Wed Jan 28: Karen Bakker, “The Politics of Panarchy,” Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, UBC

Please join us for the second talk of the semester in the Oecologies Speaker Series at Green College, at UBC:

Dr. Karen Bakker 
(Department of Geography, University of British Columbia)
“The Politics of Panarchy”
5-6:30pm, Wed Jan 28, Coach House, Green College, UBC

KarenOE.Summary: Resilience has emerged as one of the key concepts in contemporary sustainability debates. The rapidly growing appeal of the concept of resilience across a broad range of disciplines has overshadowed the concept of “panarchy,” a cognate framework developed by ecologist Buzz Holling (then at UBC) and collaborators from the 1970s onwards. Holling seeks to provide an alternative explanatory framework for the source, pathways, and roles of change and adaptation in socionatural systems. Notably, in collaborating with a broad range of natural and social (notably political) scientists, Holling emphasizes the mutual constitutiveness of social and environmental change, an understanding of which (he argues) demands a radical reformation of governance. After presenting a genealogy of the concept of panarchy, I address the (sometimes strange) synergies between panarchy, panarchism, and post-humanism, including concepts such as non-dualism, agency, and relationality. Holling’s approach to panarchy is often depicted as a radical departure from other, notably nineteenth-century notions of “panarchism” (largely framed as expressions of anarchist or libertarian political governance). Indeed, “panarchy” is often depicted (and criticized) as an apolitical–perhaps even post-political–concept. Yet the concept of panarchy is ripe with potential political possibilities (both progressive and regressive). I conclude with a discussion of the potential relevance of a renovated and expanded concept of panarchy for our engagement with environmental politics.

All those attending talks in this series are invited to stay for dinner at Green College with the speaker. Those interested in attending dinner are asked to make a reservation at least by noon the business day before. Contact 604-822-8660 or visit the Green College website for details.

“Oecologies: Histories of Sustainability” is a Speaker Series sponsored by Green College that gathers scholars from the humanities living and working along the North American Pacific coast to investigate the idea of “oecology,” an older spelling of the modern concept “ecology.” For event details, abstracts, and speaker information, please visit or view the event poster. Also follow us on Twitter (@Oecologies) and “Like” us on Facebook (! If you have other questions about Oecologies, please do not hesitate to contact me ( or our assistant, Sarah Crover (


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