EXALT Dialogues

EXALT Dialogues is a quadrennial online event series that fosters critical thinking and discussion on extractivisms and transformative alternatives and which also aim to deconstruct and disrupt thinking that perpetuates dominant power structures, colonialities and growthism.

EXALT Dialogues is a quadrennial online event series that fosters critical thinking and discussion on extractivisms and transformative alternatives and which also aim to deconstruct and disrupt thinking that perpetuates dominant power structures, colonialities and growthism. The dialogues host researchers and activists from various fields and backgrounds to further critical knowledge and understanding on emergent topics related to the multiple crises, violent global structures and their local manifestations.

The events are open for everyone and are aimed to support cross-pollination between people and academia, and across various research fields, such as natural resource politics, anthropology, political economy, political ecology, economics, global studies, decolonial studies, agrarian and peasant studies, extinction studies and conservation studies. The talks will be recorded and published on EXALT’s Youtube channel.

Extractivism and Decolonial Thought

When: Friday 8th of September 2023, 4pm / 16.00 (Helsinki time, EEST), 1pm / 13:00 UTC

Where: Recording of the event on YouTube!.


  • Amanda Lickers, Iako'tsi:rareh (she/they) Six Nations Seneca is an emerging artist (@skrimpskrap) and contributor to the Land, Body, Defense Environmental Violence Tool Kit released by Native Youth Sexual Health Network in partnership with Women’s Earth Alliance.
  • Prof. Kiran Asher, Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, The University of Massachusetts Amherst 
  • Usman Ashraf, Doctoral Researcher, Doctoral Programme in Political, Soci­etal and Regional Change, University of Helsinki
  • Carlos Tornel, Research Postgraduate (PhD) in the Department of Geography, Durham University

The enduring problem of extractivism remains at the center of decolonial critique and action: Rejecting and fighting the extraction of habitats, people and ideas in the service of imperialist societies. This, moreover, entails fighting and negotiating the forced imposition of ideologies and relationships that condition, if not shape, how people live, work and relate with their habitats, ecologies and the peoples within them (Simpson, 2017). This Exalt Dialogue opens a roundtable discussion with four theorists challenging and fighting extractivism and (neo)colonialism. This dialogue explores how extractivism intersects with decolonial thought.

This intersection, however, relates to definitions. Identifying the key attributes of extractivism and (neo)colonialism, and their exterminating consequences (Dunlap, 2021). It is significant for how people understand and relate to state institutions, raw material development and market forces. We must ask, is industrialism itself a form of extractivism and, if so, what does that mean for everyday struggle and participation in state institutions? Anti-extractivist and decolonial struggle imply ardent, committed and, frequenlty, life-threatening struggle, yet we see these terms becoming academic industries or slogans to write on signs and display at the European Parliament. Is “decolonize now” the new “democracy now?”

How people identify the ‘colonial model’ will determine how terms like “decolonization” and “decolonality” are used. Is it possible to decolonize ‘state institutions,’ ‘international relations,’ ‘national security’ and ‘extractive industries’ or are these claims a symptom of “an insidious conciliatory process of decolonial recuperation rooted in cultural and symbolic change primarily fixated on transforming social stature” (IAM, 2017: 3)? Decolonization implies anti-colonial warfare, combating statist counterinsurgency and neoliberalism, which the Zapatista’s acknowledge the latter, as “a new war to conquer territories” (Marcos, 2001: 559). Is “the decolonial current just an academic trend” (Esteve, 2023 [2018]: 134) spreading political divisions, essentialized identities and rudimentary binaries (Asher, 2013; Dunlap, 2022; Wilson, 2023)? Is the state an evolution of the colonial model and (Dunlap, 2021), if so, what does this mean for representative democracies and the social democratic ‘Nordic model’?

This Exalt Dialogue seeks to look at these questions and more with Amanda Lickers, Kiran Asher, Usman Ashraf, and Japhy Wilson. This will be followed by a time for authors to exchange with each other, before opening up the floor for questions and answers from the audience. This Dialogue seeks to seed political self-reflection and consider ways to remediate the harms of extractivsim and (neo)colonialism that are ever-present and proliferating today.

The purpose of this EXALT Dialogue is to advance, or formalize, alternative thinking around how to slow, transform and stop extractivism as we know it. Extractivism, as foundational to modernity, remains an enduring challenge, which the EXALT initiative seeks to further explore and discuss with people struggling and researching against it. .

