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Political ecology and the Foucault effect: A need to diversify disciplinary approaches to ecological management?

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While explicitly Foucauldian analyses have declined in recent years in the social sciences, Foucault's ideas continue to strongly influence scholars' approaches to power, governance and the state. In this article, we explore how Foucauldian concepts shape the work of political ecologists and social scientists working on environmental management, multispecies ethnography and the Anthropocene - often in an unrecognized way. We argue that - regardless of whether or not Foucault's work is explicitly cited - his legacy of linking scientific projects, population management and state control continues to have an outsized impact on thinking in these fields. It is time, we assert, to directly consider how such theoretical inheritances are affecting the shape of political ecology, in particular, and the social sciences, more generally. How, we ask, are Foucauldian traditions at once enabling and constraining more-than-human scholarship? In this article, we explore the contributions and limitations of Foucauldian approaches in environmental contexts through empirical attention to trout introduction and management efforts in South Africa. Our overall aim is to call for a deeper conversation about how scholars working on environmental topics engage the science-governance nexus. The article ends with proposing landscape, as a material enactment of more-than-human politics, as a useful analytical category to this end.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning E: Nature and Space
Pages (from-to)924-946
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

    Research areas

  • CONSERVATION, CONTEXT, EXPERTISE, Foucault, HISTORY, KNOWLEDGE, LANDSCAPES, SALMON, SCIENCE, SOCIOLOGY, WEST, biopower, environmental management, landscape, scientific knowledges, trout

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