World-Ecology 2016: Durham UK


World-Ecology, World-Culture, World-Economy: Crisis, Slump, Revolution?

15-16 July 2016, Durham University, UK

The second annual conference of the World-Ecology Network

We welcome proposals for individual papers as well as paper sessions and panel discussions. Inquiries and proposals may be sent to:

Conference website:


The downturn in the global economy that manifested itself in the financial crisis of 2008 shows no signs of ending. Recent falls in global commodity prices, panic on the Chinese stock market, and fears over the health of the so-called emerging economies have further agitated mainstream economists already concerned that capitalism is entering a new ‘Great Depression’. The causes behind the ongoing stagnation are many and varied, but chief among them is the failure over the last forty years or so of the neoliberal regime of accumulation to launch a productivity revolution capable of instigating a new long-wave of accumulation. Symptomatic here is the exhaustion of the Green Revolution model of agricultural development and the failure of agro-biotechnology to deliver on its promises to reverse yield deceleration and improve food security. This productivity non-revolution has gone hand in hand with capital’s efforts to ratchet up the exploitation of its primary sources of unpaid work/energy – women, nature, and the colonies (Mies) – in a bid to drive down its system-wide costs of production. Thus has the neoliberal era been one marked by ferocious new rounds of gender violence, ecological asset stripping and the renewed plundering of extra-human nature, and new forms of imperialism in the global peripheries.

How are we to understand such phenomena not merely in relation to ‘environmental’ crises, but as themselves ecological projects unfolding in the web of life? How might the various forms of resistance that have sprung up in response to capitalist imperialism’s renewed assaults on human and extra-human nature be similarly grasped as ecological struggles? In what ways are cultural forms or narratives constitutive of transformations in (and the possible unravelling) of the capitalist world-ecology? How do we conceptualise the relation between world-culture and world-ecology?

World-Ecology & World-Culture aims to tackle these and related questions in exploring the nature of crises, slumps, and revolutions through the optic of world-ecology. Building on the 2015 World Society, Planetary Natures event in Binghamton, this two-day conference in Durham will continue the work of bringing together scholars of global social change and global environmental change in the pursuit of new syntheses of “political economy” and “political ecology,” broadly conceived. It seeks to explore the contours of the current crisis in its manifold expressions, from debt bubbles and deflation to climate change and soil erosion. It will also ask what it means – economically, environmentally, politically, socially, culturally: in short, ecologically – to be mired in a prolonged global economic downturn.


Possible topics include:

Neoliberalism, Crisis and Revolution

Surplus Humanities

Green Revolutions, Food Regimes, and The Great Recession


The ‘Nature’ of the Current Crisis

Crisis, Revolution and Cultural Narratives

World-ecology and World-Culture

The End of Cheap Labour

Imagining the Future: Narratives of Environmental Catastrophe

The Financialization of Nature

Gender, Race and Ecology

Unpaid Work and the Crisis of Human Natures

Modernity and Climate Change

Industrialization and the Production of Nature

Revolutions in the Capitalist World-Ecology

Commodity Frontiers and Food Regimes

The Environment-Making State

Crises of Social Reproduction