Andrew Biro holds a Canada Research Chair in Political Ecology and Environmental Political Theory, and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Acadia University. He is also a faculty member in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ESST) program, and is the coordinator for the MA program in Social and Political Thought.

He is the author of Denaturalizing Ecological Politics (University of Toronto Press, 2005). His current research examines the social construction of scarcity, and the role of culture and ideology in environmental politics, with a focus on water issues.


Current Courses

Politics of Water (POLS 3213)
Environmental Political Theory (POLS 4843)

Past Courses


American Government (POLS 3492)
Introduction to Law, Politics and Government (POLS 1303)
Critical Political Theory (POLS 4643/5343)

Other Previously Taught Courses:

Globalization: Critical Perspectives (POLS 3483), 2004-2005
Global Environmental Issues (POLS3703), 2002-2003
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My main research interests are at the intersection of critical and postmodern political theory and environmental politics. For a brief description of this - the political construction of nature - click here.

Jump to section:

Books and Special Journal Issues
Journal Articles
Book Chapters
Book Reviews
Other Publications

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Books and Special Journal Issues

Denaturalizing Ecological Politics: ‘Alienation from Nature’ from Rousseau to the Frankfurt School and Beyond (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005) coverimageThe possibility of bringing the insights of modern political theory to bear on the problems of human ecology has long been plagued by disagreements over the category of nature itself. But with Denaturalizing Ecological Politics, Andrew Biro has found a way of rescuing environmentalism from the ideological trap of naturalism.

Biro develops an environmental political theory that takes seriously both the materiality of the ecological crises generated by industrial and post-industrial society and the anti-foundationalist critiques of 'nature' developed in postmodern social theory. He argues that the theoretical basis for ecological politics can be better advanced through the lens of alienation from nature, sidestepping some of the pitfalls of debates over conceptions of nature itself.

Biro traces the development of the concept of alienation from nature through four modern political thinkers -- Rousseau, Marx, Adorno, and Marcuse -- each of whom are read as arguing that human beings are not biologically separate from the rest of nature, but are nevertheless historically differentiated from it through the self-conscious transformation of the natural environment. In so doing, Biro provides the starting point for a 'denaturalized' rethinking of ecological politics.

“Symposium on Political Ecology of the Semi-periphery” (co-edited with Josée Johnston), special issue of Capitalism, Nature, Socialism Vol.14, No.4 – Vol.15, No.1 (Dec. 2003 – Mar. 2004)
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Journal Articles

2009. “Lost in the Supermarket: The Corporate-Organic Foodscape and the Struggle for Food Democracy” (co-authored with Josée Johnston and Norah McKendrick), Antipode Vol.41, No.3, 509-32.The corporatization of organics has been critiqued for the concentration of ownership, as well as the ecological consequences of the long distances commodities travel between field and table. These critiques suggest a competing vision of food democracy which strives to organize the production and consumption of food at a proximate geographic scale while increasing opportunities for democratically managed cooperation between producers and consumers. This paper examines how the corporate-organic foodscape has interacted and evolved alongside competing counter movements of food democracy. Using discourse and content analysis, we examine how corporate organics incorporate messages of locally scaled food production, humble origins, and a commitment to family farms and employees, and explore some of the complexity of the corporate-organic foodscape. This paper contributes to the understanding of commodity fetishism in the corporate-organic foodscape, and speaks more generally to the need for sophisticated understandings of the complex relationship between social movement innovation and market adaptation.

2008. “Implementing Integrated Water Resources Management: The Importance of Cross-scale Considerations and Local Conditions in Ontario and Nova Scotia” (co-authored with Laura Cervoni and Karen Beazley), Canadian Water Resources Journal Vol.33, No.4, 1-18.Integrated water resources management (IWRM) is advocated by international and expert communities as the most viable approach to achieving sustainable freshwater management. Watersheds are often viewed as the preferred management units. There is increasing recognition, however, that socio-political and watershed boundaries do not coincide, and where they are used for management purposes, these boundaries are constructed through processes of political contestation. Key informants from various agencies and sectors associated with water resources management in Ontario (where watershed-based management has been in place for decades), Nova Scotia (currently developing a comprehensive water resources management strategy), and the Government of Canada were interviewed: to explore the links between IWRM and watershed management; barriers to IWRM; elements essential for IWRM to work effectively; the appropriate scale of watershed management units; and the degree of cross-scale interactions between agencies and stakeholders. Four main themes emerged around capacity, coordination and participation, scale of implementation, and education. To achieve IWRM, particular attention must be paid to existing local circumstances and resources, situated within formalized provincial and national frameworks.

2007. “Water Politics and the Construction of Scale.” Studies in Political Economy No.80, 9-30.This paper builds on theoretical insights from the political economy of scale and imperialism to interrogate the politics of water diversion and privatization. Focusing on the North American case, I argue that, contrary to rhetorical claims that water is a “global” problem, water politics operate through a complex interaction of different bioregional and political scales making place-based identities such as the “nation” or the “region” problematic bases for political engagement. Those concerned with creating a more sustainable and just social form — perhaps the only “water war” worth engaging — will need to construct new political identities capable of coordinating struggles across these scales.

