The University of Arizona

The political ecology of hazard vulnerability: marginalization, facilitation and the production of differential risk to urban wildfires in Arizona's White Mountains

Timothy W. Collins


The concept of marginalization, which is central to studies in political ecology, can be strengthened by incorporating a focus on the mutually constitutive concept of facilitation. Facilitation connotes how privileged groups are provided institutional forms of security in their pursuit of private gain, contributing to deleterious social and ecological outcomes. This paper builds on the concept of marginalization by outlining its application in previous studies. Next, it demonstrates how a dual focus on marginalization and facilitation can help strengthen understanding of the political ecology of risks, hazards and, disasters based on the case of urban wildfire hazards in Arizona's White Mountains. It concludes by discussing implications for understandings of differential risk and hazard vulnerability. In a world where privileged people are increasingly harnessing resources of state and market institutions to externalize risks and capitalize on environmental opportunities, facilitation offers a conceptual complement to marginalization and broadens the political ecology frame.

Keywords: hazard, vulnerability, risk, marginalization, fire, forest, landscape, Arizona

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