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 24: Whose good living? Post-neoliberalism, the green state and subverted alternatives to development in Ecuador

Elizabeth Bravo and Melissa Moreano


The chapter critically explores ideas about nature conservation occurring in Latin America today, drawing on a political ecology perspective. Moving beyond mainstream thinking on preservationism, neo-Malthusianism and sustainable development, many Latin American writers have embraced radical critiques coming from eco-Marxism and eco-socialism, as well as from political ecology and popular environmentalist thought. Lately, notions of ‘good living’ and the ‘rights of nature’ are put forward as part of an alternative development paradigm that promotes social and ecological justice. Specifically, this chapter explores these themes in the context of nature conservation initiatives in Ecuador – notably, the national system of protected areas as well as the Programa Socio Bosque (Forest Partner Programme) of the Ecuadorian government. We argue that, in post-neoliberal Ecuador, although it is the cradle of alternative struggles centred on good living and the rights of nature, the mainstream sustainable development paradigm has not been replaced. Indeed, the core idea of that paradigm of conserving nature while alleviating poverty is extremely politically useful today in that it provides a convenient cover for expanding natural resources extraction while maintaining a green international image. Further, a conservation project such as the Programa Socio Bosque becomes part of a territorial ordering that dispossesses indigenous peoples of land vital to contemporary neoliberal extractivism. In this way, a promising and radical alternative approach is subverted by an Ecuadorian state still beholden to transnational capital.

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