Political ecology essays
London : Hodder Arnold.
Gezon , and M. Locating the political in political ecology: An introduction. Organization 62 : — Political ecology: A critical introduction. Malden , MA : Blackwell. Political ecology. In A companion to economic geography , eds. Sheppard and T. Barnes , — Oxford , UK : Blackwell. For the Canadian Supreme Court's judgment, see www. See, e. Being constructive: Social constructionism and the environment. Sociology 33 : — Social construction of nature. London : Routledge. For an inspiring study of recent changes in cultural perceptions of forests in Costa Rica, see Schelhas and Pfeffer Skip to Main Content.
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In saying this, I make clear that I consider that History has a relevant role in the interpretation of societies. Therefore, it should not be surprising that, in my opinion, Latin American political ecology must form a relationship of dialogue and feedback with another area of reflection that has recently been developing in the region—environmental history. It appears, as much a bio-physical reality its flora, fauna, human inhabitants, the biodiversity of its ecosystem as its territorial configuration the sociocultural dynamics that significantly articulates these ecosystems and landscapes , before global hegemonic thought and before dominant elites of the region as a subaltern space, which can be exploited, levelled, and reconfigured according to the necessities of the prevailing regimes of accumulation.
Over the course of five centuries entire ecosystems were levelled by the introduction of monocultures for export. Fauna, flora and humans were all victims of biological invasions of European competitors or diseases. Today it is the turn of hyper-open-cut mining, of soy monocultures and agrofuels with chemical inputs that raze entire environments including humans , of great hydroelectric projects, or of new communication channels in the Amazon, such as the infrastructure of new export cycles. It lays the foundations for a prominent, multi-disciplinary dialogue and the constitution of a non-institutional intellectual collective of work.
The movement results in a greater geo-epistemological importance as it allows for the visualisation of America as the first periphery of the European colonial system, the original hidden side of modernity.
For this critique, the narratives in question, which gave rise to all the epistemological geopolitics of the modern world and, consequently, the genetic womb of the human and social sciences , ignore the significance of the colonial episode as a founding phenomenon of all the historic experience of modernity. For different reasons, which frequently include the bio-physical inability of the non-European races to overcome natural conditioning, the rest of humanity was not capable of reaching this level of civilization, and its destiny was guided and driven by civilized peoples.
Paradoxically, this continuity the geostrategic predominance of certain areas of the planet over the rest of the peripheral regions is further highlighted when the analysis attempts to interpret historically determined periods or processes. Classic colonialism is, in general, excluded as an explanatory factor in these narratives. What attention was dedicated by the founding fathers of sociology, such as the French Durkheim or German Weber, to the colonial empires their countries had formed at the time in Africa?
It is history that usually speaks of colonialism, but treats it as its own particular epoch, that ended with the political independence of the ex-colonies. Another case is the debate about globalisation. In March , during a visit to African countries, the Pope invited the audience to abandon their tribal superstitions and witchcraft and adhere to the universal message of the Church.
Chaterjee says:. This occurs when a normative proposition of supposedly universal validity and many such propositions would be asserted in the centuries separating us from the early Portuguese expeditions is held not to apply to the colony on account of some inherent moral deficiency in the latter. Thus, even as the rights of man could be declared in the revolutionary assemblies of Paris in , the revolt in Saint Domingue now Haiti would be put down on the ground that those rights could not apply to black slaves.
Political Ecology of Bordered Spaces
John Stuart Mill would set forth with great eloquence and precision his arguments establishing representative government as the best possible government, but would immediately add that this did not hold for India. The exception would not detract from the universality of the proposition; on the contrary, by specifying the norm by which universal humaneness was to be recognised, it would strengthen its moral force.
In the case of the Portuguese expedition, the norm was given by religion. Later, it would be supplied by biological theories of racial character or historical theories of civilizational achievement or socio-economic theories of institutional development. In each case, the colony would be made the frontier of the moral universe of normal humanity; beyond it, universal norms could be held in abeyance Spanish: Chatterjee, ; English: Chatterjee, The global-centric perspective recovers the discursive devices of colonialism and proclaims universal modernity as a fatal destiny, prophesied, for example, by Anthony Giddens.
