: Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects (New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century) (): Arun. Review: Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects by Arun Agrawal. Author(s): Shantz, Jeff Main Content Metrics. Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects. (New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century.) Durham, N.C.: Duke.

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Those who have grown tired of doomsday scenarios about the environment would do well to pick up a copy of Environmentality. This book, an engaging and groundbreaking investigation of environmental politics and how people come to care for the environment, while not a call to arms, signals that change may already be on the way. Drawing upon extensive fieldwork and archival research of forest protection in forty villages of Kumaon in Northern India, Arun Agrawal, Associate Professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Michigan, traces how these rural communities came to be willing and active agents of decentralized environmental regulation and to embrace principles of forest conservation.

The Kumaon region in the Himalayas is the site of the fabled Chipko movement, which began in when villagers organized for the restoration of forest rights and which quickly spread throughout India. The locals who relied on forests for their livelihoods perceived these policies as a denial of their rights, resulting in massive protest through the setting of fires. Even the village headman appointed by the colonial government, resisted cooperation with the regime.

The new technology of the forest councils had three important effects: Today decision makers within the community use their intimate knowledge about members of the community to ensure that power is wielded neither too forcefully nor too weakly.


Community regulation operates more constantly, consistently, effectively and transformatively on its objects: Regulation is more comprehensive but less costly, more modulated but less visible, more autonomous but more continuous, more precise, and perhaps, for that reason, more humane. Second, Agrawal resists the tendency to explain environmental attitudes, beliefs, and actions in terms of static social categories such as gender, caste, and wealth.

Carefully laying out his interview data, Agrawal shows how variations in the forms of monitoring and enforcement across forest councils consistently produced variations in the willingness of the individual to participate in regulation—the villagers who participate more in monitoring, either through labor or money, also express the greatest interest in forest preservation.

Environmentality | Duke University Press

Third, Agrawal encourages a reconsideration of the relationship between beliefs and practices. Against the common assumption that beliefs determine practice, Agrawal draws upon his data to show that it is often precisely the opposite: People come to act in response to a situation about which they often have little control.

In experiencing that act and its outcome they often find that earlier beliefs were mistaken, and they change them. A key lesson of givernment Kumaon story is that policies that successfully promote environmental values are more likely to be prompted by concerns for the fair distribution of resources and the political recognition of a community than a concern for preservation, which is instead developed in the process of implementing those policies.

Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects [Full Text]

In the concluding chapter, Agrawal acknowledges scholarly contributions to environmental politics and so helps his readers to navigate the environmental studies literature. In his assessment, the fields of conservation biology, environmental anthropology, environmental ethics, environmental sociology, historical ecology, and social ecology are of little help, since their main purpose appears to be to convince mainstream historians, sociologists, political scientists, and anthropologists of the benefits to their disciplines hechnologies paying greater attention to the environment.


Instead, he points to the cross-disciplinary fields of political ecology, scholarship on the commons, and feminist environmentalism as the most helpful in the direct attention they give to how institutions, politics, and identities affect environmental policy processes pf outcomes.

At the same time he highlights the shortcomings of these approaches in their failure to focus adequately on the changes in actions and beliefs of environmental subjects. Only feminist environmentalists aside from scholars who focus on indigenous peoples pay adequate attention to identity—with the drawback that their concern is strictly with gender. Using carefully constructed arguments, Agrawal successfully achieves his purpose of creating a framework for environmental policy analysis.

One only governmebt the message was in a language and form that would easily draw in policy and advocacy readers, not just scholars. Myers Fellows Fund Past Programs. envirlnmentality

Duke University Press,pp. Joanne Bauer, reviewer Those who have grown tired of doomsday scenarios about the environment would do well to pick up znd copy of Environmentality.