** With apologies for cross-posting ** 

Agency, Institutions, and Empirics in Environmentality Studies
Call for Papers, 8th Nordic Geographers’ Meeting (NGM), Sustainable Geography – 
Geographies of Sustainability
Trondheim, Norway, 16-19 June 2019
Conference website: https://www.ntnu.edu/geography/ngm-2019 

Session organizers: Connor J. Cavanagh,1 Tor A. Benjaminsen,1 Rob Fletcher2
1 Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric), 
Norwegian University of Life Sciences
2 Sociology of Development and Change, Wageningen University, the Netherlands
Abstract deadline: 10 December 2018
Contact: connor.cavan...@nmbu.no <mailto:connor.cavan...@nmbu.no>

In human geography and political ecology, the last three decades have witnessed 
sustained interest with the ways in which Michel Foucault’s notion of 
‘governmentality’ pertains (or does not) to the intertwined governance of human 
communities and the (bio)physical environment. Following key contributions by 
Luke (1995, 1999), Agrawal (2005), Fletcher (2010), and others, it might be 
said that these and similar inquiries have since led to the formation of an 
implicit sub-field of ‘green governmentality’ or ‘environmentality’ studies. 
Not least, research in this domain has recently been reinvigorated by a new 
wave of interest into the “multiple environmentalities” (Fletcher 2017) at work 
within efforts to address contemporary environment and development challenges, 
as well as how these may intersect, synergize, or even contradict each other 
within a variety of distinct historical and geographical conjunctures (see also 
Singh 2013; Youdelis 2013; Bluwstein 2017; Cavanagh 2018). 
Many of these studies have greatly enriched our understanding both of how power 
operates in and through the governance of the environment, as well as how 
distinct types of “environmental subjects” (Agrawal 2005) can be produced and 
reproduced over space and time. In doing so, however, they also raise a number 
of second-order political and methodological questions, which arguably warrant 
a renewed phase of explicit discussion and reflection. Indeed, the political 
stakes of these studies are perhaps especially relevant for political ecology 
if we conceive of the latter as an “explicitly normative” field of inquiry, 
concerned not only with “the hatchet” of analysis and critique, but also with 
“planting the seed” of alternative social and ecological relations (e.g. 
Robbins 2012: 13, see also Cavanagh and Benjaminsen 2017). Can scholars of 
environmentality, for instance, offer a more robust or detailed theory of 
individual and collective agency in the pursuit of such alternative ‘seeds’? 
How do Foucaultian insights into subject formation and “the conduct of conduct” 
complicate our understanding of both ‘resistance’ or other ‘responses from 
below’ (e.g. Hall et al. 2015) within the workings of multiple 
environmentalities? What is the role of variegated institutional arrangements – 
whether statutory or customary, formal or informal – in mediating, 
constraining, or enabling diverse environmentalities and the scope of responses 
to these? Most pressingly, perhaps, how should we conceive the role of 
historically and geographically diverse empirical data or knowledge in 
environmentality studies, and where might such knowledge be most productively 
reasserted as primarily the source or catalyst rather than the object of 
theoretical reflection?

Seeking to contribute to these ongoing discussions and debates, we invite paper 
proposals engaging the above questions and/or related methodological, 
political, and conceptual foci. Relevant topics might include, amongst others, 
the following:

·      Methodology and the philosophy of science in environmentality studies
·      Dialogues and debates between or across critical realism, “critical 
institutionalism” (Cleaver 2012; Hall et al. 2014), and Foucaultian social 
·      Geographical and historical variegation in the workings of multiple 
governmentalities or environmentalities
·      Critical perspectives on institutions and agency in Foucaultian theory 
and analysis
·      Interactions between multiple environmentalities across divergently 
produced scales, spaces, and places
·      Agency, ‘resistance’, counter-conduct or parrhesia (e.g. Legg 2018), and 
other ‘responses from below’ (Hall et al. 2015)
·      Politics and “explicitly normative” (Robbins 2012) argumentation or 
analysis vis-à-vis Foucaultian theory and philosophy
Please send abstracts of approximately 250 words to Connor Joseph Cavanagh 
(connor.cavan...@nmbu.no <mailto:connor.cavan...@nmbu.no>) by 10 December 2018. 
Authors will be notified about the status of their submission as soon as 
possible thereafter.


