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Environmental Justice Institute Internship Programme
By Götz Kaufmann & Marie Courtais, 2018-11-12
This article concerns environmental and social sciences' professors and students looking for an internship. The Environmental Justice Institute is happy to announce its Internship programme to the international academic community. For detailed info [...]
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Environmental Justice in Greenland
By Marie Courtais, 2018-11-11
Image: © Greenpeace
Environmental Justice in Mexico
By Marie Courtais, 2018-10-02
"How does it make you feel to know that [El Salto] river in Mexico is a victim of horrifying toxic pollution? What about the people living in the neighbouring areas who are literally fighting to stay alive to make sure that the pollution invading t [...]
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Environmental Justice and the labor movement
By Marie Courtais, 2018-09-29
Razmig Keucheyan, swiss sociologist specialised in ecologic crisis and political struggles (University Paris Sorbonne) and left-hand party activist for Movement Ensemble ('Together' in French), gave an interview to the French independent magazin [...]
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Environmental Justice in the U.S.
By Marie Courtais, 2018-09-15
Hurricane Florence is expected along the eastern coastline of the United States from Georgia to Virginia, from Friday 14th Sept, until Tuesday 18th Sept, 2018. The New York Times went and interviewed some readers living in Florence's projected path ( [...]
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Environmental Justice: Call for papers
By Silja Klepp, 2018-09-10
The ongoing environmental crisis has strong implications for environmental justice. A relatively small and wealthy part of the global population claims an ever increasing share of the planet's resources while polluting and destructing marine and te [...]
Environmental Justice as a research theme
Theory Considerations on Environmental Justice as a research framework
By Götz Kaufmann, October 6, 2014
Environmental Justice contains several partial conceptions (Bolte, G., Bunge, C., Hornberg, C., Köckler, H., Mielck, 2012; cf. Maschewsky, 2001; Walker, 2009). Basically, it consists in the concepts of environmental goods, environmental bads, and environmental risks (Kaufmann, 2013a, p. 167).
There is a rough institutional understanding, recognized from the American and Canadian debates since the 1980s that refers strongly to environmental justice claims and claims of environmental racism (Gosine & Teelucksingh, 2008) , historically targeting the beginning of environmental justice struggles after the Love Channel incident (cf. Dobsen, 1998; T. H. Fletcher, 2003; T. Fletcher, 2002) and protests against illegal waste siting in Warren County (cf. R. D. Bullard, 1993; R. Bullard, 1993; Chavis & Lee, 1987). Environmental justice research examines not only marginalized racial or ethnic groups (native Americans, indigenous people, people of Afro-American or Aboriginal origin etc.), but also gender divides (Souza, 2008). Due to the history of the movement (Gosine & Teelucksingh, 2008), environmental justice research is ‘bottom-up’ – it focuses on the community level (Kameri-Mbote & Cullet, 1996) and an understanding of the ‘environment’ concept as a place where we “live, act and play” (Gosine & Teelucksingh, 2008, p. viii). As for the justice conception, the concept deals with distributional, intergenerational, and procedural justice likewise.
The grassroots orientation of this research has established environmental justice research close to cultural studies but also close to studies on inequality, gender,
planning, economics, ethics, philosophy, sociology, and politics (among others). As a general research framework, environmental justice refers to environmental racism in terms of statistical likeliness to face negative impacts in the respective environment (Beck, 1986, among others).
It is important to distinguish two possible answers to the revealed unequal distribution of environmental goods and environmental burdens. One is called the Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) claim that came from the early days where Afro-American communities articulated the demand of replacement of waste sites that threaten their neighbourhood. The second one is more critical and asks for Not-In-Anyone’s-Backyard (NIABY) (cf. Maantay, 2001). According to the latter answer, the solution must include the concerns of society as a whole. Environmental justice adds community as an autonomous actor to environmental research and makes social justice concerns part of the environmental research field (Kameri-Mbote & Cullet, 1996).
Planning research has added the concept of polyrationality (Davy, 2008) to express differently perceived environments of housing communities. In sociology, environmental justice research is tied to the social construction of the environment concept. This leads here to the understanding that environmental issues only exist as an environmental problem when the affected community perceives them as such, or the ‘social nature’ concept (cf. Kaufmann, 2013b). Political science focuses on equal participation rights in the process of building public optinion (Maguire & Lind, 2003) whereas law and philosophy look at the different conceptions of justice (Rawls, 1972; Schmidtz, 2007). All these approaches equally define environmental justice as a vivid field of research and transdisciplinary activity.
The Environmental Justice Institute is founded to support the existing joint efforts from society and academia on the international level to frame the concept and to bring people from different backgrounds together.
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