The International Handbook of Political Ecology
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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.
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Chapter 36: Bordering and scalar thickening in nature conservation

Maano Ramutsindela and Christine Noe


Scholarly discussions on ecological scales have yet to fully appreciate bordering processes as an important issue in the creation of conservation spaces and the production of scales. In this chapter we attempt to overcome this weakness by bringing literature on scale into conversation with bordering processes in the context of nature conservation. We suggest that bordering is useful for scalar analyses, and also holds promise for political ecology because nature conservation is essentially a bordering process. Using the notion of scalar thickening, we demonstrate how a certain scale plays a significant role within a dense network of scales in achieving a clearly defined goal. We also pay particular attention to ecological scaling in bordered wildlife management areas and transfrontier conservation areas to illustrate how scalar and border narratives are brought together to promote conservation logics. Our main conclusions are that notions and discourses of borders and scales used in and for conservation projects are mutually reinforcing, and that bordering is highly involved in nature conservation where it effectively creates conditions for the emergence of new spaces by displacing existing (i.e. political) borders. Literature on scale stands to benefit from incorporating the grammar and conceptions of borders that are pertinent to conservation thinking and practices as these have a direct bearing on scale-producing processes. The political ecology of scale and the political ecology of bordering are inseparable in thought and practice, and together they profoundly shape forms of power over natural resources.

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