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1 ENVIRONMENTS a journal of interdisciplinary studies revue d études interdisciplinaires Perspectives on Ecological Citizenship Alex Latta and Nick Garside Guest Editors Volume 33 Number Environments is a refereed journal published in association with the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, and the Faculty of Environmental Studies, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. D. Scott Slocombe, Editor Bram F. Noble, Book Reviews Editor Beth Dempster, Managing Editor Sylvie Trudeau, Abstract Translations ISSN Copyright Environments: a journal of interdisciplinary studies/revue d études inter-disciplinaires. All rights reserved/tous droits reserves. Copies may be made for personal and educational use. No part of this work may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means for commercial use without permission in writing from the Editor.

2 Environments Journal Volume 33(3) 2005 Perspectives on Ecological Citizenship: An Introduction Alex Latta and Nick Garside In 1992 Robyn Eckersley argued that it was possible to discern three major eco-political preoccupations in green political thought. These were participation, survival, and emancipation; respectively, they corresponded loosely to the previous three decades of eco-political activity. These three concerns remain central to contemporary environmental politics, but the decade and a half following Eckersley s book has arguably Alex Latta holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from York University, and is currently Assistant Professor of Global Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. His research interests include environmental justice, political cultures of nature, and citizenship, with a particular focus on indigenous peoples in Latin America. He can be reached at: Nick Garside holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from York University, and is currently a Post-Doctoral Candidate and sessional professor in Environmental Studies at York University. Research interests include radical democracy, anti-authoritarian politics, representations of nature, and the pleasures of wandering. He can be reached at: seen the consolidation of a fourth: democracy. As the limitations of liberal democracy came to be seen as fundamental to the ecological crisis, green political theorists saw the need for a more participatory, grass-roots alternative. Other theorists likewise realized that if their ideas and arguments were to warrant broad attention outside the circles of green activism they must find points of articulation with democratic politics. While a welcome ethos of diversity and tension continues to be the most recognizable trait of the democratic stage of green political thought, certain nodes of debate have begun to solidify into new research agendas that have gained attention within the broader progressive community. Ecological citizenship, one of the most promising and interesting areas of emerging research, is the subject of this theme issue of Environments. If environmental or ecological citizenship 1 is a relatively new addition to 1 Some scholars (e.g. Dobson 2003) have argued for making a distinction between environmental and ecological citizenship, roughly following the more general tendency in green political thought to associate the

3 2 Environments 33(3) the political vocabulary, having achieved something of a critical mass in scholarly circles only within the past few years, 2 the fact should not be overlooked that in the broader historical context citizenship and nature have long been intertwined. The social contract theories that underwrite the modern state, for instance, tell us that citizenship grows out of (Western) humanity s exit from the state of nature. An alternate history of citizenship might see it more closely tied to traditions of political community that predate both social contract theory and the modern state, located instead in a history of urban collectives. Here too, however, we find nature lurking in the wings of citizenship s drama, perhaps most notably in Aristotle s assertion that humans are political animals, who may only achieve their telos by being part of a polis. As Walker (2003: 255) suggests, Nature is implicated not only in many of the most intractable political problems, but also in the problem of what we mean when we say that a problem is somehow political. Given this shared genealogy, it may come as a surprise to find ecological citizenship presented as a fresh arrival on the political stage. In fact, for the most part the rise of ecological citizenship cannot be counted as an indication that scholars have begun to delve into the already existing ties of kinship that link the institution of citizenship with understandings of nature in Western philosophy. 3 Rather, as already indicated, ecological citizenship has largely emerged out of the more specific theoretical inheritance of green political thought. Indeed, scholarship on the topic can be seen to address and advance a range of already well-established fields of debate in green politics. A partial survey of the existing literature reveals the treatment of questions related to areas such as the following: attitude change (Dobson and Bell 2006; Dobson and Valencia Sáiz 2005); environmental ethics (Curtin 1999; Smith 1998; Smith 2005); education (Carlsson and Bruun Jensen 2006; Gough and Scott 2006); gender (Mac- Gregor 2006); the appropriate scale of ecological politics from local through global (Valencia Sáiz 2005; Dobson 2003; Jelin 2000); rights and obligations (Bell 2005; Hailwood 2005; Eckersley 1996); participation, and the character of democracy (Barry 2006, 2002, 1999; Christoff 1996); the links between social justice and environmental health (Agyeman and Evans 2006; Dobson 2003); and the relationship between public and private spheres of action (Barry 2002, 1999; Dobson 2003). Despite the fact that greens have yet to adequately engage more broadly in an archaeology of the nature-citizenship connection, the language of citizenship does bring a significant degree of novelty to the treatment of these familiar topics, often shedding new light on the relationships between theoretical practice, democratic ethics, the social construction of nature, and the conditions of political agency. term ecological with a more radical vision of change, while environmental is seen to be connected to more reformist tendencies. None of the contributors to this volume seeks to make such distinctions, and readers can therefore understand the terms environmental, ecological and green citizenship as interchangeable. 2 Environmental citizenship s coming of age is marked by the recent publication of a special issue of Environmental Politics (2005) devoted to the topic, as well as the long awaited arrival of an edited collection on the subject (Dobson and Bell 2006). 3 Examples of such scholarship do exist, although to date they have not specifically framed their enquiries in terms of citizenship. See, for example, Biro (2005), Latour (2004), and Meyer (2001).