From his perspective, it is no longer an issue of the West, as modernity is everywhere. The triumph of modernity lies precisely in having become universal. Not only is radical alterity expelled forever, expelled from the realm of possibilities, but all cultures and societies in the world are reduced to the manifestation of European history and culture Escobar, b: This perspective includes the social sciences, whose fundamental paradigms, established in the 19th century, comfortably excluded the consideration of those phenomena linked with colonialism, plainly still in force in this era other symptomatic silences were, for example, the topics of gender and nature.
This entails a rewriting of the narratives of modernity from another space, revaluing dominated cultures and peoples and their stories of resistance. Perhaps it would be opportune to outline here, within the theoretical Marxist tradition, that the emergence of the themes of the coloniality of peripheral peoples and nature is present within the rupture made by Rosa Luxemburg. In the notes for her course Introduction to Political Economics, which she dictated in the cadre school of the German Democratic Socialist Party and her book The Accumulation of Capital , written in , she incorporates an ample lesson, unusual in her time and place, about what would later be called the Third World.
Coloniality, says Rosa, is a constituent part of the accumulation of capital, its necessary and foundational obverse. Based on this insight, Rosa questions the analytic model of the capitalist mode of production developed by Marx in Capital , which does not incorporate the colonial subordination of people and nature as a necessary condition for the ample reproduction of this productive regime.
We can see it in her words, in the last page of Chapter 31 in The Accumulation of Capital :. Thus capitalist accumulation as a whole, as an actual historical process, has two different aspects. One concerns the commodity market and the place where surplus value is produced—the factory, the mine, the agricultural estate. Regarded in this light, accumulation is a purely economic process, with its most important phase a transaction between the capitalist and wage labourer.
In both its phases, however, it is confined to the exchange of equivalents and remains within the limits of commodity exchange. The other aspect of the accumulation of capital concerns the relations between capitalism and the non-capitalist modes of production which start making their appearance on the international stage. Its predominant methods are colonial policy, an international loan system—a policy of spheres of interest—and war. Force, fraud, oppression, looting are openly displayed without any attempt at concealment […] The conditions for the reproduction of capital provide the organic link between these two aspects of the accumulation of capital.
The historical career of capitalism can only be appreciated by taking them together Spanish: Luxemburgo, ; English: Luxemburg, For some, such as one of the pioneers of environmental history, Professor Donald Worster from the University of Kansas, this history is an answer to the environmental worry that has been growing in public opinion during recent decades. It is a space for intellectual reflection that offers particularly stimulating multidisciplinary encounters between researchers from the entire region.
This Latin American reflection, at the same time, has interesting international repercussions. In particular, there are many exchanges of perspective with the production of the United States. It was a North American historian, Alfred Crosby who wrote one of the available stories about this assassination. It seems to us that residing in this original trauma is the key question to think about the problem of coloniality of the environment and the under-development of Latin American societies. Another important work, also produced in the United States, is the book Late Victorian Holocuasts by Mike Davis , which is defined specifically as a book about political ecology, analysing the great droughts that affected the tropical regions of the world in the last quarter of the 19th century, sparking great famines and death tolls.
Later, he demonstrates that the effects of these climactic changes were heightened in the tropical region that, at the time, was experiencing the processes of imperial penetration that had disarticulated traditional peasant economies and established the separation of subsistence agricultural production and the orientation toward external markets. As a result, proposes Davis, more than the millions of lives sacrificed, the affected regions were left prostrate, and imperial order was easily imposed on them.
I must say that this definition always makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. In the first place, it seems to separate nature and culture too radically, rendering invisible certain important questions, which Worster does not deny. From this point of view, human action also creates new relations within nature. Secondly, those elements of human ecology also depend on the combined actions between social and natural relations.
The spatial distribution of specimens of a species is part of the ecology of that species.
The big picture – a political ecology comic essay – Undisciplined Environments
Obviously because there had been conquest and slavery. Therefore, the current population of the Americas is not understood, from a biological perspective, without reference to non-natural historical processes. That is to say, the distribution of specimens of the human species throughout the continent an object of human ecology refers to a complex interaction, historically given, between power relations and social domination. The demographic significance of humans of extra-American descent is only explained by the radical process of depopulation of original inhabitants, in which a principal role way played by pathogenic agents of disease, brought over by the Europeans.
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