July readings

Once a month, we put together a list of stories we’ve been reading: things you might’ve missed or crucial conversations going on around the web. We focus on environmental and social justice, cities, science fiction, current events, and political theory.

We’ll try to include articles that have been published recently but will last, that are relatively light and inspiring, and are from corners of the web that don’t always get the light of day. This will also be a space to keep you up to date with news about what’s happening at Uneven Earth.

For the summer months, we’re doing something a bit different. On top of sharing the usual editors’ picks, we’ve invited two scholars to contribute some of the best readings and resources in their respective fields. For July, political ecologist Salvatore De Rosa is joining us. Check out his list below, and scroll a bit further to find other worthwhile articles selected by us Uneven Earth editors! Oh, and follow our brand new Instagram account.

 

Salvatore’s links

I was asked by Uneven Earth to put together a list of my favorite readings in recent years, during which I deep-dove in Political Ecology and related fields and animated, with the fantastic ENTITLE Collective, a blog of collaborative writing around scholarly and academic takes and issues in Political Ecology.

Admittedly, this list does not follow a structure or predetermined path, rather reflecting my idiosyncrasies, the mutating focus of my interests and the associative links nurtured by a broadly defined interest in human-environment relations and in the eco-political performances of grassroots environmental activism.

Tentacular thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene

Let’s start with heavy thoughtful artillery. There’s a lot of talk on the Anthropocene lately, but few original and genuinely critical takes on the issue. Amazing exception, this piece of Donna Haraway that opens up the Anthropocene narrative and goes forward in thinking its implications towards politically enabling, culturally decentering and vertiginously uplifting connections.

David Rumsey map collection

Are you in search of maps to study, revisit, deconstruct or add to your presentation on spatial imaginaries? Nothing better than the David Rumsey map collection: thousands of maps from all ages, freely downloadable in hi-res.

The next wave of extremists will be green

Leaked documents reveal counterterrorism tactics used at Standing Rock to “defeat pipeline insurgencies”

A theme that has always interested me is the relation between grassroots environmental activism and repressive and delegitimizing techniques implemented by governments against it around the world. To get a sense of how environmental mobilizations from below are increasingly considered a ‘serious’ issue by state, and often a ‘threat’ to national interests, the above readings can surely help.

Climate depression is for real. Just ask a scientist

If you were wondering why a feeling of looming desperation settled in your thoughts when you have just been reading the news, the answer may be that you suffer from climate depression.

Age of grief

Proposing a similar diagnosis but from an entirely different standpoint, the anarcho-primitivist philosopher John Zerzan invites us to “face the loss”.

Here’s to unsuicide: An interview with Richard Powers

To recover and to fight back, maybe it is time to turn upside down some deep seated assumptions about nature. Maybe it is time to recognize that the gap between humans and all other living things is made and remade by our drive of dominion and destruction. Wise words can be heard on this from Richard Powers.

End the “green” delusions: Industrial-scale renewable energy is fossil fuel+

Did you think top-down, large scale renewable energies infrastructures, like windmills, will solve the world’s hunger for energy without hurting ecosystems? Think again…

Friday essay: recovering a narrative of place – stories in the time of climate change

For a bit of meaning and hope, here is a reading on how we should work on recovering narratively community and place, to have the “feet firmly on the ground while reaching for the stars”.

Why “Warning to Humanity” gets the socio-ecological crisis (and its solutions) wrong

Finally, one reading from our ENTITLE Blog, that criticizes the mainstream scientific diagnoses and solutions to the environmental crises spread by articles like the “warning to humanity”, and invites to join the fight right on the frontlines of ecological friction points!

Enjoy!

 

Uneven Earth updates

We are now on Instagram! Follow us here.

July | Link | “She enjoys the way they fill the space with artificial flight; an awkward posture that makes their death seem comical.”

 

News you might’ve missed

Crops are dying. Forests are burning. This summer’s heat wave has fueled natural disasters around the world. Here’s a list of them.

Rising temperatures linked to increased suicide rates

The first ever feminist school in Uganda was held this year by The Rural Women’s Movement

A new report shows how the world’s 35 largest meat and dairy companies will increase their emissions and derail global efforts to prevent dangerous climate change.

As Indigenous peoples wait decades for land titles, companies are acquiring their territories

Investing in Indigenous communities is most efficient way to protect forests, report finds

Deadliest year on record for environmental land defenders: A report by Global Witness. Also covered in The Intercept here.

2,500 scientists warn against the border wall’s huge environmental cost

 

New politics

A “happy” world requires institutional change

Meet the anarchists making their own medicine. The Four Thieves Vinegar Collective is a network of tech-fueled anarchists taking on Big Pharma with DIY medicines.

Standing Rock medic bus is now a traveling decolonized pharmacy

Women’s fight to feed the world. Women Who Dig takes a global look at food, feminism and the struggle to make a future.

The teenagers fighting for climate justice

Here’s why we’re planting trees in northern Syria. This land was liberated from Bashar Al-Assad and Isis. Now we need help to keep it alive.

How to build a culture of good health. “If we wish to take full responsibility for health in our society, we must not only be vigilant guardians of our personal well-being, we must also work to change structures, institutions, and ideologies that keep us mired in a toxic culture.”

Out from emergency. Today’s crises call on humanity to act collectively, but this possibility seems more and more remote. How do we break the cycle? A dialogue between Katrina Forrester and Jedediah Purdy.

 

Radical municipalism

Seattle flirts with ‘municipal socialism’. The $15 minimum wage was just the beginning. Now Seattle is trying to build a whole safety net for workers—and triggering a war with its biggest companies.

Degrowth and Christiania – I saw how Copenhagen’s collective living experiment can work

Iceland’s slow-burning digital democratic revolution.

How community land trusts create affordable housing

Visions of a new economy from Detroit: A conversation with Malik Yakini. “That whole idea of private ownership of land, which in large part is how wealth is generated in capitalism, is problematic. The question of access to land is critical… The other flaw—which can exist in socialism, also—is the idea that the earth is a commodity, and what we need is more production, more extraction. I think a new way of looking at our relationship to the earth is required.”

Everything we’ve heard about global urbanization turns out to be wrong

Most public engagement is worse than worthless

‘Climate gentrification’ will deepen urban inequality, and Coastal cities are already suffering from “climate gentrification”.

Seattle and the Socialist: The battle raging between Amazon and the far left

A world class divide: Seattle vs. Vancouver on the housing crisis

A nationwide campaign to take back cities from the corporations that rule them

Barcelona’s experiment in radical democracy

Municipalism: The next political revolution?

 

Where we’re at: analysis

Losing Earth: the decade we almost stopped climate change. And an important response by Naomi Klein: Capitalism killed our climate momentum, not “human nature”.

Systems seduction: The aesthetics of decentralisation. “We don’t need totalizing visions but a proliferation of daydreams: lateral, experimental and situated within the localities of lived experience.”

Wildfires in Greece—the price of austerity

Science denialism is dangerous. But so is science imperialism. Calls for strict science-based decision making on complex issues like GMOs and geoengineering can shortchange consideration of ethics and social impacts.

The limits of green energy under capitalism

What are human rights good for?

Nature defends itself. Review of The Progress of This Storm: Nature and Society in a Warming World by Andreas Malm.

The cashless society is a con – and big finance is behind it. Banks are closing ATMs and branches in an attempt to ‘nudge’ users towards digital services – and it’s all for their own benefit

Karl Polanyi and the formation of this generation’s new Left. As the democratic Left spirals ever downwards, the worrying forces of populism and neoliberalism seem to be emerging from the ashes. Could the visionary thinking of economic historian Karl Polanyi provide a feasible fix in the 21st Century? An open‐ended approach might be just the ticket to rescue global politics from a far right explosion – and it’s not rocket science…

Growth for the sake of growth. “Growth for the sake of growth” remains the credo of governments and international institutions, Federico Demaria finds. The time is ripe, he argues, not only for a scientific degrowth research agenda, but also for a political one.

 

Just think about it…

We can’t do it ourselves. How effective is individual action when it is systemic social change that is needed?

Is the global era of massive infrastructure projects coming to an end?

How to survive America’s kill list. “This is how America’s post-9/11 move toward authoritarianism has been executed: without massacres or palace coups, but noiselessly, on paper, through years of metronome insertions of bloodless terms in place of once-vibrant Democratic concepts.”

Intellectual extractivism: The dispossession of Maya weaving

What is metabolic rift? The ecosocialist idea you’ve never heard of and might need.

Think everyone died young in ancient societies? Think again

Conflict reigns over the history and origins of money. Thousands of years ago, money was a means of debt payment, archaeologists and anthropologists say.

In praise of doing nothing

The medium chill: a philosophy that asks the important questions. “We’re going to have to scale down our material expectations and get off the aspirational treadmill. So how can we do that? How can we make it okay to prioritize social connections over money and choice hoarding?”

Participatory budgeting increases voter likelihood 7%

Cesspools, sewage, and social murder. A riveting history of early environmentalism in 19th-Century London.

Steven Pinker’s ideas are fatally flawed. These eight graphs show why.

The free speech panic: how the right concocted a crisis

How tech’s richest plan to save themselves after the apocalypse

The case for building $1,500 parks. A new study shows that access to “greened” vacant lots reduced feelings of worthlessness and depression, especially in low-resource neighborhoods.

 

Resources

The best books on Radical Environmentalism

After 30 years, Science for the People has relaunched!

Science for the People engages in research, activism, and science communications for the betterment of society, ecological improvement, environmental protection, and to serve human needs. Members of Science for the People consist of STEM workers, educators, and activists who are socially and ethically focused, and believe that science should be a positive force for humanity and the planet.

 

This newsletter is put together by Anna Biren (@acathbrn) and Aaron Vansintjan (@a_vansi).

Want to receive this as a newsletter? Subscribe here.

June readings

Once a month, we put together a list of stories we’ve been reading: things you might’ve missed or crucial conversations going on around the web. We focus on environmental and social justice, cities, science fiction, current events, and political theory.

We’ll try to include articles that have been published recently but will last, that are relatively light and inspiring, and are from corners of the web that don’t always get the light of day. This will also be a space to keep you up to date with news about what’s happening at Uneven Earth.

In June, we read stories about new political strategies, decolonial re-imaginings, community resilience, and revolutionary ideas around the world. We also included articles about the escalating climate crisis and the root causes of climate and environmental injustice.

 

Uneven Earth updates

The team expands: Anna Biren, who has been working on these newsletters for the past 6 months, is now on board as a new editor at Uneven Earth!

Science Fiction Belgrade | Link | Imagining different realities in the works of Enki Bilal and Aleksa Gajić

The promise of radical municipalism today | Link | Politics is about bringing people together and taking control of the spaces where we live

Science fiction between utopia and critique | Link | On different perspectives used in science fiction narratives, situated knowledge, and how discontent is useful

What’s it like for a social movement to take control of a city? | Link | For Barcelona En Comú, winning the election was just the first step

The swell | Link | “We were waiting to be accepted as refugees in Iceland, the only country left in the region with stable electricity from their geothermal resources, and the only place that would take UK citizens.”

 

News you might’ve missed

‘Carbon bubble’ could spark global financial crisis, study warns. Advances in clean energy expected to cause a sudden drop in demand for fossil fuels, leaving companies with trillions in stranded assets.

