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Ecologies of Labour, Symposium and Workshop

Thursday 15 - Friday 16 June, Nottingham Trent University, UK

Keynote: Professor Gustavo García-López, Centre for Social Studies and Ecology & Society Workshop, University of Coimbra

Hosted by:  

Nottingham Trent University Centre for Policy, Citizenship and Society

Political Studies Association Environmental Politics Specialist Group

JK Lakshmipat University Centre for Communication & Critical Thinking

Tata Institute of Social Sciences

About the event

Sustainable growing

This event addresses the urgent crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and the wider problematic of human-environment relations, by focusing on labour – defined as those behaviours, some waged and some unwaged, by which humans interact with their environment to meet their needs. Despite extensive evidence that human activities have produced an ecological and environmental crisis, and the central role of labour within human-environment interactions, responses to this crisis by western academia and policy-makers have largely been limited to consumption and, within production, to outputs, processes and materials. The diverse sources of knowledge on this topic, the inherently international character of both the ecological crisis and labour relations, and the challenges involved in translating and mainstreaming insights gleaned from diverse international sources calls for an international dialogue to which this event seeks to contribute.

Critical social theorists have linked the negative impact of contemporary human societies on nature with relations of domination, between individuals and groups and between humans and other parts of nature, accompanied by a high degree of alienation of humans from themselves, from one another, and from their environment. Many examples exist of more connected forms of labour, which express an underlying principle of humans moving with other parts of nature in a mutually nourishing way, or what some call ecological labour, as a more sustainable, even regenerative, alternative to the principle of domination. For example, ecological labour is prevalent in many indigenous knowledges and practices, and in the permaculture movement. Yet, such approaches are highly diverse, poorly understood within mainstream western society, rarely enter into discussions about how to respond to the environmental crisis in the UK, and in many cases are being placed under serious threat by the combined forces of globalisation and climate change, and as a result are adapting and developing new forms of resilience. In many cases, ecological labour takes a hybrid form in which multiple cultural traditions combine in unexpected ways. Part of the strength of these approaches lies in their depth of knowledge about the ecology of particular places, and their culturally embedded processes of knowledge transmission and adaptation across generations. Bringing insights from such approaches therefore calls for a demanding process of translation – in multiple senses – and an openness to hybridity.

The first day of this event will showcase existing work within this community through presentations of papers, as a basis for deepening connections between the work of different colleagues, while the second day will deliver a workshop to produce new proposals for collaborative work. The event will be accompanied by cultural activities.

The symposium and workshop will take place at Nottingham Trent University in the city of Nottingham, England. We strongly encourage all participants who can do so to attend in person because we believe this will make for a much richer discussion and afford many more vital opportunities for informal discussion around the formal sessions. However, we also recognise the many and varied barriers that might prevent this, and so we are running.

For any enquiries, contact

We invite papers that address any of the following themes:

  • The role of labour in shaping human-society-nature relations
  • Relationships between alienation/connection between people and alienation/connection between people and other parts of nature
  • The role of place and space in ecological labour
  • Ecological ethics of labour
  • Cultural practices as transmitters of human-nature relations and the implications for labour
  • Structural factors that constrain, disrupt or enable ecological labour
  • Capital-labour relations from an ecological perspective
  • Contemporary Institutions such as nation states, transnational organisations and corporations shaping labouring practices and the implications for ecology
  • Alternative visions for the future of ecological labour
  • Collective action for ecological labour
  • Alliances to develop, defend and sustain ecological labour
  • Migration, translation and hybridity of ecological labour knowledges and practices
  • Methodologies for investigating ecological labour

Deadline for submission of abstracts: Friday 7th April 2023

Decisions: Friday 28th April 2023

Full papers due: Friday 26th May 2023

Submit abstracts of up to 250 words to

Registration is free but in person places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

Deadline for registration: Friday 26th May 2023

Register for in person attendance in Nottingham, UK:

Register for online attendance:

For those attending in person, we are able to offer a limited number of bursaries toward travel and accommodation, up to £500 each for participants travelling from outside the UK, and up to £100 each for participants travelling from within the UK. To apply for a bursary please email

Contact us

For any enquiries, contact