Reflections from the Dimensions of Political Ecology (DOPE) conference, one of the biggest annual gatherings in the field.
This February, six of us from the ENTITLE network presented our work at the DOPE (Dimensions of Political Ecology) conference held at Kentucky University, Lexington. Creighton Connolly and myself organised a session on “Perceptions of Urban Environmental Health: Narrating Political Ecologies of Disease”, where eight panellists presented topics that ranged from perceptions on autism, homelessness, human waste and hygiene, to concepts of politicisation, agential realism and empowerment.
Assisting and enriching our panel conversations, were two invited discussants: Prof. Richard Schein and Dr. Jake Kosek. After three days of stimulating conference talks and interactions, my thoughts gather particularly around the contributions that they made, not only to our panel but also to the wider DOPE event.
Constructed landscapes and historical reminders
Professor Richard Schein is a cultural and historical geographer at the University of Kentucky. He is also a bourbon expert. During our tour to a distillery about 25 km northwest of Lexington, Prof. Schein shared some stories of rural transformation in this part of the Appalachian landscape. As soon as the bus crossed the city borders, the view from the foggy windows emptied. No more industry, no tall buildings, not many cars, no people. Soon between the snow and the naked trees, there were farmhouses on smoothly curved, fenced hills. In spring, these hills are covered with the famous blue grass, from which the American roots/country music got its name (though, if you ask me, it’s the African-American jazz influence that gave bluegrass its soul).