Meat and fish multinationals ‘jeopardising Paris climate goals’. New index finds many of the world’s largest protein producers failing to measure or report emissions, despite accounting for 14.5% of greenhouse gases.

World’s great cities hold key to fossil fuel cuts

San Francisco residents were sure nearby industry was harming their health. They were right.

State land grabs fuel Sudan’s crisis

Rural poor squeezed by land concessions in Mekong region: report

Andhra Pradesh to become India’s first Zero Budget Natural Farming state

India faces worst long term water crisis in its history. Droughts are becoming more frequent, creating problems for India’s rain-dependent farmers.

Trees that have lived for millennia are suddenly dying

The discovery of a map made by a Native American is reshaping what we think about the Lewis & Clark expedition. “We tend to think that [Lewis and Clark] were traveling blind into terra incognita. That is simply not true. Too Né’s map lifts the expedition’s encounter with the Arikara to new prominence.”

Why grandmothers may hold the key to human evolution. “While the men were out hunting, grandmothers and babies were building the foundation of our species’ success – sharing food, cooperating on more and more complex levels and developing new social relationships.”

How our colonial past altered the ecobalance of an entire planet. Researchers suggest effects of the colonial era can be detected in rocks or even air.

 

New politics

Tracking the battles for environmental justice: here are the world’s top 10

How the environmental justice movement transforms our world

5 ways indigenous groups are fighting back against land seizures

Occupy, resist, produce: The strategy and political vision of Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement

The town that refused to let austerity kill its buses

A sense of place. “There are many historical and modern day examples of how human beings, all over the world, have managed to meet the needs of locally adapted, place-based communities within the limits of their local environment.”

Roadmap for radicals. Mel Evans and Kevin Smith interview US-based organiser and author Jonathan Smucker, whose new book Hegemony How-To offers a practical guide to political struggle for a generation that is still ambivalent about questions of power, leadership and strategy.

How my father’s ideas helped the Kurds create a new democracy

Building autonomy through ecology in Rojava

Cooperation Jackson’s Kali Akuno: ‘We’re trying to build vehicles of social transformation’

A socialist Southern strategy in Jackson

Rebel Cities 6: How Jackson, Mississippi is making the economy work for people

This land is our land: The Native American occupation of Alcatraz. How a group of Red Power activists seized the abandoned prison island and their own destinies.

The environment as freedom: A decolonial reimagining

Interview: Decolonization towards a well-being vision with Pablo Solon

A world more beautiful and alive: A review of The Extractive Zone. From Ecuador, Perú, Chile, Colombia, and Bolivia, Marcena Gómez-Barris describes “submerged perspectives,” the decolonial ways of knowing that unsettle colonial relationships to land and the forms of violence they reproduce.

Feeling powers growing: An Interview with Silvia Federici

Municipalism: an Icarian warning

What would we eat if food and health were commons? – Inspiration from indigenous populations

Introducing ‘systems journalism’: creating an ecosystem for independent media

Seeding new ideas in the neoliberal city

Worker-owned co-ops are coming for the digital gig economy

 

Where we’re at: analysis

Letter to America, by Rebecca Altman. Everything is going to have to be put back.

Our plastic pollution crisis is too big for recycling to fix. Corporations are safe when they can tell us to simply recycle away their pollution.

How the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals undermine democracy

The remaking of class. “Class is contaminated water and children with chronic pain and fatigue. It is living downhill of the pond where fracking fluids are stored.”

Richard Powers: ‘We’re completely alienated from everything else alive’

The Enlightenment’s dark side. How the Enlightenment created modern race thinking, and why we should confront it. And a brief history of race in Western thought.

The enlightenment of Steven Pinker: Eco-modernism as rationalizing the arrogance (and violence) of empire

Puerto Rico is a “playground for the privileged”: Investors move in as homes foreclose & schools close. While healthcare, the public school system and infrastructure in Puerto Rico are flailing nine months after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, wealthy investors have descended on the island to turn a profit. An interview with Naomi Klein and Katia Avilés-Vázquez, a Puerto Rican environmental activist.

How climate change ignites wildfires from California to South Africa

Feudalism, not overpopulation or land shortage, is to blame for Hong Kong’s housing problems

When New Delhi’s informal settlements make way for something ‘smarter’

The left in Syria: From democratic national change to devastation

A new era of uranium mining near the Grand Canyon? With scant data on risk, Republicans push to open a ‘perfect’ mining opportunity.

Rent strikes grow in popularity among tenants as gentrification drives up rents in cities like D.C.

Increased deaths and illnesses from inhaling airborne dust: An understudied impact of climate change.

‘Processing settler toxicities’ part 1 and part 2. An Indigenous feminist analysis of the connections between industrial capitalism and colonialism, imperialism, and the pollution and destruction of human and nonhuman worlds.

A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things review – how capitalism works

Anthropocene? More like ‘Capitalocene’. Jason W. Moore on the human impact on the world ecology. “My hope is that this theoretical research may provide useful insights for the social movements around the world that are fighting not only the effects, but especially the root causes of climate change.”

Carbon Ironies: William T. Vollmann on the hot dark future. A review of William T. Vollmann’s Carbon Ideologies—a book that is rightly sarcastic and pessimistic about the prospects of “solving” the problem of climate change but stuck in the false either/or choice between solving everything and doing nothing whatsoever, argues Wen Stephenson.

Patterns of commoning: Commons in the pluriverse. An essay by Arturo Escobar.

The mask it wears. Pankaj Mishra reviews and compares the propositions about how to work for equality in The People v. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It by Yascha Mounk Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World by Samuel Moyn.

 

Just think about it…

Laziness does not exist, but unseen barriers do

The Transition Towns movement… going where? A critique.

The dark side of nature writing. The recent renaissance in nature writing also revives an overlooked connection with fascism.

Minimum wage? It’s time to talk about a maximum wage

It takes a village, not a European, to raise a child. White people, through systematic oppression, actively create, profit from and maintain a market that institutionalizes children throughout Africa.

The unbearable awkwardness of automation

The power of giving homeless people a place to belong

 

Sci-fi and the near future

Anthony Galluzzo — Utopia as method, social science fiction, and the flight from reality (Review of Frase, Four Futures)

 

Resources

The community resilience reader. Essential resources for an era of upheaval, available for free.

Visualizing the prolific plastic problem in our oceans

 

This newsletter is put together by Anna Biren (@acathbrn), Rut Elliot Blomqvist (@RutElliotB), and Aaron Vansintjan (@a_vansi).

Want to receive this as a newsletter? Subscribe here.

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May readings

Once a month, we put together a list of stories we’ve been reading: things you might’ve missed or crucial conversations going on around the web. We focus on environmental and social justice, cities, science fiction, current events, and political theory.

We’ll try to include articles that have been published recently but will last, that are relatively light and inspiring, and are from corners of the web that don’t always get the light of day. This will also be a space to keep you up to date with news about what’s happening at Uneven Earth.

This month, we’re highlighting articles on radical municipal politics—cities that are at the forefront of social change—and food justice. The question of whether nature should have rights was discussed both on our site and the wider web.

 

Uneven Earth updates

The post-Columbian exchange | Link | How content creators continue to misuse Indigenous culture, and how they can do better

Blueprint for an Earth jurisprudence economy | Link | A speech presented at the UN General Assembly

Endless life | Link| A post from a future

Odetta, Odessa | Link | “The sisters slow their rocking and let the man walk back to his car. They know what has to be done to keep him away.”

Creation | Link | “Their only constraints now were the limitations of imagination”

 

News you might’ve missed

According to a study at Harvard, Hurricane Maria killed nearly 5,000 Puerto Ricans

U.S. moves forward with geo-engineering experiments, defying global moratorium

Costa Rica will ban fossil fuels and become world’s first decarbonised society

Cities are suing oil companies for climate change

The UK government wants to put a price on nature – but that will destroy it. Natural Capital thinking leads us astray.

War criminal Erdoğan gears up for a power-grab. Europe rolls out the welcome mat for the Turkish leader, while Kurds are ethnically cleansed.

The making of a Kurdish Mandela. By keeping a key challenger in jail, Turkey’s government risks making Selahattin Demirtas an even more popular and formidable opponent.

How fracking’s appetite for sand is devouring rural communities. Small towns in western Wisconsin are being divided by a little-known mining boom.

What it’s like surviving in Nigeria’s city of soot. Port Hartcourt residents are protesting against the unregulated oil refineries that have polluted their entire city.

Urban nomads: Mongolian herders battle a new future as they leave the land for the city. As climate-driven drought takes hold, Mongolia’s nomads are retreating to the city – and facing choking pollution.

Growing movement builds unity to defend Indigenous Brazil

How Lula’s imprisonment is uniting workers in Brazil

Why the Herero of Namibia are suing Germany for reparations

New politics

In this Truthout series, Visions of 2018, activists address the questions: What would you like to see created, built or begun this year? What should we work to bring into being? Each of the pieces in this series focus on an idea for transformation, to give us fuel on the journey of 2018.

To be or not to be the change. The first of a series of posts on Chris Smaje’s blog Small Farm Future on the hows and whys of social transformation towards more sustainable societies, particularly in relation to the discussion about individualism and collectivism.

We need a new politics of ecology, write Matt Hern and Am Johal – one which transforms our relationships to each other, to other species, to the land, and to the future.

The emergence of an ecological Karl Marx: 1818 – 2018. “No longer can Marx be read as a cheerleader for economic growth or material progress.”

The global south is rich in sustainability lessons that students deserve to hear

Systems thinking. Fritjof Capra explains why ecoliteracy and systems thinking are crucial in building resilient and sustainable human communities that work with the patterns, structures and limitations of the natural environment: ‘The way to sustain life is to build and nurture community’. Richard Heinberg on Systems thinking, critical thinking, and personal resilience.

Solidarity economy: Building an economy for people and planet. “To survive, we need a fundamental transformation from an economy that is premised on homo economicus—calculating, selfish, competitive, and acquisitive—to a system that is also premised on solidarity, cooperation, mutualism, altruism, generosity, and love.”

The tiny country of Fiji has a big plan to fight climate change

Indigenous women built these tiny houses to block a pipeline—and reclaim nomadic traditions. The houses are affordable and energy-efficient, and are bringing back elements of the Secwepemc’s hunter-gatherer culture.

Local environmentalists fighting pipelines and perceptions in the heart of oil country

Trashopolis! Storytelling, waste research and glocal conflicts

518 Years Later: Rio’s Indigenous peoples launch state council for Indigenous rights

Radical municipalism

Check out this series on Rebel Cities:

Rojava shows pathway to common humanity.

In Warsaw, “Rights to the city” means clean air and affordable homes.

Zapatistas are blazing a world beyond neoliberalism.

Bologna resists Italian fascism through participatory politics.

Jackson rising. In June 2017, the young black attorney Chokwe Antar Lumumba was elected mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, with 93 per cent of the vote. He pledged to make the capital of this former slave state ‘the most radical city on the planet’. Kali Akuno describes the grassroots mobilisation that launched him to office.

These community groups are transforming Rio de Janeiro into a Sharing City

Seattle just showed how to rein in Amazon—and the company is going to war

Meet the rising new housing movement that wants to create homes for all

Gentrifying the Los Angeles river. Once marginalized by the city’s elite, LA’s riverside neighborhoods are now facing revitalization — and displacement.

