Webs and Flows: Socionatural Networks and the Matter of Nature at Peru’s Lake Parón

French A (2018). Webs and Flows: Socionatural Networks and the Matter of Nature at Peru’s Lake Parón. Annals of the American Association of Geographers: 1-19. DOI:10.1080/24694452.2018.1484682.

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Abstract

Geography and allied disciplines have long debated the ontological relationship between nature and society. Although a binary perspective has historically predominated, recent decades have given rise to theories transgressing the nature–society divide through nondualist conceptualizations of socionatures. Proponents of actor-network theory (ANT) in particular have made the case for a nondualist approach focused on hybrid socionatural networks. Yet some scholars working in critical traditions such as political ecology reject ANT for reasons including insufficient attention to power and human intentionality. This article engages this debate, arguing that ANT’s approach to socionatural networks is compatible with political ecology’s core commitments and that drawing on ANT can help address enduring critiques of political ecology’s privileging of the political and economic over the material. The article grounds its argument empirically by applying a political–ecological network approach to a conflict rooted in the neoliberal subsumption of nature at Peru’s Lake Parón. In documenting the historical dynamics of socionatural articulation within the Parón waterscape, the case illustrates the potential of a network approach for understanding processes of assemblage and hybridization in ways that emphasize their historical-materialist character and the emergent agency of the social and natural—and socionatural—actors that they link. The article contends that such an approach not only yields a more comprehensive and symmetrical understanding of agency but can also support more just environmental governance by highlighting the contradictions between social reproduction and economic production that underlie many socioenvironmental conflicts under capitalism.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: actor-network theory (ANT), hydrosocial systems, political ecology, resource conflict, water governance
Research Programs: Risk & Resilience (RISK)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2018 07:28
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2019 09:53
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/15627

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