Geopolitical Ecologies: Nature, States, and Governance
Organizers: Clare Beer (UCLA) & Sara Hughes (Mount Holyoke College)
Three sessions are running under this theme:
Geopolitical Ecologies I: (Re)assessing state-nature relationships (discussant: Leila Harris)
Geopolitical Ecologies II: Geostrategy and statecraft (discussant: Patrick Bigger)
Geopolitical Ecologies III: 'Green' hegemonies (discussant: Alex Loftus)
Sponsored by the Political Geography Specialty Group, Cultural and Political Ecology (CAPE) Specialty Group, Development Geographies Specialty Group, & Middle East and North Africa Specialty Group.
Nature plays a seminal role in the production of political space, yet political geographers have been slow to theorize the non-human world in relation to core disciplinary concepts like borders, power, sovereignty, the state, and territory/territoriality (Ramutsindela, 2017; Robbins, 2008). As a wider consequence, they have overlooked important connections between nature and political society. Political ecologists, meanwhile, mine these connections through a ‘chains of explanation’ methodology linking ecological change to uneven relations of social, economic, and political power. Despite their emphasis on politics, political ecologists have been less explicit about the state itself and why it matters to the non-human world (Robertson, 2015).
This session premises that political geographers excel where political ecologists fall short and vice versa (Robbins, 2003), leaving obvious room for each to draw important insights from the other. We argue that their cross-pollination is not only possible but would produce novel insights into processes of modern statecraft and global environmental change. For political geographers, deeper engagement with nature would expand the kinds of spaces that pertain to the geopolitical register and address how the sovereign state system could better manage global-scale environmental crises. For political ecologists, an encounter with state and/or political-geographic theory would sharpen explanations of environmental problems and render more nuanced pictures of the environmental state. This session builds on recent conversations between and within these subfields (Dalby, 2013; Harris, 2012; Parenti, 2015), and emerging research on the ‘political geography of the environment’ (Benjaminsen et al., 2017) and ‘political ecologies of the state’ (Harris, 2017), to open new space for collaboration.
We mobilize Bigger and Neimark’s (2017) ‘geopolitical ecology’ framework to drive our discussion, but encourage a wider reading of ‘geopolitics’ beyond the military-industrial. In particular, we seek to address the relationship between, on the one hand, environmental governance, sustainability, and climate change policy, and, on the other, geostrategy and statecraft. We are interested in how and why states manage their territorial environments to strategic effect, and the ways in which the material realities of nature complicate or subvert such actions.
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Bigger, P., & Neimark, B. D. (2017). Weaponizing nature: The geopolitical ecology of the U.S.
Navy’s biofuel program. Political Geography, 60, 13–22.
Camargo, A., & Ojeda, D. (2017). Ambivalent desires: State formation and dispossession in
the face of climate crisis. Political Geography, 60, 57–65.
Dalby, S. (2013). The geopolitics of climate change. Political Geography, 37, 38–47.
Harris, L. M. (2012). State as socionatural effect: Variable and emergent geographies of the
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Harris, L. M. (2017). Political ecologies of the state: Recent interventions and questions going
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Ramutsindela, M. (2017). Greening Africa’s borderlands: The symbiotic politics of land and
borders in peace parks. Political Geography, 56, 106–113.
Robbins, P. (2003). Political ecology in political geography. Political Geography, 22, 641–645.
Robbins, P. (2008). The state in political ecology: A postcard to political geography from the
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Perreault, G. Bridge, & J. McCarthy (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of political
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|Presenter||Sara Hughes*, University of California - Los Angeles, “Greenwashing” the Occupation: The role of environmental governance and the discourse of sustainability in sustaining the Israeli occupation of Palestine||20||10:00 AM|
|Presenter||Leigh Johnson*, University of Oregon, Andrew G Mude, International Livestock Research Institute, Nathaniel Duane Jensen, International Livestock Research Institute, Duncan Khalai, International Livestock Research Institute, Market-environmental statecraft in arid borderlands: Securing livestock and populations from drought via the Kenya Livestock Insurance Program||20||10:20 AM|
|Presenter||A. Marie Ranjbar*, Ohio State University, The Desiccation of Lake Orumiyeh: Environmental Rights, Regional Identity, and Geopolitics||20||10:40 AM|
|Presenter||Mark Usher*, University of Manchester, Desali-nation: the co-production of state ontology and water technology in Singapore||20||11:00 AM|
|Discussant||Patrick Bigger Lancaster University||20||11:20 AM|
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