If you’re in the New York City area, head on over to the Fearless Cities summit this July 27-29.

Lessons from the First Palestinian Intifada: Recent Gaza demonstrations fall into a long tradition of mass unarmed protest and direct democracy.

Why high-density living isn’t the answer to urban sprawl

Community land trust model taking off in Vancouver. 1,039 housing units will house over 2,000 people via a mix of affordable rental buildings and two new self-sustaining housing cooperatives financed by Canadian non-profit Community Land Trust. It is the largest investment into non-market-rate housing of any city in Canada.

Diomcoop Cooperative was formed by Barcelona’s street vendors, mostly African migrants, to break free from the informal economy through training and support in applying for their papers. Read how they organized.

Food justice

Food apartheid: the root of the problem with America’s groceries

How the chicken nugget became the true symbol of our era

A bag of cheap groceries is no substitute for political power. We can’t ignore the economic system, policies, and incentives that encourage 40 percent of all food to go to waste.

Grass-fed beef — The most vegan item in the supermarket

But then again, Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth

Decolonising food: Recentering traditional foods in the fight for climate justice. “Subsistence hunting does not decimate species like industrial-scale hunting and fishing. For thousands of years Indigenous Peoples have had a relationship with eating traditional game and fish that includes a spiritual kinship, a connection to the territory, and a responsibility to protect the ecosystems in which the species live.”

Two giants of the local economy movement, Helena Norberg-Hodge and Wendell Berry, discuss human nature, technology, experiential knowledge, agriculture policy, happiness, wildness, and local food systems in this episode of the Local Bites Podcast.

Where we’re at: analysis

Why you can’t have free trade and save the planet. “The economy is not insulated from nature, just as engineering is not insulated from world society. Global challenges of sustainability, justice and resilience all demand much more integrated thinking.”

Margaret Atwood: women will bear brunt of dystopian climate future

How the rich fuel climate change

Our laws make slaves of nature. It’s not just humans who need rights.

The ideology of fossil fuels

End the “green” delusions: Industrial-scale renewable energy is fossil fuel+. Industrial-scale renewable energy does nothing to remake exploitative relationships with the earth, and instead represents the renewal and expansion of the present capitalist order.

Indigenous communities are reworking urban planning, but planners need to accept their history

Rethinking the city through the commons

What is “the Local”? Exploring grassroots justice systems as a means of understanding the local

Inside the controversial world of slum tourism

Why we need to rethink climate change, with Timothy Morton. An audio conversation.

A friendly critique of George Monbiot’s Out of the Wreckage. “The sustainability problem cannot be solved unless we abandon affluence and growth. Just getting rid of neoliberal doctrine and exploitation is far from sufficient. Even a perfect socialism ensuring equity for all would bring on just about the same range of global problems as that we face now if the goal was affluence for all.”

David Graeber’s long-awaited book on bullshit jobs, jobs that don’t seem to add anything to society other than keeping us all working, is finally here. Here’s a selection of reviews, interviews and articles exploring the topic:

Bullshit jobs: why they exist and why you might have one

‘I had to guard an empty room’: the rise of the pointless job

The more valuable your work is to society, the less you’ll be paid for it

Is your job bullshit? David Graeber on capitalism’s endless busywork

Are you in a BS job? In academe, you’re hardly alone

Why are so many white-collar professionals in revolt?

And the original 2013 essay that started it all.

Barbara Ehrenreich just published a book critiquing the North American culture of wellness, self-improvement, overtesting and overdiagnosis. Read about it here: Why I’m giving up on preventive care and Mind control: Barbara Ehrenreich’s radical critique of wellness culture.

How neoliberalism colonised feminism, and what you can do about it

Just think about it…

Capitalism is collectivist.Get past the well-crafted agitprop, and we see that corporate capitalism is all about subsuming the particular will of an individual to that of the institution.”

Is cyclical time the cure to technology’s ills? “We should recognize that the vast majority of people on Earth today believe time is linear, with one direction leading from past to present to future. But that’s a recent cultural construct.”

A new study finds climate change skeptics are more likely to behave in eco-friendly ways than those who are highly concerned about the issue.

In a grand experiment, California switched on a fleet of high-tech greenhouse gas removal machines last month. They’re called plants.

Do you know where your healing crystals come from? These spiritual stones purportedly help people connect with the Earth, but few sellers will say where on Earth their products are from.

I watched an entire Flat Earth Convention for my research – here’s what I learnt. On science, trust, and declining faith in expert knowledge.

The real reason we’re searching for another Earth. These planets present us with the idea that although an Edenic and unspoiled life isn’t possible on Earth anymore, it could perhaps exist somewhere else—a somewhere else for which we’re homesick.

The Dreamtime, science and narratives of Indigenous Australia

The danger of leadership cults

Almost everything you know about e-waste is wrong

We’re here. You just don’t see us. There’s a common misconception that black people don’t love wild places. Latria Graham, a southerner with deep connections to farms, rivers, and forests, says the problem isn’t desire but access—and a long history of laws and customs that have whitewashed our finest public lands.

Coming to terms with a life without water. For some residents of Cape Town, the memory of the drought is already fading. But, in an increasingly parched world, will the anxiety ever really end?

Technology and society

How Facebook binds—and shatters—communities. “This relatively recent interest in… privacy was a result of industrialization, rapidly growing cities, and the fraying of a local social fabric that once enmeshed (to not say ensnared) everyone within a set of expectations and possibilities.”

New technologies won’t reduce scarcity, but here’s something that might. “As the global community becomes more aware of how their abundance is dependent on other human beings and the stability of environments, more and more will see commons-based businesses as the way of the future.”

Also by Vasilis Kostakis: Utopia now. “In 1890 William Morris imagined a world free from wage slavery. Thanks to technology, his vision is finally within reach.

Sci-fi, literature, and culture

James Bradley recommends the best Climate Change Fiction

Ten years in the making, a documentary about Ursula K. Le Guin drops its first trailer.

The new primitives. “There are myriad peoples across the globe struggling and fighting to maintain forms of social organization that have neither been co-opted into regular capitalist activity nor exist in some always imperiled state “beyond” civilization. These struggles do not need random voluntary acts of “rewilding” or fly-over videos of pristine nature. They need material support and political solidarity.”

Resources

Diversifying the economic toolkit. A free introduction to pluralist economics which looks at Post-Keynesian, Marxist, Austrian, Institutional, Feminist, Behavioral, Complexity, Cooperative and Ecological economics.

Shipmap. An interactive visualization of global shipping.

A list of publications devoted in large part to eco-literature: essays, articles, short stories, and poetry.

 

This newsletter is put together by Anna Biren (@acathbrn) and Aaron Vansintjan (@a_vansi).

Want to receive this as a newsletter? Subscribe here.

April readings

Once a month, we put together a list of stories we’ve been reading: things you might’ve missed or crucial conversations going on around the web. We focus on environmental and social justice, cities, science fiction, current events, and political theory.

We’ll try to include articles that have been published recently but will last, that are relatively light and inspiring, and are from corners of the web that don’t always get the light of day. This will also be a space to keep you up to date with news about what’s happening at Uneven Earth.

It’s always surprising when we put together this list, because it makes us realize how much good stuff is out there, so much that we can’t possibly fit it all. Amongst many other things, this month, we collected stories about how to deal with ecological grief and the meaning of hope today, the many Indigenous struggles happening around the world, and the power of youth. We also found a lot of articles about cities, ecomodernism, and ecological thought. And, holy shit, did you know Ursula K. Le Guin made a weird electronica album?

Uneven Earth updates

How to build a new world in the shell of the old | Link | Every city has its graveyard of community groups. Without a strategic vision, local projects cannot possibly amount to a systemic alternative to capitalism.

Mother Frankenstein | Link | Revisiting feminist science fiction history-telling

In Annihilation, the revolution will not be human | Link | If scientists need training in the uncanny, what better way than a crash course in science fiction?

Hierarchy, climate change and the state of nature | Link | We can start building new tools for a democratic and ecological society once we understand hierarchy as the central problem

The Craven mode of production: Introduction | Link | “Theirs was an undeveloped society, I thought, and their success over the past centuries has been largely accidental.”

Fish out of water | Link | “For those who refuse to be humble, the earth has a way of insisting upon humility.”

You might’ve missed…

World’s richest 10% produce half of global carbon emissions

BP claims an oil spill off Australia’s coast would be a ‘welcome boost’ to local economies

Canadian government insiders say Trans Mountain pipeline approval was rigged: an investigative piece.

More than 95% of Earth’s population breathing dangerously polluted air, finds study

In January, it was announced that the airport in Notre-Dame-Des-Landes would not go through. However, those occupying against the airport would be evicted. Known as the Zone-à-Defendre, or ZAD, this area has turned into a space for building alternatives to the current system. In April, the ZAD started being attacked by riot police, with up to 10,000 people showing up to defend it. Here is a long-form report from a long-time resident about the eviction and what it means. A non-exhaustive report and photo essay documenting the first three days of the eviction operation at the ZAD. An essay connecting the ZAD to global resistance against megaprojects and the carbon economy. An essay by Kristin Ross, chronicler of the Paris Commune, on the significance of the ZAD today. Follow constant updates on the eviction process via the Flash infos on zad.nadir.

What the heck’s happening in Brazil? Glenn Greenwald lays it out. What the soft coup means for Brazil’s democracy. An explainer in Dissent about the nature of Brazil’s new right.

Madagascar’s vanilla wars: prized spice drives death and deforestation

Climate change a threat to forgotten people of Uganda

The Puerto Rican town left to stew in toxic waste

Tree sitters in West Virginia aren’t leaving; they’re expanding

There’s increasing concern about plastics: in our food, in our oceans. ‘Plastic is literally everywhere’: the epidemic attacking Australia’s oceansThe road to hell is paved with good intentions. The Ocean Cleanup array, designed to clean plastics from the ocean like a baleen whale, is one of these good intentions: experts in marine plastics say it’s a bad idea. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is mostly made of fishing gear.

Apart from Cape Town, we’re facing an increasing threat of water crises globally. Will the Southwest U.S. Run Short of Water in 2019? ‘Day zero’ water crises: Spain, Morocco, India and Iraq at risk as reservoirs shrink. Engineers tried to tame the Mississippi River. They only made flooding worse.

Indigenous uprising

Colombia has recognised the autonomy of Indigenous communities across the Amazon through a new decreedescribed as the most important step for Amazon Indigenous rights in 30 years.

Counter-mapping. Indigenous communities are building drones to make their own maps—and using them to fight erasure and exploitation at the hands of the state and capital: Cartographers Without Borders. Zuni elders, religious leaders, and tribal members are creating maps that bring an Indigenous voice and perspective back to the land, countering Western notions of place and geography and challenging the arbitrary borders imposed on the Zuni world.

Imperialism, capitalism, and the revolutionary potential of urban Indigenous land relationships

Driven from home, Philippine Indigenous people long for their land

This is the frightening way fossil fuels & violence against native women are connected

Indigenous people are being displaced again – by gentrification. Soaring rents are destroying the communities Aboriginal people have painstakingly built in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Also happening in Australia: Fear and harassment in Kalgoorlie: Indigenous youth report alarming alienation.

Indigenous Brazilians rally to demand land rights protection. Over 3,000 people arrive in Brasilia to denounce what activists say is an unprecedented rollback of Indigenous rights.

