Edited by Raymond L. Bryant
Chapter 45: Emotional political ecology
This chapter develops an emotional political ecology approach by integrating scholarship in feminist political ecology, resources management and emotional geographies. Emotions matter in resource struggles. They influence outcomes of practices and processes of resource access, use and control while shaping how resources-related interactions are actually experienced in everyday lives. I demonstrate the importance of heeding the various emotions and meanings attached to resource access, use and conflict in order to better elucidate the emotionality thereby engaged in everyday struggles. Through a case study of a water crisis, the chapter draws attention to the emotional geographies of water that are important in explaining the ways that feeling subjects relate to water and how water mediates broader social relations. Conflicts over resources are thus as much about embodied emotions, feelings and lived experiences as they are about property rights and entitlements, long the focus in political ecology. Not only does such an approach lead to greater nuance in understanding resources struggles and politics; it also rejects the idea that ‘real’ scholarship is about ‘rational’ social interactions over resources that leaves emotive realities about how resources are accessed, used and fought over firmly to one side. Indeed, (feminist) political ecology will be immeasurably strengthened when often abstract articulations of ‘resource struggles’ and ‘resource conflicts’ are grounded in embodied emotional geographies of places, peoples and resources, enabling enhanced comprehension of how resources and emotions intermingle in everyday resource management practices. I believe that more comprehensive and productive analyses are possible that can greatly expand current debates to better explain why and how specific nature–society relations play out the way they do. An emotional political ecology approach thus elucidates how emotions matter in nature–society relations, and can thus greatly enhance future political ecology scholarship.
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