Is ‘more reading more confusion’ a symptom of the crisis of theory for a novice scholar? I am suffering from same crisis as being a novice. I came across with few interesting comments about ‘political ecology’ in the context of Marxist Anthropology in another thread. Since, I am also trying to adjust poverty among the Tharu within my amateur ideas of political ecology. Susan Stonich’s work ‘“I am Destroying Land!”: The Political Ecology of Poverty and Environmental Destruction in Honduras’ is supposed to be brilliant piece of work. Unfortunately, it is unavailable here in my place.
Political ecology was coined by a German sociologist Rudolf Herberle in 1951 on the basis of classical works about ‘political climate’ of France by Andre Siegfried. Herberle (1952) used this phrase as a synonym of political sociography, conceptualizing that political ecology resembles with biological ecology. However, human beings do not merely adapt to the environmental entity but change it through culture which manifests on political tendencies of people. He gives four grounds for political ecology study scheme: geographic conditions, economic conditions, social stratification and voting behavior. However, it seems that unlike Steward’s cultural ecology (1955), political ecology caught the eyes of scholars only after 20 years by the works of Eric Wolf (1972), and others such like journalist Alexander Cockburn and environmental scientist Grahame Beakhurst (Peet and Watts 1996). Summarizing the findings of a symposium, Wolf (1972) remarks people in the given environmental landscape organize the resources on the basis of a set of rules of ownership over property. The rules of ownership and inheritance are not just related to the local norms and obligation but also to dialectical mechanism between local ecosystem and larger society.
Since then many things have changed, and political ecology has evolved as a transdicplinary conceptual work. Now some scholars (e.g. Peet and Watts 1996) suggest new name ‘liberation ecologies’. Would you like to put your insight to understand this conceptual development or shift??