Articles | Volume 71, issue 4
Standard article
17 Oct 2016
Standard article |  | 17 Oct 2016

Immer Ärger mit der Materialität? – Politische Ökologie und das Dispositiv der Dürre im Nordosten Brasiliens

Tobias Schmitt

Abstract. While the role of materiality was understudied in most social sciences, there was a sensibility for these issues in political ecology. The different approaches of political ecology focused on the political character of ecology and the ecological (and thus material) character of politics. But a conceptual framework that captures the different dimensions of the societal nature relations was seldom explicitly elaborated. Following the considerations of Michel Foucault, this article explores whether dispositive analysis as a concept and as a method offers a way to integrate both social and material conditions into studies of political ecology. By examining water infrastructure and the dispositive of drought in Northeastern Brazil, this paper displays how dispositive analysis is a means to identify different elements, their autonomies as well as their interconnectedness. Focusing on the entanglements of discourses, institutionalizations, subjectivity, practices and materiality allows capturing the materiality of discourses and the discursivity of material orders.

Short summary
The article examines the relationship between the social and the material sphere and how they can be thought and analysed. Presenting different concepts of materiality in political ecology studies, the concept of a dispositive analysis is introduced to integrate both social and material conditions. By using the example of water and water infrastructure in the semi-arid region in Northeastern Brazil, the papers provides an empirical case study to show the advantages of an integrative approach.