Table of Contents

The International Handbook of Political Ecology

The International Handbook of Political Ecology

Edited by Raymond L. Bryant

The International Handbook features chapters by leading scholars from around the world in a unique collection exploring the multi-disciplinary field of political ecology. This landmark volume canvasses key developments, topics, issues, debates and concepts showcasing how political ecologists today address pressing social and environmental concerns. Introductory chapters provide an overview of political ecology and the Handbook. Remaining chapters examine five broad themes: issues and approaches; governance and power; knowledge and discourse; method and scale; connections and transformations. Across diverse topics and perspectives, these chapters amount to a wide-ranging survey of current research, making the International Handbook an indispensable reference for scholars and students in political ecology.

Chapter 17: Governing people in depopulated areas

Raymond L. Bryant, Ángel Paniagua and Thanasis Kizos

Subjects: environment, environmental politics and policy, environmental sociology, geography, human geography, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


This chapter assesses how far and in what ways the demographic question has been addressed in political ecology, arguing that it played a crucial part in the field’s early development. And yet, apparently tainted by association with neo-Malthusian thinking, the relationship between demographic patterns and human–environmental interaction was never thereafter systematically pursued, as political ecologists focused instead on issues of class, power, the coercive state and globalizing capitalist relations. In contrast, we argue for a return to the demographic question through analysis of the seemingly paradoxical case of depopulated areas. That analysis draws on the concept of shadow landscape, which brings together processes of marginality, scale, socio-nature and cultures of depopulation to explain human–environmental dynamics in those areas marked by the relative absence of people. Two brief examples from Spain and Greece then follow before the conclusion takes stock of how a political ecology of depopulated areas might be further elaborated.

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