Environments, societies, and the global economy are changing faster than ever before. This affects the livelihoods of rural people and the politics of environmental management, as well as the condition of the natural resources themselves. “Political ecology” is an approach to environment-society research that takes a fresh look at environmental issues previously considered to be simple technical questions. It is particularly concerned with how different people struggle over the control of natural resources, and how such struggles are shaped by social institutions, global economic forces, ideas and ideologies about nature, and by the ecology of the resource itself.
The Political Ecology Research Group at Monash University’s School of Geography and Environmental Science (Melbourne, Australia) brings together staff and postgraduate students interested in such themes. Our research efforts, together and individually, address a wide variety of changing and contested environments in Australia and nearby regions (Indian Ocean rim and South East Asia).
Haripriya Rangan investigates regional change and sustainability in the Indian Ocean region through research on transoceanic plant exchanges, medicinal plant trade, and marketplaces. Craig Thorburn’s research centres on governance and resilience in community management of natural resources in the rapidly changing institutional and economic context of Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries. Christian Kull is interested in struggles over natural resource management as a driver of environmental transformations, and has investigated fire and invasive species in Madagascar and other Indian Ocean locations. Bruce Missingham is an anthropologist with research interests in environmental movements in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, and minority groups in rural Australia.
Several collaborators across town at the University of Melbourne also work on political ecological themes. Among them, Simon Batterbury has worked on land conflicts and livelihoods in East Timor, on agrarian change in New Caledonia, and spent many years working on the political ecology of development in West Africa. He is editor of the Journal of Political Ecology. Lisa Palmer focuses on natural and cultural resource management, tourism, and governmental and resource industry agreements with indigenous and local peoples in postcolonial states, particularly East Timor and the Northern Territory.
- Pheakkdey ‘KD’ Nguon graduated from our MIDEA program (now part of the Masters of Sustainability) in 2009. He is currently a Doctoral Candidate at the Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, Massachusetts, USA. The main objective of his doctoral research is to better understand how governance systems organize and distribute knowledge about the UN’s REDD+ program ... Read more