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Reading radical environmental justice through a political ecology lens

Check out the #1 paper in geography and #3 in social sciences at the time of writing: An investigation of the interfaces between environmental justice and political ecology by Hanne Svarstad & Tor A Benjaminsen.

Reading radical environmental justice through a political ecology lens

This article is listed as the Number 1 trending article in Geography and Number 3 in Social Sciences by the Observatory of International Research (OOIR) at the time of writing.

From the authors:

Environmental justice and political ecology have grown during recent decades to become leading critical approaches to socio-environmental analyses. The two fields share a history of pluralism and an openness to integrating new theoretical insights.

Based on work by political philosophers in the radical justice tradition, such as Fraser, Young and Honneth, a 'radical environmental justice framework' has been established within environmental justice, focusing on three core elements: distributive justice, recognition and procedural justice. Later, inspired by Sen and Nussbaum, capabilities has been added as a fourth aspect. Svarstad & Benjaminsen have read this radical framework through a political ecology lens and assessed the potential for cross-fertilization between the two fields in relation to these four elements.

First, the systematic treatment of distributive justice in the environmental justice literature provides a conceptualization that may be useful for political ecology in its specifications of various forms of injustice.

Second, recognition is a useful perspective for both environmental justice and political ecology, but this aspect also highlights power relations that may need to be decolonized. To contribute to such a process of decolonization. the authors suggest a focus on senses of justice and critical knowledge production.

Third, the focus on procedural justice in the radical environmental justice framework would benefit from engagements with various power theories and discussions of participation that are prominent in the political ecology literature.

Fourth, based on the political ecology viewpoint, the authors argue that there are two weaknesses in how capabilities theory tends to be used in the radical environmental justice literature: communities are discussed as homogenous groups without internal power relations; and actors and structures responsible for environmental injustice tend to be downplayed.

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Published 3. December 2019 - 14:28 - Updated 30. January 2020 - 12:30