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 23: Green governmentality

Ting-jieh Wang


This chapter discusses the thought of Michel Foucault, which has become a major driving force behind political ecology in recent decades. Foucault’s thinking is invaluable to the field as it offers alternative frameworks that transcend conventional narratives about power, politics and the question of the subject. In this chapter I first provide a brief account of Foucault’s thoughts on power and his turn to the ‘art of government’ during his years at the Collège de France. I then discuss his reflections on liberal governmentality, biopolitics and security, which have become an important referent in recent writings in the social sciences. Next, I consider the potentials of the Foucaultian analytic of government in critical studies of development and the environment. I argue that the related concept of green governmentality is pivotal to the introduction of new angles to the study of human–environmental interaction. These points are further illustrated in a discussion of a Taiwanese case study with a focus on the question of indigeneity in nature conservation. In conclusion, I argue for a continuous and closer engagement between political ecology and Foucault, and identify areas for future research.

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