EXALT Reading

EXALT Reading is a curated list of open access, topical and critical literature on Extractivism, Global Crises, Alternatives, Sustainability, Degrowth, Solidarity, Commons and everything in between! The pieces are posted every month on EXALT's page on X.

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EXALT Reading 2024

59. Art, Extractivism, and the Ontological Shift: Toward a (Post)Extractivist Aesthetics

This article, written by Paula Serafini, aims to contribute to a (post)extractivist aesthetics at a time of ontological shifts, meaning an aesthetics that focuses on the role of art in struggles for (post) extractivist worlds. First, it argues for a contextualized approach to the use of the extractivism framework and proposes that this framework is particularly productive for approaching the socio-environmental crisis due to the way it allows us to engage with the ontological basis of this crisis. The article then builds on empirical research conducted in Argentina to develop the concept of prefigurative ontological design, one of the key functions, it is proposed, of artistic practice in anti- and post-extractivist movements. In this way, the article aims to expand our understanding of the potential of extractivism as a framework of analysis and contributes to the theorization of the relationship between art and extractivism through the lens of political ontology, offering new concepts for developing a (post)extractivist aesthetics.

58. Relational resources: Moving from plural to entangled extractivisms

Increasing studies of extractivisms, in the plural, examine the diverse politics that permeate extractive activities. However useful, this appeal to plurality is problematic. Plurality without relationality risks justifying some extractive activities over others, without addressing how they relate. Drawing on anti-essentialist, decolonial, and political ecological scholarship, this article proposes an ontological reframing of extractivisms that troubles the division and comparison that pervade notions of taxonomic plurality, and emphasizes the mutual constitution articulated within the concept of relationality. Analyses of relational resources are better equipped to illuminate the power-laden associations through which supposedly distinct commodity values, extractive geographies, sectors, and governance regimes shape one another. Beyond complicating rigid definitions of extractive categories, this ontological shift requires distinct methodologies for understanding and contesting entangled extractive interests and logics. It implicates what forms of anti-extractive resistance, solidarities, and alternative futures become viable, thinkable, and necessary.

This article, published in Political Geography, is written by James Alejandro Artiga-Purcell.

57. Land-grabbing mafias and dispossession in the Brazilian Amazon: rural–urban land speculation and deforestation in the Santarém region

This article, written by Markus Kröger, explores the ways that illegal land grabbing has taken place in contemporary Brazil since 2003. The findings suggest that much more attention needs to be paid to the various forms of violent illegalities behind the creation of land control, in both urban and rural contexts. The role of land mafias as a key political -economic sector creating capital through land speculation should be investigated further, as it seems to matter even more than de jure land rights. The article studies how, where, and why land mafias – often an amalgamation of rural elites, police, and governmental and judicial powerholders – have surged. It uses longitudinal ethnography to explore the widespread expulsion of people from their land in the Brazilian Amazon after the 2003 installation of a Cargill soybean export mill. This has led to the radical transformation of vast forest and urban areas, destroying the lives of humans and other-than-humans. 

56. Data extractivism: Social pollution and real-world costs

Just as previous industrial revolutions relied on resources like coal and oil, the digital revolution has sparked an insatiable demand for its own resource—personal data. Rather than open-pit mines, data extraction depends on proliferating devices that do their digging by embedding themselves ever deeper into our lives and societies. This drive for data has led to modes of extraction that cause environmental pollution and what could be termed ‘social pollution’, which causes damage to societies and individual lives. This chapter utilizes the concept of extractivism to highlight the socio-cultural damage done by data extractive systems in Europe and around the world.

This chapter, in The European Digital Economy: Drivers of Digital Transition and Economic Recovery, is written by Christopher W. Chagnon and Sophia E. Hagolani-Albov

EXALT Reading 2023

55. Land, Water, Air and Freedom: The Making of World Movements for Environmental Justice

This ground-breaking book, written by Joan Martínez-Alier, makes visible the global counter-movement for environmental justice, combining ecological economics and political ecology. Using 500 in-depth empirical analyses from the Atlas of Environmental Justice, Martínez-Alier analyses the commonalities shared by environmental defenders and offenders respectively.

Each narrative emphasizes the diverse vocabularies, iconographies, and valuation languages of poor and Indigenous activists without losing sight of the global scale of climate action and biodiversity loss. Revealing the circularity gap at the centre of the industrial economy, the book focuses on the frontiers of commodity extraction and waste disposal. Alongside exploring protagonists and geographies of resistance, chapters delve into corporate irresponsibility, unequal trade, and feminist neo-Malthusianism. Although grassroots movements for socio-economic sustainability are deeply diverse, there are global patterns of action and empowerment.

