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 15: Gender, group behavior and community forestry in South Asia

Bina Agarwal


In large parts of the world, the 1990s saw a major shift in state policy towards forest governance, from solely state management of forests to co-management with local communities. Rural communities, however, are far from homogeneous units. They are usually characterized by unequal power relations, predicated especially on class and gender. Hence community forest management groups, while ostensibly set up to involve and benefit all community members, can effectively exclude significant sections, in particular women. Based on the author’s field visits and interviews in the late 1990s in India and Nepal, this chapter examines the nature of gender (intersecting with class and caste) inequalities and social exclusions and the factors underlying them, which can restrict women’s effective participation in the group’s activities and decision-making. The chapter also traces the implications of such exclusions for equity of outcomes and institutional efficiency, and outlines how such constraints may be overcome and outcomes improved.

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