Agrawal, A. (2005). Environmentality: technologies of government and the making 
of subjects. Durham: Duke University Press.

Bluwstein, J. (2017). Creating ecotourism territories: Environmentalities in 
Tanzania’s community-based conservation. Geoforum, 83, 101-113.

Cavanagh, C. J. (2018). Political ecologies of biopower: diversity, debates, 
and new frontiers of inquiry. Journal of Political Ecology, 25(1), 402-425.

Cavanagh, C. J., & Benjaminsen, T. A. Political ecology, variegated green 
economies, and the foreclosure of alternative sustainabilities. Journal of 
Political Ecology, 24(1), 200-216.

Cleaver, F. (2012). Development through bricolage: Rethinking institutions for 
natural resource management. London: Routledge.

Fletcher, R. (2010). Neoliberal environmentality: towards a poststructuralist 
political ecology of the conservation debate. Conservation and society, 8(3), 

Fletcher, R. (2017). Environmentality unbound: Multiple governmentalities in 
environmental politics. Geoforum, 85, 311-315.

Hall, K., Cleaver, F., Franks, T., & Maganga, F. (2014). Capturing critical 
institutionalism: A synthesis of key themes and debates. The European Journal 
of Development Research, 26(1), 71-86.

Hall, R., Edelman, M., Borras Jr, S. M., Scoones, I., White, B., & Wolford, W. 
(2015). Resistance, acquiescence or incorporation? An introduction to land 
grabbing and political reactions ‘from below’. Journal of Peasant Studies, 
42(3-4), 467-488.

Luke, T.W. 1995. On environmentality: geo-power and eco-knowledge in the 
discourses of contemporary environmentalism. Cultural Critique 31: 57-81.

Luke, T.W. 1999. Environmentality as green governmentality. In Darier, E. 
(ed.). Discourses of the environment. Oxford: Blackwell. Pp. 121-151.

Legg, S. (2018). Subjects of truth: Resisting governmentality in Foucault’s 
1980s. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 
Robbins, P. (2012). Political ecology: a critical introduction. Second edition. 
Oxford: Wily-Blackwell.

Singh, N. M. (2013). The affective labor of growing forests and the becoming of 
environmental subjects: Rethinking environmentality in Odisha, India. Geoforum, 
47, 189-198.

Youdelis, M. (2013). The competitive (dis)advantages of ecotourism in Northern 
Thailand. Geoforum, 50, 161-171.

Dr. Connor Joseph Cavanagh
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Department of International Environment and Development Studies
Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)
NMBU Staff Profile <http://goo.gl/mNebYB> | Google Scholar  
<http://goo.gl/KXP03j>| ResearchGate <http://goo.gl/EIuhdR> | Twitter  
Latest publications: 
Sandbrook, C. and C.J. Cavanagh and D. Tumusiime (eds). (2018). Conservation 
and Development in Uganda 
 New York and London: Routledge/Earthscan.
Cavanagh, C.J. (2018). Political ecologies of biopower: diversity, debates, and 
new frontiers of inquiry 
<https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/JPE/article/view/23047>.Journal of 
Political Ecology 25(1): 402-425.
Cavanagh, C.J. (2018). Critical ecosystem infrastructure? Governing the 
forests-water nexus in the Kenyan highlands. In R. Boelens, T. Perreault, and 
J. Vos (eds). Water Justice 
 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 302-315.
Cavanagh, CJ. (2018). Enclosure, dispossession, and the ‘green economy’: new 
contours of internal displacement in Liberia and Sierra Leone?  
Geographical Review 37(2): 120-133.

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