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Damaging Environments

Land, Settler Colonialism, and Security for Indigenous Peoples

Wilfrid Greaves

This article theorizes why Indigenous peoples’ security claims fail to be accepted by government authorities or incorporated into the security policies and practices of settler states. By engaging the concepts of securitization and ontological security, I explain how Indigenous peoples are unable to successfully “speak” security to the state. I argue that nondominant societal groups are unable to gain authoritative acceptance for security issues that challenge the dominant national identity. In effect, indigeneity acts an inhibiting condition for successful securitization because, by identifying the state and dominant society as the source of their insecurity, Indigenous peoples’ security claims challenge the ontological security of settler societies. Given the incommensurability of Indigenous and settler claims to authority over land, and the ontological relationship to land that underpins Indigenous identities and worldviews, the inhibiting condition is especially relevant with respect to security claims based on damage to the natural environment.

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Dollars Making Sense

Understanding Nature in Capitalism

James G. Carrier

This article addresses the relationship between enterprises in capitalist systems and people's understandings of activities concerning the environment. Two sorts activities are described, those intended to alleviate hunger and those intended to protect the environment. Both illustrate how the routine operation of those enterprises affects the ways that people perceive the world and problems in it, and how people are likely to evaluate activities that can address those problems. Such effects come about because normal commercial pressures make it likely that enterprises will present the surroundings and the problems that concern them in ways that stress certain aspects of and processes in the world, while slighting others. The result of those presentations is a simplified rendering of the surroundings that tends to encourage certain sorts of orientation and action rather than others. The relationship between these renderings and those orientations and actions is not, however, straightforward, and this article concludes with a consideration of the sorts of processes that can shape that relationship.

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Introduction

Indigenous Resurgence, Decolonization, and Movements for Environmental Justice

Jaskiran Dhillon

This volume of Environment and Society aims to set forth a theoretical and discursive interruption of the dominant, mainstream environmental justice movement by reframing issues of climate change and environmental degradation through an anticolonial lens. Specifically, the writers for this volume are invested in positioning environmental justice within historical, social, political, and economic contexts and larger structures of power that foreground the relationships among settler colonialism, nature, and planetary devastation.

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Beyond the Anthropocene

Un-Earthing an Epoch

Valerie Olson and Lisa Messeri

As “the Anthropocene” emerges as a geological term and environmental analytic, this paper examines its emerging rhetorical topology. We show that Anthropocene narratives evince a macroscale division between an “inner” and “outer” environment. This division situates an Anthropocenic environment that matters in the surface zone between Earth's subsurface and the extraterrestrial “outer spaces” that we address here. We review literature in the sciences and social sciences to show how contemporary environmental thinking has been informed by understandings of Earth's broader planet-scaled environmental relations. Yet, today's Anthropocene conversation draws analytic attention inward and downward. Bringing in literature from scholars who examine the role of the extraterrestrial and outer environmental perspectives in terrestrial worlds, we suggest that Anthropocenic theorizations can productively incorporate inclusive ways of thinking about environments that matter. We argue for keeping “Anthropocene” connected to its spatial absences and physical others, including those that are non-anthropos in the extreme.

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Spaces for Transdisciplinary Dialogues on the Relationship between Local Communities and Their Environments

The Case of a Rural Community in the Calchaquí Valley (Salta, Argentina)

Martha Crivos, María Rose Martínez, Laura Teves and Carolina Remorini

Our ethnographic research focuses on the perception and use of components of the natural environment in terms of routine activities carried out by the residents of a rural community in the Calchaqui Valley (Salta, Argentina). Life in this community is characterised by the presence of traditional subsistence activities – agriculture, cattle farming, textile manufacturing and ancestral medical practices – coexisting with business ventures focused on monoculture and export, tourism centred on landscape intervention and promotion of native products, and the growing key role of public policies in the areas of health and human development. In this context, a joint reflection on viability and sustainability of local and global practices and resources must be undertaken. Implementing intersectoral forums and focus-group discussions, governmental and non-governmental actors, researchers and local people must work conjointly to achieve a fresh patrimonial awareness of livelihood strategies based on their long interaction with a specific environment.

Environment and Society

Advances in Research

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Neoliberalism and the Biophysical Environment

A Synthesis and Evaluation of the Research

Noel Castree

This article both synthesizes and critically evaluates a now large, multi-disciplinary body of published research that examines the neoliberalization of environmental regulation, management, and governance. Since the late 1970s, neoliberal ideas and ideals have gradually made their way into the domain of environmental policy as part of a wider change in the global political economy. While the volume of empirical research is now such that we can draw some conclusions about this policy shift, the fact that the research has evolved piecemeal across so many different disciplines has made identifying points of similarity and difference in the findings more difficult. After clarifying what neoliberalism is and explaining why the term 'neoliberalization' is preferable, the article analyzes the principal components and enumerates the social and environmental effects of this multifaceted process. By offering a comprehensive and probing survey of the salient literature, I hope not only to codify the existing research but also to guide future critical inquiries into neoliberal environmental policy.

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Mino-Mnaamodzawin

Achieving Indigenous Environmental Justice in Canada

Deborah McGregor

This article explores the potential for advancing environmental justice (EJ) theory and practice through engaging with Indigenous intellectual traditions. When EJ is grounded in Indigenous epistemological and ontological foundations, a distinct EJ framework emerges, leading to a deeper understanding of Indigenous EJ and to a renewed vision for achieving it. I highlight the emergence of the Anishinaabe philosophy referred to as mino-mnaamodzawin (“living well” or “the good life”), common to several Indigenous epistemologies, that considers the critical importance of mutually respectful and beneficial relationships among not only peoples but all our relations (including all living things and many entities not considered by Western society as living, such as water and Earth itself). Mino-mnaamodzawin is suggested as a foundational contributor to a new ethical standard of conduct that will be required if society is to begin engaging in appropriate relationships with all of Creation, thereby establishing a sustainable and just world.

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Contemporary Megaprojects

An Introduction

Seth Schindler, Simin Fadaee and Dan Brockington

There is renewed interest in megaprojects worldwide. In contrast to high-modernist megaprojects that were discrete projects undertaken by centralized authorities, contemporary megaprojects are often decentralized and pursued by a range of stakeholders from governments as well as the private sector. They leverage cutting-edge technology to ‘see’ complex systems as legible and singular phenomena. As a result, they are more ambitious, more pervasive and they have the potential to reconfigure longstanding relationships that have animated social and ecological systems. The articles in this issue explore the novel features of contemporary megaprojects, they show how the proponents of contemporary megaprojects aspire to technologically enabled omnipresence, and they document the resistance that megaprojects have provoked.

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Natural Resources by Numbers

The Promise of “El uno por mil” in Ecuador’s Yasuní-ITT Oil Operations

Amelia Fiske

In 2013, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced the end of the Yasuní-ITT initiative. The initiative had proposed to combat climate change by not exploiting oil reserves in one section of the Yasuní National Park. Anticipating outcry, Correa promised that operations would affect less than one thousandth of the park, or “menos del uno por mil.” This article examines the role of numerical calculations in the governance of subterranean resources. Numbers do a particular kind of labor to rationalize the shift contained in the Yasuní-ITT initiative that rhetoric alone does not. Metrics such as el uno por mil constitute and translate between diverse realms of value. Yet, contrary to the assumption that numbers are derived from strictly technical, expert processes, I show how such metrics are fundamental to translations between incalculable matters of nature, the future, and the “good” when deployed in contests over the effects of oil on life.