This book will be essential reading for students and scholars of environmental social sciences and humanities, anthropology, geography, international relations, and ecology. It will also help activists engaged in the movements for environmental justice.

54. The coloniality of green extractivism: Unearthing decarbonisation by dispossession through the case of nickel

This article, by Diego Andreucci, Gustavo García López, Isabella M. Radhuber, Marta Conde, Daniel M. Voskoboynik, J.D. Farrugia, and Christos Zografos elaborates on the notion of “decarbonisation by dispossession” in order to shed light on the contradictory character of capital-driven energy transitions.

First, the authors suggest conceptualising “decarbonisation” as a “socio-ecological fix” to intersecting, climate-induced crises of accumulation and hegemony, aimed at saving capital rather than the planet. Second, reflecting on the mineral intensity of “low carbon” technologies such as industrial-scale solar and wind farms, they approach ongoing transitions as a form of “extractivism”: a form of predatory appropriation of land and resources, embedded in global geographies of unequal ecological and value exchange. Third, examining the case of nickel, the authors argue that, despite elements that complicate a clear North-South binary, capital-driven transitions are ultimately reinforcing the colonial character of energy provision; they are causing an expansion of “transition mineral” frontiers and associated dispossession effects, and creating sacrifice zones of extraction and processing concentrated in formerly colonised countries.

Considering also the contradictory outcomes of mineral-intensive transitions in terms of CO2 emissions reduction, the authors' findings point to a structural inability of capital to solve its ecological contradiction. They conclude that radical proposals for a genuinely “just” transition, including those that mobilise a Green New Deal framework, should aim to decouple energy provision (and the reproduction of life more generally) from the material and epistemic violence of colonial-extractive capitalism.

53. When 'green' becomes 'saffron': Wind extraction, border surveillance, and citizenship regime at the edge of the Indian state

This open-access article by David Singh in the Journal of Political Ecology explores wind energy extractivism in India. 

Low-carbon mega-infrastructures constitute one of the main institutional responses to climate change in India's agrarian settings, as they are imagined around features of 'greenness' and 'cleanness.' But this story entails a problematic construction of land, the reconfiguration of space for extractive development, and a complete disruption of agrarian social structures around features of exclusion and dispossession. This research adopts perspectives from political ecology to understand the persistence of class-caste relations, the legacy of coloniality, and the new citizenship regime underlying 'green' extractivism in India's low-carbon infrastructures. Wind turbines align with broad ethno-religious conceptions of Indian citizenship and space as Hindu, and their expansion over new border areas serves nationalist projects of territorial reconfiguration, cultural identity revivalism, border-making, and Muslim populations' surveillance.

52. Routledge Handbook of Global Land and Resource Grabbing

The Routledge Handbook of Global Land and Resource Grabbing, edited by Andreas NeefChanrith NginTsegaye MoredaSharlene Mollett provides a cutting-edge, comprehensive overview of global land and resource grabbing.

Global land and resource grabbing has become an increasingly prominent topic in academic circles, among development practitioners, human rights advocates, and in policy arenas. The Routledge Handbook of Global Land and Resource Grabbing sustains this intellectual momentum by advancing methodological, theoretical and empirical insights. It presents and discusses resource grabbing research in a holistic manner by addressing how the rush for land and other natural resources, including water, forests and minerals, is intertwined with agriculture, mining, tourism, energy, biodiversity conservation, climate change, carbon markets, and conflict. The handbook is truly global and interdisciplinary, with case studies from the Global South and Global North, and chapter contributions from practitioners, activists and academics, with emerging and Indigenous authors featuring strongly across the chapters.

The handbook will be essential reading for students and scholars interested in land and resource grabbing, agrarian studies, development studies, critical human geography, global studies and natural resource governance.

51. Scholar-Activism and Land Struggles

Scholar-Activism and Land Struggles by Saturnino M. Borras and Jennifer C. Franco is about scholar-activism and political struggles for land. Scholar-activism is a way of working that tries to change society by combining the best features of radical academic and political activist traditions, despite the many contradictions and challenges that this entails.

The role played by scholar-activists in land struggles is important, but is not straightforward. This book unapologetically celebrates the contributions of scholar-activism in land struggles and scholarship, but more than this, it is about exploring the contradictions and challenges facing scholar-activism. It is neither a glorification of the achievements of scholar-activism, nor a set of prescriptive propositions on how to ‘do’ scholar-activism. Rather, it addresses contentious issues in scholar-activism, many of which are rarely discussed, or are discussed only gingerly and awkwardly when they cannot be avoided. It is a book written by two scholar-activists who have focused their individual and collaborative research and activist works on the politics of land and the role played by radical agrarian movements. Insights in this book are drawn on the experiences of the authors working in the three main sites of global knowledge circuits: academic institutions, independent research institutions oriented to practical politics, and left-wing agrarian movements.

