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Political Ecology Group

Political Ecology Group

The Political Ecology Group is interested in all aspects of the symbolic and material politics of socially constructed natures. Its interests span the industrialized and developing world. Some members of the group are active in the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.

Meetings

The group meets weekly to discuss research in progress, to hear visiting speakers, or to discuss published papers.

Details of meetings are available.

Research opportunities

Members of the Political Ecology Group welcome applications from Post-Doc Researchers and potential Ph.D. students in fields close to their own research, and to the work of existing Ph.D. students. Those interested should send a 300-600 word summary of their ideas for research to ONE of the staff in the group in the first instance.

Those contemplating a Ph.D. are invited to consider the Department of Geography's M. Phil. in Geographical Research. This provides a thorough grounding in social science research methods.

Details about the Department's facilities for research students, and about application procedures may be found on the Graduate study web pages. Details about applications to the University can be obtained from the Board of Graduate Studies. Please send all general enquiries about PhD research or the M.Phil. courses to the Graduate Secretary, Department of Geography.

Political Ecology

Research projects

Research projects currently being undertaken on this theme include:

Rights to nature in post-crisis Europe: Tracing alternative political ecologies to the neoliberal environmental agenda through the study of emerging environmental movements

Rights to nature in post-crisis Europe: Tracing alternative political ecologies to the neoliberal environmental agenda through the study of emerging environmental movements

In this project, we aim to document and analyse the impacts of neoliberal attempts to exploit non-human nature in post-crisis Europe and the increasing opposition of emerging environmental movements. We focus on the alternative policy approach based on social needs and environmental justice that these movements demand. Following a political ecology approach the questions we aim to answer are: what kind of nature and thus society do these emerging movements wish to produce and for whom? Which alternative democratic systems are being proposed that could ensure more equal access to nature and more socially just distribution of environmental costs and benefits? What are the commonalities between localized struggles?

Can Hunting and Conservation of Endemic Annamite Ungulates be Reconciled?

Can Hunting and Conservation of Endemic Annamite Ungulates be Reconciled?

This project worked to inform more effective conservation of the globally important Annamite mountains. The Annamites, which are called Trýõng Sõn in Vietnamese and Phou Luang in Lao, line the border between these two nations. They are home to a unique, poorly-known and highly-threatened community of hoofed mammals (ungulates) including the critically endangered Saola Pseudoryx nghetinhensis. The main threat to these animals appears to be from hunting.

Beyond Win-Win: Interrogating Ecosystem Services Dynamics

Beyond Win-Win: Interrogating Ecosystem Services Dynamics

This project proposes to bring together knowledge about the extent of spatial and temporal overlap between ecosystem service flows from particular landscapes, as well as the ways in which different stakeholders benefit from these flows over space and time.

Microcredit in the UK: survey

Microcredit in the UK: survey

What constitutes financial inclusion in the UK? What role can microcredit play? Is the group-lending methodology important? How will the financial crisis affect the provision of microcredit? To consider these questions, a set of 32 statements has been developed, which cover many of the important issues surrounding financial inclusion and microcredit in the UK context. This survey is an attempt to find out what people think about these statements and their corresponding discourses.

Institutions, agency and incentives in environment and development

Institutions, agency and incentives in environment and development

Research on institutions, agency and incentives has developed out of original interests in institutional economics and institutional change. A particular focus is on the way in which institutional change is negotiated between different social actors, and the extent to which structural factors influence the evolution of institutions and policy. Research has looked more specifically at the way in which institutions work in practice, especially participatory and decentralised systems of natural resource management. This work has examined collective action in resource management, and the way in which field-level outcomes are a complex product of individual agency and socio-political contexts within which actions are embedded.

Land Reform, Land Tenure and Poverty

Land Reform, Land Tenure and Poverty

Enhanced understandings of the multiple linkages between land reform, land tenure and land use and between land rights, ownership and poverty are integral to more equitable and sustainable policy in the future. Land reform is an especially pertinent topic in post-socialist transition countries and in the aftermath of decollectivisation, wherein the dissolution of formerly collectivised agricultural sectors has precipitated profound changes in the land-livelihoods nexus. This ongoing research project builds on earlier work undertaken to explore and analyse the (differentiated) effects of group or community land titling on institutions, land use and livelihoods among herders. The implications of tenure reform for poverty alleviation, resource rights and livelihoods are of particular concern and will form the focus of further planned empirical work.

Institutions, Collective Action and Cooperation

Institutions, Collective Action and Cooperation

The role of institutions in shaping and constraining access to natural resources is of increasing interest to development theorists and practitioners alike. Processes of institutional change and adaptation in the post-Soviet context present particular challenges to current thinking on institutions, cooperation and collective action. Current workfocuses on institutional change and adaptation among Mongolian pastoralists following decollectivisation of the herding sector in the early 1990s. Drawing on theories of common pool resource (CPR) management, social capital and collective action it examines institutional path dependency and the ongoing and contested processes of institutional adaptation in recent history.

Institutions and Public Policy in the Field Sciences

Institutions and Public Policy in the Field Sciences

This is an international comparative study of the history of field stations across five Arctic nations (USA, Canada, Russia, Denmark, and Sweden) with the aim of understanding how field practices drive the major agendas of environmental research. In the project we intend to use the International Polar Year 2007-2008 as an opportunity to identify and analyse the work (e.g. planning, calibrating, publishing, sharing data) required to make field observations meaningful across a range of scales and contexts of users or audiences. This also represents a singular opportunity to understand how the field sciences have generated a scientific and cultural legacy. We will analyse former and present research station sites to understand how the residues of scientific practice become valid knowledge, collective memory and heritage.

Circumpolar Governance

Circumpolar Governance

Many significant developments in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions stem from issues of governance. Current attempts to forge self-governing political regions and environmental management regimes raise profound questions about the relationship between community and territory. Traditionally, the competing ambitions and interests of nation-states have defined the structure and boundaries of the polar regions. These histories have tended to divide and stratify the regions.

Incorporating stakeholder perceptions in participatory forest management in India

Incorporating stakeholder perceptions in participatory forest management in India

Using the analytical framework developed in a previous NRSP project, this project will elucidate the perceptions of diverse stakeholders in the forest sector in Harda district, Madhya Pradesh, India. The project aims to increase learning about differences in stakeholder perceptions over participatory forest management in Harda district, Madhya Pradesh, India; to generate policy relevant findings that can be used to formulate inclusive policy for participatory forest management; and to communicate these findings to key stakeholders and policy actors.

Earlier projects