Political Ecology

ecolpol

Political Ecology deals with the political dimension of environmental issues and unveils the way in which power relations are manifested in socio-natural processes. This approach focuses on the access, use, management and distribution of environmental goods and bads, stressing who wins and who loses from ecological and territorial transformations, and which concepts and conceptions of nature and the environment are upheld by the different agents. Therefore, Political Ecology targets power relations and forms of domination between human beings, and between human and non-human nature (which generate different expressions of injustice and exclusion, and various levels of degradation, exploitation, destruction, dispossession and occupation), and helps us understand the ecologies and natures that are constantly being constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed by human and non-human action. Political Ecology draws on the science of ecology. This teaches us that everything is interconnected, that humans are part of nature, and that nature is autonomous and has its own ends (highlighting that nature does not exist to be dominated and exploited by humans).

Political Ecology underscores that:

  • Human and non-human nature are interconnected, both at the ontological level and in a more practical and relational way
  • Relationships between human and non-human nature are eminently political
  • What we define as nature or the environment is influenced by political processes and power relations

 

From Recartographies, we aim at transcending conservationism and its main focus on human impacts and the solution of environmental problems such as the destruction of cultural landscapes, resource scarcity or contamination, without confronting what creates them. This explains the importance of Political Ecology in our work, since this perspective seeks to assess the causes of environmental problems and finds them in social, economic and political structures, and in certain lifestyles. Although there are many political ecologies, the critical and emancipatory Political Ecology that we uphold believes that socio-environmental problems cannot be solved within the current political and economic arrangements, since these arrangements are to be found at the roots of most problems. Consequently, besides being an analytical framework to develop a critique of the current system and the multiple inequalities and hierarchies that it triggers, Political Ecology seeks to change social, economic and democratic models. The alternative practices advanced by political ecologists are very diverse; however, they share the defense of non-authoritarian, egalitarian, and socially, environmentally and ecologically just socio-natural relations.

In our view, Political Ecology is not simply a theoretical body of knowledge or an academic field. In addition, it is a series of principles inspiring social and environmental movements, and a way of being in the world. In this sense, Political Ecology not only informs the analytical perspective of our work as researchers and lecturers but also our individual and collective engagement with political and social activism. Hence, it is our explicit will to be a research-action group.

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