50. Global impacts of extractive and industrial development projects on Indigenous Peoples’ lifeways, lands, and rights

To what extent do extractive and industrial development pressures affect Indigenous Peoples’ lifeways, lands, and rights globally? Arnim Scheidel et al.'s Open Access article on Science Advances analyzes 3081 environmental conflicts over development projects to quantify Indigenous Peoples’ exposure to 11 reported social-environmental impacts jeopardizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples are affected in at least 34% of all documented environmental conflicts worldwide. More than three-fourths of these conflicts are caused by mining, fossil fuels, dam projects, and the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and livestock (AFFL) sector. Landscape loss (56% of cases), livelihood loss (52%), and land dispossession (50%) are reported to occur globally most often and are significantly more frequent in the AFFL sector. The resulting burdens jeopardize Indigenous rights and impede the realization of global environmental justice.

49. The social reproduction of natural resource extraction and gendered labour regimes in rural Turkey

Based on research conducted in the Soma Coal Basin in Turkey in Western Anatolia, Turkey, this Journal of Agrarian Change article written by Coşku Çelik attempts to unveil the inherently gendered character of the transformation of rural livelihood in resource extraction regions and reveal the ways in which extractive capital exploits women's work as miners' wives. In recent decades, rural livelihood has been restructured dramatically in the Global South as a result of neoliberal transformations such as the removal of state subsidies for small-scale farmers, privatization of agricultural state economic enterprises, rising control of global agribusiness firms on agricultural production, expropriation of rural commons and private farmland for mega-investments in natural resources. Under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments, Turkey has been a prime example of these patterns of accumulation and dispossession. Additionally, the country has been facing coal rush policies of the AKP governments with the aim of utilizing domestic coal to overcome the problem of energy supply security.

Çelik argues that rural change and patterns of proletarianization in the rural extractive regions are inherently gendered and women assume a central role in the production and social reproduction of the classes of extractive labour. Drawing on 3-year research the paper examines the transformation of women's (i) petty commodity production as unpaid family farmers, (ii) agricultural wage work and (iii) reproductive work as miners' wives and subsistence farmers as a result of rising private sector coal investments since the mid-2000s.

48. Marx in the Anthropocene: Towards the Idea of Degrowth Communism

Kohei Saito's book Marx in the Anthropocene: Towards the Idea of Degrowth Communism which weaves together a number of critical theoretical threads on ecosocialism, degrowth, and Marxism. Facing global climate crisis, Karl Marx's ecological critique of capitalism more clearly demonstrates its importance than ever. This book explains why Marx's ecology had to be marginalized and even suppressed by Marxists after his death throughout the twentieth century. Marx's ecological critique of capitalism, however, revives in the Anthropocene against dominant productivism and monism.

Investigating new materials published in the complete works of Marx and Engels (Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe), Saito offers a wholly novel idea of Marx's alternative to capitalism that should be adequately characterized as degrowth communism. This provocative interpretation of the late Marx sheds new lights on the recent debates on the relationship between society and nature and invites readers to envision a post-capitalist society without repeating the failure of the actually existing socialism of the twentieth century.

Unfortunately this book is not Open Access but we hope you can find a way to access it.  

47. Automating violence? The anti-politics of ‘smart technology’ in biodiversity conservation

In this alarming Biological Conservation article Naomi Parris-Piper, Wolfram H. Dressler, Paula Satizábal and Robert Fletcher examine the consequences of valorizing potential success of smart technology used in biodiversity conservation conducted by global-local governance partnerships. The implementation of ‘Smart technologies’ into biodiversity conservation interventions in Palawan Island in the Philippines have introduced new forms of surveillance and securitisation. These smart technologies adopted by state agencies, provincial politicians, and NGOs monitor, restrict and criminalize Indigenous and local rights to forest resources and land while further neglecting the need to curb expanding resource extractivism that most threatens biodiversity.

“Building on this, our analysis demonstrates how the networked actors behind smart technologies similarly sell the success of and legitimize such technologies in anti-political ways, with little reflexivity on potential harms and limitations."

"Such anti-politics, we argue, has the potential to automate violence on two interrelated fronts. First, violence can be automated directly, given that smart technology can rapidly aim, shoot, capture and monitor, and these processes are automated by algorithmic designs and hardware. Second, violence can be automated structurally, in that the anti-politics of technological fixes neglects attention to the extractive political economies that ultimately drive biodiversity loss and underpin the financing and legitimacy of the very states sanctioning smart technologies.”

