Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development, Social Movements

Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development, Social Movements

Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development, Social Movements

Liberation Ecologies: Environment, Development, Social Movements


Liberation Ecologies brings together some of the most exciting theorists in the field to explore the impact of political ecology in today's developing world. The book casts new light on the crucial interrelations of development, social movements and the environment in the South - the 'bigger' half of our planet - and raises questions and hopes about change on the global scale.
The in-depth case material is drawn from across the Developing World, from Latin America, Africa and Asia. The issues raised in contemporary political, economic and social theory are illustrated through these case studies.
Ultimately, Liberation Ecologies questions what we understand by 'development', be it mainstream or alternative, and seeks to renew our sense of nature's range of possibilities.


The concept of progress is to be grounded in the Idea of
catastrophe. That things “just go on” is the catastrophe.

(Walter Benjamin)

For twenty years or more, many fine minds were preoccupied by poststructural philosophy applied to understanding of what was widely assumed to be a new postmodern era. Now that the original brilliance of this obsession has tarnished, we might ask: what was it all about? The elusive reply is a great deal, spelled out in suitably obscure language of course. Centrally we might suggest that it was an obsession with reflexivity as the main constituent of late-modern hegemony. That is, the building of responses to criticisms anticipated in advance into the actions of states, corporations and global governance institutions. Proposals for the Iraqi War of 2003 came replete with multiple level’s of legitimation in cascading orders of priority: if weapons of mass destruction does not work, move to the psychopathologies of the Hussein regime, the beautifully devious notion of in-bedding reporters with front line troops, and subject positions for military heroes waiting to be filled by…whoever. Advertisements for corporate products are fantasized around the presumed feeble critical reactions of couchpotato consumer-viewers. And governance institutions have learned not to say what they are doing, directly, but to emphasize instead what they are not doing, indeed what they are under-mining, as though they had a conscience. Poststructural philosophy, in many of its social-theoretic guises, tried to understand this version of perverse reflexivity by emphasizing words more than deeds, discourse rather than development, hype over reality. And perhaps, as we tried to show in the first edition of this book, poststructuralism tried also to reflect on alternative reflexivities, to endeavor to open new spaces in which alternatives could be thought and maybe practiced—hence “liberation ecologies.”

Now that poststructuralism’s moment has passed or, rather since some of its essential insights are now taken for granted, we can plausibly ask: what next? Usually this is taken, in academic circles, to mean what next theoretically in the context in which social struggles occur in a reflexive world where it seems that everything has happened before. So a critique of the present has to include a phenomenology of reflexivity. But we think that projecting the next fascination from the dynamic of thought alone, in contemplation lonely for experience, might summon up a theoretical detour replete with proposal and . . .

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