Zoom-link will be sent to participants closer to the event. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. 


Asher, K. 2013. Latin American decolonial thought, or making the subaltern speak. Geography Compass, 7(12), 832–42.

Dunlap, A. 2021. The Politics of Ecocide, Genocide and Megaprojects: Interrogating Natural Resource Extraction, Identity and the Normalization of Erasure. Journal of Genocide Research, 23(2), 212–35.

Dunlap, A. 2022. ‘I don’t want your progress! It tries to kill… me!’ Decolonial encounters and the anarchist critique of civilization. Globalizations, 1–27.

Esteva, G. 2022. Gustavo Esteva: A Critique of Development and other essays. New York: Routledge.

IAM (Indigenous Action Media). 2017. Uprooting Colonialism: The Limits of Indigenous Peoples’ Day [online]. Available from: http://www.indigenousaction.org/wp-content/uploads/uprooting-colonialism-zine-r… [Accessed 1 Oct 2018].

Marcos, S. 2001. The Fourth World War Has Begun. Nepantla: Views from South, 2(3), 559–72.

Simpson, L.B. 2017. As we have always done: Indigenous freedom through radical resistance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Wilson, J. 2023. Extractivism and Universality: Inside an Uprising in the Amazon. Oxon: Routledge.

Debating Degrowth: Can Degrowth Provide an Alternative to Extractivism?

When: Wednesday 10th of May 2023, 1pm / 13.00 Helsinki Time (UTC+3), 10.00 am UTC

Where: Recording of the event soon on our YouTube channel!


Degrowth has taken academia by storm and now slowly makes its way into European and international policy agendas. From repeated reference and consideration in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2022, IPCC) reports to European Commission interest and recent awarding of the EU Synergy Grant to the Research & Degrowth team. The existential threat that capitalism and industrialization poses to the planet, manifesting in widespread socio-ecological and climate catastrophe, has made the degrowth position—demanding the reduction of material production and energy consumption—timely and necessary. Degrowth, however, is not just about material and energy reduction, but also regrowing happier and healthier lifeways, pastimes and forms of work. The popular uptake of degrowth cannot be overstated, but what is degrowth in reality, what kind of worlds it aims to enact, and how will degrowth actually remedy the present and anticipated trajectory of extractivism and capitalist growth?

This EXALT Dialogues seeks to raise this question and discusses it with degrowth proponents. This event asks the question: “How does Degrowth confront extractivism and what can that look like in practice?” This question will be answered by the renowed degrowth scholar Dr. Marta Conde in a short (25min) Keynote, which will then be discussed by Dr. Brototi Roy, Dr. Katharina Richter and Dr. Alexander Dunlap.

Insurrection in Energy Research: Pluriversal Encounters with Energy Transition & Renewability

When: Tuesday 14th of February at 5pm / 17.00 (Helsinki time, EET)

Where: The recording of the event can be found on EXALT YouTube Channel


The hopeful claims of “green,” “clean” and “renewable” energy to transition capitalist societies towards socio-ecologically harmonious political economies have fallen short on closer investigation. Material and energy consumption is increasing, low-carbon infrastructures are adding to existing hydrocarbon and nuclear energy sources and, still more, wind, solar and hydrological extractivism is creating similar violent socio-ecological disruptions on the ground. Capitalist energy development reproduces the same expansive and accumulating problems whether energy is produced by conventional hydrocarbons or low-carbon infrastructures—the latter concealing extensive mineral extractive and hydrocarbon dependent supply-webs. This naturally raises the question: “If low-carbon infrastructures are also ‘bad’, then what can we do?”

The first Exalt Dialogue confronts this question: What are the obstacles and pathways for creating alternative energy systems? This question speaks to the issue of global extractivisms underlying low-carbon energy systems and what type of alternative visions we could imagine as individuals, collectives and communities. This EXALT Dialogue invites us to consider an insurrection in energy research, delving into the Pluriverse by discussing the coloniality of energy systems with four energy researchers with different critical perspectives and ideas on the matter of electricity production and development.  Speaking this question above, and their own concerns, we will hear a short-talk (10-15min) about their work and how they might imagine alternative forms of electricity production today, followed by a shared discussion.