From May 27–29, 2016, 28 scholars and activists convened for the successful Old Maps, New Terrain: Rethinking population in an era of climate change meeting at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, U.S. Meeting participants included an international group from 11 countries (Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Kenya, South Africa, Colombia, Mexico, Canada, the U.K., the Netherlands, and the U.S.). We were 18 scholars from multiple areas (gender studies, geography, feminist political ecology, public health, environmental studies and critical race theory) and 10 activists from a variety of movements (land and water rights, immigrant rights and reproductive, environmental, food and climate justice). The group also included four undergraduate student assistants from Hampshire College, as well as our meeting coordinator.
We organized our inquiry into six in-depth sessions: 1) Old Maps, New Terrain introductions and framework; 2) Mapping the population (control) landscape; 3) The political economy of today’s population control industry; 4) Charting the landscape of climate change and militarized development; 5) Mapping the political landscape of dispossession; and 6) Anticipatory visions for the future. At the start of each session, a panel of participants gave framing remarks and then we together considered the connections and disjunctures they revealed in the current geopolitical terrain. We mapped a broad definition of population control that is both context-specific and localized, and useful in identifying the multiple and replicable ways that neo-Malthusian thinking shapes policy, philanthrocapitalism, scholarship, popular culture and activism. This mapping allowed us to see linkages between issues and movements; made our analysis intersectional and stronger; shifted participants’ relationships to the issues and one another; and allowed us to find important possibilities for connections in our scholarly and activist work moving forward.