Recent scholarship has forged exciting connections across legal geography and political ecology, examining for instance how ecological processes are key to understanding how law and place co-constitute one another. In this presentation, we focus on an understudied aspect of these relations – the concept of jurisdiction – to build a political ecology of jurisdiction. We understand jurisdiction as the power to make decisions over defined spaces and more broadly the space of legal power. We draw from this and our work on rhino protection in Southern Africa, Tribal and state buffalo conservation in North America, and tuna and turtle management in the oceans to advance this new line of study. We ground this by examining:
- how ecological processes and more-than-human actors disrupt, complicate and embody jurisdiction, especially as they refuse jurisdictional confinement
- how mobile more-than-human actors (and efforts to protect and surveille them) embody legal protections/exclusions that change from one jurisdiction to the next
- how the fragmentation of authority and decision-making capacity into discrete jurisdictional units interacts with and disrupts ecological processes, and related implications for ecological restoration and Indigenous-led involvement
- how more-than-human actors and ecological processes are strategically deployed to challenge spatial-political fragmentation including across international borders
We build from here to suggest that geographic scholarship should elevate jurisdiction in its spatial analyses. We also invite audience participation to think through what a political ecology of jurisdiction might entail and what is at stake in its formation.
Libby Lunstrum is a Professor of Environmental Studies and the Research Director of Boise State University’s School of Public Service. A Geographer and Political Ecologist by training, her work examines the human dimensions of biodiversity conservation including the illegal wildlife trade, green militarization, the impact of conservation on local and Indigenous communities, and Indigenous-led conservation. She has conducted extensive work across the Mozambique-South Africa borderlands. Her current research supports Blackfoot-led buffalo restoration across the US-Canada border in Blackfoot Territory and post-war ecological restoration in Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park.
Elizabeth Havice is Bowman and Gordan Gray Distinguished Professor of Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She uses the lens of governance to explore distributional outcomes in marine spaces, food systems, and global value chains. She is a cofounder of the Digital Oceans Governance Lab that explores intersections of data technologies and oceans governance and has recently co-edited the Routledge Handbook of Critical Resource Geography. In addition to academic research and teaching, she works in advisory roles for Pacific Island country governments and other not-for-profit groups interested in marine resources, value chain analysis, and economy–environment intersections more broadly.