Finding a place for green politics : political space-time, globalisation and new environmental policy concepts

University dissertation from Umeå : Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, Umeå universitet

Abstract: The overarching aim of this dissertation is to rethink green ideas for change in political space-time against the background of globalisation. It is based on two avenues of investigation. First, green ideas are contrasted with the analyses of current changes in political space-time found in the globalisation literature. Second, the kinds of political space-time that emerge in the encounter between two environmental policy concepts and environmental policy practice are studied. The policy concepts are river basin management and critical loads, both of which were launched as solutions to the problems policy-actors perceive in existing constructions of political space-time.Although the spatial reconfigurations entailed by processes of globalisation do not necessarily contradict green ideas, the temporalities of green theory and theories of globalisation are less easily reconciled. In terms of place, globalisation may lead to an increased interest in defending places, that is, the engagement with a politics of place. It is suggested that one could distinguish between politics of and politics in place, and that bioregionalism and other green theories concerned with place should strive towards the latter.The study of river basin management and critical loads raises important questions regarding the problem of scale in environmental politics. Whereas critical load deals with the problem of difference within a territory by abstraction, river basin management has also involved ideas about the importance of creating a sense of and care for place. Both concepts illustrate the challenge involved in considering the dynamic temporalities of nature in politics. New timeframes for environmental politics appear due to increased emphasis on issues of recovery from environmental change. It is observed that concepts like river basin management may carry very different spatial interpretations, for example, there is a difference in whether the river basin is understood in functional terms or as a container. Moreover, it is noted that different kinds of politics are at play in both cases. This suggests the possibility for greens to politicise political space-time at the margin, that is, in contexts which are not explicitly to do with spatio-temporal change.Finally, the study of green theory and theories of globalisation, and river basin management and critical loads, suggest that it is important to consider political space and time together. The possibility of developing a green politics of presence is offered as a potential first step in such an effort.

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