See the call for papers below for a session at the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers’ Annual Conference in August 2016, organised by 3S members Jason Chilvers and Helen Pallett.
Relational geographies of participation
Organised by Jason Chilvers and Helen Pallett (3S Research Group, University of East Anglia, UK)
For geographers the growth of interest in participation and participatory geographies would seem to go hand in hand with nexus thinking, with both approaches actively attending to interdependencies and interconnections across environmental issue domains, places, scales, and cultures. However, thinking relationally poses significant challenges for ‘participation’ as traditionally conceived within the discipline. Two aspects are particularly important. The first is a relative methodological emphasis on ‘doing’ participatory geographies, which invokes a dominant imaginary of participation as discrete collectives or ‘events’ occurring in particular times and places. Coupled with this is the predominance of relatively fixed and pre-given meanings and normativities of participation in geographical thought – as deliberative, discursive, agonistic, and so on.
Work at the interface between geography, science and technology studies, and democratic theory is bringing forward new ways of thinking about and doing participation, taking a more relational approach. This not only has significant potential for addressing nexus challenges, but also helps to advance the agenda from a relative focus on doing ‘participatory geographies’ to one of also studying ‘geographies of participation’ (which can in turn serve to reconfigure participatory practices). This opens up a number of paths for the study of relational spaces of participation, including:
- Spaces of participation as experiments and socio-material practices ‘in the making’ – this draws attention to the processes of their construction and opens up to diversities of participation (beyond the public, discursive, and deliberative to also encompass the material, mundane, private, affective, and so on).
- Spaces where technologies of participation and democratic innovations become standardized and circulate across space and time – this includes the transnational circulation of models of participation (e.g. citizens panels, participatory action research, transition towns) across cultures, places and issue domains (e.g. of energy, climate change, health, water, food).
- ‘Ecologies of participation’ that are entangled in spaces of negotiation and controversies – this focuses on ‘political situations’ that overflow traditional jurisdictions (e.g. diverse forms of participation in fracking controversies cut across the energy, food, water, environmental justice nexus).
- The ways in which diverse spaces of participation form part of wider relational spaces, whether that be systems (‘deliberative systems’, ‘systems of practice’, socio-technical systems), constitutions, states, institutions, political cultures, landscapes, and so on.
We invite theoretical, empirical and/or methodological papers that explore these (or other themes) on the relational geographies of participation. In addition we encourage papers that consider what adopting a more relational perspective might mean for remaking participatory practices. We welcome papers addressing such questions from a range of domains and issue areas, including: energy, climate change, sustainability transitions, cities, rural development, water, science and technology, social innovation, and environmental justice.
Please send your abstracts of no more than 250 words to Jason[.]Chilvers[at]uea.ac.uk and H.Pallett[at]uea.ac.uk by 5pm on Thursday 18th February. We are also happy to discuss paper ideas with prospective presenters prior to the submission of your abstract.