, etc.) and the colonial violence that that underpins its expansions. We started the discussion talking about the colonial utopia history of California and by extension in Silicon Valley. We explore some of the myriad colonial imaginaries that play out in the mythology and material culture of Silicon Valley. Antti points out that “tech” does not exist only on a digital or immaterial layer but is deeply connected to physical place and space. The effect of tech on the polis is not just gentrification, but rather more akin to settler colonialism. However, it is not just the polis that is made by this tech expansion, but rural spaces and nature itself are also made. We uncover the global geography of the resources that are extracted to build the physical infrastructure and components of the tech industry. This takes us to a broader discussion of the continued spread and influence of the tech sector. Antti shares with us his experiences doing fieldwork in the Silicon Wadi and how and where settler colonialism is present as the tech industry expands in Israel and Palestine.
Anti-eviction mapping project – urban effects of the tech sector in California
2 Year Anniversary - Barry K Gills - How has the world changed since EXALT began?
In honour of the 2-year anniversary of the EXALT podcast we brought back our very first guest, Professor Barry Gills from Global Development Studies at the University of Helsinki. We talk about the development and activities of the EXALT Initiative over the last few years. We touch on how the COVID crisis has raised awareness of the global system as a whole, which has highlighted the impact and knock-on effects of the extractivist logic. In this the changing consciousness around human relationship with other than humans in the web-of-life. We have been lacking in an understanding in the violence we do to other beings, which is ultimately violence to ourselves. Barry gave us insight into organizing concepts and the continued development of extractivism and particularly global extractivisms as an organizing concept. Global extractivisms as an organizing concept is a concept for our times of concurrent crises. However, that is not to say there is not hope for the future as we are living in a time of unprecedented information, reflectivity, and the ability to respond differently.
Special issue Globalizations Economics and Climate Emergency, Volume 18, Issue 7 (https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rglo20/18/7)
“What does degrowth mean? A few points of clarification” by Jason Hickel (https://doi.org/10.1080/14747731.2020.1812222)
“Economics and Climate Emergency” by Barry Gills and Jamie Morgan https://doi.org/10.1080/14747731.2020.1841527
“Postscript, an end to the war on nature: COP in or COP out?” by Barry Gills and Jamie Morgan (https://doi.org/10.1080/14747731.2021.1973273)
TNI Report – States of Power (https://www.tni.org/en/publication/state-of-power-2021)
Extractivisms, Existences, and Extinctions: Monoculture Plantations and Amazon Deforestation by Markus Kröger (https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/oa-mono/10.4324/9781003102977/extractivisms-existences-extinctions-markus-kr%C3%B6ger)
BONUS - Extractivism in Pop Culture - Dune: Part 1 (Two Year Anniversary Bonus Episode)
In honor of the TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY (!) of the EXALT Podcast (and also the release of Dune: Part 1 in the US), we decided to do a special bonus episode in a new format! Rather than an interview, Sophia (a Dune neophyte) and Christopher (a self-proclaimed Dune nerd) decided to sit down and talk about the expressions and examples of extractivism(s) in Denis Villeneuve's blockbuster Dune: Part 1. Naturally, it is chock-full of SPOILERS for the movie, so if you haven't seen it, you might want to wait (though, the conversation does try to avoid spoilers for later in the Dune series). If you like the episode, let us know! Visit our Facebook or @ us on Twitter (@ExaltResearch). This is a lot of fun, and a format we have discussed for a long time, but would love to hear what you all think. Long live the fighters!
Also, just to be clear, this is not a replacement for our normal interview episode for October this is just a bonus! The regular episode, bringing back Professor Barry Gills, will be released on this Friday (October 29, 2021) as usual.
Robin Broad and John Cavanagh - Can local movements beat big companies?
This 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.
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!
Victoria Kiechel - How has extractivism become intertwined in our built environment?
In 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)
Urbanist and Danish Architect Jan Gehl (https://gehlpeople.com/)
Mira Käkönen - How do dams impact climate change?
