Innovative responses to environmental Threats : the role of « local » knowledge

Patrick bresnihan

Nationality Irish

Year of selection 2008

Institution Trinity College Dublin

Country Ireland

Risk Environment


3 years


It may seem obvious that the urgent ecological problems of our time, from climate change to resource depletion, require higher regulation of the natural world. But what if there were more than one Nature? After spending several months working on commercial fishing boats, Patrick Bresnihan realized that while fishermen are concerned about the problems of overfishing, they do not always identify with the idea of a natural world that is external, predictable or manageable. Through the concept of “commoning,” Bresnihan shows how everyday interaction with an unpredictable environment produces many different perceived natures which are not understandable within one management model. This raises important questions for policy makers: how can everyday practices of “commoning” become part of new forms of ecological organization? How can we develop forms of management and organization that are sensitive and open to the many natures produced within specific ecological contexts?
My research focuses on the politics of environmental sustainability in the context of the current re-structuring of the fisheries. I put forward three frames for critically examining the politics of environmental sustainability. Firstly, biopolitics which makes the preservation of life the starting point for sustainability. Secondly, post-politics which limits conflicts over resource use through forms of consensual decision making. Thirdly, imperceptible politics which looks at how continuous experience escapes hegemonic representations of fishermen and the marine environment.

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