The squandered funds raised around Standing Rock. What we learned about accountability from a nine-month investigation into #NoDAPL.

Zapatista women inspire the fight against patriarchy

How Indigenous women who survived Guatemala’s conflict are fighting for justice

Native Americans fighting fossil fuels

‘Our territory is our life’: one struggle against mining in Ecuador

The Mexican Indigenous community that ran politicians out of town. For a more in-depth analysis: People in defence of life and territory.

How Indigenous knowledge is transforming the March for Science; why Indigenous knowledge is critical to understanding climate change; what ecologists are learning from Indigenous people; and what Indigenous economics can teach us in thinking about environmental issues. “By integrating traditional knowledge with Western science, together we can solve some of our biggest challenges, including those brought by our changing climate.” It’s time to end another imperial era, and unravel the legacies of colonial science.

The solution to reducing the staggering rates of suicide among Indigenous communities worldwide lies in strengthening culture rather than just focusing on issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, experts at a global conference have said.

New politics

Young people are about to utterly transform climate politics. If we care about intergenerational justice, moving at the most disruptive speed we can on cutting emissions is a clear ethical imperative. In Florida, children are suing Governor Rick Scott to force the state to take action on climate change. A group of 25 children and youth successfully sued the Colombian government for failing to protect their rights to life and a healthy environment. More examples of young people taking up climate activism around the world: “We are not a force to be ignored”.

Universal basic services could work better than basic income to combat ‘rise of the robots’, say experts

Puerto Rican EcoFarms after María

Redefining abundance: how a Greek eco-village inspired me. “Revolution can begin anywhere, large or small. A hotel room, a village, a farm.”

Adventures in democracy. A global social movement is rising. It is open, participatory and public.

How art is elevating voices from the front lines of climate change. A project by the nonprofit CultureStrike is highlighting environmental problems in poor and minority communities. “We need all people affected at the table.”

How a wave of municipalisations in Europe is challenging privatisation

In some Brazilian prisons, there are no guards, and prisoners govern by self-rule.

Do we have the right to financial rebellion? A conversation with Enric Duran, founding member of the Catalan Integral Cooperative and known as the Robin Hood of the Banks: “Integral revolution means comprehensive transformation from below of all aspects of life like culture, economic, social, personal, ecological… We achieve this by empowering communities from below to build a new society, new systems that are not based on the state or capitalism.”

Sometimes fighting climate change means breaking the law

In this two-part interview, Naomi Klein speaks with the PAReS collective about disaster capitalism in Puerto Rico and the constitution of opposition movements and political alternatives, as well as the struggles for multiple sovereignties, the importance of weaving historical struggles with current movements, and the role of diasporas in supporting these movements: here is the first part, and the second part.

Utopia is all around us. Jonny Gordon-Farleigh of STIR magazine talks to Ruth Potts about the power of utopian thinking in an age of crisis.

On climate change, state power and the worlds to come. Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright explore the possible political and economic futures of a planet under rapid climate change. “Climate change tests the nation state in ways that it has not been tested, perhaps ever. It demands a response that can’t be contained at any scale other than the planetary.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the 4th of April 1968. In his remembrance, here are two reminders that his politics were a lot more radical than they are often made out to be: Martin Luther King’s critique of capitalism is more relevant than ever, and Martin Luther King Jr was a radical. We must not sterilize his legacy.

In memory of Marielle Franco. “She rattled the system, so she was silenced.” A tribute to the activist who advocated for the rights of the most oppressed Brazilians. “MARIELLE FRANCO PRESENTE!” Part 1 in a new series about Radical Municipalism, looking at ways that people worldwide are organizing in their cities to build power from the bottom up. On the imperative of transnational solidarity: A U.S. black feminist statement on the assassination of Marielle Franco.

Cooperation against catastrophe. “Hope and despair are both roads we can choose to walk. Hope is difficult, but it contains potential. Despair in the face of catastrophe is foolishness beyond compare. Let us take stock of the facts, collect our courage and stay focused on realistic solutions.”

Wendell Berry’s 17 rules for a sustainable local community

Where we’re at: analysis

The ideology of fossil fuels: Imagining a low-carbon world means reevaluating our conception of freedom itself

‘Now is the time of monsters’: Reflections on the future of the revolution in Rojava after the fall of Afrin.

The climate is changing: False solutions to global climate change. It is crucial to stress that our economic system is fundamentally incompatible with life on this planet, and that reformist legislation will not save us. Nothing but radically rethinking the ideology of capitalism will do.

Denial by a different name: It’s time to admit that half-measures can’t stop climate change

The teachers’ strike and the food system

Justin Trudeau is bailing out a Texas oil billionaire. He should be bailing out Canada’s workers and the climate.

Nitrogen wars. The search for cheap nitrogen in the 19th century wasn’t just some for the sake of cutting costs, rather, it was the product of aggressively expansionist imperial-industrial ambitions.

“Electoral pursuits have veered us away.” Kali Akuno on movement lessons from Jackson, Mississippi.

“There Was Once A Generation of Lions” An interview with Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums and City of Quartz.

I need to know the place where I stand and why I stand there. An interview with Arundhati Roy: “[Europe and America] are the biggest merchants of death. We are doing the buying and they are doing the selling of all the weapons. And that is the fundamental strength of the economy now — certainly of the European economy. So, there can’t be peace on earth when just to keep these economies going, you need to be at war.”

Chasing ambulances. While their desire to support popular movements is well-meaning, activist leftists are basically ambulance chasers. When they see the media cover something politically exciting, their instinct is to show up offering “leadership” and “the socialist perspective.” Generally, no one takes them particularly seriously when they do. Why should they?

A history of denial. Too many publications about the history of Europe’s relationship with Africa fail to sufficiently convey the damage that was done to the African economy, peoples, and political development by the slave trade and European colonialism. A review of Empires in the Sun: The Struggle for the Mastery of Africa by Lawrence James.

Dissecting the madness of economic reason. David Harvey’s latest book provides a riveting reading of Marx’s Capital and a trenchant critique of a political and economic system spiralling out of control.

‘Authoritarian corpopulism’ supports the rise of sugarcane and oil palm agribusinesses in Guatemala. It relies on persuasion and selective violence, cloaked in the rule of law and backed by the state, to advance big business agriculture and resource extraction.

The new debt colonies

An aid industry labouring under neocolonial structures is no help

Teilhard vs. Ellul: two 20th-century theologians with very different views on technology, media, and progress

Just think about it…

How the sufferings of one generation are passed on to the next. “More than a century after the Wounded Knee massacre, Sitting Bull’s descendants are still feeling the pain. As one of them told Brave Heart and colleagues: I think losing the land was the most traumatic … There’s a big hole in my heart”

‘Too busy, too much pressure’: an ageing China and the erosion of filial piety

Everything you’ve been told about government debt is wrong

Why we should bulldoze the business school

The existence of an ancient Phoenician nation has justified the need for a nation state. But its existence is a fantasy.

How can famines be ended? The road to eliminating mass starvation is to prosecute the people who perpetrate it.

Enlightenment rationality is not enough: we need a new Romanticism

Where have all the rioters gone? Good jobs in black communities have disappeared, evictions are the norm, and extreme poverty is rising. Cities should be exploding—but they aren’t.

Productivity is dangerous

How natural birth became inaccessible to the poor. While Mexico’s middle and upper classes are discovering the wonders of natural birth, traditional indigenous midwives are actively being discouraged from providing the same services to the lower classes.

‘Lost’ Amazonian tribes: why the West can’t get over its obsession with El Dorado

The demise of the nation state. On the possibilities for a world beyond the nation state, and the urgent need to rethink the fundamental institutions and organization of geopolitics.

A revolution in our sense of self. “Considered in isolation, our “selves” turn out to be partial, fragmentary and alarmingly fragile. Yet, collectively, we can construct lives, organisations and societies, which can be remarkably stable and coherent.”

Without slavery, would the U.S. be the leading economic power? An audio interview of Edward Baptist, author of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.

We don’t need to be removed from nature. We need to radically change the way we relate to it.

Friendship is a root of freedom. An excerpt from Joyful Militancy by Nick Montgomery and carla bergman. “Friendship and resistance are interconnected: when we are supported, we are more willing to confront that which threatens to destroy our worlds.”

Urban justice

Greening and economic development have become deeply intertwined in the world’s cities, according to a new analysis of 90 cities by the Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability (BCNUEJ).

The role of food policy in driving or stopping gentrification

Sexism and the city: how urban planning has failed women

What can public spaces offer to the globally displaced?

What would a more ethical city look like?

Why I started an Instagram account documenting my quickly gentrifying LA neighborhood

Automatic vehicles can’t save cities

Your sea wall won’t save you: Negotiating rhetorics and imaginaries of urban climate resilience.

Ecology and modernity

We decided to celebrate Earth day by putting into one place all the articles questioning and challenging today’s technofundamentalists and modernists.

The humanist left must challenge the rise of cyborg socialism

Techno-fundamentalism can’t save you, Mark Zuckerberg

You aren’t a vulcan, but a squishy ideological human. “Given the existence of large amount of noise, chaos, and “hidden” variables in socio-economic systems, there cannot be a pure rationalist and “scientific” way of tackling these problems.”

Where’s the ‘eco’ in ecomodernism? Aaron Vansintjan’s critique of the ecomodernist logic. A techno-green future of limitless abundance sounds great, but it’s totally unsustainable.

The magical thinking of ecomodernism. The ‘decoupling’ myth, debunked.

Can ‘green growth’ really avert global ecological collapse?

The poverty of luxury communism

From “green growth” to post-growth

Our obsession with economic growth ignores everything that makes life worthwhile

The futility of “Big Green” activism: A conversation with Tim DeChristopher

 

And here’s some ecological thought

Five Revolutions: How bacteria created the biosphere and caused the first climate crisis

You’re made of the same stuff sloshing around in tidepools. When the tides pull back the water line, a writer takes a trip through time.

Morality cuts: uncovering queer urban ecologies. “In these refuges for the disruptive, wild activities of queer sex, I have also watched falcons teaching their young how to hunt. There’s more than one kind of biodiversity at stake when these wilds are removed.”

Here’s to unsuicide: An interview with Richard Powers. “We cannot save the world; the world will go on well enough, long after it shrugs us off. But we might just be able to save ourselves, by coming home to the world’s influence and living in its seasons, not our own.”

Anna Tsing on the politics of the rhizosphere. “Perhaps noticing something as small and as little considered as the interactions of roots and fungi can make us remember that endless expansion has unintended consequences, and we had better start paying attention.”

Anthropologists are talking – about capitalism, ecology, and apocalypse. A collective interview featuring Bruno Latour, Isabelle Stengers, Anna Tsing and Nils Bubandt.

 

Dealing with hope, fear and grief in the Anthropocene

Landscapes of loss. Dark Mountain editor Tom Smith and author and geographer Alastair Bonnett discuss what grief, loss, yearning and nostalgia mean in an age of ecological crisis.

Hope and mourning in the Anthropocene: Understanding ecological grief

Love and loss in the Anthropocene (or is it the Capitalocene?)

Shaun Chamberlin on ‘Dark Optimism’ and the power of grief. “Whatever you do will change the world. If you take the most default option, you follow the most mainstream, down the line, ‘just keep your head down and get on with what they’re telling you to do’, approach, then that’s the world that you’re helping to create. There is no way that you cannot change the world.”

