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Raymond L. Bryant, Ángel Paniagua and Thanasis Kizos

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.