Our theme for 2020 is ‘Natures’.

Nature is all around us, but there are many ways of seeing different kinds of ‘natures’, and many efforts to involve it in forms of control or domination. How is talk of crisis shaping nature and people’s views of it? How can colonial forms of knowledge, technology and power be challenged, and what might it mean to decolonize the study of environmental change? What do alternatives look like, and how can we explore, nurture, imagine and live the relationships we might want for the future?

This page collects together a growing list of resources, papers and links on the theme of Natures to inspire thought and action.

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The ‘Natures’ theme is the third in a four-year programme built around research, learning and events. Find out more about our programme.

‘Contested Natures’ Conference

Contested Natures

Contested Natures: Power Politics and Prefiguration is an international conference co-organised by the STEPS Centre and the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN).

It explored plural natures and plural futures as sites of struggle and possibility whilst critically engaging with and ‘unpacking’ multiple and overlapping crises of our times.

The event website now features video recordings from almost all sessions, available to stream online.

event website  Playlist: Keynote session video

Blog: introducing Natures

Kanazawa Oki Nami Ura by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). Source: (cc by 2.0)

Anxiety about ‘nature in crisis’ seems to be everywhere, and ‘planetary’ solutions are on the agenda. This introductory blog post calls for us to look behind the big stories, explore struggles on the ground, and think more deeply about what ‘Nature’ means.

How to respond to Nature in crisis: look beyond the big stories
Amber Huff and Nathan Oxley

Read the blog

Creative responses to Natures

Comic: These Days… Covid, crisis and beyond

A comic and short essay by Tim Zocco based on discussions with the STEPS team. How can a crisis uncover relationships that are hidden or ignored, and point towards possible radical changes?

Read more

Download the comic (PDF)

On extraction and debilitating livelihoods . TAPESTRY collective

Extracting Us

A ‘photovoice’ collection from the TAPESTRY project, with images taken by residents in Uran, a fishing village near Mumbai threatened by construction of a major shipping port and international airport. The images are part of a wider exhibition called Extracting Us.

View the photos



 1 JULY 2020
Rupture: Conceptualising Nature-Society Transformation
Online discussion with Sango Mahanty
Director, Resources & Environment Programme, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

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3 NOVEMBER 2020 at 12-13.30 GMT
Politics of Nature Reading Group
Informal online discussion on Indigenous Climate Change Studies: Indigenizing Futures, Decolonizing the Anthropocene by Kyle White, and Decolonization is not a metaphor by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang.

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25 NOVEMBER 2020 at 12-13.30 GMT
Politics of Nature Reading Group
Informal online discusson on Infrastructural Brutalism: Art and the Necropolitics of Infrastructure by Michael Truscello.

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octopus and man swimming in kelp forest30 NOVEMBER AT 13.00-15.00 GMT
Enchanting Nature: Tentacular storytelling in the Great African Kelp Forest
Online roundtable + Q&A with Pippa Ehrlich, director of the film My Octopus Teacher, and others from the Sea Change Project. Moderated by Amber Huff and Adrian Nel.


11 DECEMBER AT 16.00-17.00 GMT
Politics of Nature Reading Group

Informal online discussion on the Out of the Woods Collective’s book, Hope Against Hope: Writings on Ecological Crisis.

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Project highlights


TAPESTRYThe TAPESTRY project explores transformations in places that are marked by uncertainty, and how people are reimagining their relationships with nature.

TAPESTRY focuses on three ‘patches of transformation’ in India and Bangladesh – vulnerable coastal areas of Mumbai, the Sundarbans and Kutch – where hybrid alliances and innovative practices are reimagining sustainable development and inspiring societal transformation.

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Seeing Conflict at the Margins

Seeing Conflict at the MarginsInvestors are committing unprecedented funds to exploit Africa’s resources: oil and gas, minerals, geothermal, wind, landscapes and wildlife. Many of these are located at the rural margins. How do people in these places ‘see’ and respond to large-scale resource developments? This research project explores experiences in communities in Kenya and Madagascar.

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Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative

ImageThe Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative (ERPI) is focused on the social and political processes in rural spaces that are generating alternatives to regressive, authoritarian politics.

The ERPI aims to provoke debate and action among scholars, activists, practitioners and policymakers from across the world who are concerned about the current situation, and hopeful about alternatives.

Find out more

Recent publications related to Natures

Resource warfare, pacification and the spectacle of ‘green’ development: Logics of violence in engineering extraction in southern Madagascar
Amber Huff and Yvonne Orengo

Beyond Technical Fixes: climate solutions and the great derangement
Nightingale, A. et al

The new politics and geographies of scarcity
Lyla Mehta, Amber Huff and Jeremy Allouche

Accumulation by Restoration: Degradation Neutrality and the Faustian Bargain of Conservation Finance
Amber Huff and Andrea Brock

Other blog posts on Natures

Claiming space: infrastructure, uncertainty and fisherfolk’s livelihoods in Mumbai
Synne Movik and Hans Nicolai Adam

Rediscovering the Water-Food-Energy Nexus
Jeremy Allouche

Wilderness for whom? Negotiating the role of livestock in landscapes
Ian Scoones

Just another drop in the bucket on World Water Day?
Amber Huff

Learning resources

Course: Planetary Boundaries and Resource Politics

A module in our free online course on Pathways to Sustainability. The module explores the concepts of ‘planetary boundaries’ and the ‘Anthropocene’, and how these ideas have been presented in ways that ignore their political and contested nature. It looks at the broader political nature of sustainability, looking specifically at the politics of how resources are managed and governed.

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Resource Politics conference website

Blog posts, conference papers and video from a major symposium hosted by the STEPS Centre in 2015.

Resource Politics website

Video: Resource Politics

A playlist of short interviews with Betsy Hartmann, Rohan D’Souza, Myint Zaw, Michael Watts and Dianne Rocheleau, filmed at our 2015 symposium.

News and updates

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