Environmentalism from Below

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Event Details


Environmentalism from Below: Appraising the Efficacy of Small-Scale and Subaltern Environmentalist Organizations

Conveners: Jonathan Clapperton (University of Alberta) and Liza Piper (University of Alberta)

Sponsors: The Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, University of Alberta, and Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE)

Program

How, and to what extent, have small-scale, Indigenous and subaltern environmental organizations, clubs and associations contributed to the environmental movement? While social and subaltern theory—the study of society from “below”—has permeated most disciplinary genres in the social sciences and humanities, it has only scratched the surface of our understanding of the modern (post-1950s) environmental movement. By bringing together and making sense of an interdisciplinary, disconnected body of knowledge on the environmental movement from across the globe—an important, and by its very scale necessarily collaborative, task—our workshop and resulting edited book will enrich the academic field of environmental studies by illuminating this under-studied aspect of the environmental movement. The workshop and publication will seek to fill significant gaps in the academic field of environmental history by: (1) creating new understandings of the dynamics of environmental organizations over time; (2) providing a sense of the pressures, both internal and external, that shaped and directed their policies and identify how they made themselves heard among the many voices claiming to speak for the environment, including the much-louder “Green Giants;” (3) analyzing how these organizations recruited and kept members, and how their support changed over time; and (4) mapping the interconnections (local, national, and transnational) among these organizations and answering whether these environmental organizations create national or even international networks under the radar of the large environmental organizations, they piggy-back on the large ones to expand their reach, or they do both. Additionally, the workshop will provide significant insight into how progressive social movements more broadly are powered and contested.

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I am an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Prince Edward Island where I teach in the Applied Communication, Leadership & Culture Program in the Faculty of Arts. My research focuses on the history of biomass energy and agriculture. From 2012-2014 I was the NiCHE project coordinator, and I served on the NiCHE editorial board until 2018.
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