46. Decolonizing energy justice from the ground up: Political ecology, ontology, and energy landscapes

In the latest EXALT Reading, Carlos Tornel (Durham University) seeks to expand the concept of energy justice by considering the struggles over coloniality and cultural identity in the Global South and their interactions with the ongoing forms of energy transitions. The Progress in Human Geography article argues that the current conceptualizations of energy justice cannot be separated from the politics of incumbency as, without a decolonial critique, they tend to reproduce rather than transform hegemonic power relations. According to Tornel the starting position for energy justice must be that energy injustices are already embedded in existing energy systems and energy policies. This article advocates looking beyond a universalized conception of justice towards an approach where justice is based on a sense of place and is informed by the community’s relationship with the land. Using the concept of energy landscapes, the article puts forth an alternative way of understanding energy systems and conceptualizations of justice in decolonial settings.

EXALT Reading 2022

45. Local communities, extractivism and international investment law: the case of five Colombian communities

This article by Nicolás M. Perrone on Globalizations investigates the relationship between the investment treaty regime and the social fabric of extractivist projects. The article is based on discussions with Colombian local communities impacted by extractivism. It also serves as an introduction to a Special Issue that continues discussing the case of Colombia, brings additional insights from Peru, and examines how local communities can speak more effectively.

"The investment treaty regime is central to the political economy and narratives of extractivism. This international regime tilts the balance in favour of extractivism by promoting a foreign investment imperative, strengthening foreign investor rights, and making local communities invisible."

44. Re-worlding: Pluriversal Politics in the Anthropocene

This issue of Nordia Geographical Publications highlights the importance of a continued dialogue between the Global North and the Global South & addresses the theoretical contradictions that are often formulated against one another from these positions. The issue presents four original contributions exploring political ontology, methodological contributions, grassroots struggles and ecological conflicts. 

"The inspiration for this theme issue originated in the search for a scalar conceptualization of global- and local-level interactions, specifically trying to address how it is that those local solutions can lead towards global transformations? Are the efforts (mainly coming from the academy) to name our epoch any good for actual revolutionary strategies? If we are facing a civilizatory crisis, then what tools for emancipation that we are familiar with are still useful or effective in our current epoch?"

43. Article collection by the editors of Journal of Peasants Studies

To celebrate the launch of their new website, the editors of the Journal of Peasant Studies have released a selection of articles that will be open access until May 31, 2022. The articles, explore some of the most urgent themes in critical agrarian studies including among others, rural resistance and the practices of protest and struggle, agrarian movements and popular resistance to corporatisation, critical perspectives on climate, sustainability, and finance, agroecology, and COVID-19.

"Land reparations will constitute an important site of abolitionist-agroecology work, as will advancing biodiversity-based practices and horizontal learning to keep territories in communities’ hands long term. The conjuncture of COVID-19 and systemic racism has created an extraordinary moment for abolitionist agroecology, should we choose to take it."

42. Conceptualizing sand extractivism: Deconstructing an emerging resource frontier

In this visionary article, Arpita Bisht engages with non-academic, grassroots literature around sand miningdraws and draws on political ecology literature, utilizing the concept of the commodity frontier and the theoretical framework of extractivism to theorize sand extractivism. The article reflects on why extractivism is an increasingly relevant and necessary theoretical framework for deeper analysis of sand extraction. In addition, the article proposes solutions to the ongoing patterns of sand frontier expansion, utilizing the rich literature on post-extractivism.

"Despite its significance, increasing extraction and projected scarcities, research on sand extraction is limited, making future work on sand resources both important and imminent. Given the large data and research gaps, there is an urgent need to ensure availability of reliable extraction, consumption, and trade data; to analyse linkages with larger political economic processes; to analyse and find solutions to massive illegal operations, the black market, and the violence involved; as well as to discuss and develop alternative frameworks—both theoretical and analytical—in order to understand this all-pervasive yet invisibilized resource further."

41. Extractivism, Resistance, Alternatives

In this issue, the authors of the journal Feminist Africa explore the gendered aspects of extractivisms & the creative responses of people, especially women, to destructive projects across the African continent. Authors include various African feminist scholars from the fields of Gender Studies, Development Studies, International Relations and many others.

"The neoliberal emphasis on free markets and the primacy of private interests exacerbates the gender, class, and other inequalities arising from extractivist processes and their destructive consequences. The BRICs countries, many of them former colonies themselves, have played active roles in serving imperial interests through their predatory engagement in extractivism. The dynamics involved are specific to African contexts, and thus not addressed in the oft-quoted and highly influential literature of South and Central America." 

