PLEASE JOIN US FOR THE SCHOOL OF ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES COLLOQUIUM SERIES featuring invited talks by Pavel Graymason and Siobhan Speiran

Date and time

Thursday February 29, 2024
1:00 - 2:30 PM
Goodwin Hall Room 247

A Critical Phenomenology of Green Capitalism by Pavel Graymason

Pavel Graymason photoAbstract

Approaches within what we might think of as green capitalism are supposed to instantiate win-win situations for profit and the planet. However, in many ways, all such efforts presume the universal efficacy of imposing a capitalist economic model onto the socio-ecological. So, the inevitable result is that environmental sustainability is often deemed possible only if it is good for business first. As such, we might not only ask why we are trying to make saving the planet good for business but, further, why it seems easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. I suggest that ecophenomenology can help inform an eco-Marxist understanding of both the specific historical project of capitalism and how green capitalism continues to colour and enframe our sense of relationality to the more-than-just-human Earth.


Pavel Graymason is a PhD Candidate with the School of Environmental Studies at Queen’s University. He returned to academia mid-career after serving as the Executive Director of Sustainable Kingston, Sustainability Coordinator for the University of Toronto, and Sustainability Engagement Coordinator for York University. He is especially interested in post-capitalism, degrowth, and ecophenomenology.

Primates in Proximity: The Lives of Monkeys in Costa Rican Sanctuaries by Siobhan I. Speiran, Ph.D.

Siobhan SpeiranAbstract

The stakes for animals in the wildlife tourism industry have never been higher; the expansive, profitable market serves those who desire closeness to nature while leading to a mass of multispecies suffering. With an interdisciplinary approach, my research adds to growing scholarship about the lives of animals in the tourism industry. I illustrate how tourism activities impact the conservation-welfare nexus, which can undermine sustainability. Unfortunately, there is little discussion of this nexus in tourism research and practice, largely due to a lack of evidence-based research and literacy about wild animal welfare. To address this gap, I focus on wild animal interests, welfare, and sanctuaries as potential sustainable tourism sites through a case study of the lives of monkeys in Costa Rican wildlife sanctuaries. My mixed-method, socio-ecological approach involved fieldwork at eight sanctuaries around the country in 2019, during which I implemented a non-invasive, field-based, transdisciplinary Conservation Welfare Assessment Framework at three focal sanctuaries– designed to evaluate and ultimately improve the welfare and conservation outcomes of involved primates. Though more empirical research is needed, my findings support the supposition that– when buttressed by ethics of care, sustainability, and justice for animals– wildlife sanctuaries have the potential to offer kinder, more ethical forms of tourism. 


Siobhan Speiran is a postdoctoral visitor in The Lives of Animals Research Group at York University (Faculty of Urban & Environmental Change). A wild animal welfare scholar and animal geographer, she conducts transdisciplinary research at the intersection of animal welfare, conservation, and sustainable tourism. Her research explores the lives and labour of monkeys in Costa Rican wildlife sanctuaries with respect to their care and conservation. She disseminates her work through journalistic and social media (@theanimalwelfarist), including the Costa Rican Monkey Interest Group she established while conducting her Ph.D. research– generously funded by the SSHRC Bombardier Doctoral Scholarship at Queen’s University.


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