Arrested Succession: the Interplay of Dominance, Tolerance and Disturbance in Forest Production and Conservation

The evolving metaphors of scientific forestry are powerful tools with which to investigate closely parallel changes in forest governance and struggles over resources, knowledge, and power. “Succession” “dominance” “tolerance” and “disturbance” are just a few examples of the terms and concepts that have shaped and are newly shaping forest landscapes and that also have social and political analogs.  Political ecologists have paid scant attention to the larger implications and attitudes represented by the ecological foundations of forest management. This session will center on the ways in which discourse around forest management and conservation is constructed, how it is being deployed, by whom, and with what consequences for social and environmental transformation. It aims to understand and describe the incorporation, contestation, and evasion – the micro-level mechanisms – through which people negotiate forest-related change with regard to production and conservation. Exploring this negotiation that people employ at different levels in forest landscapes is central to understanding the impacts of such change at both local and global scales.


This is a call for participants that consider the material, semiotic, and discursive relationships between how forests are described and enacted; explore how access to defining policies, governance and management shape forest users’ perceptions and descriptions of change; or question the ecological foundations of forest management from experience with cases that defy accepted social or ecological notions. Below are preliminary ideas meant to provoke and solicit ideas:


  • How are ecological concepts about forests brought into local and non-local constructions of fictional pasts, nostalgia, and futuristic identities?

  • How do communities define or redefine themselves based on such concepts?

  • How are formal and informal avenues for managing and governing forests created and how does this play out in the type of forests created?

  • What intended landscapes and types of people are made for manageability, legibility, control and scientific expertise through forest change?


If you are interested in participating, please contact Sarah Sax ( or Chandni Navalkha ( by November 18th, 2016 with a 200-300 word abstract. Participants will be notified by November 23rd, 2016 and will then need to register and submit their abstracts to DOPE 2017 by December 1st, 2016.





Works consulted:


Bryant, Raymond L. The political ecology of forestry in Burma: 1824-1994. University of Hawaii Press, 1997.

Gómez-Baggethun, Erik, and Manuel Ruiz-Pérez. "Economic valuation and the commodification of ecosystem services." Progress in Physical Geography 35, no. 5 (2011): 613-628.

Goldman, Mara J., Paul Nadasdy, and Matthew D. Turner. Knowing nature: Conversations at the intersection of political ecology and science studies. University of Chicago Press, 2011. Peluso, Nancy Lee. "Coercing conservation?: The politics of state resource control." Global environmental change 3, no. 2 (1993): 199-217.

Sears, R. R., and M. Pinedo Vasquez. "Axing the trees, growing the forest: smallholder timber production on the Amazon Várzea." Working forests in the neotropics: conservation through sustainable management? (2004): 258-275.

Vandergeest, Peter, and Nancy Lee Peluso. "Empires of forestry: Professional forestry and state power in Southeast Asia, Part 1." Environment and History (2006): 31-64.

Walker, Peter A. "Political ecology: where is the ecology." Progress in Human Geography 29, no. 1 (2005): 73-82.

Please reload