EXALT Reading 2021

40. Anarchy, war, or revolt? Radical perspectives for climate protection, insurgency and civil disobedience in a low-carbon era

This captivating article written by Benjamin K. Sovacool and Alexander Dunlap seek to tackle apathy and inaction towards climate catastrophe and environmental destruction by exploring various more and less transformative direct action tactics and distilling from them options for potential climate action and social change.

“…we recognize the need to continue and widen examination to look at a multitude of options capable of stopping institutions and actors whose efforts are already harming millions, degrading the biosphere, and contaminating the climate, despite all the scientific or moral reasons against doing so. We need options that can vigorously oppose such action; that confront inequality and injustice; and that can subvert power relations currently perpetuating environmental destitution and driving climate change.”

39. Situating Sustainability: A Handbook of Contexts and Concepts

This Helsinki University Press handbook called 'Situating Sustainability: A Handbook of Contexts and Concepts' reframes our understanding of sustainability and calls for the recognition of the deep and diverse cultural histories that shape contemporary environmental politics. Authors include multiple EXALT contributors and collaborators who have written chapters on extractivisms, the Anthropocene, traditional ecological knowledge and on many other crucial topics on sustainability.

"Situating Sustainability calls for a truly transdisciplinary research that is guided by the humanities and social sciences in collaboration with local actors informed by histories of place. Designed for students, scholars, and interested readers, the volume introduces the conceptual practices that inform the leading edge of engaged research in sustainability."

38. On thin ice – The Arctic commodity extraction frontier and environmental conflicts

In this articele published in the Ecological Economics, Ksenija Hanaček, Markus Kröger, Arnim Scheidel, Facundo Rojas and Joan Martinez-Alier focus on socio-environmental conflicts and extractive projects in the Arctic region. According to the research which was conducted by using data from the Global Atlas of Environmental Justice, geography of socio-environmental conflicts predominantly overlap with predominantly Indigenous peoples' territories.

"Associated large-scale extractive activities are bringing negative socio-environmental impacts at the expense of Indigenous groups, fishermen, and pastoralists, with loss of traditional knowledge and practices being significantly higher in Indigenous territories of high bio-cultural values associated to the environment."

37. Post-progress infrastructures: material-affective structures that sustain the pluriverse (or world of worlds)

In this blog post, Susanne Hoffman discusses “great infrastructures” which are tightly connected to material and affective world-making. Instead of megaprojects that are hinged on the dispossession of marginalized people and Indigenous land, Hofmann calls for post-progress infrastructures or "pluriversal infrastructures". Hoffman is part of an Interdisciplinary Working Group called Gender and Megaprojects in the Americas.

"No life can be generated from “sacrifice zones”: where territories have been depleted by extractivism, and water and soil has been contaminated by toxic substances. This is why in recent decades the defense of life and of territory has emerged as the core element of social mobilizations by Indigenous, Afro-descendent and peasant communities across the Americas"

36. State of the World’s Trees

In this report Botanic Gardens Conservation International brings together research from over 60 institutional partners as well as more than 500 experts who have contributed to tree assessments in the last five years. Led by the Global Tree Assessment (GTA), the report identifies major gaps in tree conservation efforts. The experts behid the report call for a new focus in planning and carrying out biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration, recognising the global importance of tree species. They have also identified the regions where further action is needed and provides recommendations for urgent action and calls for a new coalition to facilitate the resourcing and expertise required.

"The results of the Global Tree Assessment show that we are losing trees that are vital for livelihoods and ecological services. Using the information now available on the conservation status of trees, strengthened action is urgently required to prevent further species extinctions and restore damaged and degraded ecosystems."

35. Mapping the Amazon: Cutting through the Entanglement of Literature and Extractivism

In this Liverpool University Press blog's interview Amanda M. Smith discusses her latest book called Mapping the Amazon: Literary Geography after the Rubber Boom and shares her thoughts on extractivism, Indigenous mapping, and the socio-environmental impacts of the rubber boom. 

Mapping the Amazon examines how widely read novels from twentieth-century South America attempted to map Amazonia for readers and simultaneously helped to identify and access exploitable resources to be extracted from the region. Smith also talks about how Indigenous activists today make maps to challenge cartography’s colonial biases alongside contemporary governmental and corporate maps and embed history and cultural practice as well as plant and animal life into the geography.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EXALT Reading 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Activism mobilising science - Marta Conde

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14. Zareen Bharucha - Dreaming spaces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19. Extractivism - Diana Vela Almeida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24. Fieldnotes from Extractive Frontiers - by Thea Riofrancos

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

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

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