The University of Arizona

Left Coast Political Ecology: a manifesto

Ashton Wesner, Sophie Sapp Moore, Jeff Vance Martin, Gabi Kirk, Laura Dev, Ingrid Behrsin


Left Coast Political Ecology (LCPE) is a network of undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral scholars and faculty engaged in a collective practice of political ecology grounded in strong connection to the "Left Coast" of North America. In this manifesto, we build on successful 2015 and 2018 workshops on the practice and value of political ecology today to communicate our origins, efforts, and ideas towards building a community of praxis amid the urgencies and uncertainties of our time. We first articulate those organizing and theoretical lineages that influence and inform our work. We trace the evolution of LCPE through diverse genealogies and cross-pollinations – from the "Berkeley School" to Black, Indigenous, feminist, and decolonial studies, through political struggles within and beyond the academy. In grappling with the challenges of our institutional histories of settler-colonial, capitalist, and racist dispossession, we then propose a "coastal epistemology", one that troubles the notion of a settler-colonial or neoliberal "frontier" while finding value in encounter, conversation, and emergence. We seek to make transparent our positions of relative privilege as well as the precarious contexts in which we work and live, while mobilizing and embodying political ecology's long-standing normative and liberatory aims. Next we share some of the diverse methodological approaches employed by our members and collective, with the aim of providing inspiration and solidarity to others contending with similar challenges. Ultimately, we suggest a vision for what a political ecology adequate to our moment might look like and require: a necessarily collective and hopeful project, amid processes of colonial violence, capitalist inequity, and climate catastrophe. The Left Coast Political Ecology network invites you to dream and organize with us, to share resources, experiences, and community, and to help push our field and our institutions toward more socially just and ecologically sustainable futures.

Keywords: Coastal epistemology, Left Coast, network, radical geography, praxis, West Coast

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