EXALT Reading

EXALT Reading is a curated list of open access, topical and critical literature on Extractivism, Global Crises, Alternatives, Sustainability, Degrowth, Solidarity, Commons and everything in between! The pieces are posted biweekly on EXALT's Facebook-page and updated here regurarly.

34. “Cinderellas” of Our Mozambique Wish to Speak: A Feminist Perspective on Extractivism

In this article Teresa Cunha and Isabel Casimiro examine the intense cycle of extractive activities in Mozambique from a feminist perspective and identify some of the possible causes of suffering and some of the ideas of resistance and future alternatives led by women and their communities. The generated benefits from extractivism are being transferred to international corporations and local elites. The rise of extreme inequality, violent conflicts, the erosion of democracy and forced displacement have followed this uneven distribution causing the living conditions of women and girls to deteriorate. Cunha and Casimiro use the phrase “Cinderellas of our Mozambique” as a metaphor for those women who continue resisting the economic development model based on the violent and intensive extraction of natural resources. 

The authors argue that an economy based on extractive, intensive exploitation and megaprojects severely restricts the creation and development of other production chains based on small and medium proximity economies which generate jobs and income. Consequently, economic diversity and endogenous production networks suffer drastic impacts or are destroyed.

33. Water and power, water’s power: State-making and socionature shaping volatile rivers and riverine people in Mexico

In this article Anja Nygren demonstrates the overlapping and cumulative effects of state-making, accelerated resource-making, politics of scale, and the dynamics of socionature on socially differentiated vulnerability in the context of the Grijalva River basin, Mexico. Nygren argues that "the goals of consolidating state power and promoting development through massive waterscape changes and resource extractions have provoked hazards that are difficult to control, resulting in differentiated distribution of environmental benefits and burdens." While officials have recognised these differentiated consequences they have linked them to "individuals’ capacities to take care of their living condition rather than to socially differentiated governance".

The articles illustrates how huge projects of hydropower, irrigated agriculture and cattle raising, hydrocarbon extraction, flood-protection infrastructure, and human relocations have increased benefits and profits for certain stakeholders, while growing vulnerability and marginalisation among others. The lives of the marginalised are strictly controlled by the state through relocations and unwillingness to provide basic services and flood-prevention infrastructure in informal settlements. In order to advance their claims for more responsible resource-making residents have sought to reformulate prevalent forms of governance and scalar politics through claim-making, mobilisation, and everyday resistance. 

32. From the Paris Agreement to the Anthropocene and Planetary Boundaries Framework: an interview with Will Steffen 

In this wide-ranging interview by Globalizations, the well-known Earth System scientist Professor Will Steffen introduces and discusses the influential planetary boundaries (PB) framework, the potential for a Hothouse Earth pathway and the relevance of the Anthropocene concept. He elaborates on the role of emergence, complexity, feedback and irreversibility and draws attention to updates for the nine PBs. 

31. Breaking free from mining: A 2050 blueprint for a world without mining – on land and in the deep sea

This paper published by an association called Seas at Risk is an encouraging take on what the future could hold for us if the international community embraces the transition to a significantly less resource-intensive society that is equipped to deal with the impacts of climate change, reverse the biodiversity loss of the preceding century, and break free from resource extraction. 'Breaking free from mining' written by Joám Evans Pim and Ann Dom is a warning, a glimpse of hope and a guidebook for the future that has to begin now. Mining is one of the most polluting industries therefore the ongoing mining boom will have disastrous environmental consequences. The system so far has been to open more and more mines in fragile ecosystems. The Seas at Risk paper shows that there is a way out from this model as concrete alternatives that can make mining unnecessary already exist and explains how a disaster can be prevented. 

"Looking back, it’s hard to imagine how so many people put up with it. Polluted cities caused nine million deaths each year and created generations of asthmatics.”

30. Alternative Worldviews - Sharing life: The ecopolitics of reciprocity

This book is an assemblage of 12 stories, poetry, song, artwork and academic writings which speak about alternative worldviews and traditional knowledge systems of the people of Northeast India and beyond. It challenges the ‘extractivist’ perceptions and the traditional narratives of the Northeast of India as space locked within rigid governance or development frameworks which completely miss the importance of the region’s ecology and biodiversity.