2006. “Simulating a Mass Election in the Classroom.” E-Journal of Instructional Science and Technology Vol.9, No.2This article discusses the use of election simulation software in a course on American Government taught by the author in the Fall of 2004. The use of a computer-mediated election simulation allows for the experiential learning of certain features of mass elections in general, and US presidential elections in particular, that could not be done with “live” or smaller-scale electoral simulations. While the limitations of the technology do entail some precautions, overall the use of the simulation software proved to be a valuable pedagogical exercise.

2006. “Human Needs and the Crisis of the Subject.” Theory & Event Vol.9, No.4

2003. “Towards a Denaturalized Ecological Politics.” Polity, Vol.35, No.2, 195-212.

2002. “Wet Dreams: Ideology and the Debates over Canadian Water Exports.” Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, Vol.13, No.4, 29-50.

2000. “Ecology.” Public, No. 19, 53-57.

2000. “Sites/Cities of Resistance: Approaching Ecological Socialism in Canada.” (Co-authored with Roger Keil for the Toronto Editorial Group), in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, Vol.11, No.4, 83-102.

1999. “The Usual Subjects: Labor, Justice and Postmodernity in The Usual Suspects.” (Co-authored with Steven Hayward) Rethinking Marxism, Vol.11, No.3, 90-103.

1998. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Media Coverage of the Montréal and Hebron Massacres.” Problématique, No. 5, 19-40.
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Book Chapters

Forthcoming. “¿Pensar Localmente, Comprar Globalmente? Productos Orgánicos Corporativos y el Fetichismo de Lugar” (co-authored with Josée Johnston and Norah McKendrick; trans. H. Munoz), in La política ambiental en la Región de América del Norte, ed. H. Munoz and C. Costero, (San Luis Potosí, Mexico: El Colegio de San Luis and CONACYT).

2007. “Adorno and Ecology,” in Donald Burke, Kathy Kiloh, Michael Palamarek, and Jonathan Short (eds.), "Adorno and the Need in Thinking: New Critical Essays. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press), 345-61.

2006. Half-empty or Half-full? Water Politics and the Canadian National Imaginary,” in Karen Bakker (ed.), Eau Canada: Governing Canada’s Waters (Toronto: University of British Columbia Press), 321-33.

2006. “Wet Dreams: Ideology and Debates over Canadian Water Exports,” in Mike Gismondi, James Goodman and Josée Johnston (eds.), "Nature’s Revenge: Reclaiming Sustainability in an Age of Ecological Exhaustion. (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press), 97-115.

2002. “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Tony Soprano.” (Co-authored with Steven Hayward), in David Lavery (ed.), "This Thing of Ours: Investigating The Sopranos." London & New York: Wallflower/ Columbia University Press, 203-14.
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Book Reviews

2008 (forthcoming). Review of Andrew Dobson and Robyn Eckersley (eds.), Political Theory and the Ecological Challenge in Environments Vol.35, No.2.

2008. Review of Michael Egan, Barry Commoner and the Science of Survival in Organization and Environment Vol.22, No.1, 123-25.

2004. “Theory Matters” (Review essay of Peter Hay, Main Currents in Western Environmental Thought, John M. Meyer, Political Nature, and Ben A. Minteer and Bob Pepperman Taylor (eds.), Democracy and the Claims of Nature), in Alternatives Vol.30, No.1, 46-48.

2003. Review of Jonathan Hughes, Ecology and Historical Materialism, in Environmental Ethics, Vol.25, No.1, 109-10.

2002. Review of William A. Shutkin, The Land That Could Be: Environmentalism and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century, in Environmental Ethics, Vol.24, No.1, 93-96.

1997. Review of Clifford Orwin and Nathan Tarcov (eds.), The Legacy of Rousseau, in Canadian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 30, No.4, 788-89.
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Other Publications

2008. “Repaying Debt Might Not Be Best Use of Offshore Money” (co-authored with Christine Saulnier), Halifax Chronicle-Herald (July 19).

2008. “Nova Scotia’s Fiscal Situation: Reflecting on Government Priorities, Proposing Alternatives,” Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives – Nova Scotia [institutionally authored report; ten contributors].

2007. “Water Wars: Myths and Realities,” The Globalist (Aug. 15-16); reprinted in Current No.496 (Oct.2007), pp.5-7.

2007. “La Guerre de l’eau: Mythes, réalités, et conséquences canadienne,” Le Multilatéral. (May-June)

2007. “Lost in the Supermarket: Can Shopping Make the Food System Sustainable?” (co-authored with Josée Johnston), in Synthesis/ Regeneration: A Magazine of Green Social Thought special issue on “Less Energy,” (Winter), pp.22-25.

2004. “Sustainable Communities: A View from Wolfville, NS.” (Co-authored with Leon De Vreede), in Canadian Dimension (July-August).

2004. “The Political Ecology of the Semi-periphery (Part 2): Editors’ Introduction.” (Co-authored with Josée Johnston), in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism (Mar. 2004), 39-41.

2003. “The Political Ecology of the Semi-periphery (Part 1): Editors’ Introduction.” (Co-authored with Josée Johnston), in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, Vol.14, No.4, 64-70.
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