Contemporary populism and the environment

Andrew Ofstehage, Wendy Wolford, Jun Borras

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Abstract

This review engages with literature on authoritarian populism, focusing
specifically on its relationship to the environment. We analyze hybrid combinations of authoritarianism and populism to explore three themes from the
literature: environmental governance, social and political representations of
nature, and resistance. In the environmental governance section, we analyze
how governments have increasingly resorted to populist politics to expand
extractivism; certain commodities with national security implications have
become key commodities to be protected; and borders, frontiers, and zones
of inclusion/exclusion have become flash points. In the social and political
representations of nature section, we analyze settler colonialism and sacrifice zones as organizing principles for relations with the environment. In
our final section on resistance, we review literature highlighting pushback
to authoritarian populism from peasant, indigenous, and worker movements.
Variants of populism and authoritarianism are likely to persist amid increasing competition over resources as components of responses to environmental and climate crisis.

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