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Building Walls, Destroying Borderlands

Repertoires of Militarization on the United States–Mexico Border

Jennifer G. Correa and Joseph M. Simpson

Checkpoints, barriers, surveillance technologies, and military-police enforcement constitute the current stage of militarization on the United States–Mexico border. Previous literature in environmental sociology and United States–Mexico border studies overlooks how militarization ravages communities through its environmental disruptions. Our aim is to identify what we describe as repertoires of militarization used by the state to facilitate militarized buildup and exacerbate environmental degradation in the Texas Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV). We use ethnographic methods, document analysis, and participant observation to reveal three interrelated repertoires that threaten the environment and the peoples who inhabit it—a violation of international treaties, a waiving of environmental laws, and expansionary law enforcement powers.

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Md Saidul Islam

Recent years have witnessed a proliferation of environmental certification regimes in the global agro-food system—a trend characterized as an example of the ecological modernization approach—which emerged largely because of the rise of consumer sovereignty and the neoliberal push for environmental and social “quality” in food production and processing. Based on a robust analysis of global aquaculture, the article argues that the environmental certification regimes privilege some actors, species, and cultures while marginalizing others. While the fundamental tenet of the ecological modernization approach is to shape capitalism by ecological principles, I argue instead that through environmental certification, ecology or nature itself is largely shaped, transformed and restructured to fit into and thereby serve neoliberal global governance and accumulation in a normalized manner. The example of certification regimes is therefore more like a “modernization of ecology” rather than ecological modernization.

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Success—Collapse—Resilience

The Story of Homo Resiliens in Film Documentaries on the Anthropocene

Florentine Schoog

This article examines a selection of documentary films on the “Anthropocene” to carve out their common plot structure against the backdrop of prominent Anthropocene narratives. I subsequently trace Anthropos—the typification of a collective subject of humankind—and its story: the principal success story of the past that views humankind’s glory in gaining dominance over nature is followed by a moment of shock revealing a potential collapse of the world as we know it. The story comes nevertheless to a happy ending by emphasizing the ingenuity of humans in a paradigmatic logic of resilience. I propose to call this figure Homo resiliens as it represents the anthropologized human capability of surviving. I argue that this figure conceals global inequality and social hegemonies in totalizing humankind as one collective resilient subject.

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Kaitlin Mondello

Timothy Clark. 2019. The Value of Ecocriticism. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Eduardo V. Oyarzun, Rebeca G. Valverde, Noelia M. García, María C. Jiménez, and Rebeca C. Sánchez, eds. 2020. Avenging Nature: The Role of Nature in Modern and Contemporary Art and Literature. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

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What Determines Individual Demand for Ecosystem Services?

Insights from a Social Science Study of Three German Regions

Sophie Peter

Human demand for natural resources tends to be unsustainable. However, within ecosystem services (ES) literature, a rather rationalist view of ES demand dominates. This article broadens this perspective by looking at the demand from the angle of sociological risk theory. Theoretically driven interviews were conducted in three German regions and interpreted in light of risk theory. The empirical results indicate that demand can be explained by multiple aspects: (1) living and working environments, nature perception; (2) individual perceptions of environmental risk; and (3) societal socio-cultural influences. These results can be built upon in future ES research to improve our understanding of the social drivers of demand, which may inform the cultural landscape’s governance and communication strategies that encourage sustainable ES demand.

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Dumpster Diving for a Better World

Explaining Unconventional Protest and Public Support for Actions against Food Waste

Benedikt Jahnke and Ulf Liebe

Abstract

Food waste is a major challenge in affluent societies around the globe. Based on theories of protest and a mixed methods design combining qualitative, experimental, and survey research, we study the motives for, frequency of, and public support for dumpster diving in Germany. We find that dumpster diving as an unconventional daily protest action is related to more general protest against capitalist societies. It is motivated by both altruistic and egoistic concerns. The perceived legitimacy of violence and self-identity explain the frequency of dumpster diving. A factorial survey experiment with activists and the general public reveals strong similarities between the views of activists and those of other citizens in strong support of dumpster diving. This study demonstrates the usefulness of combining different empirical methods to study food activism.

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Not Lost but Found

Rebuilding Relations and Reclaiming Indigenous Food Systems

Keitlyn Alcantara

Gideon Mailer and Nicola Hale. 2019. Decolonizing the Diet: Nutrition, Immunity, and the Warning from Early America. New York: Anthem Press.

Gina Rae La Cerva. 2020. Feasting Wild: In Search of the Last Untamed Food. Berkeley, CA: Greystone Books.

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Peter M. Haswell

Abstract

Overconsumption presents a major obstacle to social and environmental sustainability. Systemic social, legal, and economic strategies are absolutely necessary, but individuals are still accountable for their lifestyle choices and associated environmental footprints. Anti-consumption (rejection, reduction, reclamation) has its limitations, but could contribute to pro-environmental change, helping resolve biodiversity and climate crises. Regardless of societal consumption patterns, individuals can still make great gains in well-being and personal development by upholding their environmental and social values, minimizing personal resource consumption. Challenging the cultural norms of overconsumption requires individuals to employ mental fortitude in attempts to act justly toward the entire community of life. As a species, given our rational capabilities and ability to meet our basic needs, we are highly capable of bettering ourselves and our environment.

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Toying with Animism

How Learning to Play Might Help Us Get Serious About the Environment

Timothy Stacey

Abstract

Scholars increasingly stress that getting serious about the environment will require a shift from Abrahamic and naturalist imaginaries that distinguish between culture and nature to, variously, “ecospirituality,” “dark green religion,” or animism. The first part of this article critiques this work on the grounds that it reifies rigid distinctions between “belief systems” or “ontologies,” and thus misrepresents both what needs to be aimed at and how to get there. In search of an alternative, the next two parts of this article draw on autoethnographic findings with non-Indigenous people involved in resisting resource extraction. I suggest that playfulness is an important component both of the imaginaries to be found among resisters and of the means of arriving at those imaginaries.

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Na Li

Abstract

This article starts out from looking at what is missing from environmental history in China today, and then goes on to ask a particular set of questions: How does one interpret environmental history with the public? How does one present environmental history in public space? How does one engage with an environmentally conscious public? And ultimately, is it possible to establish public environmental history as a new mode of knowledge? In answer to these questions, it focuses on relationships, including the relationships between nature and culture, the environment and people, and history and memory. Using the dredging history of West Lake in Hangzhou as an illustrative case, it explores nature as material culture, calls attention to the rhetorical power of nature, and argues that environmental history should be interpreted and presented as public memory.