Hornborg, Alf Clark Brett and Hermele, Kenneth(2012) Ecology and Power Struggles over Land and Material Resources in the Past, Present and Future

Power and social inequality shape patterns of land use and resource management. This book explores this relationship from different perspectives, illuminating the complexity of interactions between human societies and nature. Most of the contributors use the perspective of “political ecology” as a point of departure, recognizing that human relations to the environment and human social relations are not separate phenomena but inextricably intertwined. What makes this volume unique is that it sets this approach in a transdisciplinary, global, and historical framework. The twenty-six contributors represent a spectrum of academic fields including anthropology, sociology, geography, economics, economic history, historical archaeology, human ecology, development studies, and sustainability science. In presenting local case studies from all over the world, the contributors develop a global understanding of these politicized environments. They generally apply a broadly conceived world-system approach to issues of land use, resource management, and environmental change. Examples discussed in this book include the cultivation of various crops such as wheat, rice, sorghum, coffee, sugarcane, Jatropha, and safflower; the raising of livestock such as llamas and cattle; and other extractive activities such as forestry, mining, energy production, and the trade in guano and ivory. The volume also adds a deep historical dimension to political ecology. Collectively, it argues that a long-term, historical understanding of how local and global power struggles shape the trajectories of human–environmental relations is crucial to the emergent field of political ecology. This point applies, for example, to the past two centuries of fossilfuelled capitalism, during which human dependency on land appears to have become less tangible than in pre-industrial times. Against this background, several chapters discuss the implications of the anticipated return to biofuels, which would transform the rationality of conventional land use and regenerate contradictions between food and energy production in regions of the world that have largely been spared such contradictions over the past two centuries.
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Updated by rosai 2017-04-24