The socioenvironmental state: towards a political ecology of state formation and environmental change

Andrea Nightingale is a geographer from Edinburgh and has recently taken up a post in Gothenburg at the School of Global Studies: This is her abstract for the seminar: In this paper, I develop the idea of the ‘socio-environmental state’ to understand how ‘nature’ or ‘environment’ is an active agent in state formation. I begin with the question what is ‘the state’? How does it operate, and most importantly, how do resources and their ‘nature’ shape the possibilities of state transformation not only ecologically but also politically? The paper takes the case of forests in Nepal to probe how environmental governance is bound up in state ambitions of conflicting groups. The kinds of relationships believed to be required for good environmental management are absolutely fundamental to how states and state-like actors seek to promote particular ideas of citizenship and to unite and control their populations. The argument builds from four core literatures: work on state formation in geography and anthropology; new work in development studies on property, authority and citizenship; political ecology; and feminist theory. This theoretical synthesis helps capture the emergence of political subjectivities, imaginaries and biophysical-ecological transformations from projects intended to improve the material base of the state. As such, these projects serve to quite literally build the state, offering important insights into processes of state transformation.

Tid: 27 februari 2014 kl. 13.15-15.00.
Plats: De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus.
Presentatör: Andrea Nightingale, Institutionen för globala studier, Göteborgs universitet.
Arrangör: Kulturgeografiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet.