Almost three decades ago, when I started my doctoral studies, political ecology was emerging as a radical and exciting interdisciplinary field of research. One of the books that I found most compelling, and which later proved to be foundational for defining this field, was Land Degradation and Society. The authors, Piers Blaikie and Harold Brookfield, argued that it was necessary to develop a ‘regional political ecology’ approach because, “it is necessary to take account of environmental variability and the spatial variations in resilience and sensitivity of the land, as different demands are put on the land through time. The word ‘regional’ also implies the incorporation of environmental considerations into theories of regional growth and decline.” (1987: 17).
Now, Political Ecology is a well-established field, with numerous texts, journals, research groups and sub-fields of inquiry. There are many arguments about precise definitions of political ecology: whether it has enough ecology or enough politics or whether the methods are sufficiently rigorous or interdisciplinary. In short, there are plenty of people who have found it interesting enough to jump in and keep it alive through empirical research and theoretical debates. Whatever the trending debates, as a person interested in ‘regions’, my definition of political ecology stays close to Blaikie and Brookfield’s concept. I see political ecology as an approach that reveals the biogeographical outcomes of social relations within particular institutional landscapes over time. Simply put, political ecology reveals how past and present social actions and decisions make their mark on the landscape and influence subsequent actions and decision that societies undertake.
Here are some of my papers that engage with these issues.
Lanckriet, S., Rangan, H., Nyssen, J. Frankl, A. 2017. Late Quaternary changes in climate and land cover in the northern Horn of Africa and adjacent areas. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2017.05.035
Kull, C. and Rangan, H. 2016, Political Ecology and Resilience: Competing Interdisciplinarities?, in Bernard Hubert and Nicole Mathieu eds., Interdisciplinarités entre Natures et Sociétés, CCIC, Cérisy-la-Salle, France.
Kull, C. and Rangan, H. 2015, The political ecology of weeds: A scalar approach to landscape transformations, in Raymond Bryant ed. International Handbook of Political Ecology, Edward Elgar, UK, pp. 487-500.
Rangan, H., Wilson, A. and Kull, C. 2014, Thorny problems: Industrial pastoralism and managing ‘country’ in Northwest Queensland, in Rethinking Invasion Ecologies from the Environmental Humanities, eds. Jodi Frawley and Iain McCalman, Routledge, London, UK, pp.116-134.
Bell, K., Rangan, H., Fowler, R., Kull, C., Pettigrew, J., Vickers, C. and Murphy, D.J. 2014, Genetic diversity and biogeography of the boab Adansonia gregorii (Malvaceae: Bombacoideae), Australian Journal of Botany. 62: 164-174.
Fernandes, M.M., Devy-Vareta, N., and Rangan, H. 2013, Plantas exóticas invasoras e instrumentos de gestão territorial. O caso paradigmático do género Acacia em Portugal. GOT, n.º 4 – Revista de Geografia e Ordenamento do Território GOT, n.º 4 (dezembro): 83-107. (Exotic invasive plants and landscape management tools: The case of the genus Acacia in Portugal, Geography and Spatial Planning Journal, No. 4, December 2013).
Tassin, J., Rangan, H., and Kull, C. 2012, Hybrid improved tree fallows: harnessing invasive woody legumes for agroforestry, Agroforestry Systems, 84: 417-428.
Kull, C. and Rangan, H. 2012, Science, sentiment and territorial chauvinism in the acacia name change debate, in Peopled landscapes: Archaeological and Biogeographic Approaches to Landscapes, eds. Simon G Haberle and Bruno David, ANU E Press, Australia, pp. 197-220.
Carruthers, J., Robin, L., Hattingh, J., Kull, C., Rangan, H. and van Wilgen, B. 2011, A native at home and abroad: the history, politics, ethics and aesthetics of acacias, Diversity And Distributions, 17: 810-821.
Kull, C., Shackleton, C., Cunningham, P., Ducatillon, C., Dufour-Dror, J., Esler, K., Friday, J., Gouveia, A., Griffin, A., Marchante, E., Midgley, S., Pauchard, A., Rangan, H., Richardson, D., Rinaudo, T., Tassin, J., Urgenson, L., von Maltitz, G., Zenni, R., and Zylstra, M. 2011, Adoption, use and perception of Australian acacias around the world, Diversity And Distributions, 17:822-836.
Rangan, H., Kull, C.A. and Alexander, L.V. 2010, Forest plantations, water availability, and regional climate change: Controversies surrounding Acacia mearnsii plantations in the upper Palnis Hills, southern India, Regional Environmental Change, 10: 103-117.
Aitken, M., Rangan, H. and Kull, C.A. 2009, Living with alien invasives: The political ecology of wattle in the eastern highveld Mpumalanga, South Africa, Etudes Ocean Indien, 42-43: 115-141.
Rangan, H. and Kull, C.A. 2009, What makes ecology ‘political’? Rethinking ‘scale’ in political ecology, Progress in Human Geography, 33: 28-45.
Rangan, H. 2008, ‘Development’ in Question, in The SAGE Handbook of Political Geography, eds. Kevin R Cox, Murray Low, and Jennifer Robinson, Sage, London UK, pp. 563-578.
Kull, C.A. and Rangan, H. 2008, Acacia exchanges: Wattles, thorn trees, and the study of plant movements, Geoforum, 39: 1258-1272.
Rangan, H. 2007, The Favela Bairro Program: Scaling up Urban development, in Too good to be True? Local Poverty Reduction Initiatives for Potential replication in Asia Pacific region, eds. T Palanivel, N Fernando, Omar Siddique, UNDP, Asia-Pacific Regional Centre, Colombo Sri Lanka, pp. 148-156.
Kull, C.A., Tassin, J., and Rangan, H. 2007, Multifunctional, scrubby, and invasive forests? Wattles in the highlands of Madagascar, Mountain Research and Development 27: 224-231.
Rangan, H. and Gilmartin, M. 2002, Gender, traditional authority, and the politics of rural reform in South Africa, Development and Change, 33: 633-658.
Rangan, H. 2001, The Muti Trade: South Africa’s indigenous medicines, Diversity, 2: 16-25.
Rangan, H. and Lane, M.B. 2001, Indigenous peoples and forest management: comparative analysis of institutional approaches in Australia and India, Society & Natural Resources, 14: 145-160.
Rangan, H. 2000, Political Ecology and Regional Sustainability: Reflections on Contemporary Debates and Material Practices, in Nature, Production, Power: Towards an Ecological Political Economy, eds. F.P. Gale and R.M. M’Gonigle, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, pp. 121-140.
Rangan, H. 1999, Bitter-Sweet Liaisons in a Contentious Democracy: Radical Planning through State Agency in Postcolonial India, Plurimondi: An International Forum for Research and Debate on Human Settlements, 1: 47-66.