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Scale, Sovereignty, and Strategy in Environmental Governance

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Close examination of the scalar politics of environmental organizations engaged in contesting the terms of neoliberal globalization highlights four limitations of current theorizations of scale in radical geography. First, this body of work has paid little attention to environmental NGOs and movements as important actors in scalar politics. This is not only an empirical gap, but a theoretical one: taking environmental actors and issues into account requires rethinking the ontologies and dynamics in scale theory. Second, recent attention to social reproduction in scale debates must be extended to the reproduction of environmental conditions. Third, sharp analytical distinctions between scalar structuration and the production of nature are untenable and reproduce a culture/nature dualism. Fourth, sharp distinctions between politics within or about established scales, versus politics among scales, are unstable and miss the precise strategies pursued in some politics of scale. These arguments are illustrated and explored via case material drawn from current struggles over efforts to define environmental governance as a form of regulatory expropriation in international trade agreements.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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