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This article engages with and critiques dominant theories of political ecology. It takes the theory of ecologically unequal exchange (EUE) as the framework of critique. It assesses the claims of “fossil capitalism,” eco-modernism, extractivism, and degrowth, as well as the theories of “post-development.” It finds that with the exception of degrowth, none of them take imperialism or the global history of accumulation sufficiently seriously, and either displace transformative obligations wholly onto the South or adopt a framework which centers merely the agency of the Northern working class or a class-blind movement of movements. Instead, it proposes modifications of EUE based on the polarized nature of accumulation and waste production and distribution, and neocolonialism. It uses that framework to identify the antisystemic role of nature-reliant peripheral semi-proletarian classes, and from there reopens the debate on appropriate-scale industrialization along with ecological transformations of agriculture as paths to development in the twenty-first century.
Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy – SAGE
Published: Mar 1, 2023
Keywords: Agriculture; climate; degrowth; extractivism; imperialism; ecologically unequal exchange
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