COMPARING INVASIVE NETWORKS: CULTURAL AND POLITICAL BIOGRAPHIES OF INVASIVE SPECIES*

Authors


  • *

    Some of the articles assembled in this special issue were originally part of sessions organized for the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers in 2003. The specific research in this article was made possible by the support of the National Science Foundation (grant #0351037). Other support came from the American Institute of Indian Studies and The Ohio State University. Special thanks go to Hanwant Singh Rathore at the Lok Hit Pashu Palak Sansthan in Sadri, India; to Ilse Köhler-Rollefson at the League for Pastoral Peoples, Ober-Ramstadt, Germany; and to S. M. Mohnot at the School for Desert Sciences, Jodhpur, India. I also thank the foresters and residents of Sadri and Mandigarh.

Abstract

ABSTRACT. Under what cultural and political conditions do certain species become successful invaders? What impact does species invasion have on human culture and politics? The work assembled in this special issue of the Geographical Review suggests complex interspecies interactions that complicate any answer to these questions. It demonstrates the need to advance a more integrative human/environment approach to species invasion than has hitherto been seen. Reviewing the concepts demonstrated in these articles and applying them to case histories of Mimosaceae (a family that includes genera such as Acacia, Prosopis, and Mimosa) invasion, two general principles become clear. The status and identification of any species as an invader, weed, or exotic are conditioned by cultural and political circumstances. Furthermore, because the human “preparation of landscape” is a prerequisite for most cases of invasion, and because species invasions impact local culture and politics in ways that often feed back into the environmental system, specific power-laden networks of human and non-human actors tend to create the momentum for invasion. It is therefore possible to argue a more general cultural and political account of contemporary species expansion: It is not species but sociobiological networks that are invasive.

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