chapter  3
Speaking truth to power: a personal account of activist political ecology
Pages 11

Introduction This is a personal account of the development of what might be called ‘radical geography’, or ‘activist’ or ‘engaged’ political ecology (Akatiff, 2007; Wisner, 2012). It is personal in the simple epistemological sense that it’s one person’s experience and understanding. It’s also personal in the somewhat more interesting sense that this ‘take’ on political ecology does not belong wholly to the streams that became rivers of research and advocacy within geography (Robbins, 2012; Castree, 2014), anthropology (Escobar, 2008; Goldman et al., 2011) and development studies (Forsyth, 2003; Blaikie and Brookfield, 1987). Having dived in the deep end with two degrees in philosophy and paddled my way more or less blind (that is, without much theory or other flotation devises from these disciplines), I’ve ended up (washed up) on a shore whose name I do not know. I think of it as right livelihood or good work. I’ve been fortunate to have loved what I do, enjoying Schiller’s dialectic of work and play. Dr Ack has his banjo. Jim Blaut sang calypso. I joke in Swahili with elders as we compare walking sticks and use them to ‘map’ the movement of livestock in the semi-circle of dirt between our three-legged stools. Maybe political ecology will continue to grow and eventually understand it has to do performance, with comedy and tragedy, and the aspirant will spend time in Clown School (www. clownswithoutborders.org/).