Political Ecology

Political ecology (PE) deals with the interrelations among nature, culture, and power, and politics, broadly speaking. It emerged as a field of study in the 1970s out of the interweaving of several ecologically oriented frameworks and political economy. By bringing these frameworks together, PE aimed to work through their respective weaknesses, namely, human and cultural ecology’s lack of attention to power and political economy’s undeveloped conceptualization of nature. Too mired still in structural and dualist ways of thinking, this “first-generation political ecology” (Biersack 2006) gave way over the past two decades to what could be termed a “second-generation” political ecology, variously informed by those theoretical trends marked as “post-” (poststructuralism, post-Marxism, postcolonialism). This second-generation PE has been a vibrant space of inquiry drawing on many disciplines and bodies of theory. What distinguishes it from its predecessor is its engagement with the epistemological debates fostered by constructivism and anti-essentialism. Although very provisionally, given the newness of the trends in question, it could be said that a third-generation political ecology has been in ascension over the past five to ten years. With roots in the second generation, this emerging PE also draws from the most recent academic debates on postrepresentational epistemologies and...

This essay may be found on page 164 of the printed volume.

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