Critical Environmental Politics: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Critical Environmental Politics

1st Edition

Edited by Carl Death


352 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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The aim of this book is to review central concepts in the study of environmental politics and to open up new questions, problems, and research agendas in the field.

The volume does so by drawing on a wide range of approaches from critical theory to poststructuralism, and spanning disciplines including international relations, geography, sociology, history, philosophy, anthropology, and political science. The 28 chapters cover a range of global and local studies, illustrations and cases. These range from the Cochabamba conference in Bolivia to climate camps in the UK; UN summits in Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg to climate migrants from Pacific islands; forests in Indonesia to Dutch energy governance reform; indigenous communities in Namibia to oil extraction in the Niger Delta; survivalist militias in the USA to Maasai tribesmen in Kenya.

Rather than following a regional or issue-based (e.g. water, forests, pollution, etc) structure, the volume is organised in terms of key concepts in the field, including those which have been central to the social sciences for a long time (such as citizenship, commodification, consumption, feminism, justice, movements, science, security, the state, summits, and technology); those which have been at the heart of environmental politics for many years (including biodiversity, climate change, conservation, eco-centrism, limits, localism, resources, sacrifice, and sustainability); and many which have been introduced to these literatures and debates more recently (biopolitics, governance, governmentality, hybridity, posthumanism, risk, and vulnerability).

Features and benefits of the book:

  • Explains the most important concepts and theories in environmental politics.
  • Reviews the core ideas behind crucial debates in environmental politics.
  • Highlights the key thinkers – both classic and contemporary – for studying environmental politics.
  • Provides original perspectives on the critical potential of the concepts for future research agendas as well as for the practice of environmental politics.

Each chapter is written by leading international authors in their field.

This exciting new volume will be essential textbook reading for all students of environmental politics, as well as provocatively presenting the field in a different light for more established researchers.


'Critical Environmental Politics asks the deeply disturbing questions and heads directly into the difficult possible answers. None of its contributors argue that a little more fine-tuning will avert socio-ecological catastrophe. Both new and established critical theorists join forces in a truly necessary "wake up" call. Read it.' Richard B. Norgaard, University of California, Berkeley, USA.

"All eras are defined by keywords that both reflect dominant norms and serve to reproduce them. Yet these keywords are polysemic and have the potential to be redefined, so altering habits of thought and action in the world at large. This excellent book offers a rich set of genealogies of those concepts that have come to describe human-environment relationships in the early 21st century. It’s an essential guide for anyone trying to make sense of those relationships and how they might be made less destructive for people and non-humans. Read it to find out whose tactics and strategies have succeeded since the first Earth Day, and what potential for insurgency currently exists." Professor Noel Castree, University of Manchester, UK.

"Who should read this book? Anybody who is increasingly growing weary of the hype that surrounds sustainability and the green economy. How refreshing the essays in the book are! What a penetrating analysis of the key-concepts of the environmental politics! The critical school of social thought at its best, debunking but constructive, and full of imagination. Last not least, the book is well-written and neatly structured, a superb primer of environmental citizenship." Professor Wolfgang Sachs, editor of The Development Dictionary, Wuppertal Institut, Germany.

"An impressive set of contributors take us on a critical tour through the vast territory of environmental politics. Visiting along the way numerous essential ideas, thinkers, issues, and cases, this collection firmly and thoroughly establishes the proper place of critique in all its varieties at the heart of environmental affairs." Professor John Dryzek, Australian National University, Australia.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction – Carl Death

2.Biodiversity – Bram Büscher

3. Biopolitics – Kevin Grove

4. Citizenship – Emma Hinton

5. Climate change – Chukwumerije Okereke and Mark Charlesworth

6. Commodification – Matthew Paterson

7. Conservation – James Igoe

8. Consumption – Andrew Brooks and Raymond Bryant

9. Eco-centrism – Katie McShane

10. Feminism – Erika Cudworth

11. Governance – Susan Baker

12. Governmentality – Eva Lövbrand and Johannes Stripple

13. Hybridity – Alan Rudy and Damian White

14. Justice – Patrick Bond

15. Limits – Gabriela Kütting

16. Localism – Karen Litfin

17. Movements –Stephan Price, Clare Saunders and Cristiana Olcese

18. Posthumanism – Steve Hobden

19. Resource violence – Michael Watts and Nancy Peluso

20. Risk – Luigi Pellizzoni

21. Sacrifice – Paul Wapner

22. Science – Tim Forsyth

23. Security – Simon Dalby

24. States – Thom Kuehls

25. Summits – Carl Death

26. Sustainability – Mark Whitehead

27. Technology – Timothy W. Luke

28.Vulnerability – Chris Methmann and Angela Oels

About the Editor

Carl Death is a Lecturer in International Politcs at the University of Manchester, UK.

About the Series


The Series provides a forum for innovative and interdisciplinary work that engages with alternative critical, post-structural, feminist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic and cultural approaches to international relations and global politics. In our first 5 years we have published 60 volumes.

We aim to advance understanding of the key areas in which scholars working within broad critical post-structural traditions have chosen to make their interventions, and to present innovative analyses of important topics. Titles in the series engage with critical thinkers in philosophy, sociology, politics and other disciplines and provide situated historical, empirical and textual studies in international politics.


We are very happy to discuss your ideas at any stage of the project: just contact us for advice or proposal guidelines. Proposals should be submitted directly to the Series Editors:

‘As Michel Foucault has famously stated, "knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting" In this spirit The Edkins - Vaughan-Williams Interventions series solicits cutting edge, critical works that challenge mainstream understandings in international relations. It is the best place to contribute post disciplinary works that think rather than merely recognize and affirm the world recycled in IR's traditional geopolitical imaginary.’

Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA


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