Eco-environmental Perspectives in Iberian Cultural Studies

Encounter with Jaume Franquesa and Iñaki Prádanos

Tuesday, 18 June 2024 - 5pm

Free, until full capacity is reached, with prior registration via email by writing to, until 17 June, stating personal details (name and surname)

Nouvel Building, Floor 5, Study Centre, Classroom 2
35 people
Ángel Alonso, Charbon [Carbón], 1964. Museo Reina Sofía
Ángel Alonso, Charbon [Carbón], 1964. Museo Reina Sofía

This encounter, organised inside the framework of the Critical Ecologies Seminar from Connective Tissue, the Museo Reina Sofía’s Study Programme, sets out two sessions centred on incorporating environmental perspectives into the field of cultural studies, with an emphasis on situated research in an Iberian context. As a result Germán Labrador and Jaime Vindel will engage in conversation with researchers Jaume Franquesa and Iñaki Prádanos.


5pm - 6:45pm
Iberian Cultural Studies and Ecologies
Encounter with Iñaki Prádanos

—Moderated by Germán Labrador and Jaime Vindel

Over recent decades in cultural studies, analytical capacities have been expanded by incorporating an environmental gaze. The question around the material limits that exist in any context of cultural production — energy, resources, processes, environmental circumstances, food chains, bio-mechanical limits — represents a radical “grounding” to approach culture from critique, not idealism. Equally, it raises the question around forms of sociopolitical imagination based on multispecies interdependency and thus an understanding of the history of modernity is unearthed as a history of the voracious exploitation of ecosystems allowing the critique of capitalism to be related to environmental destruction.

The assimilation of this perspective in an Iberian context is still in its infancy. In recent years, work has been carried out on the environmental foundations of Francoist developmentalism and on contemporary cultural proposals related to the twenty-first century’s eco-social crises. Nevertheless, an overall perspective is still lacking to understand the long-term logics that organise the extractive management of bodies and territories in the peninsula, stretching from the appearance of Iberian empires to the present. In this first part of the encounter, moderated by Adrián Almazán and Germán Labrador, Iñaki Prádanos will contribute to the discussion by drawing on the findings of his recent book A Companion to Spanish Environmental Cultural Studies (Tamesis Books, 2023).

7pm - 8:45pm
Environmental Transition or Plundering?
Encounter with Jaume Franquesa

—Moderated by Adrián Almazán

This session analyses, from a situated perspective, the problem of energy transition, drawing from Jaume Franquesa’s book Molinos y gigantes. La lucha por la dignidad, la soberanía energética y la transición ecológica (Turbines and Giants. The Struggle for Dignity, Energy Sovereignty and Ecological Transition, Errata naturae, 2023). Therefore, the focus will be on the conclusions of ethnographic research in a region in southern Tarragona, where nuclear plants and renewable infrastructures have been implemented from the period of the Transition to democracy to the present-day context of environmental emergency. These energy facilities have brought about social and cultural transformation in the area, threatening the survival of a popular moral economy based on smallholdings.

From this critical approach to the effects of energy transition (more relevant than it would appear in view of the continued reliance on fossil fuels) on this peripheral sphere in Catalonia, questions under discussion are: To what degree is it possible to establish lines of continuity in the narratives of energy extraction that link the boom of nuclear power plants with the current renewable energy bubble? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the positions that identify an expression of internal colonialism in the deployment of solar and wind energy? What can anthropology contribute to our energy studies and why is it necessary? To what extent can reflections around the moral economy of the rural environment in a region such as the one studied by Franquesa form a starting point to reflect upon the possible alternatives to the current “energy transition”?


Adrián Almazán mobilises the Critical Ecologies Seminar from Connective Tissue, the Museo Reina Sofía’s Study Programme.

Jaume Franquesa holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the Universitat de Barcelona and since 2011 has worked as a professor and researcher in the Department of Anthropology at the University at Buffalo, New York. His concerns are centred on political ecology from a strand that encompasses ethnographic analysis in a historical perspective tied to social struggles. He is the author of Urbanismo neoliberal, negocio inmobiliario y vida vecinal (Icaria Editorial, 2013) and Molinos y gigantes. La lucha por la dignidad, la soberanía energética y la transición ecológica (Errata naturae, 2023), and has contributed to different collective volumes and has published numerous articles in salient journals such as Current Anthropology, Antipode and Dialectical Anthropology. Furthermore, between 2013 and 2015 he was executive secretary of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe.

Germán Labrador is a professor at Princeton University and an expert in Iberian cultural studies. He has also served as the director of the Public Activities Department of the Museo Reina Sofía, where he currently coordinates the Study Centre’s Connective Tissue programme.

Iñaki Prádanos is a professor of Hispanic Cultural Studies at Miami University. His research includes eco-critical theory, environmental humanities, degrowth, political ecology and counterhegemonic culture. He is the author of Postgrowth Imaginaries: New Ecologies and Counterhegemonic Culture in Post-2008 Spain (Liverpool University Press, 2018), and in recent years he has edited special issues on eco-critical theory and environmental humanities in specialist journals, most notably “Ecocrítica ibérica contemporánea” (Letras Hispanas, 2017), “Humanidades ambientales: ecocrítica y descolonización cultural” (Revista de Teoría de la Literatura y Literatura Comparada, 2019) and “Ecología y estudios culturales ibéricos en el siglo XXI” (Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies, 2019). 

Jaime Vindel mobilises the Critical Ecologies Seminar from Connective Tissue, the Museo Reina Sofía’s Study Programme. Ecologías críticas de Tejidos conjuntivos, el Programa de Estudios Propios del Museo Reina Sofía.