Feminist Political Ecologies of the Commons and Commoning


Clement, Floriane, Wendy Jane Harcourt, Deepa Joshi, and Chizu Sato. 2019. “Feminist Political Ecologies of the Commons and Commoning.” International Journal of the Commons 13 (1): 1–15.

Authors: Floriane Clement, Wendy Jane Harcourt, Deepa Joshi, Chizu Sato


“A key contemporary multi-scalar collective action issue is that of climate change. Much of the discourse on collective action in relation to climate happens without much attention to the consensualisation and de-politicisation of climate change (Swyngedouw 2011). FPE helps draw focus to the centrality of the gender dimension of power, difference and divide in climate change and environmental discourses, notably in arenas beyond the community (see Shrestha et al. 2019) It is important to note that FPE scholarship does not see gender as the ‘end point of critique and analysis. (…) People are seen as inhabiting multiple and fragmented identities, in which gender is but one axis of difference’ (Elmhirst 2011, 130–131). To that extent, gender is ‘the process through which differences based on presumed biological sex are defined, imagined, and become significant in specific contexts [and is] constantly (re)defined and contested’ (Nightingale 2006, 171). The intersection of variables, termed ‘intersectionality’ is, ‘an approach to gender that studies the interconnections amongst various dimensions of social relationship and subject formation’ (Elmhirst 2015, 523). Another central concept in FPE is that of ‘subjectivities’, which refer to how one understands oneself in a social context activated by situated power relations. For FPE scholars, gender is not a fixed and stable identity, but rather a process through which subjectivities are constituted and performed through discourse and everyday practices (Butler 1997; Nightingale 2006).
Finally, FPE acknowledges that ‘values do enter processes of scientific reasoning’ (Łapniewska 2016, 143). This critique of what is presented as science, allows one to deconstruct how, for example, Ostrom segregated her experiences as a female scientist, so that her views on gender and science became disassociated from her scientific work. FPE scholars instead boldly position themselves politically and as feminists in their research, and this positioning is explicit in their writing and analysis (Harcourt and Nelson 2015). In this special issue, we seek to challenge hegemonic masculinist conceptions and practices of knowledge production through in-depth case studies that analyse the implementation of hydropower projects in India (Shrestha et al. 2019) to knowledge production in higher education international classrooms in the Global North (Harcourt 2019)” (Floriane 2019, 30).

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Feminisms, Feminist Political Ecology, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Infrastructure, Intersectionality Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2019

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