chapter  4
The power-full distribution of knowledge in political ecology: a view from the South
ByEnrique Leff
Pages 12

The critical epistemology of political ecology: the power in knowledge The environmental crisis irrupted in contemporary history, in the 1960s and 1970s, as an expression of a crisis of civilization: a crisis of the hegemonic modes of understanding the world, of scientific knowledge and of techno-economic reason that had been institutionalized in the globalized world, stripping away the conditions for the sustainability of life. The construction of a sustainable world raises for political ecology an ontological and an epistemological question: it ponders the challenge of questioning the modes of thought, scientific paradigms, productive practices and social behavior that degrade life. The construction of a sustainable world implies the necessity of deconstructing2 the power devices rooted in the hegemonic rationality of modernity – the logocentrism of science (Derrida 1982), the juridical norms (Foucault 1998), the modes of production and market logic (Marx 1965) – and erecting in their place theoretical and political strategies capable of conducting a process of social reconstruction in order with the ontological conditions of life. The environmental crisis calls us to think about something as yet unthought: the lack of knowledge and the unsustainability of life inadvertently produced by humankind.