Hidden Abodes: Industrializing Political Ecology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this article, I argue that political ecology has neglected examining the “hidden abodes” of industrial factory production. I suggest a visit to such sites can expand and deepen what counts as both ecology and politics in the field. Ecologically speaking, the industrial secondary sector is not only at the center of the overall “metabolism” between society and nature but also is central in producing many large-scale ecological problems like climate change. Politically, although much of political ecology focuses on marginalization, dispossession, and what I call “following the politics” (i.e., protest and resistance movements), industrial environments often entail uncontested power over massive flows of raw materials, energy, and waste. I suggest that political ecology analysis can use chains of explanation to make these industrial ecologies political. To illustrate the argument, I focus on a large industrial nitrogen fertilizer facility in southern Louisiana. In the empirical sections of this article, I examine its control over the highly politicized chemical compounds of natural gas (CH4), ammonia (NH3), and carbon dioxide (CO2). Although the industrial facility largely benefits from its access to and control over these substances, the politics of them is directed elsewhere along the commodity chain to naturalized areas more familiar to political ecologists (e.g., sites of natural gas extraction or agricultural application). I conclude by suggesting that making this kind of analysis political requires that we disseminate our analysis and critiques to broader publics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-166
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Volume107
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017

Keywords

  • industrial geography
  • nitrogen fertilizer
  • political ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Geography, Planning and Development

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