chapter  12
Political ecologies of activism and direct action politics
Pages 10

Introduction Political ecology has been informed by an engagement with activism since its beginning. We argue that the field should continue this trajectory, and suggest that there remain untapped lessons from historical, as well as ongoing, struggles that can inform the treatment of social mobilization within political ecology. Scholars in the field still have important intellectual work to do to benefit from decades of environmental activism, just as environmental activists have significant insights to glean from the rigorous analyses of political ecologists. In this chapter we explore the growing body of political ecological research around social movements, activism, and direct action environmental politics. We argue that engaging with direct action politics offers political ecologists the opportunity to further their contributions to broader forms of environmental activism. Because direct action often occurs when laws and other forms of governance are unable to, by themselves, intervene and mediate social claims on the state (think about for instance the suffragist movement, civil rights movement, gay rights movement, etc.), the political logics and solidarities that result through direct action offer a distinct way of understanding both the state from the outside as well as praxis more generally (see Chapter 35, this volume). Direct action offers a lens into individual activists’ efforts working to convince the state of its duty, as opposed to working through the state, which is a more common theme within political ecological research to date. While direct action should only be thought of as one form of political expression, one that is interwoven with other forms of politics, focusing on it explicitly can open new, creative, and more articulate ways of thinking about the intersection of political ecology and activism.