Cleaning up after the Celtic Tiger: scalar ‘fixes’ in the political ecology of Tiger economies
This paper explores intersections between political economy and nature in the so-called Tiger economies that have risen to prominence since the 1960s. Whilst Tiger states are in many ways emblematic of the extremes of late capitalism, they are nevertheless characterized by socio-natural environments that are distinctive, both in terms of the political and economic interests that have underpinned them and their rates of production. Whilst produced under a distinctive set of capitalist social relations, the dialectical reading offered herein chooses to foreground the agency that socio-nature itself possesses in relation to prevalent class interests. This agency is conceptualized in terms of a series of cultural wars over transformed nature. Using a theoretically provocative case study that examines the politics of waste management in Ireland, the paper argues that in reflecting upon the role of such culture wars in the constitution of dominant social relations in Tiger states, the concepts of scalar strategies and struggles over scale may prove useful. Whilst social contests over the scaling of governance have tended thus far to focus upon the dialectical relations between scale and political economy, the paper argues that ecological projects too are fundamentally produced by and implicated in the structuration of scale. In calling for dialogue between political ecological studies and recent work in geography that has sought to theorize scale as a social process, the paper hopes to contribute towards the development of a political ecology of Tiger states.
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