4 A. Latta and N. Garside 3 Dobson and Sáiz, the editors of the recent special issue of Environmental Politics devoted to environmental citizenship, argue that there is a notable consensus among analysts of this turn to citizenship that the very enlisting of the idea implies a recognition that sustainability requires shifts in attitudes at a deep level (2005: 157). They distinguish this orientation from a dominant focus on policy initiatives that deploy fiscal measures to encourage green behaviour. The questions that arise at the intersection of ecology and citizenship are framed in a similar light by Dobson and Bell (2006) in the introduction to their edited collection, Environmental Citizenship. For them, changing attitudes as well as altering behaviour (2006: 4) is conceived as part of, or emergent from, a governmental responsibility to achieve sustainable development. We hope the essays presented in this collection show that it is premature to suggest the formation of consensus around any particular orientation to ecological citizenship. Indeed, readers will note that the contributors approach the question of citizenship from a range of different standpoints and often with divergent ideas of what the turn to citizenship might mean for green politics. Furthermore, while attitude change is certainly part of the picture, we are suspicious and some of our contributors concur of accounts of environmental citizenship that follow a chain of reasoning from the imperative of sustainable development, through the filter of a priori ethical frameworks or the mantra of government responsibility, and finally down to citizenship duties or attitude change. We agree that there is a great deal of promise in the articulation or partnership between green political thought and citizenship, but the concept of citizenship contains a strong disruptive and democratic impulse that is arguably sidelined when it is conceived primarily as a vehicle for sustainability. As many of the contributions to this special issue suggest, the notion of ecological citizenship should not only inspire efforts to introduce ideals of sustainability into citizenship, but should also involve a critical application of citizenship practices and democratic ethics into sustainability and other far-from-uncontentious environmental ideals. It is certainly true that the architecture of citizenship will change if environmentalist desires for sustainable development are taken seriously and considered to be part of citizenship responsibilities. But so too and this is what is still largely absent from the discussion will the architecture and foundation of the environmental/ecological tradition need to be open to change and adaptation if the commitment to citizenship is taken seriously. The articles that make up this special issue had their beginnings as conference papers, originally presented as part of a roundtable discussion on ecological citizenship at the 12 th Annual Meeting of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada, which was hosted at the University of Western Ontario in June The conference papers treated a range of topics related to the concept of ecological citizenship, including ethics, democracy, legal norms, the public sphere, freedom, ecofeminism, and justice. For many of the participants in the roundtable it was the first time they had met with other scholars working with the concept of citizenship in the context of environmental politics. The diversity of views present at that meeting sparked a series of interesting conversations, and the idea of a journal project immediately presented itself as a way of continuing those debates. Not all of the eight original conference papers found their way into the journal. Nevertheless, amongst the five papers present here, all of which

