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The Political Ecology of Biodiversity and the Management of Introduced Species | Engaging Resources
New Anthropological Perspectives on Natural Resource Environments

The Political Ecology of Biodiversity and the Management of Introduced Species

Ståle Knudsen, University of Bergen

Political ecology has been criticized for letting theory explain the character of natural resource management and resource conflicts. Network approaches/relational ontology (e.g. actor-network theory) are advocated as an alternative to political ecology. I have used this approach in my study of the multiple enactments of the sea snail Rapana in Turkish Black Sea waters: as “alien invasive species,” as a commercial resource, as haram (forbidden according to Islam), as foul smelling. Here I review how some recent political ecological analyses of biodiversity and introduced species fare in relation to the standards proposed by relational ontology. Yet, I am also interested in exploring overall trends in the development and effects of the biodiversity discourse and the ‘alarmist’ approach to introduced species. Therefore I consider the limits of relational ontology and discuss alternatives that can retain its specificity but also account for patterns, trends and shifts over the longer term occurring at multiple scales.