Materiality at work/The work of materiality - Debating French perspectives on Politics, Ontologies, Ecologies

Materiality at work/The work of materiality - Debating French perspectives on Politics, Ontologies, Ecologies

POE 6th annual workshop


  • Aguiari Irina, Scuola Normale Superiore
  • Asara Viviana, Università di Ferrara
  • Benegiamo Maura, Università di Pisa
  • Bulle Sylvaine, University of Paris and EHESS/CNRS
  • Centemeri Laura, CNRS
  • Cugnata Giuseppe, Scuola Normale Superiore
  • Dal Gobbo Alice, Università di Trento
  • Guillibert Paul, CNRS and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University
  • Leonardi Emanuele, Università di Bologna
  • Meardi Guglielmo, Scuola Normale Superiore
  • Minervini Dario, Università di Napoli Federico II
  • Pellizzoni Luigi, Scuola Normale Superiore
  • Scoi Ivano, Università di Napoli Federico II
  • Torre Salvo, POE
  • Zamponi Lorenzo, Scuola Normale Superiore

Political ecology is a field characterized by a plurality of interests and disciplinary perspectives, whose common thread is a critical stance toward the way the relationship between human societies and the biophysical sphere – nature, the planet, other-than-human entities and communities, or any other name or definition one may prefer to use – has been evolving over modernity, and its current state. Political ecology distances itself from mainstream apolitical approaches to the ecological crisis, with their disregard for injustices and inequalities, extractivism and exploitation, racism, gender and colonial relations.

Since its beginning POE has been committed to addressing the latest developments of these issues, as characterized by a marked shift towards ‘ontological politics’, focusing on why and how the very constitution of reality is today thrown at the centre of power struggles, governmental strategies, science and technology advancements, social mobilizations, and debates within and outside academy. Of particular relevance is the relationship between the dualist western tradition, still pretty much alive and visible in efforts to keep separate peoples and things, social relations and materialities, and the overcoming of ontological dualisms that new governmental styles and social mobilizations seem to pursue alike, albeit with opposite purposes. Topics such as value, care, limits, experimental practices and extractivism have been addressed from this vantage point in the past editions of the workshop (

The field of political ecology is complex not only for its substantive plurality but for the national trajectories that characterise its genealogy. The story, timing and salient features of political ecology have been affected by the different political, social and academic environments in which it has developed in different countries, with ensuing variety in salience of topics, reference literatures and so on. Though of course there have been and there are venues for reciprocal acquaintance and confrontation, these are still far from being frequent and thorough enough. This cannot but affect the maturation and advancement of the field. What better framework for starting to fill this gap than POE? This year’s workshop is dedicated to debating French perspectives on political ecology and ontologies. A first session will be devoted to outlining the evolution of political ecology in France, with a comparison with Italy prompted by the recent publication of the first Italian textbook in political ecology.

Speakers belong to the POE research group. Laura Centemeri, a sociologist from EHESS/CNRS, boast a research experience in both France and Italy which offers her an invaluable vantage point. Salvo Torre, a geographer from Catania University, brings a deep knowledge of the field which allows him to suitably contextualise the Italian debate in the international one. Luigi Pellizzoni, a sociologist from Scuola Normale Superiore, is coordinator of POE and editor of the new textbook, of which he will outline the rationale and contents.

The second and third sessions address two key areas of current French political ecology. Session two is focused on the issue of capitalism and nature. Paul Guillibert, researcher in environmental philosophy at CNRS and Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne university with a focus on Marxist political ecology, will elaborate on his recent writings, with special reference to the books Terre et capital. Pour un communisme du vivant (2021) and Exploiter les vivants. Une écologie politique du travail (2023). Session three is devoted to more than human struggles. Sylvaine Bulle, professor of sociology at the University of Paris and researcher at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Politique (LAP-EHESS-CNRS), will address the role of pragmatism and neomaterialism in ecological struggles, building on her studies on everyday practices of resistance and environmental mobilizations, such as the Notre-Dame-des-Landes one, addressed inter alia in the book Irréductibles. Enquête sur des milieux de vie (2022). A parterre of brilliant chairs and discussants, belonging to different generations of scholars and interested in political ecology from a variety of perspectives, will comment and introduce the discussion which, as per POE tradition, is meant to be fully open and with plenty of space available.


Thursday 30 November

15:30-18:30 Session 1
Political Ecology in France: an overview and a comparison with Italy

Introduction to the workshop
Luigi Pellizzoni (Scuola Normale Superiore)

Chair: Guglielmo Meardi (Scuola Normale Superiore)

Laura Centemeri (EHESS/CNRS)
Political ecology in France: an overview

Salvo Torre (POE)
Political ecology in Italy: a comparative outline

Luigi Pellizzoni (Scuola Normale Superiore)
Introducing the first Italian textbook in political ecology: Introduzione all’Ecologia Politica (Il Mulino, 2023)


  • Maura Benegiamo (University of Pisa)
  • Sylvaine Bulle (University of Paris and EHESS/CNRS)
  • Paul Guillibert (CNRS and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University)

Friday 1 December

9:30-12:30 Session 2
Capitalism and nature

Chair: Ivano Scotti (University of Naples Federico II)

Paul Guillibert (CNRS and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University)
Exploiting living beings


  • Irina Aguiari (Scuola Normale Superiore)
  • Viviana Asara (University of Ferrara)
  • Emanuele Leonardi (University of Bologna)

15:00-18:00 Session 3
More than human struggles

Chair: Dario Minervini (University of Naples Federico II)

Sylvaine Bulle (University of Paris and EHESS/CNRS)
Renewing naturalism. Pragmatism and neomaterialism in ecological struggles


  • Alice Dal Gobbo (University of Trento)
  • Giuseppe Cugnata (Scuola Normale Superiore)
  • Lorenzo Zamponi (Scuola Normale Superiore)