The EXALT Symposium 2020 aims to contribute to, expand and deepen the concept of extractivism and the role of alternatives beyond the conventional usage connected to natural resources by giving a platform for scholars and activists from various backgrounds.

Below you can find information on plenary Roundtable Discussion and the seven sessions covering different aspects of global extractivisms and alternatives. More information on the sessions and speakers will be published soon.

Roundtable Discussion

The main event of the EXALT Symposium 2020 is a Roundtable Discussion, which will bring together some of the world’s leading scholars working on extractivisms to discuss, debate, deepen and expand the definitions of extractivism.

Speakers: Alexander Dunlap, Eduardo Gudynas & Anna Willow

Discussant: Markus Kröger

Though being a concept of our time, extractivism remains elusive of fixed definitions, while research often focuses on individual cases of extractivist practises. This plenary session invites key authors on extractivism to discuss their definitions of extractivism, and to explore together different conceptualisations. The session will be moderated by Markus Kröger, who will guide the discussion, and ask the roundtable participants to comment upon issues such as: What are the key points to consider when studying the world via the concept of extractivism and why? When should extractivism not be used a concept? What other concepts should be used instead? Is extractivism as a concept usable beyond the natural resources sector? What purposes should the concept serve? Where are the limits of the concept, and how to apply it responsibly, yet innovatively? The event also invites the speakers to discuss what future studies would they like to see undertaken under the umbrella of extractivism-research, and particularly in terms of global extractivisms and alternatives? The aim of this opening session is to explore how the concept of extractivism can continue to contribute to transformative studies and praxis.

Wednesday October 21. at 16.00-18.00 (EEST). Link to program.

Session: Global Extractivisms

The session examines the politics, political economy, political ecology, and world-ecologies of extractivisms, especially their wider dynamics. The roundtable style session will explore the speakers’ perspective on extractivism and how their research has informed that perspective. Some of the questions that will be explored in is how the presenters respective case study research informs the way they understand extractivism; how their research could influence the theory of extractivism; and what is new in their approach and understanding of the field of extractivism. 

The session is chaired by professor Barry Gills

Friday, October 23 at 13.00-15.00 (EEST). Link to program.

Speakers: Julie Ann De Los Reyes, Anja Nygren & Natacha Bruna

Session: Indigenous Sovereignty, Modernity Projects and Alternatives

 Speaker: Deborah McGregor

Title: Indigenous Peoples, Colonialism and Climate Change Futures 

The current climate crisis is not the first time Indigenous peoples have had to face devastating environmental change. Indigenous peoples have been adapting and finding ways to adapt and be resilient since time immemorial. Indigenous peoples have distinct formations and contributions to make to the dialogue on global environmental/climate crisis as well as critiques of proposed solutions. Drawing on Indigenous governance, legal orders, knowledge systems, how can a self determined future be realized? This presentation will explore Indigenous pathways to envision a self determined climate change future that way inspire others.

Chair: Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen

Discussants: Hanna Guttorm, Eija Ranta and Paola Minoia

Friday 23rd of October, at 15.00-17.00 (EEST)

Session: Urbanity and Extractivisms

The session examines the tensions and contradictions in urbanism that are central to a post-extractivist agenda, including (re)theorizing urban development as part of development, underdevelopment, and alternative development, and analyses that deconstruct modernist fossil and nuclear-based urbanism from a theoretical, empirical, and methodological viewpoint.

Speaker: Ali Almoghazy

Discussants: Özlem Celik, Franklin Obeng-Odoom & Joe Collins

Thursday, October 22 at 10.00-12.00 (EEST). Link to program.

Session: Colonized by Data: The Costs of Connection

This talk will introduce the speakers’ new book, The Costs of Connection: How Data Colonizes Human Life and Appropriates it for Capitalism (Stanford University Press, August 2019). Couldry and Mejias argue that the role of data in society needs to be grasped as not only a development of capitalism, but as the start of a new phase in human history that rivals in importance the emergence of historic colonialism. This new "data colonialism" is based not on the extraction of natural resources or labor, but on the appropriation of human life through data, paving the way for a further stage of capitalism. Today’s transformations of social life through data must therefore be grasped within the long historical arc of dispossession as both a new colonialism and an extension of capitalism. Resistance requires challenging in their new material guises forms of coloniality that decolonial thinking has foregrounded for centuries. The struggle will be both broader and longer than many analyses of algorithmic power suppose, but for that reason critical responses are all the more urgent. New forms of solidarity are needed that help build connection on different terms from those currently on offer.

Speakers: Nick Couldry and Ulises Mejías

Discussant: Christopher Chagnon

Thursday October 22. at 13.00-14.30 (EEST). Link to program.

Session: Transitions to Alternatives

The session examines the organizational practices that shape the transformations needed to build alternative futures in a post-extractive world. Discussion will cover some central organizing processes, leadership, and strategic dimensions of transformation.

Speakers: Stephen Healy, Bhavya Chitranshi & Molly Anderson with Zoe Grodsky, Divya Gudur, Hannah Laga Abram, Ivonne Juarez Serna, Cora Kircher, Lucy Weiss and Leif Taranta from Middlebury College (see the student introductions here.)

