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This book presents a vibrant study of the rise, decline, and transformation of environmental thinking. The author’s analysis moves from the proclaimed death of environmentalism toward the emerging theory and practices of postenvironmentalism in its manifold interpretations. Building upon current transformation of the relationship between science, technology, society and the environment, the book combines a theory-informed presentation of worldwide cases and crucial events in the history of environmentalism with a journey into scholarly explorations in order to answer the crucial question: where is environmental thinking heading?



Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Introduction

Abstract
Since its very beginning in the nineteenth century, environmental thinking was characterized by the presence of different interpretations of the relationship between society and nature. The emergence of scientific environmentalism in the 1970s was welcomed as a synthesis bringing together scientific and social perspectives. As a consequence, in a few years environmental thinking reached the peak of public interest giving rise to the green diplomacy of UN summits, grassroots commitment, green political theory and green-business managerialism. However, while the progressive mainstreaming of environmental thinking attracted the most disparate supporters, it also slipped out of environmentalists’ hands, and determined its progressive de-politicization—up to a seemingly death. Is this the very fate of environmentalism?
Chiara Certomà

2. At the Edge of Environmental Thinking

Abstract
From the 1980s onward, environmental concerns became part of the international political agenda with sustainable development turning into one of the pillars of contemporary sociocultural, political, and economic programs. This chapter analyses the two main approaches that made it possible, i.e., the realist and the constructivist one. The former (adopted by UN agencies, large NGOs, government, and business companies) prescribes the acquisition of as much as possible accurate and reliable data, which can provide tangible evidence of the pervasiveness of the problems. The latter is advanced by critical scholars to unveil the social construction of nature. Despite their differences, both of them grant the experts with the authority and legitimacy to combine nature, politics, and science in frameworks for action. This brings about, together with the search for a wise and efficient management of natural resources, also a number of normalized environmental discourses operating on people’s opinions and behaviors.
Chiara Certomà

3. Is This the End of Environmentalism, as We Know It?

Abstract
This chapter explores the theoretical critiques that environmental politics attracted since the 1990s onward. Among them, building upon political ecology critique, post-environmentalist theory gained a prominent role and claimed that green diplomacy, business, and large NGOs determined a de-politicization of environmental issues in the pursuit of establishing a widespread consensus on the mainstream strategies for global environmental governance. The origins and development of post-environmentalism are described in the chapter, with particular attention devoted to the differences between the realist perspective of US scholars (most notably Michel Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, authors of the pamphlet “The Death of Environmentalism”) and the European scholars, advancing a constructivist interpretation of the end of environmentalism under the name of post-ecologism.
Chiara Certomà

4. Postenvironmentalism beyond Post-environmentalism

Abstract
This chapter starts with the consideration that different post-environmentalist theories seem to be unable to provide an inspiring message for people engagement in environmental issues and introduces an alternative perspective based on the post-modern material-semiotic theory. This emerged from the seminal contribute of science sociologists and critical geographers which explored the constitutively heterogeneous characters of socio-environmental agents as both natural and cultural at once. From such a perspective, the chapter investigates how material semiotics can contribute to overcome existing interpretations of post-environmentalism, by challenging common understanding of the world ontology as well as mainstream epistemological perspective. The result suggests the need for a new gaze on existing forms of environmental commitment, which is here named as postenvironmentalism (without hyphen) through which the whole, multilayered, complex process of making and unmaking the world performed by hybrid assemblages is regarded as a political activity.
Chiara Certomà

5. Materializing Postenvironmentalism in Living Spaces

Abstract
How does a material-semiotic postenvironmentalism actually take form in the world? This chapter presents some examples (including the Transition Network movement, the U’wa’s and the Brazilian seringueros’ struggle…) of current environmentalist practices that while confirming environmentalism is not dead at all, nonetheless show it is transforming by including nonhuman and more-than-human networks in the realm of social actors and by listening unheard voices through devices, techniques, and procedures that allow their expression in the public space. Their space of interaction is a “living space”, which is the locus for environmental issues to be pragmatically debated in forms of life. The three-step process of assembling, mobilizing, and impacting, which characterizes environmental actor networks’ agency, is finally considered.
Chiara Certomà

6. Summary and Conclusion

Abstract
We are now at the conclusion of this journey through the development of environmental thinking, which explored the debate on the mainstreaming and subsequent death of environmentalism, together with the most recent scholarly and practitioners’ contributions on post-environmentalism. This chapter, thus, summarizes it and, building upon the transformation of post-environmentalism into postenvironmentalism (a transformation entailing a new worldview, rather than the simple removing a hyphen), it traces a tentative manifesto of the future environmental thinking in action. Particularly, it criticizes the idea that we are really facing the end of environmentalism and, rather, suggest that new postenvironmentalist practices are already mushrooming worldwide.
Chiara Certomà

Backmatter

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