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Transition Friction in the Ecuadorian Amazon: A Green Economy Ethnography


The dominant framing of humanity’s current predicament emphasizes ‘planetary limits’ and impending environmental collapse, with ‘green economy’ strategies as a necessary response. Initiatives for transitions to ‘green’ production and consumption patterns are emerging and multiplying, at different scales and all over the world. The visions of ‘sustainability’ underpinning these initiatives are diverse, and their heterogeneous socio-ecological effects raise urgent questions of justice. With a focus on the power dynamics and inequalities of green transition initiatives, TRANSITION-FRICTION will cross-fertilise three literatures – political ecology, transition studies and ethnographies of global connections.

Using ethnographic methods and discourse analysis, the project will study a novel university in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, explicitly conceived as a catalyst for the country’s transition away from extraction and export of oil and other sub-soil resources, towards a ‘green and sustainable economy’. With its 93,000 hectare ‘living laboratory’, Ikiam University is a site of ‘friction’: between the forest and the urban, between indigenous and industrial science, between conservation and extractivism, between commons and the market. Such friction is not only conflictual, it is also ‘interconnection across difference’, productive of new relations and interactions. In analysing these new socio-ecological relations and interactions in one of the world’s poorest, most biodiverse regions, the project will develop an original conceptual framework and methodological approach for the analysis of green economy transition initiatives and their uneven effects in the Amazon and elsewhere.


Net EU contribution
€ 195 454,80
Oxford Road
M13 9PL Manchester
United Kingdom

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North West (England) Greater Manchester Manchester
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00