Calculative Environments: Elia Apostolopoulou

Elia Apostolopoulou, Nature Swapped and Nature Lost: Biodiversity Offsetting and the Contradictions of the Capitalist Production of Nature.

In the face of looming environmental catastrophe, practices of nature conservation, preservation and ecological restoration are increasingly using new systems of measurement and prediction. Each session will consider how such instruments - through competing logics of preservation, conservation, value, and profit - actively shape the environments they seek to protect, with required reading being given out in advance. By reading and discussing the subtleties of how these systems and technologies work, we will work through a range of problems in how everyday distinctions are drawn between nature and culture, human and animal, living and inert.

Join discussions and read about issues of biodiversity, extinction, computation, and ecological finance.

In this session, we will focus on the metrics and valuation techniques that have been used in biodiversity offsetting, a market-based conservation tool that its rapidly expanding across the globe for its promise to allow economic development to proceed while achieving a no net loss, or even a net gain, of biodiversity. We will specifically discuss how offsetting promotes a technomanagerial vision for nature conservation and frames the latter within a ‘ flat world’, where exchanges of ecological losses and gains can be separated from their ecological, cultural, socio-economic and political context.


Due to the limited capacity for this session booking is essential. To book please email Mercè at

The current season is programmed by Theo Reeves-Evison, Birmingham City University.

Elia Apostolopoulou is a political ecologist and her main research interest is the investigation of nature–society relationships in capitalism. She is currently a lecturer in the Department of Geography, in the University of Cambridge. Her research is guided by radical geographical research on the neoliberalization of nature, on the historicalgeographic conception of neoliberalism, on uneven development and the capitalist production of nature and space, as well as by Marxist political economy. At present, her research mainly focuses on neoliberal conservation in post-crisis Europe with an emphasis on free market environmentalism, on the links between biodiversity offsetting and planetary urbanization, and on the exploration of environmental movements in the post-crisis era with an emphasis on the right to the city and how it can be linked to, what she calls, ‘the right to nature’.

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