A political ecology of atmospheres: a voluminous case study of the Guiana Shield

Yolanda Ariadne Collins*

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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This paper conceptualizes a political ecology of atmospheres. It offers to political ecology, a field that features a strong territorial bias, a study of how the effects of dramas taking place on and off the Earth’s land surface go on to affect other spaces and places through the air and atmospheres. This interdisciplinary contribution is valuable because, as convincingly demonstrated by scholars in cognate disciplines, a dominant focus on land as territory limits understandings of the politics of environmental change. This is because, increasingly, spaces and places that are neither fixed nor grounded, such as the deep sea or outer space, are being directly and indirectly shaped by capitalist expansion. Hence, I argue for greater consideration of atmospheres in political ecology, a field that examines the often contentious relationship between the principle economic system and the environment. I develop this argument through a voluminous case study of the Guiana Shield, a highly forested, 1.7-billion-year-old Precambrian geological formation in the north of South America. I use the Guiana Shield as a
spatial point of reference to argue for direct attention to be paid to the ever-evolving interplay of current and historical factors in atmospheric spaces. Combining insights from decolonial scholarship, the environmental humanities, and the wider ‘volumetric’ turn, I use ‘weathering’ as a method for analyzing the slow, microscale geological, biological, and socio-political processes through which colonial atmospheres emerged and went on to later encompass their reference points.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103048
JournalPolitical Geography
Early online date29 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Atmospheres
  • Weathering
  • Guiana Shield
  • Volume
  • Climate change
  • Political ecology


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