5 4 Environments 33(3) have been thoroughly revised and reviewed, a remarkable range of perspectives remains. Clearly, the concept of ecological citizenship can be understood in a variety of different lights, not all of them compatible. Furthermore, far from simply jumping on the bandwagon of what seems to be the newest green buzzword, a number of the contributions herein are notable for their efforts to chart the conceptual and explanatory limits of ecological citizenship. Although predominantly preoccupied with philosophical questions, some of the contributions also delve into more applied questions of political practice, particularly in the context of food systems. Collectively, the articles offer a unique set of new contributions to some of the emerging debates in this fledgling field of eco-political research. Using Andrew Dobson s recent contribution to ecological citizenship as his entrance point into the conversation, Mark Smith offers an erudite critique of and addition to the discourse. While intent on pointing out limits to the directions ecological citizenship is moving in, Smith also recognizes the broad significance of Dobson s work. He thus engages Dobson critically, but as a valued adversary who ought to be challenged and respected. With this as his strategy for engagement Smith suggests three ways of assisting ecological citizenship in becoming a more formidable political force. The first involves better understanding what he calls citizenly subject positions. Smith claims many of the pitfalls of liberalism can be bypassed once it is understood that ecological citizenship is one of many ways to engage in the political and is, like all others, temporary and relational. Once the political is understood as already constituted by numerous approaches to and purposes for citizenly activity, the already present subject positions developing within environmental discourse themselves become subject to interrogation. The second suggestion Smith makes refers to the need to clarify the difference between obligation and obedience. For Smith obligation is a key aspect of ecological citizenship which need not be accompanied by obedience to some greater authority. It is therefore crucial for theorists of ecological citizenship to clearly describe what it is that they mean when talking about obligation. Lastly, Smith endorses the reclaiming of virtue ethics, but unlike others who prioritize justice or compassion he advances a more flexible framework that recognizes the relational aspects of moral and political virtues. The second essay offers an approach that is in many ways diametrically opposed to the first. As the title of his article suggests, Pardy turns not to politics but to the Western legal tradition in his efforts to make sense of the notion of obligation located in the concept of ecological citizenship. He begins his critical paper by arguing that recognizable ecosystem decline, along with arbitrary environmental regulation, signify that modern environmental law is in clear need of re-evaluation. He suggests that if environmental law is going to begin to achieve the stated desire for ecosystem protection, it must employ libertarian principles, including the right of individuals to be free from interference by others. He goes on to assert that a libertarian-influenced environmental strategy might usefully extend such principles to include an individuals right to experience ecosystems undisturbed by other humans. By suggesting that environmentalists in general and environmental law(yers) in particular would both do well to listen to libertarian arguments, Pardy goes against common beliefs that libertarians and environmentalists have little if anything in common. Against the grain, he argues that the libertarian negative freedom from principle can become a useful way

6 A. Latta and N. Garside 5 of achieving the common desire of ecological integrity and the protection of the environment. For Pardy, an ecological citizen is a citizen of an ecosystem, and it is because of this connection that the principle of causing no harm to others may be extended to a citizen s legal responsibility not to cause harm to the ecosystem. Pardy s way of envisioning ecological citizenship, along with his understandable legal concern with the question of what is meant by harm, is heavily tied to his desire to remedy the failures of current environmental law. The novelty of this perspective, within the context of the existing literature, makes Pardy s piece a challenging and welcome addition to debates on ecological citizenship. The third article in the collection takes us back to politics, but in this case the author, Catherine Phillips, is sceptical of how successfully the particular case of environmental politics she examines can be comprehended by existing theories of ecological citizenship. Her essay addresses the increasingly politicized practice of saving and exchanging seeds. She notes that groups opposing changes in Canada s Plant Breeders Rights Act, which threaten to expand property rights over seed varieties, have exploited all of the usual channels of citizenship, such as letter writing, public protest, and other forms of lobbying. For Phillips, however, the politics of seed saving does not exclusively, or even principally, lie in the sphere of public debate. Based on a series of perspectives provided by the voices of seed savers themselves, she seeks to explore the political qualities of the embodied practices of collecting and sharing seed. Phillips overriding question is whether prevailing understandings of green citizenship offer an adequate framework for understanding these embodied practices. Focussing on two models of green citizenship, stewardship and eco-deliberation, Phillips explores questions related to the public/private divide, the character of political action, and the quality of human relationships with nature. Although ecological citizenship proves an interesting lens through which to examine the seed-saving phenomenon, she ultimately concludes that it falls short of offering an adequate theoretical framework for comprehending the political qualities of the socio-ecological practice of saving seeds. The last two pieces in the collection follow nicely on the heels of Phillips efforts to chart the limits of existing theories of ecological citizenship, and are also complementary to Mark Smith s interventions in the first article. Both offer novel visions of where to locate human agency in the contemporary politics of nature. In his essay, Mick Smith turns to the political theory of Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin to offer a dissenting voice relative to existing accounts of ethical responsibility and political activism in the literature on environmental citizenship. His critique focusses on the modernist tendency to view history (and hence politics) as an inexorable progress, beyond the reach of individual agency to effect meaningful change. This vision of history as telos produces an alienation from active political life, as the individual becomes subsumed within the machinery of history, which is orchestrated by professional politicians. Alienation from history and politics is increasingly parallelled, Smith argues, by alienation from the world of nature. Perceived as a realm of process, it is understood that the environment may only be steered by the same kinds of bureaucratic or managerial logic that guide historical progress. Citizens are assigned the marginal obligations of doing their small part toward incremental change, such as recycling or taking public transit. Effectively, the agency enjoyed by individual

