Working group 3: Sites of despair – sites of care: feminist analyses of global supply chains as transformative practice in development? (Ilona Steiler et al.)


Chairs: Ilona Steiler, University of Tampere (; Marjaana Jauhola, University of Helsinki ( Christian Scheper, University of Duisburg-Essen (


This working group addresses the need to transform global infrastructural formations by exploring the potential of feminist theorizing to reclaim sites of despair as sites of care, with a specific view on global supply chains. The catastrophic and dystopian effects of current global regimes of extraction, production and consumption are increasingly visible. Yet, as Anna Tsing (2020) suggests, there is a constant flow of lives formed at such capitalist ruins, forming multitudes of precariousness and survival that allow imagining the possibility of hope and care while acknowledging the cycles of violence and oppression these extractive systems create.

Following up on the call by feminist political ecologists to engage with political economy through the prism of care and caring (Bauhardt and Harcourt 2018), this working group invites papers and presentations debating if, and how, feminist analyses of global supply chains challenge dominant accounts of global production and consumption and can thus contribute to creating alternative, just and sustainable futures. Care/ing is understood here to consist of dialectical processes through which bodies, the self and social relations are created, sustained and reproduced, amidst solidarity as well as competitiveness. We welcome papers focusing on questions of ecology, economy and labour, gender and intersecting social categories, politics of the everyday, and knowledge production. Papers may address (but are not limited to) the following questions: 

  • What kind of (feminist) ethics of care/ing are needed in development?
  • What forms of care/ing can be found in sites of extraction of commodities and of labour? 
  • How do global flows of resources, labour, and people both enable and require ethics of care/ing?
  • What does a focus on care/ing teach about the commercialisation but also decommodification of nature, social relations and labour?  
  • How can patterns of everyday consumption and their cultural representations be transformed into acts of care/ing?  

The working group is primarily intended for face-to-face participation. For the possibility to participate remotely, please get in contact with the WG chair(s).