A Research Agenda for Environmental Geopolitics
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A Research Agenda for Environmental Geopolitics

Edited by Shannon O’Lear

Challenging the mainstream view of the environment as either threatening or valuable, this book considers how geographic knowledge can be applied to offer a more nuanced understanding. Framed within geopolitics and using a range of methodologies, the chapters encapsulate different approaches to demonstrate how selective forms of knowledge, measurement, and spatial focus both embody and stabilize power, shaping how people perceive and respond to changing features of human-environment interactions.
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Chapter 9: Environmental geopolitics of rumor: the sociality of uncertainty during northern Thailand’s smoky season

Mary Mostafanezhad and Olivier Evrard

Abstract

In this chapter we bring emerging work on the environmental geopolitics of air pollution and the sociality of rumor to bear on the smoky season in northern Thailand. The smoky season occurs each year between February and April. Rumors of the causes of the smoky season circulate widely among lowland urban residents who often blame rural highland residents for their use of fire for forest scavenging, hunting and shifting cultivation. We argue that the uncertain causes and effects of the smoky season kindle the flames of rumor through which upland and lowland social relations are increasingly worked out. Additionally, the reframing of seasonal air pollution, which has existed in northern Thailand for at least two centuries, as a “haze crisis,” we contend, exists within the broader context of environmental geopolitical relations in which highlanders and their livelihoods are frequently characterized as a threat to national and environmental security.

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