This chapter makes a case for Antonio Gramsci’s philosophy of praxis as a key resource within political ecological debates. This case is constructed through drawing on recent contributions to what might be termed a Gramscian political ecology as well as Gramsci’s own writings and a number of important recent contributions to Gramscian debates from outside of the subfield of political ecology. After a brief introduction, the chapter then reviews past and present work in political ecology that has engaged with Gramsci’s approach. In so doing, the chapter seeks to demonstrate how Gramscian contributions open up new terrains for future research within the subfield of political ecology, at the same time as providing a particularly resilient foundation on which to ground it. Rather than representing a faddish turn, the chapter argues that engaging with Gramsci helps to ground studies of the politicized environment within a non-reductionist historical materialism that attends to the many determinations of environmental concerns. As with other contributions to this collection, my approach to political ecology is not limited to the production of environmental knowledge within the global North, but is rather shaped in a relationship of dialectical pedagogy with a range of conceptions of the world.
Alex Loftus and Hug March
In this chapter we explore the encounter between finance and desalination using the case of Britain's first experiment in desalination technologies, the Thames Water Desalination Plant (TWDP), inaugurated in 2011. On the surface, the plant appears to be a classic example of the successes of normative industrial ecology, in which sustainability challenges have been met with forward-thinking green innovations. However, the TWDP is utterly dependent on a byzantine financial model, which has shaped Thames Water's investment strategy over the last decade. Understanding the development of the TWDP requires a focus on the scalar interactions between flows of finance and water that are woven through the hydrosocial cycle of London.