The Doers and the Done For: Interrogating the Subjects and Objects of Engaged Political Ecology

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Political ecology as a field emerges from its critical engagement with contemporary social and environmental problems. As engaged scholars, political ecologists think about the relevance of their work for those outside academe. Indeed, in response to the environmental crises and social challenges of the day, many of the field's framers and practitioners posit, "Enough reflection, it's time for action." I share the field's concerns and its ethical commitment to struggles for justice. However, I argue against privileging either practice or theory. In this intervention, I suggest that we pause to consider why engaged scholarship often takes utilitarian or functional forms, and reflect on the relationship between the "doers" and "the done for" that it sets up. I contend that part of our responsibility as engaged scholars is to be persistently critical, including about how we represent and relate to those outside the academic-university complex.

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