7 6 Environments 33(3) subjects as environmental citizens can be likened to that assigned to soldiers in war time. Both are fundamentally illusory. Smith s powerful critique of top-down models of environmental citizenship is complemented by a call for Arendtianstyle political action, where popular movements reappropriate responsibility from the apparatuses of the administrative state, with a view to provoking meaningful change in human-nature relationships. Although coming at the question of citizenship from a different angle, Katia Marzall makes a complementary argument for meaningful individual and collective ecological agency. For Marzall, the route to such agency is ethics, which she explores by working through the notion of environmental extension. This extension is an ethical sensibility, rather than an overarching set of rules for sustainable conduct. It takes shape as a critical ecological consciousness, informed by an understanding of the way that being human locates us in the environment but also bestows us with the unique capacity and indeed the responsibility to perceive the impacts of our ways of life and make adjustments accordingly. In this way, Marzall embraces an ecological humanism as the basis for a significantly open-ended ethic of ecological care. Drawing on the pedagogical philosophy of Paulo Freire, Marzall challenges human societies to embrace a diversity of ecological perspectives as they engage in reflexive processes of collective learning, decision making, and action. With reference to two contrasting examples of efforts to achieve sustainability in Brazilian farming communities, Marzall argues that ecological citizenship will not take root when sustainability is mandated in top-down systems of governance, but only when sustainable practices are freely chosen through open and inclusive public discourse. There are a few broad themes that emerge in this collection of articles. A concern for political engagement is perhaps the most striking, and in our minds one of the ways in which the collection distinguishes itself from existing scholarship on ecological citizenship. Another theme, which is more generally shared with others working in the field, concerns the question of how individuals understand and manifest responsibility, obligation, or duty toward the environment. While we hope that readers will discover these thematic threads tying the articles together, we equally must emphasize the multiple perspectives from which these common issues have been addressed by the five authors. For instance, Mark Smith, Mick Smith, and Katia Marzall all emphasize that a politics of obligation or responsibility must take into account the plural and indeterminate character of collective human existence, but their modes of inquiry and the conclusions they reach are not easily reduced to common elements. In another example, Catherine Phillips addresses the common theme of political engagement, but instead of starting in the territory delimited by theories of ethico-political discourse or political agency, she takes an epistemological tack that privileges the voices of political actors that are embedded in socio-ecological practices of seed saving. In so doing, she begins to chart the limits of citizenship as a conceptual container for ecological politics an intervention that is echoed, though again from a different perspective, in the concluding paragraph of Mick Smith s contribution. Finally, in what is arguably the most divergent contribution to the collection, Bruce Pardy seeks to locate responsibility in a libertarian legal framework that eliminates the messiness of political engagement and replaces it with clear rights and obligations with respect to ecological harm.

