Adaptive Co-Management and the Gospel of Resilience

Nadasdy, P. 2007. Adaptive Co-Management and the Gospel of Resilience. In Adaptive Co-Mangement: Collaboration, Learning, and Multi-Level Governance, eds. D. Armitage, F. Berkes and N. Doubleday. Toronto, Ontario: University of British Columbia Press.
“If we are to take seriously one of the central insights of adaptive management – that social and environmental systems are intrinsically linked to one another – we must expand our analysis of socio-ecological systems to include not only the nature and workings of management institutions, but also the embeddedness of those institutions and indeed management itself, in the relations of capitalist production.
Like the science and practice of ecological restoration, adaptive co-management is rooted in a particular set of social-ecological values. The rise of adaptive management and co-management followed the non-linear turn in ecosystem ecology, and is currently linked with the concept of resilience. But what sort of social and political values are adaptive co-management and resilience rooted in? Nadasdy addresses this question and following a long tradition in the social sciences argues that ecological arguments are never socially neutral and that environmental management is as much a question of politics as it is a question of ecological science. Ok, so what does that mean? It means that adaptive co-managers that fail to take the broader political economic context “within which environmental management takes place” render a "thorough analysis of socio-ecological systems impossible." Without understanding this context, environmental managers simply reproduce the social relations and values that they all agree are causing environmental degradation in the first place. Just look at the mostly formulaic drivel that Ecology and Society has published over the last 13 years and how these articles on complexity, sustainability, and resilience often serve to perpetuate the very problems they seek to rectify.

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