Mira 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
If you are interested in learning more about Mira’s research, please check out her University of Helsinki research profile.
Arturo Escobar - Why are communities key to transforming the world?
Arturo 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.
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/
mirko nikolić - How do we dismantle our connections to extractivism?
The 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.
Saskia Sassen - Why are there so many everyday miseries in big cities?
This 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.
Beril Ocaklı - How has extractivism played out in Soviet and post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan?
This 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.
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
“Meken” by Medetbek Jalilov
“A tunnel” by Nino Orjonikidze, Vano Arsenishvili
Yafa El Masri - How can refugees save the world?
This 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
BONUS - Alexander Dunlap - What is the "World Eater"?
We 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!
Alexander Dunlap - Is "green energy" really that green (and is it better called "fossil fuel plus")?
This 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
Josua Mata - How can labor movements help improve the environment?
This month we talked with Josua Mata, the Secretary General of SENTRO (Co-operative and Progressive Workers' Center) in the Manila, Philippines. He shared with us his on the ground experiences at the forefront of the labor movement in the Philippines. Globalization has had a massive impact on the labor market in the Philippines, partially due to the rise of temp work contracts replacing regular work contracts. In the 1980s, when Josua enterd the workforce, most workers had a “regular” job. Today, most workers are considered “non-regular” because they have only 3-6 month temporary contracts. This has weakened the labor movement significantly as non-regular employees are not able to participate effectively in the Union due to fear of having their contracts terminated. Contractualization has denied a huge portion of the working class from accessing their constitutional right to collective bargaining and going on strike. This has also had political implications as it has widened the gap between the rich and poor, which has opened the possibilities for right wing governments to rise. He gave us insight into the frustration and political psych of the working class in the country and the danger of being an activist in the socio-political context of the Philippines. We talked about how the labor movement has survived under such perilous conditions. Josua says the only way you can change the world is to change it together, even if that only starts with your friends.
Katherine Trebeck - Should the economy work for society and the environment?
This month we talk with Katherine Trebeck, the Advocacy and Influencing Lead for the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll), Co-founder of the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership (WEGo), Senior Visiting Researcher University of Strathclyde, and Honorary Professor University of the West of Scotland. She is an advocate and pioneer for the wellbeing economy approach to economics and the world. The concept of the wellbeing economy grows out of the recognition that the economy is embedded within society, and society is embedded within the environment. However, under the current system, social wellbeing and environmental wellbeing are secondary to, and sacrificed for, the wellbeing of the economy. A wellbeing economy is based on the idea that the economy should take into account and work to ensure social and environmental wellbeing. The concept is universal, but it is not prescriptive –the implementation is very multifaceted and based on local priorities – and it is possible to see how many countries are putting this concept into practice via WEGo.
Katherine’s Personal Website: https://www.katherinetrebeck.com/
Tweet at Katherine: @ktrebeck
The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll): https://wellbeingeconomy.org/
Info on the Wellbeing Economy Governments partnership (WEGo): https://wellbeingeconomy.org/wego
PM Nicola Sturgeon’s TED talk “Why governments should prioritize well-being”: watch on WEGo or here
BONUS Year 1 Retrospective (and Outtakes)
October 2020 is the FIRST ANNIVERSARY of the EXALT Podcast! So, we decided to commemorate it with a quick bonus episode. We sit down and look back on how we got here, the great guests we've had, what's coming ahead for year/season two, and a few outtakes from our first year.
Markus Kröger - What is the best way to push for change?
This month we talk to Markus Kröger, Associate Professor in Development Studies at the University of Helsinki, an Academy of Finland research fellow, and one of the founding members of the EXALT Initiative. His work looks at political/economic analysis to explain the where we are in the development of systems, and where we are going. He has focused on industrial forestry, and the conflicts related to the expansions of these plantations. He has done work in many countries including Brazil, India, and the Arctic. His more recent work has focused on resistance to iron ore mining in Brazil and India. This work is shared in Iron Will: Global Extractivism and Mining Resistance in Brazil and India, Markus’ forthcoming book from University of Michigan Press. In this book he compares the dynamics across cases where the mining expanded, where it discontinued, cases of armed resistance and cases of peaceful resistance. He looked at the causal condition complexes that explain the causal path from the start of activism to the different investment outcomes. He identified 5 key strategies and explored the strategies that did not work so well in resistance movements. Markus shares with us some of his stories from being on the ground as a participant observer on the front lines of mining resistance.
