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
state in southeastern Turkey. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 32(1), 25–39.
Harris, L. M. (2017). Political ecologies of the state: Recent interventions and questions going
forward. Political Geography, 58, 90–92.
Parenti, C. (2015). The 2013 ANTIPODE AAG lecture: The environment making state:
Territory, nature, and value. Antipode, 47(4), 829–848.
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
field. In K. R. Cox, M. Low, & J. Robinson (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of political geography (pp. 205–218). Los Angeles; London; New Delhi; Singapore: SAGE Publications.
Robertson, M. (2015). Environmental governance: Political ecology and the state. In T.
Perreault, G. Bridge, & J. McCarthy (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of political
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Sundberg, J. (2011). Diabolic caminos in the desert and cat fights on the río: A posthumanist
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|Presenter||Meredith DeBoom*, University of Colorado at Boulder, Nuclear Geopolitical Ecologies: A Hybrid Geography of Chinese Investment in Namibia’s Uranium Sector||20||12:40 PM|
|Presenter||Jared Margulies*, University of Sheffield, Making the “man-eater”: the role of the state in producing violent multispecies environments||20||1:00 PM|
|Presenter||Kevin Surprise*, Mount Holyoke College, Preemption, anti-fragility, and Grand Strategy: The geopolitics of solar geoengineering||20||1:20 PM|
|Presenter||Stepha Velednitsky*, University of Wisconsin - Madison, From "Greening the Desert" to Green Technology: Neoliberalism and the New Meanings of Water in Israel/Palestine||20||1:40 PM|
|Discussant||Alex Loftus King's College London||20||2:00 PM|
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