Grabbing ‘Green’: Questioning the Green Economy, Toronto, May 17-19, 2013

Grabbing ‘Green’: Questioning the Green Economy

17 May – 19 May 2013
University of Toronto, Canada

Abstracts due: Nov. 7, 2012
Papers due: March 1, 2013


Over the past two decades 'the market' has increasingly been represented as the solution to issues of sustainability and conservation, leading to a reimagining of 'nature'. Market forces are now deeply embedded in the policy, planning and practice, of environmental management and conservation leading to constructs such as ecosystems services (and payments for them), biodiversity derivatives and new conservation finance mechanisms like REDD, REDD+, species banking, and carbon trading. These changes reflect a larger transformation in international environmental governance—one in which the discourse of global ecology has accommodated an ontology of natural capital, culminating in the production of what is taking shape as “The Green Economy.” This “Green Economy” is not a natural or coincidental development, but is contingent upon, and to varying degrees coordinated by, actors drawn together around familiar (UNEP, States, World Bank, etc) and emergent institutions of environmental governance (TEEB, WBCSB, investment companies, etc). While case studies have begun to reveal the social and ecological marginalization associated with the implementation of market mechanisms in particular sites, this conference seeks to explore the more systemic dimensions involved in the production, circulation and consumption of “The Green Economy,” and the neoliberal 'logics' within environmental policy, conservation, development, and business that are mobilizing it.

We seek papers focused on the formation of associations, articulations, alignments, and mechanisms of circulation and implementation that produce the social relations and metrics that markets require to function. We also seek papers that identify the ‘frictions’ that inhibit the production of these social relations. This is not meant to avoid the empirical value of case studies but is an effort to link particular cases to the scalar configurations of power that mobilize and give them shape.


This conference builds on ‘Nature™ Inc.’ held at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague from 30 June – 2 July, 2011 and a number of earlier workshops and conferences that have addressed market engagement with environmental policy and conservation in the context of neoliberal capitalism. In this meeting we want to build dialogue around substantive papers. However, rather than host a conference based only on short presentations, we are encouraging moderated discussion sessions with panels of authors, whose papers have been circulated in advance of the meeting. Panels will consist of 4-5 authors. Half of each session will be dedicated to discussion among the authors, and the remainder will consist of engagement with the audience. There will also be round-table discussions and a poster-session to compliment the panels.

Paper Workshops: panels that will focus on a moderated dialogue around 4 full papers. Papers will be circulated to authors and audience in advance of the sessions so that the session will take the form of a moderated discussion among the authors, opening into a dialogue among the authors and audience. Proposals for complete panels are encouraged.

Presentation Sessions: 90 minutes sessions of four papers. Each presentation will be 15 minutes leaving 30 minutes for audience discussion and dialogue. Proposals for complete panels are welcome, but individual submissions will be accepted, reviewed and organized into sessions.

Round-table Sessions: 90 minutes. Round-table sessions can involve a groups of panelists and are best-suited to address issues that do not necessarily lend themselves well to standard paper or presentation session – e.g., dialogue over innovative methodological practice required to study transnational governance.

Posters: poster sessions will be best suited to the presentation of case study research. Posters will be allotted a regular conference session allowing authors to engage with the audience.

Topics include but are not limited to:

· Accumulation by dispossession, property regimes, and "new" enclosures

· The role of institutions in the production of “The Green Economy”

· Alignment and articulation in environmental governance

· Spatial variations in market relations

· Scales of environmental governance and biodiversity conservation

· Configurations of Transnational Institutional Space

· The green economy and spectacular consumption

· Points of friction in the circulation and implementation of market mechanisms

· Strategies and practices of organizational alignment

· Practices of institutional enrollment and capture

· New conceptualizations of property and waste

· Financialization and performativity in producing markets for nature.

· The production of metrological regimes for ‘natural capital’.


The conference website will be available soon, with more information on registration and online submission of abstracts.

Abstract and panel proposals are due by November 7, 2012. Abstracts can be submitted online at under the “Call for Papers” section. Click on ‘Log In’ in the menu bar. This will prompt you to create an account. After you create an account you will be able to log in, submit abstracts, register, view accepted abstracts, and access the conference program. Abstract submission will open Sept. 16, 2012.

To help us in planning please preregister at:

Conference language is English. Authors will be notified of acceptance by Dec. 7. Complete papers are due by March 1st.

More information can be found on the conference blog and on the Facebook page

The conference is sponsored by:

· Centre for Critical Development Studies, University of Toronto, Scarborough

· The Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, University of Toronto

· Department of Geography, University of Toronto

· Department of Human Geography, University of Toronto, Scarborough.

Conference Organizing Committee:
Ken MacDonald (Chair)
Scott Prudham
Matt Hoffman
Thembela Kepe
Marney Isaac
Ryan Isakson
Neera Singh
Zach Anderson

Advisory Committee
Jun Borras (ISS, Erasmus University)
Bram Buscher (ISS, Erasmus University)
Noel Castree (SERG, Manchester University)
Catherine Corson (Mt Holyoke College)
Ashley Dawson (CUNY Graduate Centre)
Jim Igoe (Dartmouth College)
Melissa Leach (IDS, University of Sussex)
Tania Li (University of Toronto)
Jason W. Moore (Umeå University)
Alejandro Nadal (El Colegio de Mexico)
Nancy Peluso (University of California, Berkeley)
Robin Roth (York University)
Sian Sullivan (Birkbeck College)
Erik Swyngedouw (SERG, Manchester University)
Esther Turnhout (Wageningen University)
Sudha Vasan (Delhi University)
Paige West (Columbia University)
Peter Wilshusen (Bucknell College)
Anna Zalik (York University)