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Beyond narratives: civic epistemologies and the co-production of environmental knowledge and popular environmentalism in Thailand

Forsyth, Tim (2018) Beyond narratives: civic epistemologies and the co-production of environmental knowledge and popular environmentalism in Thailand. Annals of the American Association of Geographers. ISSN 2469-4452 (In Press)

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Popular environmentalism can have limited democratic outcomes if it reproduces structures of social order. This paper seeks to advance understandings of environmental democratization by examining the analytical framework of civic epistemologies as a complement to the current use of environmental narratives in political ecology and Science and Technology Studies (STS). Civic epistemologies are the pre-existing dimensions of political order that the state and/or other actors seek to maintain as unchallengeable. They add to current analysis because they show the structures around which narratives form, as well as how knowledge and political agencies of different actors are co-produced in reductive ways. The paper applies this analysis to popular environmentalism in Thailand and especially concerning community forests and logging from 1968 to present. Using a combination of interviews and content analysis of historic newspaper reporting, the paper shows how diverse actors—including state, elite conservationists, and peasant activists—have organized political activism and ecological claims about forests according to unchallenged norms of appropriate community culture and behavior. These actions have kept narratives about forests and society in place, and worked against alternative and arguably more empowering visions of communities and forests in recent years. The paper argues that revealing civic epistemologies can contribute to a deeper form of environmental democratization than engaging in environmental politics based on existing narratives, or by analyzing the limitations of narratives alone.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 American Association of Geographers
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > International Development
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2018 15:35
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2019 06:55

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