Contact Information:

112 Coleman Hall
Environmental Studies Program
Bucknell University
Lewisburg, PA 17837
Tel. (570) 577-1951
Fax (570) 577-3536
Email: pwilshus@bucknell.edu

Curriculum Vitae

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Peter R. Wilshusen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Environmental Studies


 

Everyday Politics of Community Forestry in Quintana Roo, Mexico

Mexico is a among the world's leaders in community-based management of natural resources like forests and grazing lands.   Unlike many countries where natural resources are owned and managed either privately or publicly (by the state), a significant percentage of Mexico's natural resources are managed communally by agrarian reform land grant communities called "ejidos." Communal management of temperate and tropical forests across Mexico presents numerous challenges and opportunities for relatively low income agrarian communities. It also represents an important contribution to biodiversity conservation where communities can maintain livelihoods without converting forests to pasture or agricultural plantations.

My research on community forest management in Quintana Roo, Mexico considers three areas of inquiry: (1) impacts of neoliberal reforms on local organization and everyday politics, (2) environmental and political histories of agrarian reform, and (3) common pool resource management.   The first area seeks to understand if and how structural reforms at the national level linked to neoliberal reforms (e.g. changes to agrarian law) impact community forestry enterprises and associated social processes.   The second area looks at the emergence of agrarian reform land grant communities (ejidos) in Quintana Roo since the 1940s and examines how state interventions have shaped community politics and resource management over time.   The third area investigates how land grant communities collectively manage their forests through the development of mutually agreeable rules for use.   In particular, I look at how rule systems for common pool resource management are shaped by long-standing cultural and political practices.

Publications in this area:

In Press. The Receiving End of Reform: Everyday Responses to Neoliberalization in Southeastern Mexico. Antipode. [View pre-publication version]

2009. Shades of Social Capital: Elite Persistence and the Everyday Politics of Community Forestry in Southeastern Mexico. Environment and Planning A 41(2):389-406 . [View article]

2009. Social Process as Everyday Practice: The Micro Politics of Conservation and Development in Southeastern Mexico. Policy Sciences 42(2):137-162. [View article]

2005. "Community Adaptation or Collective Breakdown?: The Formation of 'Work Groups' in Two Ejidos in Quintana Roo, Mexico."  Pp. 151-179 in Bray, Merino-Pérez, and Barry (eds.). The Community-Managed Forests of Mexico:  Managing for Sustainability .   Austin: University of Texas Press.

Wilshusen, P.R., L. Raleigh, and V. Russell. 2002. "By, For, and Of the People: The Development of Two Community Protected Areas in Oaxaca, Mexico."   Journal of Sustainable Forestry 15(1): 113-126.


Politics of International Biodiversity Conservation

Biodiversity conservation programs have assumed increasing importance worldwide to stem the tide of species loss and habitat degradation, including tropical deforestation.   Conservation organizations focus the bulk of their efforts on "biodiversity hotspots," which are ecologically rich areas of the planet that face intense threats from human action.   Interestingly, these biodiversity hotspots also tend to be social and political hotbeds; places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, and the Philippines feature violent conflict, political instability, and economic stagnation.   Social and political hotbeds in many cases also feature burgeoning popular movements that link nature protection, local development, and social justice.

My research in this area seeks to untangle the complex social processes and negotiations that unfold where conservation interventions seek to limit human use of natural resources in order to protect ecologically valuable areas.   In exploring the politics of nature protection, I also examine applied measures--such as institutional design, organizational restructuring, and conflict resolution--to overcome the inevitable organizational and political challenges that emerge.

Publications in this area:

Brechin, S.R., P.R. Wilshusen, C.F. Fortwangler, and P.C. West. 2003 Contested Nature: Promoting International Biodiversity with Social Justice in the Twenty-first Century.  Albany: SUNY Press.

Individual Chapters:

Wilshusen, P.R., S.R. Brechin, C.F. Fortwangler, and P.C. West. 2003. "Contested Nature: Conservation and Development at the Turn of the 21 st Century." (Pp. 1-24).

Wilshusen, P.R. 2003. "The Political Contours of Conservation: A Conceptual View of Power in Practice." (Pp. 41-58).

Wilshusen, P.R. 2003. "Territory, Nature, and Culture: Negotiating the Boundaries of Biodiversity Conservation in Colombia's Pacific Coastal Region." (Pp. 73-88).

Brechin, S.R., P.R. Wilshusen, and C.E. Benjamin. 2003. "Crafting Conservation Globally and Locally: Complex Organizations and Governance Regimes." (Pp. 159-182).

Wilshusen, P.R. and R.E. Murguía. 2003. "Scaling Up From the Grassroots: NGO Networks and the Challenges of Organizational Maintenance in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula." (Pp. 195-216).

Brechin, S.R., P.R. Wilshusen, C.F. Fortwangler, and P.C. West. 2003. "The Road Less Traveled: Toward Nature Protection with Social Justice."   (Pp. 251-270).


Wilshusen, P.R., S.R. Brechin, C.F. Fortwangler, and P.C. West. 2002.  "Reinventing a Square Wheel: Critique of a Resurgent 'Protection Paradigm' in International Biodiversity Conservation." Society and Natural Resources 15:17-40. [PDF]

Brechin, S.R., P.R. Wilshusen, C.F. Fortwangler, and P.C. West. 2002   "Beyond the Square Wheel: Toward a More Comprehensive Understanding of Biodiversity Conservation as Social and Political Process." Society and Natural Resources 15:41-64. [PDF]

Wilshusen, P.R. 2000. Local Participation in Conservation and Development Projects: Ends, Means, and Power Dynamics.   Pp. 288-326 in Clark, Willard, and Cromley (eds.). Foundations of Natural Resource Policy and Management . New Haven: Yale University Press.


Practice Theory, Power Dynamics, and Political Ecology

The field of political ecology presents a number of important areas of inquiry related to conceptualizations of power. I am interested in exploring the work of French social theorist Pierre Bourdieu's theory of practice as it related to power dynamics. Bourdieu's and related writing on practice theory offer both an actor-centered and structural understanding of social life that have yet to be fully explored in the political ecology literature.

Publications in this area:

In Press. The Receiving End of Reform: Everyday Responses to Neoliberalization in Southeastern Mexico. Antipode. [View pre-publication version]

2009. Shades of Social Capital: Elite Persistence and the Everyday Politics of Community Forestry in Southeastern Mexico. Environment and Planning A 41(2):389-406 . [View article]

2009. Social Process as Everyday Practice: The Micro Politics of Conservation and Development in Southeastern Mexico. Policy Sciences 42(2):137-162. [View article]