Environment, Development, & Socio-Nature

In the background of almost all of my work is a concern for the twin concepts of nature-society relations (or “the environment”, which is often meant to stand in for “non-human”) and political economy (or “development”, which is often meant to stand in for “human”). Everyday understanding of contemporary social issues pits these two concepts against each other, but in fact both concepts are heavily contested (and it’s debatable whether either concept even should exist as a category of understanding).

The bulk of my work in which I examine these issues has been on oceans, islands, cities, or the Arctic.  However I have a few publications in which I carry this research interest to environment-development conflicts in other contexts, including:

  • Environment, development, crisis, and crusade: the imprint of single geographies on separate realities in Ukambani, Kenya, 1890-1990 (with Dianne Rocheleau & Patricia Benjamin; World Development, 1995) | PDF (behind paywall)
  • Troubled water? acquiescence, conflict, and the politics place in watershed management (with George Clark; Political Geography, 1999) | PDF (behind paywall)

coverA somewhat different take on the relationship between environment/nature and society/politics is undertaken in my edited book Territory beyond Terra, co-edited with Kimberley Peters and Elaine Stratford. This book includes oceans, islands, cities, and the Arctic (specifically, sea ice), but also many more non-normative elements and spaces, like air, sand, mud, and fire.

Finally, a further consideration of (broadly conceived) nature-society relations, including, but also going well-beyond ocean-space, can be found in my chapter on “Water and Power” in the forthcoming book Geographies of Power (edited by Matthew Coleman and John Agnew).

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