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University of Guelph
GEOG 3020
Noella Gray

1 GEOG 2030 - 01: Basic Concepts 2013-09-10 Power  Lots of ways of thinking about it  Difficult to measure or assess – how do you know who has what power?  It‟s relational – subject to change depending on context and actors involved (exm, teacher in a classroom has more power than students)  “the ability to be successful in a conflict–this may be overt through force or threat of force, or covert…” (Taylor & Flint 2000, p. 374) o Whoever is successful in asserting preference can be more powerful o Overt power: shows of force by actors such as military might – threat of intervention for example carries weight o Covert power: Four types of power in Political Ecology (Bryant 1997)  Look for Bryant‟s description in reading 1) Power to control access to environmental resources  Limit access in some way, either let no one use it or limit its use  Governments control this power unless resources are owned privately 2) Power to control environmental quality (aka power to pollute)  Union Carbide exploded - harmful toxins harming the individuals living in Bhopal, India – dirty industries being exported  E-waste in China being shipped from richer countries  Rich countries dumping on poor countries  Private firms and companies, those making money from these industries 3) Power to control distribution of support (financial or political)  GEF – global environment facility, provides money to fund UN agreements, international projects, etc. o Works largely through financial input from countries  Not just giving money, also political sanction/support of certain projects over others  2013 budget, restructuring of CIDA – Canadian International Development Association o affects environment and development together 4) Power to control discourse and ideal („the public transcript‟)  Official version of what problems are and how we should solve them 2  For example, climate change - whether or not it is an actual problem  Power to control distribution of support – where is funding directed?  What kinds of projects are funded are decided by whether we think something is a problem **Review Bryant’s reading examples** “Power is entangled in social relations between agents that differ in their interest, identities and resources” (Few 2002:31).  Governments, NGOs, industries, individuals  Tradeoffs in how these actors interact Power: „Reading‟ the landscape  Physical environment as manifestation of power relations (Bryant)  EXM: Three Gorges Damn in China – flooded a huge area of land and displaced numerous people o Shows evidence of exercise of power o Support, displacement, environmental quality, battles in controlling discourse o Overt exercise of power, but there are also acts of resistance  Julia “Butterfly” Hill o Late 1990s in the US, lots of politics over logging and damage of habitat of endangered species o She lived in a tree for 2 years as a physical way of preventing logging o More subtle intervention than Three Gorges Damn “Politics” – the “Political”  in this class, “Politics is understood as the practices and processes through which power, in its multiple forms (4 types above), is wielded and negotiated” (Paulson et al. 2003: 209).  Power and politics are everywhere, not just where gov‟t is involved  Includes informal politics within households, between classes and social groups, etc. – wherever there is more than one person, there is politics. This means that there is decisions being made over power Power and Knowledge  „Knowledge is power‟ – what does this mean?  „Power is knowledge‟ –what does this mean? o Discourses – what counts as knowledge? Who decides what counts as knowledge; those in power. 3  Power both “coercive” and “enabling” (power not „good‟ or „bad‟) o The exercise of power can be used to enable and limit achievement of goals  Relative power -> “agency” o We all have the ability to act, which can be constrained by how we interact with those around us  Coercion + legitimacy/consent -> effective power
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