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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 : 2016  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 380-390

The Forest of Our Lives: In and Out of Political Ecology

Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

Correspondence Address:
Bengt G Karlsson
Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, Stockholm
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.197611

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In this article, I seek to bring together a number of environmental histories to think about the place of forest in our lives. It is partly autobiographical in the sense that it concerns forest issues that I, for various reasons, have been entangled with recently. These are the making of carbon (REDD+) forests in Northeast India, preservation of the urban forests and planting of indigenous trees in Karura forests in Nairobi, Kenya, and the transformation of Swedish forests into vast industrial plantations. I come to these issues with little knowledge about the forest ecology or the flora and fauna, as such, but rather as a scholar with earlier experience of analysis of the social and political dynamics involved in conflicts over forests, that is, how differently powered actors seek to appropriate, stake claims to or control the forest. Hence, my point of departure and analytical framework is largely that of political ecology. In a conversation about the work of the anthropologist Brian Morris, I will point to the thinness of such an approach and open up aspects that are critical to Morris' way of engaging with the interactions of people, plants, insects, and animals. This, I will argue, is a truly grounded environmental anthropology.

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