Sci-fi and the near future

This is the Muslim tradition of sci-fi and speculative fiction

We need to do a better job of imagining aliens

Exploring the Ecological Weird. Part I, Part II, Part III.

Making alternate worlds (feat. Ganzeer & Jeff VanderMeer)

Kim Stanley Robinson makes the socialist case for space exploration

An Eco-Marxist Blockbuster – on Blade Runner 2049

Warp-speed capitalism: The latest sci-fi imagines what society will look like if we colonise space – a universe in which might is right and there are no good guys.

New documentary Pre-Crime shows how Minority Report-esque police techniques are already a reality

‘Deeply weird and enjoyable’: Ursula K Le Guin’s electronica album

Surreal Photos of India’s living root bridges

Was there a civilization on Earth before humans?

The avant-garde meets ecology in Chile’s Open City

Resources

The NFB’s online collection of Indigenous cinema—check out CBC’s suggestions here.

15 Indigenous feminists to know, read and listen to

The Decolonial Atlas is a growing collection of maps which challenge our relationships with the land, people, and the state. It’s especially committed to Indigenous language revitalization through toponymy, the use of place names.

This app can tell you the Indigenous history of the land you live on

The Environmental Justice Atlas documents and catalogues social conflict around environmental issues across the world

Sharing cities: Activating the urban commons, a practical reference guide (available for free as a PDF) which showcases over a hundred sharing-related case studies and model policies from more than 80 cities in 35 countries.

Urban Planet: Knowledge towards sustainable cities. An open access book.

The Eviction Lab, a database of evictions in the US.

Winter Oak’s useful online information bulletin, The Acorn.

Ecosocialist bookshelf, April 2018. Six new books on climate change and disease; capitalist power and the planet’s future; brain, body, and environment; oceanic art and science; essential fungi and life; and the political economy of water.

100 must-read books about nature

A Google Drive folder collecting books and essays about anarchism, socialism, feminism, anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, and more.

A Twitter thread dedicated to recommendations of Indigenous authors and reads.

 

This newsletter is put together by Anna Biren (@acathbrn) and Aaron Vansintjan (@a_vansi).

Want to receive this in your inbox? Subscribe here.

March readings

Once a month, we put together a list of stories we’ve been reading: things you might’ve missed or crucial conversations going on around the web. We focus on environmental and social justice, cities, science fiction, current events, and political theory.

We’ll try to include articles that have been published recently but will last, that are relatively light and inspiring, and are from corners of the web that don’t always get the light of day. This will also be a space to keep you up to date with news about what’s happening at Uneven Earth.

It always feels like things are happening all at once: just as the global economy is transforming radically and we face an environmental crisis of global proportions, new social movements are rising up giving us new ways to think about the future. Weirdly, just at this moment, some are latching on to an idealized vision of modernity and the Enlightenment to defend the status quo. This month, we read articles that complicated the idea of modernity and offered ways to think about society and nature that incorporate, but go beyond, the Enlightenment tradition.

We also highlighted international environmental justice movements, showing that not everything is rosy—but people are fighting and thinking in creative ways, imagining different kinds of modernity and new kinds of internationalism. And lest we forget, March is women’s history month, and what better way to celebrate it than to highlight the—often undervalued—role that women play in global environmental justice movements?

Uneven Earth updates

How to navigate the disorientation of a seismic world | Link | Taking inspiration from past revolutions to build a new framework for the future

Krishna never looks up | Link | “Several tentacle-antennae coiled around his extended arm like Medusa’s hair.”

The migration crisis and the imperial mode of living | Link | Notes toward a degrowth internationalism

Dreaming spaces | Link | “Everywhere is filled with the dream of what could grow, slowly coming true”

Climate change mitigation and adaptation of the poor | Link | A call for decolonial responses to climate change

URGENT REPORT Protomunculus spp | Link | “If an infected robionic is discovered at any stage, universal mandate requires its immediate incineration”

Avatar revisited | Link | Gesturing at decolonization of the great epistemological divides

You might’ve missed…

Climate science’s official text is outdated. Here’s what it’s missing.

The Paris accord is built on speculative ‘tech fantasies’. It can not save us from climate catastrophe.

UN moves towards recognising human right to a healthy environment

Latin American countries sign legally binding pact to protect land defenders

Their forefathers were enslaved. Now, 400 years later, their children will be landowners. A rare victory for the Brazilian poor, as record Amazon land tract is handed over to descendants of escaped enslaved people.

German newspaper publishes names of 33,000 refugees who died trying to reach Europe

Indonesia’s forests caught between exploitation and failed aid programs

‘We are the forgotten people’: It’s been almost six months since Hurricane Maria, and Puerto Ricans are still dying. A multi-media feature.

The battle for paradise: Puerto Ricans and ultrarich “Puertopians” are locked in a pitched struggle over how to remake the island. Naomi Klein reports on the uneven legacy of the hurricane.

A reign of terror: Extra-judicial killings in Duterte’s Philippines. Dorothy Guerrero from Global Justice Now on the killings and opportunities for a Left response.

UK’s Labour sets out to overhaul neo-colonial development policy

Double trouble? How big cities are gentrifying their neighbours

Afrin in Kurdish Syria has been occupied by an invading Turkish army. Here are some articles providing some further context.

Don’t look away: The fight for Afrin is a struggle for radical democracy. Under fire from the forces of reaction, Afrin is the frontline in the fight for democracy. And by the same authors, a longer piece: Why #DefendAfrin? Confronting authoritarian populism with radical democracy. “At stake, not least, and deserving of our attention and solidarity is a radical alternative to both violent authoritarian nationalism and broader systemic violence associated with the contradictory nexus of blind elite cosmopolitanism, neo-imperialism and intensifying militarization that drives uneven globalization.”

The young feminist who died for my people. “Despite scarcity, we do not want bullets, we do not want food, and we do not want money. All we are asking for is action that will stop Turkey from flying its warplanes over the heads of our children.”

Love in a hopeless place. A first-hand account from a German internationalist YPG fighter from the now nearly forgotten battle of Raqqa.

The Kurds need Canada: What level of atrocity won’t we ignore?

Dear Hêlîn, or Anna—because I know you liked your both names. A letter to a British national who died in Afrin.

Turkish troops pour concrete on world’s oldest temple

New politics

Counter-mapping: cartography that lets the powerless speak. How a subversive form of mapmaking charts the stories and customs of those who would otherwise be ignored.

Some millennials aren’t saving for retirement because they don’t think capitalism will exist by then. They’re forming intentional communities and solidarity networks to support and protect each other.

How Cooperation Richmond is empowering marginalized communities to build an equitable economy

The wind of change: Renewables and self-determination. Katie Laing explores the fight for the right to community renewables on the island of Lewis. On one hand is a system that brings direct community control and builds a local economy, on the other one that extracts profit, control and resource from the islands.

An interview with David Bollier on the meaning of the commons for social transformation.

The Barcelona city government is trying to remunicipalize its water system from a private company. The rising tide for the democratic control of water in Barcelona.

An interview with Laura Pérez on the recent massive women’s strike in Spain, and what it means for the “feminization of politics” in Barcelona.

Realising an emancipatory rural politics in the face of authoritarian populism

Ostrom in the city: design principles for the urban commons

Carving out the commons. By now, you could be forgiven for assuming that “the commons” refers to another cocktail bar or coffee shop in yet another neighborhood people used to be able to afford. But Amanda Huron’s new book grounds the romantic notion of urban commons in the everyday struggles of working people.

Where we’re at: analysis

Soak the rich:  An exchange on capital, debt, and the future with David Graeber and Thomas Piketty

Why are water wars back on the agenda? And why we think it’s a bad idea!

Citizens unite in Cape Town’s water crisis

Why Amartya Sen remains the century’s great critic of capitalism. In Sen’s work, the two critiques of capitalism – moral and material – cooperate. He disentangles moral and material issues without favouring one or the other, keeping both in focus.

Surveillance capitalism. Deleting our Facebook accounts following the recent privacy scandal is not enough: we need to challenge the structural problem of surveillance capitalism. On the digital and social networks supporting authoritarian populism, and what can be done to resist them. For those who are active on Facebook, an instruction on how to use it while giving it the minimum amount of personal data.

Loneliness and poor mental health still reign around the world. Since Japanese seniors increasingly find themselves living alone and with no one to talk to, a generation in Japan faces a lonely death, and committing petty theft has become a way for elderly women in particular to escape solitude and isolation; nearly 20% of women inmates in Japan’s prisons are seniors.

How American masculinity, by sending the message that needing others is a sign of weakness and that being vulnerable is unmanly, creates lonely men.

It’s easy to forget that activists fighting to eliminate injustice struggle with mental and physical health, too. A story on those who push, protest, and privately suffer as a result; and the personal account of an environmental professor whose battle with cancer helped her cope emotionally with the reality of climate change.

The necessary transience of happiness. “By selling a myth about the nature of happiness, capitalism creates atomistically-ambitious but socially-obedient individuals who can be distracted from collective values and aspirations.”

Why Americans should give socialism a try. Against the commodification of life and relationships: “Capitalism is an ideology that is far more encompassing than it admits, and one that turns every relationship into a calculable exchange. Bodies, time, energy, creativity, love — all become commodities to be priced and sold. Alienation reigns. There is no room for sustained contemplation and little interest in public morality; everything collapses down to the level of the atomized individual.”

Just think about it…

United States as energy exporter: Is it “fake news”?

It wasn’t just Greece: Archaeologists find early democratic societies in the Americas

Economics has an Africa problem. From 2015, but still relevant.

Why race matters when we talk about the environment

Is the way we think about overpopulation racist?

Corporations do damage to poor women with their global philanthropy. Companies like to focus their corporate social responsibility work on girls because supporting women is, in theory, noncontroversial. But such charitable efforts actually harm girls and women in the Global South by depoliticizing their problems, which are inherently political.

Climate change and the astrobiology of the Anthropocene. “We will either make it across to the other side with the maturity to ‘think like a planet’ or the planet will just move on without us. That, I believe, is the real meaning of what’s happening to us now. It’s a perspective we can’t afford to miss.”

“They are our salvation”: the Sicilian town revived by refugees. With an ageing, fast-shrinking population, Sutera saw Italy’s migrant influx as an opportunity.

Human rights are not enough. We must also embrace the fight against economic inequality.

How six Americans changed their minds about global warming

The tragedy of the commons. Common, a new housing startup, creates cities without qualities—but it will order your toilet paper.

Women and environmental justice

With the 8th of March being International Women’s Day, and Women’s History Month running through March in the US, UK and beyond, this month is a good time to turn the spotlight on women’s struggles and (often overlooked and undervalued) contributions to environmental justice.

Stories of women’s resistance. Women are on the frontlines of climate change around the world: they make up 80% of people displaced by it, are more vulnerable in the aftermath of disasters, and disproportionately face other risks described in this overview from the BBC. But they are also active agents in fighting back against the climate crisis and other forms of environmental injustice.

