Session II: Visions and ways forward for the post-pandemic future

Speakers: Maria Fernanda Gebara (Research activist and social anthropologist), Mary Menton (Research Fellow, University of Sussex), and Mathew Bukhi Mabele (Postdoc and Lecturer, University of Dodoma)
Moderator: Sabaheta Ramcilovik-Suominen (Associate Research Professor (Jan. 2021-) and Academy of Finland Research Fellow, Natural Resources Institute Finland)

In this panel we will discuss the interlinked and rapid socio-ecological and human health related challenges, both as socio-ecological crises and as opportunities for transformative changes. The panelists will focus on three related topics, including: 1. Rethinking of human-nature relations: Indigenous ontologies and new becomings; 2. Just Transformations and Intersectional Decolonial Environmental Justice; and 3. Conviviality in the context of post-COVID and post-growth conservation. We will discuss the need to tackle global power asymmetries, redistribution of economic and political power, as well as the limitations of western epistemologies in articulating framings and theories of environmental justice and human-nature relations. Finally, as scholars predominantly based in the ‘Global North’, we will (self-)reflect on the injustices and barriers related to the lack of engagement with the marginalized voices of both activists and scholars from the ‘Global South’ in our policy and academic debates surrounding justice and transformations to post-COVID worlds. At a more general level, we will deliberate about the needs for and possible implications of turning away from human-nature dualisms that are prevalent in modern cultures and society. 

Each panelist will present their views on the topic in 10 minute talk, after which they will reflect on each other’s ideas and works, including a couple of questions posed by the panel facilitator. During the session, the facilitator will collect questions from the audience, which will be addressed in an open 30-45 minutes discussion.

Going from broader to narrower, Dr. Maria Fernanda Gebara as the first panelist will focus on the Amazon and Indigenous ontologies and how those ontologies could help in changing anthropocentric attitudes and transformations for a post-COVID-19 and a more equal world. She will discuss the importance of, and prospects for co-producing knowledge and practices, where greater political space is to be given to Indigenous knowledges and practices, as a way of overcoming the current socio-ecological crises.

Dr. Mary Menton will discuss the issues of justice, just transformations and just sustainability, including the potentials and prospects for sustainable degrowth and intersectional decolonial environmental justices. She will discuss the importance of the approaches to environmental justice that recognise the indispensability of both humans and non-humans, an issue that became ever more relevant with accelerated and amplified conflicts and injustices brought about by the pandemic.

Finally, drawing on similar logics and strands of literature, but taking a clearer critical political ecology perspective, Dr. Mathew Bukhi Mabele will elaborate how moving away from ‘people versus nature’ dichotomy and building a more just transformative practice work in the context of post-COVID and post-growth conservation. He will cover the fundamental principles associated with such types of conservation, including conviviality, plurality, decoloniality and social justice, and will try to show how they interact and come to life in a proposal for convivial conservation.

Moderator: Sabaheta Ramcilovic-Suominen, Associate Research Professor (Jan. 2021-) and Academy of Finland Research Fellow, Natural Resources Institute Finland. 


Dr. Maria Fernanda Gebara is a social anthropologist who spent the past decade working with different traditional communities in the Brazilian Amazon. Fernanda’s research focus on the challenges of changing anthropocentric attitudes from diverse perspectives investigating local practices, traditional knowledge, policies, networks and media to understand alternative configurations between human and other than human beings.

Dr. Mary Menton is a Research Fellow in Environmental Justice with the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme, University of SussexHer research explores atmospheres of violence vis a vis the intersection of multi-dimensional violences and injustices surrounding development.  

Dr. Mathew Bukhi Mabele is a conservation social scientist, working in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Dodoma in Tanzania. Applying a critical political ecology lens, he explores politics over framings of concepts such as conservation, Anthropocene, environmental degradation, and the resulting consequences for day-to-day resource governance and social justice in the miombo woodlands and related ecosystems in Tanzania