Political ecology introduction presentation

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Presentation delivered by Nate Matthews at the MK8 Partners' Meeting, Vientiane, February 14-16, 2011

Presentation delivered by Nate Matthews at the MK8 Partners' Meeting, Vientiane, February 14-16, 2011

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  • The approach examines both the political and ecological dimensions of a particular phenomena and is concerned with the winners and losers of environmental change.
  • Each part of the chain allows us to not only perceive local context, but also relationships between different power groupings. Importantly, we can also trace these all the way back to the ecosystem in question, and, in addition, perceive how each power grouping is embedded in increasingly larger scales.The figure portrays eight ‘levels’ of analysis. The purpose of political ecology is to analyse the relationships between each of these, so that a cumulative understanding can be developed for how decisions are made with respect to hydroelectric power development, and how these decisions and the interaction between these multiple layers can be improved to increase the social and ecological benefits to be derived from dams.

Transcript

  • 1. Political Ecology An overview Nathanial Matthews
  • 2. What is Political Ecology?Political ecology is a broad approach that examines a diverserange of topics in geography concerning human-environmentrelationships.Political ecology analyses how power and economics renderresources, landscapes and marginalized people in instrumentalterms.
  • 3. Most recognised definition:• “The phrase ‘political ecology’ combines the concerns of ecology and a broadly defined political economy. Together this encompasses the constantly shifting dialect between society and land-based resources, and also within classes and groups within society itself” (Blaikie and Brookfield 1987:17)
  • 4. A Politicised Environment• Environmental problems cannot be understood in isolation from the economic and political contexts within which they are created• To describe environmental problems is to consider the political and economic processes that generate those problems• Putting politics first: ”All ecological projects (and arguments) are simultaneously political-economic projects (and arguments) and vice versa” (Harvey 1993)
  • 5. Theoretical Influences• Theoretical influences: Neo-Marxism 1970s, early 1980s; Post-Marxist mixture of social movement theory, political economy, feminist, poststructuralist, postcolonial studies in the late 1980s and 1990s• Gaylord Nelson stated on the first Earth Day (1970) “The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment,…”. Political ecology’s roots and strength come from this understanding.
  • 6. Scale in Political Ecology• For this project, political ecology aims to explore relationships from macro to micro scales to provide a cumulative understanding of hydropower decision making.These scales include: Local and district District and provincial Provincial and national National and regional Regional and international
  • 7. Methods Within Political Ecology Chain of Explanation
  • 8. Political Ecology in the Mekong (useful references)• Bakker, K. (1999). The Politics of Hydropower: Developing the Mekong. Political Geography 18: 209–232• Sneddon, C. & Fox C. (2006). Rethinking transboundary waters: A critical hydropolitics of the Mekong basin. Political Geography, 25, 181 - 202• Molle, Francois. 2005. Elements for a political ecology of river basins development: The case of the Chao Phraya river basin, Thailand. Paper presented to the 4th Conference of the International Water History Association, Paris. December.