Finland’s reindeer-herding Sámi women, faced with a combination of weather changes and increased tree cutting that threatens their centuries-old tradition, fight climate change. Meet the “Polish Mothers at the Felling”: a grassroots group of mothers protesting intensified logging practices across Poland. In Nepal, women are running for office to protect traditional forests that belong to indigenous peoples and local communities, and they’re winning. The DRC mining industry is a prime example of how corporate power threatens women’s rights: this is why feminist activists are mobilising behind a proposed international treaty to regulate the impacts of transnational corporations. Indigenous activists of the Chaco movement – the most vital branch of which may be young, Native American women – try to quell a rising tide of oil and gas exploration in Chaco Canyon. In India, women resist plantations that uproot them from their customary forests. On International Women’s Day, a petition initiated by women in West and Central African countries demanded that oil palm companies give back community land and end violence against women living in and around large-scale oil palm plantations; a struggle that women in Guatemala and Colombia and Indonesia face as well.

Here is a women’s strike reader with socialist feminist highlights from the archives of Dissent Magazine, and a list of women activists from around the world taking up the fight for social justice.

Zafer Ülger discusses environmental issues in Turkey, and points to the need for movements that unite ecological struggles with other social struggles, including women’s liberation: “The crises experienced by labor, women or oppressed peoples are not separate from the crisis of nature and ecosystems; it is just the other side of the same coin.”

Female writers and naturalists. A list of nine women who are rewriting the environment from a female perspective; a beautifully intimate portrait of Rachel Carson and her life and work on the sea; and an exploration of Nan Shepherd’s work on the mountains, and what we can learn from it. “Shepherd does for the mountain what Rachel Carson did for the ocean — both women explore entire worlds previously mapped only by men and mostly through the lens of conquest rather than contemplation; both bring to their subject a naturalist’s rigor and a poet’s reverence, gleaming from the splendor of facts a larger meditation on meaning.”

Ecological thought

What does it mean to think ecologically?

Culture shift: redirecting humanity’s path to a flourishing future. It’s time to build a new worldview with connectedness at its center.

When nature and society are seen through the lens of dialectics and systems thinking: “Capitalism casts nature as a resource which is to be exploited, squeezed and discarded. This is in part because of a linear, reductive understanding of the world. But there is an alternative. Dialectical, systems thinking views nature and society through the lens of complexity, contradiction and phase transitions.”

Thinking ecologically: a dialectical approach. In this essay Murray Bookchin warns against overly spiritual, reductive, and mechanistic approaches in ecological thought, injecting a political analysis into the discussion of what it means to think ecologically. In particular, he directs his ire against various strains of new age environmentalism as well as systems thinking.

Mentalities of greening, governing, and getting rich

Utilitarianism made for ‘Hard Times’ in Dickens’ England

Kim Stanley Robinson, the author of sci-fi classics like Red Mars and the more recent New York 2140, wrote an op-ed in The Guardian arguing for a variation of E. O. Wilson’s ‘half earth’ proposal. The idea is that humans should be kicked out of half the planet and inhabit the rest in super-dense and ecological cities. Bram Büscher and Robert Fletcher, two political ecologists, wrote an essay at the time critiquing Wilson’s book: “Addressing biodiversity loss and other environmental problems must proceed by confronting the world’s obscene inequality, not by blaming the poor and trusting the ‘free market’ to save them.”

10 years ago, the first international degrowth conference was held in Paris. To celebrate, Federico Demaria writes about the rise – and future – of the degrowth movement.

From 2017, a history of the Limits to Growth thesis and the World3 model, which was ridiculed in the 80s but turned out to be correct.

Eric Pineault’s exploration of “how the spectre of Degrowth haunts left ecomodernism as something unimaginable; how it works to foreclose certain avenues of radical thought and practice.”

Another worthy read on the ENTITLE Blog by Emmanuele Leonardi, where he puts the degrowth vs. accelerationism debate in context of the question of value.

Beyond growth or beyond capitalism? A critique of Herman Daly’s steady-state economics, which cannot imagine a world beyond capitalism.

Introduction to an ecosocialist approach to production and consumption

Better technology isn’t the solution to ecological collapse. We need to ditch our addiction to GDP growth.

Modernity and the web of life

With the publishing of Steven Pinker’s new book, Enlightenment Now!, there’s been a lot of talk about modernity and the Enlightenment, with accusations flying around of anyone who disagrees with the present state of things being accused of anti-modern and anti-Enlightenment. Here are a few rebuttals:

The limitations of Steven Pinker’s optimism

Steven Pinker’s optimism on climate change is misplaced

Waiting for Steven Pinker’s enlightenment

You can deny environmental calamity – until you check the facts

There never was a West (or, democracy emerges from the spaces in between)

In 2015, Anthony Galluzzo wrote a series of articles analyzing the literature of Promethean modernism—worth giving them a read. A tale of two Prometheuses in many parts: Part 1, 2, and 3.

Meanwhile, there’s been a slew of stories about the impacts of modernity on rural areas, our cities, and nature.

Agriculture wars. A tale of the industrialization of rural America and country music as resistance.

Our dying soils: the invisible crisis under our feet

Urban development in India: chasing the global at a cost to the local?

Empty promises: how 600 million young people in India have been missold the future

Mexico: the dangers of industrial corn and its processed edible products  

The 100 million city: is 21st century urbanisation out of control?

The risks are rising for cities in Anthropocene era

Downtown is for people. It’s always worth revisiting Jane Jacob’s classic 1958 essay. “If the downtown of tomorrow looks like most of the redevelopment projects being planned for it today, it will end up a monumental bore. But downtown could be made lively and exciting — and it’s not too hard to find out how.”

Sci-fi and the near future

How J.G. Ballard’s science fiction tells the future of our privatized cities

Introduction: the rising tide of climate change fiction

A nuclear warning designed to last 10,000 years. “Consider a wanderer 10,000 years in the future discovering a strange construction of granite thorns in the New Mexico desert, their points weathered by centuries, their shadows stretching at sinister angles. The wailing figure from Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream,” itself long ago turned to dust, appears on sporadic signs near these totems. It’s unclear for what this site was intended, or who created its menacing forms.”

Apocalypse soon. The science fiction of this century is one in which great existential threats are known: they are real, and terrible.


Resources

An atlas of real utopias. Introducing the Atlas of Utopias, which highlights 32 stories of radical transformation that prove that another world is not only possible in the future, but already exists.

Sufficiency: Moving beyond the gospel of eco-efficiency, a report by Friends of the Earth Europe.

Platform cooperativism: challenging the corporate sharing economy

Decolonising science: a reading list

Whose land is it anyway? A manual for decolonization

The Decolonize issue of YES! Magazine

Capitalism Nature Socialism issue on power, peace and protest: ecofeminist vision, action and alternatives

The Myths of Conquest series, debunking the myths of European colonization of the New World.

 

These newsletters are put together by Anna Biren (@acathbrn), Rut Elliot Blomqvist (@RutElliotB), and Aaron Vansintjan (@a_vansi).

Want to receive this as a newsletter? Subscribe here.

February readings

Once a month, we put together a list of stories we’ve been reading: things you might’ve missed or crucial conversations going on around the web. We focus on environmental and social justice, cities, science fiction, current events, and political theory.

We’ll try to include articles that have been published recently but will last, that are relatively light and inspiring, and are from corners of the web that don’t always get the light of day. This will also be a space to keep you up to date with news about what’s happening at Uneven Earth.

February is the shortest month, but holy crap we do have a lot of cool links for you. This month, we cover some new research about the limits of the good life, the impact of companies like AirBnB and Amazon on our cities, the changing Latin American politics, and the importance of Indigenous ways of seeing the world. The work of Steven Pinker and Jordan Peterson has also triggered a new series of discussions on the importance of science and its links to colonialism and racism. In the sci-fi department, we’ve got a whole new slew of fiction for you, analysis from writers like China Miéville and Kim Stanley Robinson, and a feature on black science-fiction writers.

Uneven Earth updates

La Barceloneta’s Struggle Against (Environmental) Gentrification | Link

“A city-wide urban struggle that evolved in defense of the needs and rights of residents over capital and profit.”

The Transition: towards a psycho-social history | Link

“The facts revealed in the historical record are clear: most people were terrified of their neighbours.”

Encyclopedia of the mad gardener | Link

“They feel the smells seep into their nasal channels, dioxins boiled under the pink moon.”

The collector | Link

“When you upload the dream, I cease to be a dreamer…”

Waterways | Link

“After the Division, Avon split from Greater Thames and declared a matriarchy”

You might’ve missed…

Turns out that carbon capture is a pipe dream. Not many know that the fine print of the Paris Treaty relied on a dirty little secret: the advent of carbon capture technology. But it turns out that this is a pipe dream. The unavoidable fact is, we just have to make less stuff, burn less oil, and grow more trees. Read the stories from Wired, The Guardian, and the original report from EASAC.

You may have heard of Route 66, “the main street of America”,  but Highway BR-163 in Brazil may be just as epic. This beautiful photo essay about this single highway tells the story of the complex political ecology of rainforest deforestation.

The Samarco dam collapse in 2015 was Brazil’s worst environmental disaster. What’s happened since, and who’s to blame? This investigative piece gives us the update.

Is it possible for everyone to live well? This study mapped indicators of well-being along with every country’s environmental impact. Turns out most don’t make the cut, and Vietnam comes closest to balancing the good life and environmental impacts. Though these numbers just tell part of the story, the study has had international impact, starting a much-needed discussion on what it means to live well today.

It’s behind the scenes, as always, but new rounds of trade negotiations are happening and they will affect the world for generations to come. Here’s an article dishing it out about the CEPA trade deal (EU-Indonesia), a perspective from Kenya by Justus Lavi Mwololo, a representative of small farmers, and an explainer about how the new NAFTA negotiations affect Mexican workers.

We’re over one month into Turkey’s invasion of the Kurdish canton Afrin in Syria, and since then, there’s been an international outcry. This piece in Jacobin lays out the stakes behind the attack, here’s an op-ed by the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy in the Wall Street Journal, another opinion piece by Rahila Gupta on CNN’s website, and a piece by David Graeber asking why world leaders are backing Turkey’s invasion. And here’s a piece on the ecological initiatives happening right now in Rojava.

Here’s a letter from Evin Jiyan Kisanak, the daughter of Gultan Kisanak, telling the story of the Kurdish political movement in Turkey and their oppression: “My mom, who still has traces on her body from the torture she suffered, always sees light in the face of profound despair. Today she is in prison again, but her belief in peace and equality is unrelenting. Her will is unyielding.”

In the face of our climate crisis, a group of five activists known as the Valve Turners decided not to wait for the law to catch up and took matters into their own hands. This is a story on their direct action.

A striking piece in New York Magazine linking loneliness and the opioid epidemic: “This nation pioneered modern life. Now epic numbers of Americans are killing themselves with opioids to escape it.”

Another photo essay, this time an intricate story about industrial farming in California, the migrant workers who toil the fields and processing plants, and how it intersects with climate change.

New politics

Introducing vTaiwan: Citizens are pioneering new public participation methods through online civic involvement. They’ve become so successful that the government has been forced to listen.

What happened in Catalonia? This article explores how the roots of the independence movement was in based in the fight for neighborhood, not nationhood—and this is what most outside observers don’t seem to get.

Socialist organizing was never just about striking in the workplace. This article explores the vibrant dance halls, social clubs, Sunday schools, and film screenings of socialist movements, and why they declined starting in the 1950s. Today, as young people are once again becoming interested in socialism, they can stand to learn a lot from the block-by-block initiatives of the past.