Markus’ forthcoming book Iron Will: Global Extractivism and Mining Resistance in Brazil and India
Markus’ earlier book Contentious Agency and Natural Resource Politics
Nick Couldry and Ulises Mejias - How much of your life has Big Data colonized and extracted to the cloud?
This month we talk with Nick Couldry and Ulises Mejias. Nick is a professor of Media, Communications and Social Theory in the Department of Media and Communications at London School of Economics. Ulises is a professor of Communication Studies and the director of the Institute for Global Engagement at SUNY Oswego. They recently co-authored a book called ‘The Costs of Connection: How Data is Colonizing Human Life and Appropriating it for Capitalism.’ This book explores the role that data and data production plays in the modern world and the concept of data colonialism. Data colonialism is a form of appropriation of human life set up so data can be continuously extracted profit that benefits companies operating in the capitalist system. They are not using the word colonialism metaphorically – this is an emergent order based on the same extractivist logic that has enabled the colonial project over the last 500 years. We discuss how data colonialism operates on multiple levels and has effects further reaching than most imagine. We discuss how we (humans) are simultaneously producing the data through our actions (e.g. swiping our smartphone, cruising social media, or even in some cases through opening our fridge) and falling victim to the consequences of big business owning our data en masse.
Here is more information about their book: https://colonizedbydata.com
Tweet at Nick: @couldrynick
Here is the home page for the Tierra Común network (jointly founded with Paola Ricaurte): https://www.tierracomun.net
The wiki page for the Non-Aligned Technologies Movement: https://nonalignedtech.net
Sorry We Missed You - film directed by Ken Loach: https://sorrywemissedyou.co.uk/
EXALT Symposium October 2020:
Anja Nygren - How Does Extractivism Impact Frontier Families Over Generations?
This month we are joined by Anja Nygren a professor in Development Studies at the University of Helsinki. She is also a docent of political ecology at University of Tampere in Finland. She has done intensive empirical frontline research in many countries, including Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Mexico. We discuss her first hand experiences seeing the ravages of extractivism on the lives of average people and the environment over her experience living and working in Central America.
Anja’s interests lie in social/environmental justice, access to resources, and environmental conflict. She pairs macro scale data, for example satellite data tracking land change, with ethnographic inquiry that captures the lived experience and the impact on livelihoods. Her work intersects with extractivism through oil and the long-term effects of extractive activities on the land and the extraction and resource grabbing which happens at frontiers. She is very interested in the different dimensions of extractivism, especially looking at some of broader definitions of extractivism for example the effects of agroextractivism, green-grabbing, and even the mental or intellectual extractivism that happens in eco-tourism and the pharmacological industry. The role of profit-making is a defining feature of these extractivisms at frontiers. Anja shares with us the different types of frontiers and the different ways extractivism can play out at these frontiers, including commodity, commoditizing, and resource frontiers.
If you are interested in this subject and would like to learn more, Anja welcomes you to contact her. She is happy to send people her publications, recommendations for other reading, and help in connecting to broader networks.
Please visit Anja’s research profile at University of Helsinki, there are links to over 80 publications (the majority of which are open access!) https://researchportal.helsinki.fi/en/persons/anja-nygren
Gutu Olana Wayessa - Why do people need to be consulted about big projects in their back yards?
This month we had a conversation with Gutu Olana Wayessa a University Lecturer in Development Studies at University of Helsinki. He is a member of the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) and the Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ). His scholarly work has looked at resettlement and displacement, and livelihood implications of government sponsored movement from place to place. More recently he has been interested in social movements and scholarly activism.