8 A. Latta and N. Garside 7 These five articles clearly do not exhaust the existing field of debate in ecological citizenship. Indeed, in some cases our authors might be accused of neglecting to adequately engage with existing lines of enquiry, preferring instead to hunt for ecological citizenship in less orthodox locations. We are convinced that this tendency constitutes not a weakness but rather the principal strength of the collection, and we hope that the originality of these contributions may help to pry open new contexts for discussion and research. Acknowledgements We owe many thanks to our reviewers, who agreed to read the collection of articles in its entirety, providing valuable criticism and suggestions not only on the individual contributions but also on the issue as a whole. In addition, we owe thanks to the editorial staff at Environments. Scott Slocombe s original encouragement to submit a proposal was obviously crucial, and Beth Dempster s consistent support and patience as managing editor has been invaluable. Finally, we would also like to extend thanks to all those who participated in the original set of panels and associated discussions. Their ideas and enthusiasm for the topic are to be credited for encouraging us toward publication. References Agyeman, Julian and Bob Evans Justice, Governance, and Sustainability: Perspectives on Environmental Citizenship from North America and Europe. In Environmental Citizenship, ed. A. Dobson and D. Bell, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Barry, John Resistance is Fertile: From Environmental Sustainability to Citizenship. In Environmental Citizenship, ed. A. Dobson and D. Bell, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Barry, John Vulnerability and Virtue: Democracy, Dependency, and Ecological Stewardship. In Democracy and the Claims of Nature: Critical Perspectives For a New Century, ed. B. A. Minteer, and B. P. Taylor, Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield. Barry, John Rethinking Green Politics: Nature, Virtue and Progress. London: Sage. Bell, Derek R Liberal environmental citizenship. Environmental Politics 14(2): Biro, Andrew Denaturalizing Ecological Politics: Alienation from Nature: from Rousseau to the Frankfurt School and Beyond. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Carlsson, Monica and Bjarne Bruun Jensen Encouraging environmental citizenship: The roles and challenges for schools. In Environmental Citizenship, ed. A. Dobson and D. Bell, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Christoff, Peter Ecological Citizens and Ecologically Guided Democracy. In Democracy and Green Political Thought: Sustainability, Rights and Citizenship, ed. B. Doherty and M. de Geus, London: Routledge. Curtin, Deane W Chinnagounder s Challenge: The Question of Ecological Citizenship. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

9 8 Environments 33(3) Dobson, Andrew Citizenship and the Environment. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dobson, Andrew and Derek Bell, eds Environmental Citizenship. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Dobson, Andrew and Derek Bell Introduction. In Environmental Citizenship, ed. A. Dobson and D. Bell, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Dobson, Andrew, and Ángel Valencia Sáiz Introduction. Environmental Politics 14(2): Eckersley, Robyn Greening Liberal Democracy: The Rights Discourse Revisited. In Democracy and Green Political Thought: Sustainability, Rights and Citizenship, ed. B. Doherty and M. de Geus, London: Routledge. Eckersley, Robyn Environmentalism and Political Theory: Toward an Ecocentric Approach. Albany: State University of New York Press. Environmental Politics (2). Gough, Stephen and William Scott Promoting Environmental Citizenship Through Learning: Toward a Theory of Change. In Environmental Citizenship, ed. A. Dobson and D. Bell, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Hailwood, Simon Environmental citizenship as reasonable citizenship. Environmental Politics 14(2): Jelin, Elizabeth Towards a global environmental citizenship. Citizenship Studies 4(1): Latour, Bruno Politics of Nature: How To Bring the Sciences Into Democracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. MacGregor, Sherilyn Beyond Mothering Earth: Ecological Citizenship and the Politics of Care. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. Meyer, John M Political Nature: Environmentalism and the Interpretation of Western Thought. Cambridge: MIT Press. Smith, Mark J Ecologism: Towards Ecological Citizenship. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Smith, Mick Citizens, denizens and the res publica: Environmental ethics, structures of feeling and political expression. Environmental Values 14: Valencia Sáiz, Ángel Globalisation, cosmopolitanism and ecological citizenship. Environmental Politics 14(2): Walker, R.B.J They seek it here, they seek it there: Locating the political in Clayoquot Sound. In A Political Space: Reading the Global Through Clayoquot Sound, ed. W. Magnusson and K. Shaw, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

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