International Political Ecology

The research group International Political Ecology was founded in 2011 in order to bring together and advance the manifold research and teaching activities on the (international) dimensions of the ecological crisis at the Department of Political Science, Vienna University. In theoretical terms, the work of the research group focuses on political ecology and global environmental governance with a special emphasis on the role of the state and the intergovernmental system (what we call the internationalised state). Empirically, we conduct studies on biodiversity, climate change, agriculture, and agrofuels as well as on energy politics in the context of both the Global North and the Global South. Apart from the analysis of international structures and processes, there is a regional focus on Europe, Latin America, and South East Asia.

The ecological crisis, with its different dimensions and inter-linkages with other societal crises, is one of the major challenges facing societies and humankind. Social and political ecology have gained recognition for broadening our understanding of the socio-economic, cultural, and politico-institutional dimensions of the ecological crisis, of the socially and spatially uneven distribution of its consequences, and of the problems in implementing measures of mitigation and adaptation.

Our aim is to contribute to these debates by considering the role of the state and the intergovernmental system from a critical perspective and put them into the context of socio-economic dynamics, bio-physical processes, and forms of production and living as well as subjectivities. This means that the (internationalised) state is not assumed as a problem-solver but, firstly, as a central driving force of the ecological crisis. In an ambiguous way, the state is able to maintain the existing industrialist, fossilist, and capitalist way of living. Our perspective is multi-scalar. We attempt to analyse the production and reproduction of various spatial scales – from the local to the global – in conflicts embedded in societal relationships with nature. In doing so, we link everyday practices to the global political economy and analyse how international resource conflicts are rooted in dominant modes of production and consumption.


Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Bw. Dr. Ulrich Brand, Department of Political Science