Environmentalists are often caricatured as hippy-dippy young people, removed from common people’s interests. In this beautiful photo essay, we’re guided through the diversity of people resisting fracking in one village in North England.

Indigenous activism is seeing a resurgence, and, finally, growing interest amongst non-Indigenous and settler communities. What can the white left learn from Indigenous movements, and how can it build better alliances? This article explores what decolonization would mean in today’s context.

What’s wrong with the financial system? If you ask a banker or a politician, their ignorance of how money works, and how debt powers the whole system, will become immediately apparent. The organization Positive Money has been putting a lot of work into battling misconceptions and putting forward alternatives. They recently came out with a report on how we can escape the growth dependency that our money system forces us into. Here’s a summary of the report in The Independent.

The local initiatives happening around the world can be a bit overwhelming. How can we think of them all together, understand them as part of one big movement? In this report, titled Libertarian Municipalism, Networked Cities as Resilient Platforms for Post-Capitalist Transition, Kevin Carson highlights the diverse movements in cities globally and the theories that can help us understand them.

Have you heard of Cooperation Jackson? It’s a worker-owned cooperative in Jackson, Mississippi, but so much more. Through their efforts, they’ve successfully kick-started a movement led by black folks that eventually took over city hall. This video explains what’s going on and why it’s so important.

South Africa’s shack dwellers see politics very differently than the average Westerner.

The new housing rights movements in the US have the real estate industry running scared. The Nation reports.

Have you heard of the Preston model? It’s helping to start a new conversation about the role of local government in locally-driven economic revitalization and transforming ownership towards democratic alternatives.

A new series was launched in the Guardian, ‘The alternatives’, in which Aditya Chakrabortty looks at ways to make the economy work for everyone.

Jason Hickel on why, by removing the walls that separate the causes and consequences of climate change, we can encourage constructive action.

“This is real politics. It’s personal. It’s a lived experience that you are a part of and implicated in, whether you had asked to be or not.” The staff strikes at Cambridge inspired Alice Hawkins to reflect on political engagement.

Where we’re at: analysis

Different perspectives on human history, the Anthropocene, and climate change

David Graeber and David Wengrow rethink world history as we know it: contrary to the popular narrative which conflates the origin of social inequality with the agricultural revolution, egalitarian cities and regional confederacies are historically quite commonplace, and inequalities first emerged within families and households (it’s worth mentioning that feminist scholars and other marginal voices have worked on stories of micro-scale inequalities for a long time). In an interview from 2016, Nancy Fraser discusses how the work involved in social reproduction is severely undervalued and taken for granted as ‘gifts’ in capitalist societies. This article highlights the need for thought on the Anthropocene to include African perspectives and scholarship, and a recent World Bank report provides new evidence of the massive ongoing extraction of the continent’s wealth by the rest of the word.

The fact that young people are opting out of having children because of climate change is an urgent call for action, and so is the alarming research on how it is worsening public health problems. During these times of crisis we’re facing, art can help us process what’s going on, intellectually and emotionally.

An analysis of Latin American politics. Against the backdrop of state and gang violence, some of Latin America’s most affected communities have taken radical measures to defend themselves and build new social counter-powers from below. Arturo Escobar discusses post-development and the fight for justice and pluralism in Latin America. “As inequality and environmental degradation worsen, the search is on not only for alternative development models but also for alternatives to development itself.” Elsewhere, Pablo Solón discusses the cosmovisions emerging from Latin America’s Indigenous movements, and Miriam Lang and Edgardo Lander talk about the slow demise of Latin America’s “pink tide”.

Just think about it…

“This exploitation by powerful men of women and girls in the most abject of circumstances has been misleadingly framed broadly in terms of “sex work” and “sex parties” in dominant narratives in the Western press.” Some good points and context on the Oxfam scandal and its aftermath.

A thought-provoking read from 2015 on the complex history and effects of humanitarian appeals.

A history of gun manufacturing and colonization, and the resulting underdevelopment it led to.

Restaurants are the new factories

Protecting the climate means strengthening Indigenous rights

The case against sidewalks

The logic of consumerism has come to infect what we mean by gentrification. “The poor are still gentrification’s victims, but in this new meaning, the harm is not rent increases and displacement — it’s something psychic, a theft of pride.” When ‘Gentrification’ isn’t about housing.

Technology and the new economy

The capitalist work ethic and the fear of leisure

The conversation about how human work is impacted by new forms of industrial technology continues. Here is a podcast from the Guardian which introduces different ideas about alternatives to work as we know it.

As Silicon Valley entrepreneurs turn “the end of work” and basic income into their new hobbyhorses, one article instead suggests a new public sector to guarantee both jobs and leisure time. Another article says “the end of work” is a sham—since new technologies in industrial production are driven by controlling labour and not liberating it. Others focus on a critique of work: on the capitalist work ethic which makes people too busy to think and (conveniently for capital) to be engaged in politics; on working less as a solution to everything and the long history of elites fearing the leisure time of the poor; and on how Ju/’hoansi hunter-gatherers can help industrial societies rethink work.

For a historical perspective on the discussion and on different ways of looking at new technologies, Thomas Pynchon’s 1984 essay on Luddism is a must-read.

This past month, David Wachsmuth and his team at McGill University have come out with a hard-hitting new study on the impact of AirBnB on rents, and the way that it drives disruption in our cities. Here’s the report itself, here’s a feature in New York Magazine, and another at The Atlantic.

What Amazon does to poor cities: The debate over Amazon’s new headquarters obscures the company’s rapid expansion of warehouses in low-income areas.

The rise of digital poorhouses

Is energy efficiency a good thing? Not especially. This feature in The Tyee takes us through some of the thinkers and researchers like Jacques Ellul, Stanley Jevons, and Elizabeth Shove on the problems with efficiency in an economy that just keeps growing.

Blockchain won’t save the world

Amazon and the socialist future

The movement for the right to repair. And a wonderful video on how some farmers are hacking their tractors.

Driverless cars could see humankind sprawl ever further into the countryside

On science and its problems

What are “Western values”, really? Peter Harrison argues that the potential of a Western tradition lies “in the preservation of a rich and varied past that can continue to serve as on ongoing challenge to the priorities and “values” of the present.”

Part of the Zapatistas’ project of resisting indigenous genocide, capitalism, and political repression is their struggle to decolonize knowledge. This is an article on the discussions between Zapatistas and leading left-wing scientists during the second iteration of the ConCiencias conference in December 2017.

Indigenous knowledge is finally being recognized as a valuable source of information by Western archaeologists, ecologists, biologists, climatologists and others.

Even so, the relationship between traditional ecological knowledge and Western science remains problematic.

Massimo Pigliucci tackles scientism: “when scientistic thinkers pretend that any human activity that has to do with reasoning about facts is “science” they are attempting a bold move of naked cultural colonization, defining everything else either out of existence or into irrelevance.”

“Current environmental policy textbooks are all stuck in a liberal narrative of environmental progress through political consent.” Melanie DuPuis elaborates on the concepts that are missing from this narrative.

Race science—that we can prove the superiority of one race over another through science—is rearing its ugly head again, with Jordan Peterson and Steven Pinker playing some unwelcome roles. But as Gavin Evans shows in this Guardian article, it’s still as bogus as ever.

Sci-fi and the near future

China Mieville on the limits of utopia

“The utopia of togetherness is a lie. Environmental justice means acknowledging that there is no whole earth, no ‘we’, without a ‘them’. That we are not all in this together… There is hope. But for it to be real, and barbed, and tempered into a weapon, we cannot just default to it. We have to test it, subject it to the strain of appropriate near-despair. We need utopia, but to try to think utopia, in this world, without rage, without fury, is an indulgence we can’t afford.”

Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation has been turned into eco-thriller movie, and people are pretty stoked. For Laura Perry, it “offers a roadmap to understanding and living with aliens and other unsettling forms of life”. And there’s a feature in Macleans on Jeff VanderMeer and his “new weird”.

The future is now? Five science fiction writers speculate on what science fiction can do when the present seems more and more like a science fiction story. On the genre as social critique, an ethics of science, and a place to consider questions of meaning and value.

An interview with climate fiction and utopian science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson on the roles of science, fiction, and science fiction today, the limits of tech-only solutions to environmental problems, and sci-fi as the realism of our time.

And, speaking of reality merging with science fiction: Silicon Valley’s vision of a future of oligarchical “smart cities” could be a dystopian story by Aldous Huxley.

A farewell-note to Ursula LeGuin, the interplanetary anthropologist

Five black sci-fi writers you may not (but should) know

Books

In The progress of this storm, Andreas Malm both criticizes the increasingly popular environmentalist idea of the “death of nature” and imagines political change through an ecologically class-conscious popular movement. This interview covers the latter point and this review covers both.

A review of Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism by Melinda Cooper at Jacobin.

“Most resistance does not speak its name”: James C. Scott, author of Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States, talks about his work.

“How will we have enough resources to support those people sustainably and equitably? Should we develop new technologies to respond to those challenges? Or should we focus instead on trying to limit growth and develop more of a harmony with the nature around us?” Charles C. Mann’s The Wizard and the Prophet is a testimonial to the art of the possible.

 

These newsletters are put together by Anna Biren (@acathbrn), Rut Elliot Blomqvist (@RutElliotB), and Aaron Vansintjan (@a_vansi).

Want to receive this as a newsletter? Subscribe here.

January’s readings

Once a month, we put together a list of stories we’ve been reading: things you might’ve missed or crucial conversations going on around the web. We focus on environmental and social justice, cities, science fiction, current events, and political theory.

We’ll try to include articles that have been published recently but will last, that are relatively light and inspiring, and are from corners of the web that don’t always get the light of day. This will also be a space to keep you up to date with news about what’s happening at Uneven Earth.

Uneven Earth updates

We’ve launched our series on sci-fi, near-futures, utopias, and dystopias, Not afraid of the ruins. The first three stories are now online! Expect a new piece every Friday.

Borne on a damaged planet | Link | Two books that do the hard work of thinking through the Anthropocene

Library | Link | A climate change poem

The naked eyes | Link | “Keith’s livelihood was sandwiched between an ocean of algorithms and a ceiling of decision-making programs.”

Why the left needs Elinor Ostrom |  Link | An interview with Derek Wall, author of Elinor Ostrom’s Rules for Radicals, on the need to think beyond market and state.

Our printing press’ first paperback, In defense of degrowth, is hot off the press! You can order it at indefenseofdegrowth.com.

   

You might have missed…

Defend Afrin!

Turkey, commanding the second-largest NATO army, has attacked the predominantly Kurdish region in Syria building a feminist & democratic governance system. The region under attack, Afrin, has gone the furthest in institutionalizing women’s liberation. You can follow any updates or find local protests via #DefendAfrin.

More and more environmental activists are getting killed

The “Environmental Warriors” series from the LA Times chronicles stories from around the world, showing why and how increasingly more environmental activists are faced with repression and violence.

Indigenous occupation of oil platforms in the Amazon

“This is not a symbolic action.” An investigative piece from The Intercept.

In India, women are fed up and starting their own agricultural collectives

“The movement is led by educated Dalit youth, who know they have been cheated of land that is rightfully theirs.”

Brazil announces end to Amazon mega-dam building policy

While many threats to the Amazon remain, indigenous and environmental groups celebrated this victory which can be partly attributed to their resistance.