His recent research examines large-scale land leasing in Oromo Region, Ethiopia. Land has been one of the few questions that has shaped the political economy of the country for the last fifty years. In Ethiopia the land belongs to the state and the people, but in practice the people using the land can be nominal in the face of large-scale land leasing. The lands are often characterized as “under-utilized” on paper, but often they are in alternative or customary uses. These are usually long-term, large scale, international companies that are participating in these land deals, and the people using the land are not able to effectively assert their rights to the land. Often these foreign investors are trying to develop industrial agricultural projects on the land that are ill-suited to the land and the land ends up degraded and unusable for the alternative and customary use. Gutu walks us through the case studies from one of his recent articles, which are a living example of the impacts and effects of agricultural extractivism happening on these leased lands.
Shortly after the recording of this conversation, Oromo activist and pop singer Hachalu Hundessa, whose songs were anthems of anti-government protests, was assassinated. This sparked off waves of protests in which at least 166 people have been killed. It is angering and upsetting to learn that such an important figure to Ethiopian and Oromo culture and politics was killed, and of the ongoing violence by the state against the people protesting this injustice. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53238206
If you would like to learn more about these topics, Gutu invites anyone who is interested to send him an e-mail (gutuolana (at) gmail .com) or through his University of Helsinki e-mail (email@example.com). Please find his profile through the University of Helsinki portal https://researchportal.helsinki.fi/en/persons/gutu-wayessa
Will LaFleur - What kind of connection do you have with your food?
This episode we are joined by Will LaFleur, a doctoral researcher at University of Helsinki in the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Change. Will is also a student affiliate of the Helsinki Institute for Sustainability Science (HELSUS) and a member of the Global Extractivisms and Alternatives Initiative (EXALT). This episode builds on our May episode on Food Systems with Rachel Mazac (if you have not heard that episode, please click here to check it out!) Will leads us through a food centered conversation and helps us learn about sense-making and its relation to food. In particular we talk about a lot about taste and its relation to the experience of food. Will shares with us his experiences in Arizona, Japan, and now Finland. He shares with us his personal experiences with food and the senses and his post-positivist views on approaching research. We discuss the difference between food as fuel and food as social experience that occupies a special time and position in ones’ life. Will shared with us some insight into the everyday practices that bring one away from the industrial practices of the dominant food system.
Find him on Twitter @scent_ala_fleur
Resources shared by Will:
- Commensality, society and culture by Claude Fischler https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0539018411413963 (check Google Scholar for PDF version)
- Book recommendation: Food and culture: A reader, specifically recommending the chapter by Jack Goody, Industrial Food Towards the Development of a World Cuisine.
- Another book recommendation: Katz, S.E., 2016. Wild fermentation: The flavor, nutrition, and craft of live-culture foods. Chelsea Green Publishing.
- Burning Questions Conference: https://www.burningq.com/
- REKO Finland short introduction (video)
Rachel Mazac - How does your dinner impact the world?
This month we dive deep into the tangled web that is the food system. We talked with Rachel Mazac, MSc, who is a doctoral researcher in the Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences Doctoral Programme (DENVI) at University of Helsinki. Rachel led us through some of the depth and complexity of the food system. In particular, we discussed some of the externalities that affect the functioning of the food system and how extractivism plays a huge role in the makeup of our modern foodscapes. In addition, she highlighted some of the alternatives to the globalized industrial food system. In particular we talked about the future of food systems and the role diet can play in the Anthropocene. One of the main takeaways from this month’s episode is the need for developing a deep understanding of context when striving for sustainable solutions to the problems in the global food system.
In addition, please note that due to the pandemic and shelter in place orders we are not recording on our normal equipment and there are some fluctuations in the sound quality. Thanks 2020!