Evolving around the main essay “Sharing life. The Ecopolitics of Reciprocity” and based on a common understanding of the importance of indigenous knowledge systems and practices, the contributors to this assemblage visualize a wealth of indigenous epistemologies and encourage us to un-learn, de-theorize and re-assemble ourselves and our present thinking and methodologies. Highlighting an urgent need for a better understanding of local realities, and for experiencing a sense of place, the contributors draw upon an ecological and political landscape that expands far beyond a generalised understanding of actual or conceptual (governance-related) boundaries and hegemonic development paradigms. The contributions also provide us with a look into traditional, cultural and spiritual practices, mainly stemming from indigenous knowledge systems far beyond the region into a larger eco-geographical space.

29. Our Extractive Age: Expressions of Violence and Resistance - chapters 1 and 9

Our Extractive Age emphasizes how the spectrum of violence associated with natural resource extraction permeates contemporary collective life. The book argues that resource extraction plays a central role in defining our time and climate change as the greatest existential threat. It records the increasing rates of brutal suppression of local environmental and labor activists in rural and urban sites of extraction and recognizes related violence in areas we might not expect. 

The 29th EXALT Reading focuses on chapters one and nine especially as they were written by contributors to EXALT. The first chapter written by Francesco Durante, Markus Kröger and William La Fleur talks about the definitions and concepts of extraction and extractivism, and challenges the universalizing character of extractivist ontology. In the ninth chapter, Christopher W. Chagnon, Sophia E. Hagolani-Albov, and Saana Hokkanen expand the complex web of extractivisms by examining the intersections between digital and data extractivism and natural resource and financial extractivisms in order to uncover the linkages and extensions of extractivist violence.

28. A Material Transition: Exploring supply and demand solutions for renewable energy minerals

This report by War on Want examines the potential widespread environmental destruction and human rights abuses unleashed by the extraction of transition minerals – the raw materials needed for the production of renewable energy technologies. A Material Transition highlights what can be done to avert this devastation and sets out a pathway for a globally just energy future.

"Although it is crucial to tackle the climate crisis, and rapidly transition away from fossil fuels, this transition cannot be achieved by expanding our reliance on other materials. The voices arguing for ‘digging our way out of the climate crisis’, particularly those that make up the global mining industry, are powerful but self-serving and must be rejected. We need carefully planned, lowcarbon and non-resource-intensive solutions for people and planet."

27. Environmental Racism, Green Colonialism, and The Renewable Energies Revolution - Cara Judea Alhadeff

This essay focuses on structural environmental racism and encourages us to consider the intersections of race and environment when transitioning out of global petroculture. The author writes about the ways in which the so-called green solutions and environmental racism reinforce the very systems of ecological devastation and global wealth inequities that many actors embracing sustainability try to question and even dismantle.

26. Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary - edited by Ashish Kothari, Ariel Salleh, Arturo Escobar, Federico Demaria and Alberto Acosta.

This book is an exciting collection of over 100 essays by 120+ contributors on transformative alternatives to the currently dominant processes of globalized development, including its structural roots in modernity, capitalism, state domination, and masculinist values. In the post-development imagination, ‘development’ would no longer be the organizing principle of social life. The book presents worldviews and practices from around the world in a collective search for an ecologically wise and socially just world.

Contributors to this volume from activists and academics to practitioners call for a pluriverse, a broad transcultural compilation of concrete concepts, worldviews and practices worldwide, challenging the modernist ontology of universalism in favor of a multiplicity of possible worlds.

1. Alternatives in a World of Crisis - the Global Working Group Beyond Development - edited by Miriam Lang, Claus-Dieter König and Ada-Charlotte Regelmann

"This book is a result of collective effort, written by many contributors from all over the world – by activists and scholars from very different socio-cultural contexts and political horizons. The collected texts share a common concern in showing that alternatives do exist, despite the neoliberal mantra of the “end of history”, and that many of these
alternatives are currently unfolding.

The selection of texts portray transformative processes around the world, which have been able to change their situated social realities in multiple ways, addressing different axes of domination simultaneously, and anticipating forms of social organization that configure alternatives to the commodifying, patriarchal, colonial, and destructive logics of modern capitalism."

2. Basic Income (an idea whose time has come) - Rutger Bregman from his book "Utopia for Realists"

As the Covid-19 pandemic is uncovering the inherent problems of our current world-system, old ideas such as universal basic income are gaining new momentum. Extractivism being a crucial part of consumer capitalism, this book chapter might give you some ideas how basic income would relate to extractivist practices?

"Every milestone of civilisation - from the end of slavery to the beginning of democracy - was once considered a utopian fantasy. New utopian ideas such as universal basic income can become reality in our lifetime."