14.00 EEST – Introduction: Why this track? & Reflection on the concept of alternatives

14.15 – Presentations: Stephen Healy, Bhavya Chitranshi & Molly Anderson

15.15 – Common discussion (Facilitated by session chairs) 

15.45 – Wrap up and where do we go from here

16.00 – Session ends

Thursday October 22. at 14.00-16.00 (EEST). Link to program.

Session: People's Sovereignty Lab

Hosted by: Gonzalo Berrón and Nora McKeon

On Thursday 22nd of October, at 16.00-18.00 (EEST)

This jointly sponsored session will introduce the EXALT public to the People’s Sovereignty Network (PSN), with which it shares many concerns.  The PSN responds to a felt need coming from different organizations and forums - in this moment of multiple crisis deeply rooted in the capitalist system and extractivism - to break out of silos, to converge and strategize around common threats and aspirations, and to build shared popular narratives rooted in the concrete experiences of communities around the world. The aspiration is to build more and stronger links among social movements with different entry points to the same struggle against corporate capture of the economy and democracy – food sovereignty, extractive industries, infrastructure projects, violence against women and others – and more effective and respectful collaboration between them and engaged academics. We seek to deepen experiences of democracy while fighting collectively at home, in our neighborhoods, our territories, and the globe to build people´s sovereignty. The first step was a collectively and inclusively planned workshop that took place in Siena, Italy October 2018. From this encounter several initiatives were born, including a people’s sovereignty web-lab and the preparation of a Special Forum for Globalizations on ‘Reclaiming democracy from below: from the contemporary state capitalist system to peoples’ sovereignty’.

This session will introduce the PSN by presenting the purpose, methodology and content of the Special Forum. The co-editors will describe the world context which the PSN addresses, the objective of convergence it pursues, and the characteristics that distinguish it: building and learning from people’s concrete struggles and efforts to construct; offering a space and instruments for movements and communities to exchange and learn from each other; experimenting with co-production of knowledge between movements and academic and civil society activists.  This introduction will be followed by presentations of three of the articles featured in the Special Forum and the methodologies adopted for the co-production of knowledge on themes that emerged from the Siena workshop: ‘Land, territory and commons: voices and visions from struggles’ ‘Rethinking law from below: experiences from the Kuna People and Rojava’, and ‘Releasing the full transformative power of feminism’. Ample time will be allotted for interactive participation and sharing of experiences and reactions. The session will close with a presentation of the activities the PSN is planning for the coming months and an invitation to engage.

“arcanes of terran reproduction”

“arcanes of terran reproduction” is an art piece/performance by Mirko Nikolic

Drawing on recent proposals that map extractivism as a constitutive logic which extends well beyond ‘natural resource’ industries and penetrates many domains of the social, this also implicates that modes of resistance and alternatives-making are correspondingly widely distributed, expansive, pervasive, but also sometimes harder to notice, ’submerged’ (Gómez-Barris, 2017). They take place on factory floors, but also classrooms and households. Following the lead of the frontline struggles and communities, and by conversing with traditions of social reproduction feminism, and feminist and queer materialisms, I summon some lines of work – existing, nascent, prefigurative – towards a transformation of everyday life at the edges of the capital and empire, modes of dismantling extractivism everyday everywhere. (Photo credit: Julius Töyrylä)

Performance takes place on Fri. 23rd of Oct. at 10.00 (EEST)

Book Launch: Beyond the Coal Rush - A Turning Point for Global Energy and Climate Policy?

Beyond the Coal Rush: a turning point for global energy and climate policy?

As part of the EXALT Symposium, we are collaborating on a event to launch the new book "Beyond the Coal Rush : a Turning Point for Global Energy and Climate Policy" by James Goodman et al. Country cases will be introduced by a selection of the co-authors.

Welcoming words by professor Barry Gills.

Session host: James Goodman


On India: Kanchi Kohli and Devleena Ghosh

On Australia: Linda Connor

On Germany: Katja MüllerTom Morton

Friday October 23, 11.30-12.30 EEST

Climate change makes fossil fuels unburnable, yet global coal production has almost doubled over the last 20 years. This book explores how the world can stop mining coal - the most prolific source of greenhouse gas emissions. It documents efforts at halting coal production, focusing specifically on how campaigners are trying to stop coal mining in India, Germany, and Australia. Through in-depth comparative ethnography, it shows how local people are fighting to save their homes, livelihoods, and environments, creating new constituencies and alliances for the transition from fossil fuels. The book relates these struggles to conflicts between global climate policy and the national coal-industrial complex. With coal's meaning transformed from an important asset to a threat, and the coal industry declining, it charts reasons for continuing coal dependence, and how this can be overcome. It will provide a source of inspiration for energy transition for researchers in environment, sustainability, and politics, as well as policymakers. 

Publication: CUP, Nov 2020. Authorship: James Goodman, University of Technology Sydney, Linda Connor, University of Sydney, Devleena Ghosh, University of Technology Sydney, Kanchi Kohli, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, Jonathan Paul Marshall, University of Technology Sydney, Manju Menon, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, Katja Müller, Martin Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, Tom Morton, University of Technology Sydney, Rebecca Pearse, University of Sydney, Stuart Rosewarne, University of Sydney