· Rachel’s webpage: https://rachelmazac.weebly.com/
· Rachel’s Twitter page: https://twitter.com/cazamazac
· The Future Sustainable Food Systems Research Group at the University of Helsinki:
o Twitter - https://twitter.com/futuresustfoods
· The Agroecology Research Group at the University of Helsinki: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/researchgroups/agroecology
Maija Lassila - Extractivism Research and Breaking Away from the Written Word
Maija Lassila is an artist and a doctoral student at the University of Helsinki in Development Studies. This conversation explores the relations between humans and nature and the understanding of what is nature. We broke down assumptions about what is nature and our role as humans within nature, especially looking at this relationship from different cultural perspectives. We also explored different types of knowledges and specifically the knowledges related to the creation of art and research. Especially looking at art as an entry to different ways of existing with the world and resonating with the world and the common consciousness which can be accessed through painting. The conversation also touched on the use of art based methods to access viewing the world in non-human time scales. Art is an alternative and a way to transmit knowledges and lived experiences around the impacts of extractivisms and the role of alternatives.
Maija’s Art Webpage - http://maijalassila.com/portfolio/
Maija’s Research Page - https://researchportal.helsinki.fi/fi/persons/maija-lassila
Photographer Will Wilson - https://willwilson.photoshelter.com/index
Vaara Kollektiivi - http://www.vaarakollektiivi.fi/node/127Suohpanterror Artists Collective - https://suohpanterror.com/?page_id=558 Pluriversal Radio - http://pluriversal.radio/radio/
If you are interested to view Maija’s short film please send her an e-mail, her address is on her artistic webpage.
Tom Marafa - Extractivism and Sense of Place in Ohio
This episode we are joined by Dr. Tom Maraffa a retired professor from Youngstown State University which is a public university in Youngstown, Ohio. We explore Extractivism and sense of place from small town USA and how extractive activities have influenced the history and lived experience in Columbiana County in Ohio. This county serves as a case study of a place that has undergone change as extractive activities and the global economy have evolved around it. Many of the local companies that were foundational to this area have been absorbed by international companies, reducing them to easily movable pieces in a game of globalization. The people and counties left behind were forced to find alternatives . However, sometimes the alternatives are other forms of extractive activities, for example, moving from coal mining to natural gas. It is easy to cast judgement on areas where these types of extractive activities are taking place, however, we explore the role of place and place attachment and the value systems which might be at play in Columbiana County. We think about the role of people who feel “placelessness” v. “placed” and the impact these worldviews have on an area and the bigger picture of the world to which they connect.
Links shared by Dr. Maraffa (please note some of the newspaper links do not work in Europe due to GDPR).
Chris Arnade—Front Row/Back Row (exploring “placedness” and “placelessness”)
Stories about Columbiana County to contextualize the place.
Extractive activities and the community in Ohio.
Katy Machoa and Paola Minoia (English) - Eco-cultural pluralism, Extractivism, and the Kichwa people of Ecuadorian Amazonia
This podcast episode is groundbreaking for the EXALT Podcast. It is our first episode with two guests, but also our first multi-lingual podcast – whether you are listening to the English version, the Spanish version, or the original – we hope that you enjoy! This is the English version with the translation imposed over the original Spanish segments.
We talked today with Katy Machoa and Paola Minoia. Katy is a Clinical Psychologist from the Kichwa Community of Shamato, part of the Amazonian Kichwa nationality. Paola is a Senior university lecturer in development studies in the Faculty of Social Science, and an adjunct professor in development geography at the Faculty of Sciences, both at the University of Helsinki. We talked to these guests together because they are co-collaborators on an Academy of Finland funded project based in Ecuador on called Goal 4+: Including Eco-cultural Pluralism in Quality Education in Ecuadorian Amazonia. “This project expands on Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to ensure quality education for all through an attempt to promote recognition of eco-cultural pluralism and inclusion of indigenous pedagogies and knowledges as part of quality education in Ecuadorian Amazonia.” If you are interested in learning more about this interesting and important project please visit their project website and blog https://blogs.helsinki.fi/ecocultures-ecuador/.
In this conversation we talked about Katy’s lived experiences in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Through this conversation we talk about indigenous communities, the trajectory of “development” in this region, the types of extraction which are happening in these lands, and the role of epistemological plurality in creating space for indigenous knowledge.