3. Deforestation, cattle capitalism and neodevelopmentalism in the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve, Brazil - Markus Kröger

Extractivism being a concept of our time, deforestation is one of its most alarming manifestations. In his article Associate Professor Kröger discusses the relations between the agents of cattle capitalism, neodevelopmentalism and contemporary deforestation in Brazil.

4. Poetry Foundation & Poetry Magazine's collection of Ecopoems and articles on Ecopoetry

Ecopoetry can offer us alternative ways of being and knowing the world around and within us, potentially offering more sustainable sense-making and pathways for post-extractivist futures.

5. Vivir Bien as an Alternative to Neoliberal Globalization: Can Indigenous Terminologies Decolonize the State? - Dr. Eija Ranta

The book is a part of a series called "Rethinking Globalizations", designed to break new ground in the literature on globalization and its academic and popular understanding. Ranta explores critical and political alternatives in the Global South and the opportunities and challenges they might present in decolonizing a modern, hierarchical and global nation-state.

6. Introduction chapter for Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism - Jason W. Moore

In the book Moore introduces and discusses series of provocative essays on nature and power, humanity, and capitalism, which challenge the conventional practice of dividing historical change and contemporary reality into “Nature” and “Society". The text also presents us with the problems of Anthropocene-thinking and proposes an alternative analysis that the global crises of the twenty-first century are rooted in the Capitalocene, the Age of Capital, rather than in humanity itself. The book aims to offer a more nuanced and connective view of human environment-making, joined at every step with and within the biosphere.

7. Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era - Federico Demaria, Giorgos Kallis and Giacomo D'Alisa

The book is an overview of degrowth and it offers a comprehensive coverage of the main topics and major challenges of degrowth in a succinct, simple and accessible manner. In addition, it offers a set of keywords useful for intervening in current political debates and for bringing about concrete degrowth-inspired proposals at different levels, local, national and global.

8. Activism mobilising science - Marta Conde

The article introduces a concept of the same name and sheds light to the process of unequal power relations related to the co-production of scientific and local knowledge. In the article, Conde argues that laypeople together with scientists can co-produce new and alternative knowledges that give local organisations visibility and legitimacy, information on how to protect themselves from impacts of extractivist practices, and allows them to engage in activism.

9. Stopping the Machines of Socio-ecological Destruction and Building Alternative Worlds - Global Working Group Beyond Development

The book represents a collective effort to understand the historical moment our world is living through, its patterns of domination and the tendencies, prospects, and challenges of a multidimensional transformation. It is also a call for social transformation, which needs to address the complex relations between class, race, coloniality, gender, and Nature.

10. Compiled list of Antiracism Resources by activists Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein

Racism among other things is also about cheapening lives and rendering them available for further oppression and appropriation. In the current world-system built on the extracted labor and resources of people often marginalized by their race, being non-racist is not enough, we have to be anti-racist. Unlearn, revolt, and show up in the face of injustice.

11. From well-being to well-living: Towards a post-capitalist understanding of quality of life - Professor Hamed Hosseini

This ten-minute-read discusses how well-being is understood in different contexts and how the discussion has the potential to make way for post-capitalist transformations towards convivial ways to live and be well.

12. Public Policies for Food Sovereignty - Transnational Institute, TNI 

This collaborative piece of writing published by the Transnational Institute offers local, regional, national and global policy-makers tools to leverage public policies in support of food sovereignty. The paper discusses some of the key elements for the design and implementation of policies and actions in defense of people's right to define their own food system and to develop alternative policies on how food is produced, distributed and consumed.

13. David Wallace-Wells' - "The Uninhabitable World" 

The article is a synthesis of the book by the same name, which tackles the current path our world is on due to the climate-breakdown. It is also one of the most-read article's in history of the New York Magazine and features a link to an annotated version, to give readers some context on how the article was reported and further sources for the information. "Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think. -- It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today."

14. Zareen Bharucha - Dreaming spaces

The essay written by Zareen Bharucha, a Research Fellow at the Global Sustainability Institute (GSI) at Anglia Ruskin University, is a reflection on environmental ethics, of knitting oneself within the rest of nature. Dr. Bharucha explores what it means to work (with) land, to garden, and to realize that there is no nothing if we look and be long enough. “Everywhere is filled with the dream of what could grow, slowly coming true”

15. Herman Daly - Growthism: Its Ecological, Economic and Ethical limits

In this essay Daly tackles one of the most dominant imaginaries at play in our globalized world; "The elite-owned media, the corporate-funded think tanks, the kept economists of high academia, and the World Bank – not to mention Goldman-Sachs and Wall Street – all sing hymns to growth in harmony with class interest and greed. The public is bamboozled by technical obfuscation, and by the false promise of growthism that one day we will all be rich."

