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 10: Depoliticized environments and the promises of the Anthropocene

Erik Swyngedouw


Despite heterogeneous epistemological perspectives ranging from Marxism to post-structuralism and beyond, political ecologists share the view not only that the ‘political’ matters in grasping and influencing trajectories of socio-ecological change and transformation, but also that ‘physical’ and ‘biological’ matter politically. This is felt to be particularly acute in an academic and policy environment that tends to ignore or disavow the political conditioning of physical processes. Nonetheless, relatively little attention has been paid to what precisely constitutes the ‘political’ in political ecology, and how it ought to be understood and rendered operational. In this chapter, I argue that there is an urgent need for political ecology to consider the ‘political’ more thoroughly in light of the twin forces of the de-politicization of environmental matters on the one hand and deepening understanding that socio-political processes co-shape geological and ecological processes on the other. I explore the political nature of the environmental conditions we are in, discuss the contours of the process of de-politicization in its current post-politicizing form and attempt to re-center political thought and practices at the heart of political ecology. I propose a series of theoretical tools as well as philosophical debates that political ecology must engage with in order to develop a better grasp of these epoch-making changes.

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