Uneven and Combined Development over the Longue Durée: The Evolution of Forest Administration in Northern Spain

Javier Ezcurdia, Binghamton University

This paper explores, through the examination of forest composition and administration in Northern Spain, the current and previous hegemonic transitions, the role of social resistance in those and in the general improvement of life, and what’s the continuity in these struggles through the ongoing hegemonic crisis in which we are immersed. The forests of Northern Spain, have experienced, throughout five hundred years, major politico-ecological transformations syncopated to the whims of the evolution of the capitalist world-system and the rise and fall of hegemonies. From the onset of the long-sixteenth century, the Spanish Imperial authorities projected a new form of state power in the Northern regions, that deemed the existence and activities of the peasantry as inefficient and backwards. This imperial encroachment brought as well, a major reorganization at the environmental and social level. At the same time, imperial authorities found frontal opposition from peasants, forest dwellers and local elites, who viewed with suspicion the new capabilities of the state. Much of these confrontations forced the imperial administrations to renegotiate the reach of their power and reach compromises with local elites (such as the enactment of fueros). Throughout the last five-hundred years, different iterations of the same conflict have appeared, and at times of hegemonic crisis, the scope of change and depredation over forests and communal lands has become more accrue. The historical process of uneven and combined development, has been prominent in each one of these socioecological transformations. Each one of those crises, in turn, has brought different reorganizations of nature. This paper questions the future of capitalism as a political-ecology through an examination of capitalist reorientation of the forests of Northern Spain, and what lessons this regional history hands us out in regards to world history.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 137. State Power and Environmental Administration