16. Joan Martinez-Alier et al. - Between Activism and Science: grassroots concepts for sustainability

The article discusses myriad of grassroots concepts around sustainability and shows how environmental justice organizations and activists have introduced fresh concepts into political ecology, then taken up by academics and policy makers. These concepts include environmental justice, environmental racism, climate justice, biopiracy, food sovereignty, land grabbing, corporate accountability, ecocide, and indigenous territorial rights, among others.

17. "Cities of Inclusion—Spaces of Justice" - ed. by Anja Nygren and Dr. Florencia Quesada

The special issue "Cities of Inclusion—Spaces of Justice", proposes new ways of rethinking cities so they can become places where all the citizens feel included. The articles of the issues explore new theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches to understanding the complex inequalities characteristic of contemporary cities, and emergent initiatives for enhancing the rights to the city, societal security and urban justice.

18. Land, Territory and Commons: Voices and Visions from the Struggles - Tomaso Ferrando, Isabel Álvarez Vispo, Molly Anderson et al.

This week's EXALT Reading is about grassroots movements which are organizing, protecting and promoting life-giving visions against the continuous enclosure of living beings and spaces. The article is a gathering of activists and academics aiming to learn from each other, support the ongoing search for common vocabularies, and identify possible milestones of a coordinated international strategy for a life-enhancing future.

19. Extractivism - Diana Vela Almeida

This blogpost by Diana Vela Almeida published on Uneven Earth gives an introduction to the concept and phenomena of extractivism in a very popular manner and maps out the global expansion of extractivist frontiers. "The 500 years’ legacy of extractivism is part of ongoing imperialist interest from industrial powers in securing access and control over natural resources around the globe, even in today´s green energy transitions. As such, extractivism stands in sharp contrast to flourishing alternative forms of land use and livelihoods."

20. Routledge Handbook of Climate Justice - edited ByTahseen Jafry, Michael Mikulewicz, Karin Helwig

Routledge Handbook of Climate Justice addresses some of the most important topics in current climate justice research, including just transition, urban climate justice and public engagement, in addition to the more traditional focus on gender, international governance and climate ethics.  The book draws from a multidisciplinary group of authors and provides valuable insights into the timely and crucial topic. 

21. The Appallingly Bad Neoclassical Economics of Climate Change - Steve Keen

Steve Keens article (published on the Journal Globalizations) offers devastating critique of neoclassical climate economics and shows how lot of the research on climate economics dramatically underestimates and misinterprets the risk of climate emergency. "If climate change does lead to the catastrophic outcomes that some scientists now openly contemplate, then these Neoclassical economists will be complicit in causing the greatest crisis, not merely in the history of capitalism, but potentially in the history of life on Earth."

22. Alternative Futures: India Unshackled - edited by KJ Joy & Ashish Kothari

A collection of 35 essays discuss some possible futures in India, by a diverse set of authors-activists, researchers, media practitioners, policy-influencers and those working at the grassroots. This book brings together scenarios of an India that is politically and socially egalitarian, radically democratic, economically sustainable and equitable, and socio-culturally diverse and harmonious. 

23. Debt - The First 5000 Years - by David Graeber

This book is by the brilliant activist-academic David Graeber, who unfortunately passed away earlier in the Fall of 2020. His work however continues to influence us; Many of his thought-provoking and insightful books are made available to all, including this reading "Debt - the first 5000 years". In the book Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom: he shows that before there was money, there was debt. For more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. The book turns everything most people think about money, debt, and society on its head.

24. Fieldnotes from Extractive Frontiers - by Thea Riofrancos

Riofrancos' essay discusses the challenges of achieving environmental justice when contemporary governance practises are incompatible with the rights of nature and people. The essay references the work of Ecuadorian attorney Juan Auz and Fundación Pachamama and examines how anti-extractive movements are transforming relationships between society and nature. "Who has the power to decide the fate of extractive projects? Who can speak on behalf of Nature, and to what ends? Are flourishing ecosystems and Indigenous rights at odds with “development” or compatible with it? Is the law a tool for liberation or a dead-end route to co-optation?"

25. At the Expense of Others? - The ILA Kollektiv

This book is a collected volume done by a group of young scholars at the ILA Kollektiv. The book lays out a concept of a “imperial mode of living” and presents ideas on how to restructure ways of living and producing in a socially just and ecologically sustainable manner.