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Anarchist Political Ecology : Theoretical Horizons and Empirical Axes

Martin Locret-Collet (University of Birmingham)

Simon Springer (University of Victoria)

The above named editors are seeking contributions to a proposed edited book entitled “Anarchist Political Ecology”. Our intention is to publish the book with an Anarchist Press. If we receive enough submissions we will aim to produce 2 edited volumes, with one focusing on Theoretical Horizons and the other on Empirical Axes.

Abstracts are due by May 15th, 2017. Please email your abstracts to both editors.

Selection of papers will occur quickly and we will endeavour to inform authors of inclusion by June 15th, 2017. Completed chapters are due by December 15th 2017.

250 to 300 word abstracts. Chapter length is expected to be between 8,000 and 10,000 words.

Description and Rationale

Political ecology is a loosely defined area of study encompassing a large number of approaches (Clark 2012). Paul Robbins (2012 : 20) points out that, more than a strictly defined academic field, it is ‘a term that describes a community of practices united around a certain kind of text’. Despite this rich plurality, the genealogy of political ecology is quite easy to trace : two major intellectual figures of the 19th century, Peter Kropotkin and Elisée Reclus, are widely accepted as its founding fathers. Both men were of course anarchists and geographers, and yet in spite of their early influence on the field, a contemporary anarchist political ecology has been slow to emerge. This absence is particularly surprising given the recent (re)turn towards anarchist geographies and the vast potential such a lens offers on insisting that environmental challenges be politicized in such a way that questions the role of the state, capitalism, and other hierarchical orderings embedded within human societies (Clough and Blumberg 2012 ; Souza et al. 2016 ; Springer et al. 2012 ; Springer et al. 2016 ; White et al. 2016).

It is hard to deny the role that anarchist theory had in breaking the prevailing tradition of environmental determinism in geography, where Kropotkin (1885) and Reclus (1894) refused to be complacent in seeing the physical attributes of a territory as determining the moral and corporeal traits of the people inhabiting that land, as well as their social organization. Their anarchism was defined as much by a rebuke of capitalism as it was by challenging deeply ingrained imperialist views on race and social domination (Clark and Martin 2013 ; MacLaughlin 2011). Their intellectual departure was a broadened understanding of geography that insisted that the social, the political, the economic and indeed the environmental were all integral considerations in writing about the earth. Such theoretical insurgency was an outgrowth of the amalgamation of their philosophical and political thinking in concert with a deeply held concern for social justice and environmental advocacy (Mullenite 2016). As anarchists they rejected the concept of centrality, refused the legitimacy of all forms of domination, and drawing from evolutionary theory, they insisted on an ecological perspective that did more than reduce human systems and ecosystems to mere competition, arguing that cooperation and symbiotic living, or ‘mutual aid’, were absolutely essential for any species to thrive (Dugatin 2011 ; Ferretti 2011).

Recent efforts among anarchist geographers to re-investigate foundational concepts like ‘space’ (Springer 2016) and ‘territory’ (Ince 2012) have helped to cast a new light on the flows and regulations that shape contemporary life and spatial organization, both in and outside of neoliberal and consumerist developments. Political ecology, as a very diverse body of work that tries to articulate the ever-changing dialectic between society and environmental resources, and further, between the various classes, communities and groups constituting society itself (Heynen et al. 2006), offers considerable latitude for the deployment and development of anarchist thought and critique. It is peculiar then that most political ecologists seem to shy away from further engagement with anarchist theory (cf. Death 2014), falling back on Marxism and neo-Marxism, which remain the dominant political ideologies in the field. Given that the State is an institution inextricably bound to capitalism (McKay 2011), and thus undeniably one of the primary perpetrators of environmental ruination, this is a curious crutch, worthy of our suspicion and doubt. While Murray Bookchin (1971, 1982) critiqued anti-ecological trends under the banner of ‘social ecology’ in the 1970s and 80s, the remerging field of anarchist geography in the 2010s has yet to advance an ‘ecology of freedom’ that demonstrates a sustained engagement with important domains like environmental justice, resource security, and ecological governance.

Kropotkin and Reclus never actually characterized their work as ‘political ecology’, as the use of the term did not come into widespread use until the 1970s, yet their thought unquestionably helped to lay its foundations. Their conceptions of interdependent human-environment interactions were supported by extensive and rigorous fieldwork, and decidedly non-centrist approaches to politics and ecology (Kropotkin 1892, 1902, 1912), which included a decentering of the human figure (Reclus 1901), as well as anticipating deep ecology perspectives, critiques of anthropocentricism, and the eventual arrival of more-than-human geographies over a century later. In sum, anarchism is inseparable from an ecological perspective (Carter 2007). Anarchist geography and political ecology consequently have much in common and much to offer to each other, philosophically, theoretically and methodologically. We therefore encourage papers that are able to expand the theoretical horizons and empirical axes of an explicitly Anarchist Political Ecology by addressing key questions around :

