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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 408-417

Hidden Alliances: Rethinking Environmentality and the Politics of Knowledge in Thailand's Campaign for Community Forestry

1 Department of International Development, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, United Kingdom
2 Department of Political and Social Change, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Canberra, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Tim Forsyth
Department of International Development, London School of Economics and Political Science, London
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.155584

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This paper provides a counterpoint to recent discussions of 'eco-governmentality' or 'environmentality,' which analyse how states use knowledge to regulate citizens and make problems governable. Adopting the concept of co-production from Science and Technology Studies (STS), this paper argues that well-known approaches to environmentality fail to acknowledge how both state and citizens can both actively participate in reifying authoritative expertise about environmental problems; and that this expertise can be based on shared visions of social order, which also exclude alternative perspectives about environmental management. The paper illustrates this debate with the history of legislation and social movements about community forestry in Thailand, where different state agencies and non-governmental organisations have disagreed about policies, but also demonstrated hidden alliances that reify and legitimise statements about the hydraulic functions of forests that exclude long-standing scientific research or alternative options for watershed management. The paper argues that political debates about community forestry should therefore pay more attention to how political opponents agree-and the social groups and policy options that are excluded from these agreements-rather than only analyse how one party might have power over another.

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