The World Bank admits it botched Chile’s competitiveness ranking, charged with political manipulation

This is important. The International Organisation’s dealings often don’t get much scrutiny, but their reports can make or break a country. An informative Twitter thread here.

A victory for the movement against airports?

The Zone à défendre (ZAD) achieved a victory this month: France announced that it would no longer build the airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes. But for ZADistas, it is a half-victory: “While we are trying to prevent the construction of an airport, more than 400 others are being planned or built around the world.”

Where we’re at: analysis

Happy new year! Essays on loneliness, happiness, and an accelerating world

We’re more lonely now than ever: an article on the science of loneliness. To ramble: an ode to the stroll and loitering. An investigation into the new culture of mindfulness in the corporate world. A New Yorker article on the happiness industry. And a Jacobin piece on ‘neoliberal perfectionism’ and how it stands in the way of solidarity and a collective agency.

Maria Kaika on the falsehoods of urban sustainability

Smart cities, green urbanism, livable cities. The catchy terms keep proliferating, but does it come with better policies? Maria Kaika, foremost theorist on cities, opens up a bag of worms in this interview.

The globalisation of slums

An essay by urban geographer Pushpa Arabindoo on the increasing ubiquity of slums—and conversation about them—around the world.

A memo to Canada: acknowledge Indigenous right to self-determination

A striking essay on Canada’s broken relationship with Indigenous people.

The case against GMOs: it’s the industry, stupid

Charles Eisenstein widens the frame on the GMO discussion. “If you believe that society’s main institutions are basically sound, then it is indeed irrational to oppose GMOs.”

Seven cheap things

Last month we shared an interview with Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore about their new book: A history of the world in seven cheap things. This is a critical review by Ian Angus at Climate and Capitalism.

The book that incited a worldwide fear of overpopulation

How The Population Bomb triggered a wave of repression around the world.

Leading Marxist scholar David Harvey on Trump, Wall Street and debt peonage

“often current events are analyzed in a vacuum that almost never includes the context or history necessary to understand what is new, what is old and how we got to where we are.”

New politics

Two years of radical municipalism in Barcelona

A documentary about what happened in Barcelona and why it matters, including resources for discussing the video with your local group. An inspiring interview on the new politics in Spain, and how people have used the internet in creative ways. Eight lessons from the last two years of radical municipalism. A report on the first Fearless Cities conference last year held in Barcelona, and another report on the Catalan Integral Cooperative, which is experimenting with a new economic system in the shell of the old.

New strategies to organize tenants

“Today’s tenant organizers confront a highly fragmented and individualized rental sector. The challenge, then, is not just to mobilize tenants but to create a shared sense of being a tenant.”

Living through the catastrophe

Editorial from the seventh issue of ROAR magazine, which examines the social and political nature of climate change. The issue also features an explainer on the relevance of Murray Bookchin’s work for today’s climate crisis.

Climate change and the humanities: a historical perspective

“If we can resist the age-old impulse to define binary oppositions between ways of knowing—scientific versus humanistic, expert versus popular—we will be in a better position to join forces across those divides towards understanding and action”, argues Deborah Cohen.

Atlantic freedoms

“Haiti, not the US or France, was where the assertion of human rights reached its defining climax in the Age of Revolution.” In light of President Trump’s recent ‘shithole’ comments, this article from 2016 on Haiti’s revolutionary history is worth revisiting.

The shitty new communist futurism

Aaron kicks off a new series of articles on the ENTITLE blog which questions the foundations of ‘eco-modernist socialism’ and ‘communist futurism’ as proposed in Jacobin’s climate change issue Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Resources

A reading list on Indigenous climate justice

How to get new activists to stay engaged for the long haul

There’s been upsurge in activism since the Trump election, but how do we keep people engaged? A nice how-to from Waging Nonviolence.

A critical framework for a just recovery

With increasing natural disasters and the retreat of the state, more and more people are getting involved with grassroots disaster response movements. Movement Generation has put out a document with a guiding framework for how to do people-based recovery. PDF here.

What’s happening in Puerto Rico?

A thorough syllabus on the island’s history and its not-so-natural catastrophes.

Sci-fi and the near future

Ursula K. Le Guin on the need to end the narrative of the triumphant hero

“It is with a certain feeling of urgency that I seek the nature, subject, words of the other story, the untold one, the life story.” Ursula K. Le Guin has died, and there are so many more worlds to explore. We’ll build them with her in our hearts. This is one of our favorite pieces by her, “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction.”

Luxury home developments of the future will include patented ecosystems

“Entire landscapes, replete with designer insects and subscription seed stock, will have the potential to be recognised as protected intellectual property. The proprietary ecosystem will emerge, financially and biologically controlled by a particular hotel chain, property developer or private homeowner.”

Climate gentrification?

Welcome to the future: climate change will mean a new math for real estate investment.

Solarpunk wants to save the world

Move over cyberpunk. Say hello the new kid on the sci-fi block, solarpunk.

The world is full of monsters

We like our stories filled with weird creatures. A collection of shorts by Jeff VanderMeer.

Welcome to the wasteland

Ok, this isn’t sci-fi, but it certainly feels like it. A graphic illustration of a post-apocalyptic festival.

A strategy for ruination

An interview with China Miéville about the limits of utopia.

Carbon omissions

“with looming climate change and the decline of cheap oil, I couldn’t shake the question of what would power all these gadgets, and none of the futurists seemed to bring it up.”

Writing

On seeing and beeing seen: Writing about Indigenous issues with love

“To truly write from another experience in an authentic way, you need more than empathy. You need to write with love.” By Alice Elliott.

Women writing about the wild: 25 essential authors

A primer on some of the best nature writing you probably haven’t read yet.

 

These newsletters are put together by Anna Biren (@acathbrn), Rut Elliot Blomqvist (@RutElliotB), and Aaron Vansintjan (@a_vansi).

Want to receive this as a newsletter? Subscribe here.

New Year readings

This New Year, we’re trying something new. From now on, once a month, we’ll put together a list of stories we’ve been reading: things you might’ve missed or crucial conversations going on around the web. We focus on environmental and social justice, cities, science fiction, analysis of current events, and political theory. We’ll try to include articles that have been published recently but will last, that are relatively light and inspiring, and are from corners of the web that don’t always get the light of day. This will also be a space to keep you up to date with news about what’s happening at Uneven Earth. 

Uneven Earth updates

We’ve started a printing press! Our first title, available on paperback on January 6th, is In defense of degrowth | Link

An alternative reading of St-Kilda |  Link

A lifetime opposing the US military on Okinawa | Link

Conservation vs. tribal rights in India | Link

How to live off the rich world’s trash | Link

I’m not a climate refugee | Link

 

You might have missed…

Rise of the robots

A long feature on truck automation and its likely effects. An at least equally distressing article about robotic weapons in the New Internationalist. And a story about the evil Silicon Valley futurists here.

Drowning in garbage

A New York Times multi-media piece about the world’s trash. And now that China is no longer accepting the rich world’s recycling, the golden age of recycling is coming to an end.

China won’t save us

Richard Smith argues that the built-in drivers and barriers of China’s hybrid bureaucratic- collectivist capitalism reinforce its role as the world’s leading driver of global warming and thus planetary ecological collapse.

Warning to humanity: 15,000 scientists call for action to save the planet

And a response by political ecologists: “Why “Warning to Humanity” gets the socio-ecological crisis (and its solutions) wrong“.

Mapping climate justice movements around the world

Regular people are blocking sites of fossil fuel extraction all over the world. A new mapping project seeks to bring them all together.

A primer on the Commons

Commons Transition has put together a huge and very accessible compendium of essential articles on the Commons.

 

New politics

Working class environmentalism

To achieve climate justice, “city-based climate leaders have to leave the city”. So says Daniel Aldana Cohen in this impressive outline of an ecosocialist platform.

Municipalism and the feminization of politics

Roar Magazine published an excellent piece on how municipalism—the movement to push for democracy on the town and city level—has helped bring a new wave of activist women into positions of power.

UK’s labour and a post-growth economy

Key figures in the labour party have challenged the idea of economic growth, directly linking it to the ecological and climate crisis.

Jineology: from women’s struggles to social liberation

A new liberatory framework emerging from the Kurdish movement, which places women at the center of the struggle against patriarchy, capitalism and the state.

Municipalist ecosocialism

Gordon Peters connects the dots between London’s housing movement and a broader ecosocialist strategy.

 

Analysis

Can we go beyond extractivism?

Extractivism refers to a type of economic model that is dependent on the large-scale removal (or “extraction”) and exportation of natural resources. Federico Fuentes argues that it will take an internationalist, global struggle to go beyond it.

Degrowth is absurd!

You know you’re onto something when one of the world’s top economists thinks you’re probably right but absolutely nuts. A lively debate between Branko Milanovic and degrowth writer Jason Hickel. “I do not think that this program is illogical. It is just so enormous, outside of anything that we normally can expect to implement, that it verges, I am afraid, on absurdity.” See Jason Hickel’s final response.

How Manila’s informal economy powers the world economy

Here’s a piece explaining why megacities like Manila matter today, and how they work.

Earth, wind, and fire

Jacobin’s special issue on climate change. Several prominent ecosocialists argue that the issue mistakes techno-fetishism for visionary modernism. Read John Bellamy Foster’s critique here, that of Ian Angus here, and some responses to Ian Angus’ piece are here.

Winter in Catalonia

Bue Rübner Hansen reflects on the situation in Catalonia, giving us a broad but precise reading of what’s going on and where to stand.

The politics of ecofeminism

Ariel Salleh reflects on ecofeminism, its foundations, and its future

On the ground

Revolution on a small island

An in-depth investigation on the island of Eigg, which initiated its own municipalist movement for direct democracy. To be read alongside our story on an other island in the Hebrides, St. Kilda.

Freedom for Frestonia: the London commune that cut loose from the UK

Another neat story of a local liberation movement, this time in the very capital and birthplace of capitalism, London.

Detroit residents are building their own internet

What happens when 40% of a city doesn’t have internet.

Sci-fi

Ursula K. Le Guin on how to build a utopia

Science fiction is getting increasing attention, but we seem to only be able to imagine dreary dystopias and off-the-map utopias. For Le Guin, what we need is something in between: imperfect utopias and hopeful dystopias. An excerpt from her new book, No time to spare.

Want to understand China? Read its best science fiction

Sci-fi may be about the future but it helps us understand and deal with the present. For Chinese sci-fi authors, this often means describing a world that is spinning out of balance.

Sci-fi, fantasy, and the status quo

If sci-fi can help imagine the future, we need more work that can think outside of capitalist realism

Books and storytelling

Ostrom’s rules for radicals

Ever heard about Elinor Ostrom but didn’t quite get what she’s about? Or do you know about her and have struggled to explain why she’s so important?

The history of the world in seven cheap things

A thought-provoking interview in Dissent Magazine of Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore about their new book. “Capitalism is an extraordinarily expensive way to do business.”

A foodie’s guide to capitalism

A good christmas gift for your foodie uncle. New book by Eric Holt-Gimenez.

Writing while socialist

An illuminating interview with Vijay Prashad, author of “The Darker Nations”. “Cynicism and pessimism are not the mood of the socialist.”

James C Scott’s new book: Against the Grain

“An eagle’s eye view of the most significant change in human history before the industrial revolution – the transition from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to the early state.”

 

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