- Biodiversity in the Anthropocene
- Extractivism and Environmental Ruination
- Environmental Ethics and Environmental Justice
- Deep Ecology, Gaia Theory, and Spiritual Ecology Movements
- Food Sovereignty and Communalism
- Veganism, More-Than-Human Geography, and Anthroparchy
- Carbon Trading, Carbon Offsetting, and the Capitalocene
- Enclosure and the Reclamation of the Commons
- Green Politics, Ecologism, and the Limits of Marxism
- Mutual Aid beyond Resilience and Coping
- Bioregionalism, Decentralization, and Radical Democracy
- Neoliberalism, Commodification, and the Question of ‘Nature’
- Post-Scarcity Anarchism and the Ecology of Freedom
- Sustainability and Greenwashing
- Indigenous Knowledges and Conservation
- Green Anarchism, Primitivism, and Misanthropy
- Transhumanism, Technofixes, and Technocracy
- Biopolitics, Biotechnologies, and Bioengineering
- Anarchafeminism, Gender, and the Environment
- Climate Change, Industrialization, and Renewable Energy
- Agroecology, Agrarian Change, and Global South Movements
- De-Coupling and De-Growth


Bookchin, M. (1971). Post-scarcity Anarchism. Berkeley : Ramparts Press.

Bookchin, M. (1982). The Ecology of Freedom : The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy. Palo Alto : Cheshire Books.

Carter, N. ed. (2007). The Politics of the Environment : Ideas, Activism, Policy, 2nd Ed. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.

Clark, J. P. (2012). Political ecology. In Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, 2nd Ed., Vol. 3. San Diego : Academic Press, 505–516.

Clark, J. P. and Martin, C. (2013). Anarchy, Geography, Modernity : Selected Writings of Elisée Reclus. Oakland : PM Press.

Clough, N., and Blumberg, R. (2012). Toward anarchist and autonomist Marxist geographies. ACME : An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies,11(3), 335-351.

Death, C. ed. (2014). Critical Environmental Politics. New York : Routledge.

Dugatin L. A. (2011) The Prince of Evolution : Peter Kropotkin’s Adventures in Science and Politics. New York : CreateSpace.

Ferretti, F. (2011). The correspondence between Élisée Reclus and Pëtr Kropotkin as a source for the history of geography. Journal of Historical Geography, 37(2), 216-222.

Heynen, N., Perkins, H. A., and Roy, P. (2006). The political ecology of uneven urban green space the impact of political economy on race and ethnicity in producing environmental inequality in Milwaukee. Urban Affairs Review, 42(1), 3-25.

Ince, A. (2012). In the shell of the old : Anarchist geographies of territorialisation. Antipode, 44(5), 1645-1666.

Kropotkin, P. (1985). What geography ought to be. The Nineteenth Century CXXVI, 18 December : 940-956.

Kropotkin, P. (1892) 2011. The Conquest of Bread. New York : Dover.

Kropotkin, P. (1902) 2008. Mutual Aid : A Factor in Evolution. Charleston : Forgotten.

Kropotkin, P. (1912) 1994. Fields, Factories, and Workshops. Montreal : Black Rose.

MacLaughlin, J. (2016). Kropotkin and the Anarchist Intellectual Tradition. London : Pluto.

McKay, I. ed. (2014). Direct Struggle Against Capital : A Peter Kropotkin Anthology. Oakland : AK Press.

Mullenite, J. (2016). Resilience, Political Ecology, and Power : Convergences, Divergences, and the Potential for a Postanarchist Geographical Imagination. Geography Compass, 10(9), 378-388.

Reclus, E. (1894). The Earth and Its Inhabitants : e Universal Geography. London : J. S. Virtue.

Reclus, E. (1901). On vegetarianism. Humane Review. http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/bright/reclus/onvegetarianism.html.

Robbins, P. (2012). Political Ecology : A Critical Introduction. Malden : Wiley Blackwell.

Souza, M. L. de, White, R. J., and Springer, S. Eds. 2016. Theories of Resistance : Anarchism, Geography and the Spirit of Revolt. London : Roman & Littlefield.

Springer, S. 2016. The Anarchist Roots of Geography : Toward Spatial Emancipation. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press.

Springer, S., Ince, A., Pickerill, J., Brown, G., and Barker, A. 2012. Reanimating anarchist geographies : a new burst of colour. Antipode : A Radical Journal of Geography. 44(5), 1591-1604.

Springer, S., White, R. J., and Souza, M. L. de. Eds. 2016. The Radicalization of Pedagogy : Anarchism, Geography and the Spirit of Revolt. London : Roman & Littlefield.

White, R. J., Springer, S., and Souza, M. L. de. Eds. 2016. The Practice of Freedom : Anarchism, Geography and the Spirit of Revolt. London : Roman & Littlefield.

Simon Springer, PhD
Associate Professor
Co-Director, Critical Geographies Research Lab
Department of Geography, University of Victoria
PO Box 3060 STN CSC
Victoria, BC, Canada, V8W 3R4
Unceded Coast Salish and Straits Salish Territories of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ Peoples

Mis en ligne par : CREAGH Ronald

Pour citer cet article :
Anarchist Political Ecology : Theoretical Horizons and Empirical Axes,
Dernières modifications : 22 mai 2017. [En ligne].
[Consulté le 19 juin 2017]

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