Chapter 2: Reflecting on political ecology
This chapter reflects on the development of political ecology in light of the preparation of this International Handbook as well as more than two decades’ involvement in the research field. While noting that no international history of it has yet been written, I suggest that this task is being pursued in an incremental manner by scholars around the world today, and illustrate this point with reference to chapters in this handbook that, on the one hand, survey various academic cultures of political ecology and, on the other hand, probe key theoretical issues and debates that both divide and unite scholars in the field. There is also a growing number of textbooks involved in political ecology making. All these efforts speak to an endless conversation in the research field that I thereafter explore in two ways. First, I consider the changing nature of the political ecology community, the ‘gaining of voice’, as the field has expanded over space while becoming a more ‘representative’ group of scholars as notably women and ethnic minorities increasingly come to the fore, even as it has sought to reach across disciplines as well as to scholars who devote more or less of their time to political ecology research. Second, I consider the changing nature of research in that community, the ‘giving of voice’, as a wider array of research concerns animate the field: a larger mix of research topics, framed by a growing assortment of theories and concepts, explored via a mixture of methods, usually focused via a concern to link research as well as teaching and engagement to the promotion of greater social and ecological justice in the world. This involves much struggle both within and without academia but is part-and-parcel of the life of the political ecologist today.
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