Political Ecology

Political Ecology Research Group - team photo 2020
Political Ecology Research Group

The Political Ecology (PE)Research Group brings together researchers working from a variety of disciplinary and geographical angles on how resource scarcities are created and contested.

We approach resources in a broad sense, not only natural and physical resources, but also social and economic – our work focuses on land, food, water, the environment, disasters, conflicts, and climate change, but also with subjects less conventionally associated with ecology such as social policy, population and demography, gender, or children and youth.

Indeed, it is this integration of political ecology with themes of social reproduction, intersectionality and feminism(s), with rigorous investigations into issues of poverty, inequality and social exclusion, and with systemic consideration of processes of capitalist socioeconomic development and structural transformation, that makes our group particularly distinctive, cutting edge, and internationally recognized.

The activity of the PE group also features a strong element of scholar activism. The urgent, pressing issues of concern that motivate us include:

  • Climate change and environmental disasters, such as food, water, and energy crises, in particular working in collaborations with critical NGOs (e.g. The Transnational Institute, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations).
  • Community-organized alternatives such as movements for food sovereignty, agro-ecology, open-source agriculture and technology, land reform campaigns, and degrowth initiatives, through partnering with farm and food movements (e.g. La Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth, and Extinction Rebellion).
  • Inequality and social justice – including racial and gender discrimination, through cooperating with trade unions (e.g. FNV), migrant and refugee organizations, and global South institutions, such as Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Community Economies Research Network (CERN), Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Pangea Foundation, Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM) and Women’s Environmental Network (WEN).
  • Employment crises and universalistic approaches to social policy, such as through our long-term collaboration with the United Nations Research Institute on Social Development.

Working from a variety of disciplinary and geographical angles on how resource scarcities are created and contested… not only natural and physical resources, but also social and economic.

We emphasize the necessity of approaching these issues from a political economy angle that focuses on the interaction between local, national and global sources of power within contemporary capitalism, including how policies (e.g. agrarian, food, environmental, population, social, economic or others) shape distributional and other conflicts within and between societies.

Our multi-scalar analysis covers rural and agrarian societies as well as urban and metropolitan conglomerates, in their interdependence at regional and global levels.

Both the research areas and the researchers are thoroughly international and interdisciplinary. We are trained in, and build on insights from, economics, politics, sociology, area studies, anthropology, science and technology studies, geography, and environmental studies, and adopt a variety of scientific methodologies, to generate pioneering, theoretically rich, and societally relevant research.